If you’re in the market for a portable hotspot, whether to have safer internet connectivity in airports and hotels or to get connected in a rural vacation home, you might have considered Netgear’s incredible M6 Pro router available through AT&T. However, if you didn’t want to be locked to a carrier, Netgear’s unlocked options for 5G mobile routers only included the mmWave-lacking M6 and the shorter-ranged non-6E Wi-Fi having M5.
That’s changing, as the company’s newly-released unlocked M6 Pro (MR6550-100PAS) finally brings a more comprehensive solution that combines all of those models’ features. But it also comes in at a high price of $999.99 — a $200 premium over the regular M6, and more than double the price of the $459.99 AT&T-locked M6 Pro.
Compared to the standard M6, the unlocked M6 Pro lands you a larger 2.8-inch touchscreen, support for up to 8Gbps speeds on mmWave for the US version, and the full sub-6 5G spectrum instead of just C-band on the M6. You’re also getting 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E on the M6 Pro for faster and more reliable connectivity available now on many of the latest computers and mobile devices.
Although the M6 Pro still lacks support for simultaneous 5 and 6GHz Wi-Fi like the company’s latest home routers do, it can stand in for most home connectivity situations. It’s capable of up to 3600Mbps total aggregate Wi-Fi speeds (700 of it on 2.4GHz), and supports a whole lot more devices (32) than just using your smartphone as a hotspot.
“We do see there’s a lot of demand for a mobile hotspot,” Netgear’s senior director of product management Ravindra Bhilave tells The Verge on a video call. Bhilave adds that in a recent Netgear mobile router customer survey, 88 percent of the 670 who responded say they use it as a primary source for internet connectivity.
Rural areas have terrible or no cable internet options, so cellular is often a better option for customers living away from cities. Like the M6, the M6 Pro has the ability to boost its Wi-Fi range from 1000 to 2000 square feet after powering it via USB-C and removing its battery. But when actually using the device on the go, Netgear claims the battery can last up to 13 hours.
M6 Pro’s ethernet port supports 2.5Gbps, and it can also be used alongside a home router as a cellular fail-over internet service when set up as double NAT. In hotels and other public Wi-Fi situations, it can even do Wi-Fi offloading, which makes a separate network using the local service and saving you on cellular data usage.
The unlocked Nighthawk M6 Pro will be available to order today on Netgear’s website and on Amazon.