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Netgear M6 Pro Hotspot Router Review: Versatile yet Ridiculously Overpriced

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I have been quite excited about Netgear's latest Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G Wi-Fi 6E Hotspot Router (model MR6550) since its announcement on May 10.

And who wouldn't?

At a current cost of one thousand US dollars, this is the most expensive router, pound per pound. To put things in perspective, without the battery, the M6 Pro is about as heavy as the weight of the fifty $20 bills you must part with to get it.

That's to say, the expectations were high. And for the most part, selectively, the mobile hotspot delivered what it promised in my week-long trial. At the same time, it also left a lot to be desired, enough for anyone to wonder how Netgear came up with the price.

Here's the bottom line: If money is not an issue β€” a big if β€” the M6 Pro is the ultimate travel router that will potentially spice up your summer outings in a big way.

On the other hand, it'll likely get better (and possibly cheaper) over time. Maybe you should wait a bit.

Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router Front when Turned On
The Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot router is relatively large and has a 2.8" touchscreen.

Netgear M6 Pro: An imperfect little Internet box that packs a huge punch

I couldn't get over how expensive this M6 Pro is. But expressiveness is objective. The real issue is this mobile router, while excellent in more ways than one, could be a lot better. And it gotta be a lot better to match the cost.

For now, it's a largely typical, at times exciting, yet often frustrating device. If you're all set on it, this review, among other things, will help make it a better experience.

Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router with Retail Box
The Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot router requires the included USB charger for its "Plugged in" (maximum performance) mode. You can charge its battery using any available USB charger, however.

A typical mobile hotspot and then some

Out of the box, the M6 Pro looks the part. It's a square box slightly larger than most devices of its type.

There are good reasons β€” better than the previous M6, which shares the same measurements and weight, at least β€” for the new router's relatively large physical size.

For one, it is the first mobile hotspot to feature Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E, albeit selectable β€” only the 5GHz or 6GHz band is available at a time. It's also the first with a 2.5GBASE-T port, located on one of its sides, next to the now-common USB-C charging port.

Like Netgear's other mobile hotspots, the M6 Pro has two TS9 RF ports for optional external cellular antennas (not included. )

These ports are likely never used, considering the router is also the first to feature High Power User Equipment (HPUE) to have better 5G reception. It can pick up cellular signals at the edges of a particular 5G coverage and have reception where those without HPUE can't.

You can pry the M6 Pro's underside open to reveal a bay with an A5040m battery β€” the plastic cover feels a bit cheap, but that's not a huge deal. Underneath the battery is the SIM slot for a nano SIM. The M6 Pro is unlocked β€” it'll work with any SIM from any provider.

On top, the M6 Pro comes with a 2.8" touchscreen with access to the most common settings of the router, including managing its Wi-Fi bands, cellular connection, network port, etc. The screen is not particularly bright or impressive. It's milquetoast, in fact, but it gets the job done.

Netgear M6 Pro DashoardNetgear M6 Pro Wi Fi Band
The Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot router has an excellent web user interface.

Most pleasantly, the little router also has a well-thought-out web user interface β€” accessible via the default IP, 192.168.1.1. I prefer this web UI to the touchscreen β€” it's clear and well-organized when viewed on a computer, and if you use a mobile browser, it resembles a native app.

So, for the most part, the M6 Pro is a typical mobile hotspot with some novelties. The table below shows how it is an incremental upgrade compared to the M6.

Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro vs. M6: Hardware specifications

