August 6, 2022

We review the most powerful personal WiFi device on the market

I recently spent some time testing Netgear’s Nighthawk M2 Mobile Router, and was blown away by this one. So when the nice folks at Netgear asked me if I’d like to try out the new model that replaces it, I almost cut their hands off.

The Nighthawk series have become something of a caravan and camping darling, and I own a motorhome, so a decent source of WiFi to run my plethora of gadgets is an absolute must.

While it’s perfectly possible to simply create a mobile hotspot from your smartphone, Nighthawk devices go one step further by offering a standalone device with its own powerful battery and antenna, and a host of other features that effectively serve as a complete router configuration. can carry in your pocket.

And while the M2, and the ever-popular M1 that preceded it, give you access to the 4G LTE network used by most mobile phones, the biggest upgrade with the Nighthawk M5 that I spent a few weeks is its 5G capability.

Now, while we’ve been living with 5G since 2019, it’s actually not the easiest thing to find right now, as mobile networks are always busy expanding the technology. On a recent tour of Yorkshire I had to divert to Bradford to find a 5G signal. But, oh, it was worth it. I managed to hit just over 150 mpbs at one point running a speed test from the Nighthawk router, which is really impressive.

Eventually 5G will be able to deliver speeds measured in gigabits rather than megabits, and the Nighthawk is more than ready, with the ability to deliver a staggering 4Gbps.

And if you’re lucky enough to live in a 5G zone, you can potentially bring those extraordinary speeds to your home, by linking the M5 to your home router.



Do I really need these gears in my motorhome? Probably not, but occasionally my wife is on a Zoom call, I’m streaming a movie, and we have a tablet that’s downloading an audiobook, it makes life much easier and our connection much more stable and reliable.

Other features I like are the ability to connect up to 32 devices. I will never need that many slots, but it’s good to know the capacity is there.

I also like the fact that Netgear’s mobile routers can be connected to external antennas. Very useful in the Yorkshire Dales, I can assure you. That said, I found in most cases simply moving the router into a window, or even the skylight, worked just fine to pick up a weak EE signal. And thankfully the battery life is excellent, so I didn’t need to take it back to its USB-C charging point often.

The M5 also has a much better display than its predecessor the M2. Both are touchscreen and work like a smartphone, but there are plenty of improvements to the M5’s interface, including the larger display.

It’s actually very hard to review the Nighthawk M5, but it was very hard to review the M2. And I know people who are still incredibly happy with the M1.

However, it might be time to mention the price. It’s £779.99. I know, it’s not cheap, is it? A pocket MiFi device can be had for around £30 and, of course, a mobile hotspot requires no additional investment.

You’ll also need to make sure you have a good data plan as 5G speeds could wipe out your allowance very quickly.

But anyone willing to make such an investment will do so because they know full well that it’s simply the best way to deliver super-fast speeds “wherever you are”. There is nothing on the market as powerful or flexible.

So if you are the type of person who insists on the best, this is definitely the gadget for you.