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Netgear MR5200

Around February just before moving out of Singapore, decided to buy this router for using as a home broadband here in Amsterdam. 5G is fast enough and doesn’t need to wait for cable setup at home, so in theory, put in the sim and everything should work and fast.

MR5200 testing with Singtel network in the Airport!

And it is as fast as cable here in Amsterdam, the fastest cable plan to my home in the middle of city is around 200 MB download and 20 MB upload (yes that’s very slow compare d to the plan that I use in Singapore 1GB down and 1GB up at almost the same price.) The reason is probably because the home is in a very old area and dragging a cable to here will take a lot of time to dig the ground. The best alternative option is 5G. The good thing about mobile plans here is they have an “unlimited” 5G plan comparable to cable price (~€35 per month)

I have used it for around 1 month now (since I arrived in Amsterdam) with the pre-paid sim in the beginning and now with a postpaid unlimited plan with this Netgear M5 nighthawk (MR5200), few good and bad experiences

Good #

It’s fast and mostly reliable #

Compared to tethering from my phone (iPhone 12 Pro) it’s a bit faster and more reliable. It doesn’t have a heat issue and can carry around like an iPhone with the battery inside. With the prepaid sim, I can get the maximum speed as your plan can get (KPN prepaid - 25 Mbps and T-Mobile - 100 Mbps, so get the T-Mobile prepaid if you plan to use it here!) in the area around Amsterdam Zuid. For the postpaid plan (KPN) I can get around 150 - 300 Mbps depending on the time of the day in Nieuwmarkt.

Long battery life #

I never get this thing running out of battery. I tried to use it for a whole day ~8 hours and it still has ~30% left. So in the first few days I just carry this out in the backpack and forget about it and charge it at night. It also tries to prolong battery life with reduced charging when you keep plugging in the power, so I don’t need to pop the battery out if I connect to the power all the time.

Data offloading #

This is a bit advanced option for this router, it can work as a normal router by offloading the data via wifi or ethernet connection. Basically connect the ethernet port (or wifi) to other router that provide internet and it will use that upstream and if the upstream has a problem, it will switch the traffic to the sim card and use 5G

Bad #

Unresponsive touchscreen #

I have a lot of problems with the touchscreen on the device, trying to unlock the device and sometimes I need to press the same number twice. Try to swipe to see other menus, also need to do it a few times. It is just not as good as a phone and the responsiveness is very bad.

Confusing mobile app and webui #

I thought the touchscreen was bad, but I can use the app on the phone to control it. However it’s as unresponsive as the touchscreen can get and I don’t understand why they need to use the swipe to hide and show the dashboard which is very confusing and also unresponsive even in the app. In the first few days when I need to swap sim cards few time to try out telco here, I have to enter the unlock sim code many time and it’s hidden very deeply in those menu took me half an hour to just unlock the sim sometime if the popup isn’t show up that I need to enter the sim card code. The good thing is there is a webui, the menu is still confusing but at least it doesn’t have the fancy swipe animation control like in the mobile app.

Weak wifi #

For traveling this router is not bad for the wifi, strong enough in one room but for the complex house with two floors and many walls. Wifi from this router is very weak. Put it in a storage room with two wooden walls and the signal will drop by half. It’s probably not this router fault (even the good router I barely get the signal on the second floor in my house too, have to use a mesh router to repeat the signal) but if you plan to use this router alone in the big house, it won’t work.

Worse #

SMS Storage #

I don’t know why this thing has so little SMS storage. It can receive around 8 - 10 messages and the warning will show that SMS storage is full and have to clear messages to receive the new one. It probably shouldn’t be a problem but the “unlimited” 5g plan here gives you 8GB per day which will send you a SMS when you use around 80% and 100% of it. You can add 2GB data for free and I usually put around 20GB on top of that 8GB which I will receive the SMS about top up and 80% and 100% usage of those 2GB. This fills in the SMS storage very fast and I have to keep deleting it every day.

Most annoying problem so far

Price #

S$1200 is very expensive for the router. However, most of the 5G routers with the battery are almost the same price but if you can wait, might want to wait for the newer version, MR6500 which is just release. It should be “faster”.

I am still happy with this router, it works although quite expensive. The speed is not bad but because Netherlands 5g is not fast. Would I recommend this, probably not. There are so many 5g routers out there and if I know about other options earlier I might get those instead, especially the one that is built for stationary not mobile.

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