Netgear
MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro Mobile Router
Netgear
MR6110 Nighthawk M6 Mobile Router
ModelM6 Pro or MR6550M6 or MR6110
5G ChipsetQualcomm SDX65Qualcomm SDX62
5G Speed
(up to)
8Gbps2.5Gbps
5G TechnologySub 6 and mmWave(9xCA)Sub 6(2xCA)
4G Speed
(up to)
2Gbps1.6Gbps
4G TechnologyCAT 20 LTE A(5xCA)CAT19 LTE A(5xCA)
Wi-Fi BandwidthDual
Band Wi-Fi 6E AXE3600
Dual
Band Wi-Fi 6 AX3600
2.4GHz Specs2x2: Up to 700Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2x2: Up to 700Mbps
(20/40MHz)
5GHz/6GHz Specs5GHz or 6GHz
2x2: Up to 2900Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4K QAM
5GHz only
2x2: Up to 2900Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4K QAM
Wi-Fi SecurityWPA, WPA2, WPA3WPA, WPA2, WPA3
BatteryRemovable A5040mRemovable A5040m
Battery Life
(up to)
13 hours13 hours
Weight 
(with battery)
0.55 lb (252 g) 0.55 lb (252 g)
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
β‰ˆ 70 Wh
(measured when plugged in, battery removed)
not measured
Dimensions (HWD)4.14 x 4.14 x .85 in
(105 x 105 x 21.5 mm)
4.14 x 4.14 x .85 in
(105 x 105 x 21.5 mm)
SIM TypeNano-SIM (4FF)Nano-SIM (4FF)
Network UnlockedUnlocked
Ports1x USB Type-C (charging/data)
1x 2.5Gbps Ethernet
2x TS9 RF ports (for external antennas β€” not included)
1x USB Type-C (charging/data)
1x 2.5Gbps Ethernet
2x TS9 RF ports (for external antennas β€” not included)
USB StandardUSB 3.2 Gen 1
(5Gbps)
USB 3.2 Gen 1
(5Gbps)
Screen2.8” LCD touchscreen interface2.8" LCD touchscreen interface
Operating RolesMobile hotspot/USB cellular modem,
Wi-Fi repeater,
Wi-Fi router
Mobile hotspot/USB cellular modem
Networking Featuresβ€’ Guest Network
β€’ Wi-Fi Protected Setup
β€’ WPS on/off control
β€’ Wi-Fi on/off control
β€’ Wi-Fi SSID broadcast on/off control
β€’ VPN passthrough
β€’ MAC address filtering
β€’ Website filtering
β€’ Port forwarding
β€’ Port filtering
β€’ Password-protected web admin portal
β€’ Guest Network
β€’ Wi-Fi Protected Setup
β€’ WPS on/off control
β€’ Wi-Fi on/off control
β€’ Wi-Fi SSID broadcast on/off control
β€’ VPN passthrough
β€’ MAC address filtering
β€’ Website filtering
β€’ Port forwarding
β€’ Port filtering
β€’ Password-protected web admin portal
Max Wi-Fi Clients3232
US MSRP$999$800
Netgear Nighthawk mobile 5G routers' hardware specifications: Netgear M6 Pro vs. M6

Netgear M6 Pro: A 5G mobile router that can do everything

First and foremost, the M6 Pro is a 5G mobile hotspot. It connects to the Internet using a cellular connection and then shares that to up to 32 Wi-Fi devices simultaneously.

And in my trial, it worked as intended β€” I only had half a dozen readily available devices, and all could connect simultaneously with no issue.

As for cellular, I used it with AT&T, Google Fi, and a few other 5GH and 4G SIMs, and they all worked as intended. That's generally the case with any unlocked mobile hotspot.

What makes the M6 Pro different is that it can still be a great device even when you don't have a SIM.

In this case, it can work like a typical Wi-Fi router. You can use its network port to host a WAN connection β€” a network port in a hotel or a terminal device at home β€” and have an Internet-ready Wi-Fi network.

Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router TopNetgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router Port
The top and bottom sides of the Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot router. Note its 2.5GBASE-T port, USB-C port (for charging and tethering), and two TS9 RF ports for external antennas (covered).

M6 can also work as a Wi-Fi repeater that connects to any existing Wi-Fi network, like one at the airport, and rebroadcast the Internet connection via its shielded Wi-Fi network. This wireless distribution system (WDS) function keeps your devices safe without a VPN.

And additionally, when hosting a cellular SIM, the M6 Pro is also extremely versatile. Specifically, it can work:

  • as a typical mobile hotspot router hosting up to 32 Wi-Fi devices and one wired device (via its network port.) This is its default role.
  • as a tether router hosting one desktop computer via its USB port. In this case, it can still work as a regular router, or you can have its Wi-Fi turned off.
  • as a cellular modem that passes the WAN IP to the device connected to its network port β€” this mode is excellent if you want to use it with a router in a Dual-WAN setup.
  • as a typical router that draws Internet via its network port or Wi-Fi while using the SIM-based cellular connection as the backup. This mode is excellent for travelers who stay at a hotel with free Internet and want to conserve their cellular data.

The M6 Pro proved in my testing to be an all-in-one Internet solution for travelers and home users alike. If you live in a small apartment, you can count on it as the only router that keeps you online reliably when you're in or on the go.

In short, the M6 Pro is the first mobile hotspot I know that gives you all the possible options with its cellular connection, Wi-Fi, USB-C port, and network port. You can use those however you see fit, individually or as a combo.

And I wish I could stop here. Unfortunately, like all things, the M6 Pro is not perfect. I'd even say very far from perfect, considering its over-the-top hardware cost β€” and you'll generally also need a 5G plan with it.

Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router FrontNetgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router Back
The front and back sides of the Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot router.

Netgear M6 Pro: The devil in those details

If you use the M6 Pro in any of the roles above and keep it that way, you'll likely be happy with it, but then it would not be worth a thousand dollars. You pay that much to take advantage of its cool extra stuff.

