With Verizon/iOS 4.3 personal hotspot do you still need 3G on iPad?

With Verizon/iOS 4.3 personal hotspot do you still need 3G on iPad?

With Apple set to launch the new Wi-Fi personal hotspot feature on iOS 4.2.6 for the Verizon iPhone -- and soon to follow with iOS 4.3 for AT&T and other GSM iPhones -- do you think you'll still need 3G on your iPad?

Right now Apple offers both Wi-Fi only iPads and also iPads with Wi-Fi + 3G for over $100 more. The iPad 3G require separate data plans that can cost as little as $15 for 250MB/month to $30 for 2GB to 5GB/month depending what country you're in. There's typically no contract involved so you only need to pay for 3G when you want to use it.

Up until now the existing iPhone USB and Bluetooth tethering system hasn't worked with iPad either -- Apple simply didn't build it in. That means unless you had an Android or Palm phone with mobile hotspot, paying for iPad 3G was your only option.

Come next week on Verizon and a few weeks on AT&T and other GSM carriers, Wi-Fi personal hotspot will work with iPad (and up to 5 devices total). In the US you'll still have to pay $20 for tethering (though AT&T will give an extra 2GB of data for it now) but in other countries tethering is (and presumably personal hotspot will be) free. Either way, however, you'll be dependent on the iPhone for connectivity and you'll be putting an extra drain on your iPhone's battery.

That makes it an interesting choice, doesn't it?

What do you think, will the Verizon/iOS 4.3 personal hotspot for iPhone make you less likely to keep paying for 3G on your iPad? Will it make you less likely to get an iPad 2 with 3G?

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Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

With Verizon/iOS 4.3 personal hotspot do you still need 3G on iPad?


The battery on the iPad's built-in 3G lasts way longer and Rman is right, for GPS you need the 3G model at least, even if you don't use the 3G. Because AT&T is so bad in terms of coverage, I had both the 3G service on my iPad and the WiFi hotspot capability on my Droid X. I can say that the WiFi hotspot functionality was a nuisance on the Droid X because it would disable bluetooth (headsets, hands-free in car no longer work), it would cut out when a call came in, and the battery would drain too fast.

Right and you go through 2GB very quick on an iPad. You still need the 5Gb plan. Unless of course you have your iPhone JB and use MyWi and your unlimited plan, like me!

I had a droid with tethering (switching to the iphone the day it comes out) and I also had the ipad. I know from experience that it is terrible having to enable personal hotspot every single time you want to do something and it kills your battery life. I think that unless the battery in the next iphone is good enough that it can tether all day on one charge it is just not worth the hassle. Tethering to a laptop is a completely different story, to use a laptop you really have to sit down and turn it on etc. while an iPad is meant to be taken out and used while standing which would make it all the less convenient to use if you had to take out your iphone and turn on tethering first. If you use your laptop on the go then it may be worth it, but if you are not planning on using it on your laptop and only on your ipad then it is not, the extra 10 dollars a month is worth the price.

Yes. $29 AT&T unlimited plan on my iPad since day one. While hotspot will be nice for wifi models. Georgia I just want to say that you and Rene, Chadman and all other on the site RULE!!! Now that I have kissed the tipb butt. Can I win a verizon iPhone for my girlfriend so I can use mine. Lol thanks

I thought about it, but decided no. Of course, there's the battery drain issue for the iPhone with Hotspot on, but it's really the loss of convenience that will annoy me. I don't want to have to go to my iPhone to turn on Hotspot every time I want to use my iPad, I want my iPad to just work.

That does make it an interesting choice. But that's assuming that you'll always have your iPhone around when you're using your iPad where theres no WiFi available in that area. Hm ... Interesting indeed.
I would still get the iPad w/3G.

...and assuming you have an iPad as well. Taken even more literally, this also assumes one has interest in connecting to the Internet.

I am keeping my iPad unlimited plan without a doubt. Changes nothing for me.
An iPad without wifi actually seems kind of pointless to me. Clearly it was meant to have always on internet access without any other device to help it. IMHO.

