AT&T is calling the Nighthawk the first "5G Evolution" capable hotspot, and it is indeed very technologically impressive - though don't let the name fool you, this device does NOT incorporate a 5G cellular modem.
The Nighthawk however is a major technological jump beyond AT&T's former flagship Unite Explore mobile hotspot in raw LTE capability, but on most of AT&T's existing network you will only actually see an advantage in a limited number of cities where AT&T has deployed the "5G Evolution" technologies.
But if future-proofing is your goal - the Nighthawk is the new king in town.
And thanks to the integrated ethernet port, unlike most other hotspots it is easy to use the Nighthawk paired with any traditional router - not just specialized mobile routers that support USB tethering.
- Model: Netgear Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router (MR1100)
- Battery Life: 24hrs, and can be used without a battery.
- # of Connected Devices: 20 Wi-Fi / Supports USB Tethering & Ethernet
WiFiRanger Tethering: Works Great
Pepwave Tethering: Works Great
Control Panel: http://192.168.1.1 or http://attwifimanager/
Default Password: "attadmin"
- Networks supported:
AT&T LTE Bands: 2, 4, 5, 12(17), 14 (see note), 29, 30, 66
Global Roaming on LTE Bands: 1, 3, 7
4G/3G: HSPA+ 850/1900/2100MHz - Global roaming supported.
2G: GSM EDGE: No
- LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation: Yes (4x 20MHz channels)
- LTE Performance Category: Category 16
(Max Theoretical Speed: 1,000Mbps Down / 150Mbps Up)
- Cellular Antenna Ports: 4x4 Internal MIMO Antenna, 2x TS9 External Antenna Ports
- Wi-Fi Technology / Frequencies: 802.11 b/g/n/a/ac - Simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz
- Dimensions: 4.14" x 4.14" x 0.75" / 8.5 oz
- SIM Card Type: 3FF / Micro SIM
- Retail Price: $199 (discounted with 2-year contract)
Note: In early 2018 AT&T quietly released a slightly revised Nighthawk that adds support for LTE Band-14, the new FirstNet network for public safety use. This band is currently only accessible in limited areas and when used with a special FirstNet SIM card, but eventually AT&T will be allowing regular customers with B14 compatible devices to connect via this band, though first responder connections will have automatic priority.
Review & Testing Status
We purchased a Netgear Nighthawk as soon as it was available at a local AT&T store in November 2017, and have been using it extensively since.
Our initial raw field testing results are available to our members:
- Cellular Signal & Embedded Router Field Testing – IBR900 | MAX-BR1 | Drive Sleek | MIMO Antennas (1st Quarter 2018)
- Cellular Equipment Field Testing Results – Netgear LTE Modem / USB730 / Nighthawk
Our review and conclusions below are based on this extended testing experience.
Here is our unboxing video and first impressions of the Netgear Nighthawk, filmed in November 2017:
Our more in depth hands-on take on the Nighthawk is available to our member's below.
Content Included Below:
- Favorite Features & Potential Downsides
- Hardware Features Explained:
- Hands on Testing Notes
- Software & UI Notes
- Performance Testing Results
- Conclusion: Last Stop Before 5G?
- Nighthawk Alternatives
- Video Overview & Tutorial
- Recommended Settings
QAM? LAA? Carrier Aggregation? MIMO? What does all this mean and how does it impact data performance?
Members, our exclusive guide to Selecting LTE Modems explains all these complicated technologies.
The Rest of this Review is:
Member Only Content
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It will be a while before the Nighthawk is easily available on the used market, or from unlocked vendors. Until it has been on the market longer, you will generally have to go through AT&T official channels to get one:
NOTE: If future LTE B14 compatibility is important to you, make sure that you get a NightHawk that is labeled as "FirstNet Ready". These versions of the NightHawk began to appear on the market in March 2018, and may not be found in most retailers inventory.
AT&T's flagship mobile hotspot is packed full of features.