Review: T-Mobile Falcon Z-917 by ZTE (Mobile WiFi Hotspot)

zte-falcon-z917-mobile-hotspot-review

This device has been discontinued and we consider it obsolete. While current owners of this device may continue to find performance to be adequate for the foreseeable tech-future, we do not recommend upgrading to or purchasing this device.

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ZTE Warning: The US government in retaliation for ZTE violating past agreements recently announced new sanctions that would prevent US companies from selling any technology to ZTE. ZTE has announced that these sanctions would force them entirely out of business.

If true, this means that ongoing spare parts, warranty repairs, and software updates for this product may be in doubt.

Members, get our further analysis and tracking of this story in our Special Announcements forum:
ALERT: Future of ZTE In Doubt - Mobley, Warp, Velocity 2, other devices impacted

The ZTE Falcon Z-917 is T-Mobile's entry level mobile hotspot, replacing the Z-915 model in T-Mobile's lineup.

It turns out that the newer model is actually just a cost-reduced version of the Z-915, with the exact same specifications and internal electronics.

The key difference is that the older and more expensive Z-915 has an LCD screen for changing settings and checking status. But on the new Falcon model there is only a series of basic status lights - and all changes must be made via a web interface.

In other words, if you have a Z-915, do not feel any pressure to rush out to upgrade to the new Falcon.

But if you don't already have a T-Mobile hotspot, the Z-917 Falcon is a great way to get started. It  supports all of T-Mobile's current frequencies, including "Extended Range LTE" on LTE Band 12,

But this is not a high-end device, and it does NOT have advanced features or support for combining multiple bands via LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation.

UPDATE (October 2016): T-Mobile has seemingly replaced the Falcon Z-917 in its lineup with the newer Alcatel LINKZONE - which has nearly identical specifications and capabilities.

Specifications

  • Battery Life: 6hrs (removable battery)
  • # of Connected Devices: 10 Wi-Fi / Supports USB Tethering
    WiFiRanger Tethering: Tested & Confirmed
    Control Panel: http://mobile.hotspot/ or http://192.168.0.1/
    Default Password: "admin"
  • Networks supported:
    LTE Bands: 2, 4, 12 (17)
    4G: HSPA+ 850/1900/2100MHz
    3G / 2G: Global Roaming NOT Supported
  • LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation: No
  • LTE Performance Category: Category 4
    (Max Theoretical Speed: 150Mbps Down / 50Mbps Up)
  • Cellular Antenna Ports: None
  • Wi-Fi Technology / Frequencies: 802.11 b/g/n - 2.4GHz Only
  • Dimensions: 4.13" x 2.36" x 0.63" / 4.23 oz
  • SIM Card Type: 3FF / Micro SIM
  • Retail Price:  $79.95

Testing Status: Unlimitedville.com sent us a review unit Falcon Z-917, and we tested it along with the Unlimitedville unlimited T-Mobile hotspot data plan. Our hands on review is included below.

In addition, we have included this unit in our several other rounds of testing. Our field testing results can be found here, for our members who want to follow along:

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Purchasing Options

NOTE: At present time, mobile hotspots can only be activated on T-Mobile's older data tiered 'Simple Choice' plans, not on their new unlimited T-Mobile One plans.

They can also no longer be purchased online directly from T-Mobile, and must be bought in a T-Mobile store or via phone.

ZTE Falcon Z-917 Ratings
  • Overall Rating

Quick Take

This hotspot is a solid choice if you need a dedicated T-Mobile data device.

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