Seems like a hassle. iPad is for on the go. It's easier to tether to a laptop cause you are sitting down mostly

Putting aside the issue that to use the wifi tethering will require getting rid of the AT&T unlimited plan...
As I understand it, to tether over wifi it will cost $50 (all in) on Verizon, allowing unlimited data from the phone and 2GB via the tether... on AT&T $45 (all in) for 4GB.
Considering that most people probably would use less than 2GB on the iPhone itself (ignoring tethering), either option seems as good as... or better than... paying for an iPhone data plan AND $25 for 2GB on the iPad.
On a 3G iPad, the device will always show a preference for using a wifi service when available versus cellular... thereby maximizing throughput and minimizing the drain on the 2GB cellular plan allotment. If you rely on wifi tethering and don't consciously turn it on and off (which is VERY annoying), your iPad will ALWAYS associate with the iPhone, even when a better connection might be available (since the iPad doesn't know the difference) - I believe once the iPad associates with the mobile hotspot it won't go looking for other wifi unless the mobile hotspot becomes unreachable. (Another downside to using the wifi tether to provide a constant connection to the iPad is the obvious battery drain on the iPhone)
For the jailbreakers of the world, the Mywi Hotspot on Demand solves this issue beautifully by establishing a bluetooth connection whenever wifi disappears and dropping the bluetooth when wifi comes back... which means that you would be tethered only in those situations where the iPad doesn't have its own wifi available.
Since tethering on the iPhone can be established via bluetooth and (soon) wifi, it would be great if Apple added to iOS the ability to be on the client side of a BT tether and to make it dynamic like the Mywi app.

I have an iPhone 4 and an iPad 3G 32GB. I got my iPad in June, and I've only bought data for it twice. My iPhone does everything my iPad can do. When I'm at home I tend to use my iPad more. Once this hotspot feature comes out, I'll definitely begin to carryy iPad to work with me more. I have 6GB a month for feathering so it's not an issue for me. The worst thing will be the battery drain. But the iPad on 3G burns battery pretty fast anyways. I love this new feature and can't wait for it.

For new iPhone users, that'd be the way to go. $20 for 2GB would be a deal, plus you could use it it a laptop if you wanted/needed to.
But for those of us with the $30 unlimited data plans on our AT&T iPhones, AT&T won't let us add tethering without dropping our plan to the $25, so it's not as much as a deal for us.
Poor planning on AT&T's part though, I rarely use "unlimited" and if they'd just let me pay $20 for the tethering and limit it to the 2GB that it looks like they're doing with the data, they'd actually be making $25 a month from me (the $5 I pay for the data plus the $20 for the 2GB) instead of a potential $20; instead they're not making anything extra.

I also have unlimited and I looked back at my data usage for as far back as they could show and i realized I had only gotten to 2GB of usage twice.. I am one of those data crazy people however I stay connected to wifi at home and at work so most of my usage is on wifi. I feel AT&T should do exactly what you suggested for those of us with unlimited plans and I'll be one of those that get it.. for the few times I am not at home or work and just feel the need to use my ipad even though I have an equally capable iphone 4 in my pocket. I dont see the need for an ipad 3g in my case when I have an iPhone with 3G and wifi connections at work and at home.. It will just be redundant to own one.

If you need GPS for more accurate location mapping then you sill need the 3g model. However, those who are planning to tether probably already have that on their phones so it may not be as important.
I could do without it. I prefer having the 3g on my iPad as an option even though I very rarely use it. Plus, tethering through my T-Mobile MyTouch 4g is much faster than using the 3g on the Ipad.

I use MyWi right now and it was the reason I decided to get a wifi model of ipad over a 3g. My ipad is mostly a e-reader and gaming on the go. If the occasion comes up that i need/want to go online and not use my iphone i can tether it and use my 6gig data plan.

I will still keep my unlimited AT&T iPad data plan for when I'm in a major metro area that actually has 3G from AT&T. However, I will add the hotspot feature to my Verizon iPhone when I'm traveling so I can have 3G service almost everywhere and not just in metro areas.