Alas! Customizing the little thing can bring big frustration. I'll be short and specific. What you're about to read are just examples of what I experienced.

Lots of lengthy restarts

The first thing I noted about the M6 Pro was how long it took to do a cold boot β€” up to a few minutes. A restart might take shorter but still requires at least 30 seconds, depending on the situation.

And the router needs to restart quite often. As a matter of fact, it'll restart to apply most, if not all, changes you want to make, big or small. Here is the incomplete list of when it'll restart:

  • to apply cellular or Wi-Fi network (SSID) settings.
  • to change the Wi-Fi band(s) being used. The router can work as a single band (2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz) or dual-band (2.4GHz + 6GHz or 2.4GHz + 5GHz) at a time.
  • when you remove or insert the battery while the device is plugged into power via the USB-C charging port.
  • change the speed grade of the network port (100Mbps vs. Gigabit vs. 2.5Gbps).
  • change the power mode of the battery (balanced vs. performance).

This list itself is innocuous and expected. However, considering the M6 Pro can apply one change at a time and its different power modes, things can get tedious quickly.

Netgear M6 Pro Dashoard Max Power ModeNetgear M6 Pro Internet Mode
Depending on the power mode, the Netgear M6 Pro automatically applies its default settings without informing the users. To get the maximum performance setting out of it, as shown on the screens, users must restart it multiple times.

The problematic power modes and presumptuous automatic settings

The M6 Pro has three power modes:

  • Balanced (maximum battery life): This is the default mode. In this mode, it works as a pure mobile hotspot β€” its network port is disabled and set to 100Mbps.
  • Performance (best performance on battery): In this mode, the network port is turned on (at 100Mbps by default) and can be changed to Gigabit.
  • Plugged in (max performance, the battery must be removed): This is the only mode where the router delivers the best performance, and its network port functions at 100Mbps (default) but can be changed to Gigabit or 2.5Gbps.

It's important to note that as you change the power mode, the router will restart and apply the mode's default settings. It does so automatically without telling the users. Consequently, whenever you want the router to work in a particular way, you'll have to restart it multiple times.

For example, if you're using the router in the "Balanced" power mode (default) and want to plug it into a network port when you're at home (or a hotel) using its "Plugged in" (or even "Performance") power mode, here are the steps:

  1. Plug it into power. (Its included power adapter is required for the "Plugged in" mode. The router can use any phone/tablet USB adapter or computer USB port but only to charge its battery.)
  2. Remove the battery (or pick the "Performance" power mode) β€” the router will automatically restart. This one is as long as a full cold boot.
  3. Change its Internet mode from cellular (default) to Ethernet + Cellular β€” a long restart.
  4. Change its network from 100Mbps (default) to Gigabit or Multi-Gig β€” another long restart.

So, to use the router with a Gigabit (or 2.5Gbps) network port as the WAN or LAN port while keeping its cellular as the backup, you'll have to restart it at least three times. Along the way, if you want to change other things here and there, such as Wi-Fi name/password or VPN passthrough, etc., you'd have to deal with even more restarts.

Afterward, when you want to be on the go and place the battery back in, the router will restart and apply its default "Balanced" power settings.

Repeat.

Netgear M6 Pro Wi Fi Band
The Netgear M6 Pro has lots of settings. Here's the page where you can customize its Wi-Fi bands. Any of these changes will require a long restart.

As you can imagine, this clunky power management and presumptuous settings caused me a lot of headaches during testing. There were endless powering on, powering off and restarting some more before I could get the router in the desired configuration.

At some point, I thought the little thing was broken until I chatted with Netgear. As it turned out, those odd automatic changes to default settings were its "features." Or maybe they were bugs.

The router has lots of other settings. For example, it automatically added the "_2.4GHz" suffix for the 2.4GHz SSID each time I turned this band off and on, and a restart is required when you change the name of an SSID.

Netgear told me it would release firmware to improve the M6 Pro's behavior. Until then, if you get the hotspot router today, be aware of what you're getting into. Then and only then, I'd be generous and say you'll be happy with it.

Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router
The Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot router's battery bay is on its backside with the SIM slot. You must remove the battery and plug the router into power to use the router's network port in 2.5Gbps mode.

Netgear M6 Pro: Overall excellent performance

I used the Nighthawk M6 Pro for over a week and, despite some headaches above, was generally happy with it.

The router could easily last over 8 hours on a single charge while hosting a few devices with average use. Battery life is always tricky. Your mileage will vary depending on the usage.

