On Saturday I got my Netgear Nighthawk M6 4G/5G Mobile router along with the unlimited data O2 nano SIM to go with it. I unpacked everything, inserted the SIM and booted it up.
The built-in touchscreen LCD displayed text in Arabic only – with no option to switch languages unless one had a pretty good grasp of the Arabic language. So, I did a bit of Googling and found that Netgear had a Netgear Mobile app for this kind of router. I downloaded that to my iPhone, connected the iPhone to the M6’s Wi-Fi network and then used the Netgear Mobile app to connect to the router’s admin interface – in English – where I could then change the LCD display’s language from Arabic to English.
Before all that, however, I tried to fumble my way through the Arabic interface and ended up updating the firmware for the router entirely by accident. Had to be done anyway. But it still doesn’t explain why the sealed device shipped with Arabic as the default language. Has O2 been dealing with Trotter’s Independent Trading?
Once I was in properly, I changed the admin password, configured the DHCP settings to match that of the previous set-up (although Netgear omits the ability to set reservations), changed the settings on the Nighthawk RAX200 router that I was using with Virgin Media to become an Access Point only, disabled the Wi-Fi on the M6 and rebooted everything (including the Netgear switch).
Everything came back online as if my broadband never died in the first place. I had internet access for all my devices again, and there was an initial flurry of competing devices as to download updates, etc. which rendered internet access from the laptop almost impossible for several hours as O2 doesn’t have the greatest range or performance in this area – max. of 30Mbs (but usually around 10Mbs) download and 5-7Mbs upload. It took a while for everything to settle down before it was all usable again.
The M6 unit is much smaller than I expected, but everything is easy to get access to. It operates in three modes – battery optimised mode (but less performance), performance mode (with battery) and maximum performance mode (but you have to take the battery out). I’m currently running on maximum performance mode without the battery. When I travel, I’m going to need to get a case for the unit and battery along with the USB-C cable to power everything with. The supplied power dongle is a bit flimsy – but thankfully I always carry a UGREEN 100W wall charger with me that should be able to replace that on my travels.
I’m still going to need fibre broadband here as multitasking with different apps and devices puts a real strain on available internet bandwidth – and 4G connectivity (no 5G from O2 here – yet) can’t compete with that. But’s infinitely better than nothing, and better than tethering the iPhone to the one device. The big bonus of using the M6 is its replaceable battery (with additional batteries charged at £34.99) which makes it a much more viable option when travelling (along with sharing the connection with your phone, tablet, and other devices that you might be carrying with you – ideal for couples and families!).