Netgear M6 Pro Google Fi 5G and Wi Fi Speed
The fastest Internet speed test results I got from the Netgear M6 Pro hotspot router via a 5G cellular connection (left), and when the router hosted a 10Gbps Fiber-optic line using its 2.5GBASE-T port via Wi-Fi using a Pixel 7 Pro.

The M6 Pro worked well with all 4G and 5G SIMs from different providers I tried. The fastest cellular connection I got from it was around 300Mbps, but that likely was just the 5G networks in my area.

And I doubt we'll ever get over a Gigabit consistently via cellular β€” there's just no need for that. Most Wi-Fi devices won't connect at that speed anyway. And that was the case with the M6 Pro in my trial.

Indeed, when used as a router hosting a 10Gbps Fiber-optic line with its 2.5GBASE-T port, the router delivers the max Internet speed of around 600Mbps via Wi-Fi --there's no other way you can connect a client to it.

And that broadband speed made sense. Later, I also tested M6 Pro like other standard routers β€” with its battery removed and the network port set to be 2.5Gbps β€” and 600Mbps, give or take, was about the fastest sustained local Wi-Fi connection I could draw from it.

Considering its physical size, there's no way it could compete with a traditional Wi-Fi router in throughput speeds. But this little thing can fully deliver 500Mbps or slower broadband with ease. And that's plenty impressive.

The Wi-Fi range was excellent, too. When plugged in (the max performance mode), the M6 Pro had about the same coverage as a mid-tier Wi-Fi 6 or 6E router, the first I've experienced with a mobile hotspot.

Netgear M6 Pro Long Range Wi Fi PerformanceNetgear M6 Pro Short Range Wi Fi Performance
Considering its tiny physical size, the Netgear M6Pro's Wi-Fi performance is quite impressive compared to traditional Wi-Fi 6E routers.

So if you have a home of around 1200 ft2 (111 m2) or so, leave this in the middle β€” you can easily do so β€” and it'll possibly blanket every corner.

In my book, the M6Pro's performance is excellent, the best I've seen among any mobile hotspot router. There's a limit to what a small piece of hardware can do. Take those marketing Gigabit per second numbers with a grain of salt.

Netgear M6 Pro's Rating

6.8 out of 10
Netgear MR6550 Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router Box Content
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Ease of Use
5 out of 10
Value
5 out of 10

Pros

Fast cellular and Wi-Fi speeds; Wi-Fi 6E and Multi-Gig network port

Flexible and versatile; can work as a standard (travel) router; well-thought-out design

Excellent web user interface; unlocked

Cons

Expensive; not true Tri-band (5GHz or 6GHz at a time)

Clunky power and port management; lots of restarts required

Need to be plugged in with the battery removed to deliver the best performance; bulky design

Conclusion

The Nighthawk M6 Pro is a cool 5G WiFi 6E Hotspot Router, but it's not $1000 cool. It would be an excellent travel router if it cost a few hundred dollars less. At the current price, the device's lackluster ease of use alone makes it fail to meet enormous expectations.

The clunky power management and the automatic default settings can be a big downer. It renders the device unpredictable. You feel you can't trust it. Seriously, having to plug it into power and remove the battery to make it work at its best is ridiculous.

Hopefully, with time, things will get better. Specifically, the router's cost will decrease, its firmware will improve, or both. For now, the M6 Pro is the most flexible travel router you can find on the market in name only. It can be a pain β€” time-consuming, to say the least β€” to make it work more than a simple mobile hotspot that costs significantly less than half its price.

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9 thoughts on “Netgear M6 Pro Hotspot Router Review: Versatile yet Ridiculously Overpriced”

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  1. How does Inseego 3100 MiFi X Pro 5G perform vs Netgear M6 Pro on Verizon? The M6 has impressive specs and an insanely high price. 3100 doesn’t have an external antenna option but it does allow you can place it buy a stronger signal and connect with ethernet . Also saw you may need to swap activated sim card to get Netgear M6 to work and that M6 has b

    Reply
  2. Does the router automatically restart after a power disruption with the battery removed?

    I.e. if it’s β€œon” with the batter remover and the power goes down, what happens when the power comes back up? Does it need to be turned β€œon” manually?

    Reply
  3. Great article! The cost of the device is very expensive for sure. I use an Asus ax92u as my travel router since it is small enough to take with me on trips I ended up using my T-Mobile hotspot that I eventually paid for over time and connected the charging chord that came with it and plugged it into the 3.0 usb port of the ax92u (changing the primary wan option to usb via the web gui). With that set up i am able to achieve up to 350 mbps down and 48 mbps up at the hotel i was at. Plus I could still run Merlin Firmware and keep all the AI protection in tact while away from home. The Netgear device sounds like it has a lot of potential. The cost is a huge downside at least for now.

    Reply

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