I agree with the comments at the top. Assuming the features stay the same, $100 is worth it for the GPS, battery life, and convenience. My iPad doesn't leave the house as much as my iPhone, making the pay-only-when-you-need-it option a better deal, and tethering/hotspots are a real pain. Most of the time you're indoors, at home, the office, coffee shops, hotels, there's wifi anyway.

In 4.3 is possible to share the connection with the iPad using bluethoot, this consumes vey few power and it's possible to have the hotspot always active.

Battery drain is the manor issue, also much less convenient. No - I'll get a 3G iPad still.

Alan, I use the standard method of Mywi usually. Just open the app, hit on and then I'm connected. Once it detects I'm no longer accessing any of the wifi it disconnects automatically.

This has nothing to do with this story but I gotta say it.
From my perspective if you have an ipad 3G and an iphone then AT&T should give you hotspot for free on your iphone.

I was considering getting a 3G iPad 2, but the personal hotspot means I will surely not do it.
Not only does it save money up front, but it's cheaper. iPad data: 25/month for 2GB. iPhone tethering option: 20 extra a month for 2 extra gb (not to mention whatever's left over of your original 2gb)
I can't foresee a situation where I have my iPad, but not my iPhone. This is clearly the best choice for me.

I'm really glad and grateful for the iPhone and Chronic Dev Teams and for the jailbreaking tools that they have provided since day one and which they continue to work on for every new release coming out of Apple. That way I, and tens of thousands of people, do not have to jump through AT&T's and Apple's various hoops to use the data that we all pay for in the manner that we choose.
What does that really mean anyway, "the iPad doesn't have the feature built in"? With MyWi (currently v4; a jailbreak app), it is super easy to configure the iPad to "tether" to your iPhone's data connection and you even get to choose between methods (Bluetooth, WiFi, and USB) as to how you want your connection to operate. Wait, there is more! As of a week ago, the jailbreak add-on feature "MyWi OnDemand" makes this already easy process into a one-click affair.
Some people might question the legality of jailbreaking, but fear not, for our own Congress (for us in the U.S. anyway) has officially OK'd doing exactly that. And to those of you who like to argue the legality of it, you might want to also question the dealings of AT&T, Verizon and Apple, none of which have your rights or desires in mind and none of which have any problem with lying to you, overcharging you and "enforcing" a whole host of other "company policies", which are mostly designed to extract as much cash out of your wallet as possible, legal or not.

Here's my .02.
As stated above JB is not illegal! Therefor I saved myself over $100 on my 64GB iPad with just wifi. I have my iP4 JB'n and I paid $20 for mywi to hook up my iPad with. So I'm saving over $30 a month on a cell phone bill and it's all legit. On top of that with the lack of AT&T service (stop making bullsh*t commercials and spend ur money backing up ur BS!) paying that much money for an iPad SLOW 3G service would make my iPad experience a bad one.
Guess I'm just saying no need for a 3G iPad. Don't think there ever was a need.

if I could only tether my iPad to my iphone... I work somewhere that I cannot use a Mifi or any sort of personal hotspot because rogue/unapproved access points (regardless of where they connect to) will cause corporate security to freak out. The 3G iPad is ok tho because it's self contained...
so yeah, I still use the iPad data. :/

I've been tethering my Wi-Fi 64GB iPad with my Sprint Evo since the day I got it, works perfectly, no extra costs or overpriced plans. In general its been faster than my wife's 3G iPad, and when the Evo has a 4G signal it simply crushes the 3G iPad's performance (too bad Sprint/Clear's 4G signal is so inconsistent, I'll be very interested to see how folks pairing up a Verizon LTE HTC Thunderbolt with an iPad do).

I decided to leave my original iPad 3G and go with an iPad Wi-Fi only model because of the iOS 4.3 Personal Hotspot. The reality is that I don't use the GPS feature in my original iPad that much and besides, I always have my iPhone 4 with me if GPS is needed.
This week I'm on the road, out in the middle of nowhere, and have needed the Personal Hotspot for both my iPad and MacBook Pro. Spending and extra $20 for 4GB of total data seems a better deal than $25 for 2GB for just my iPad. I'm banking on switching between plans won't be a problem with AT&T.
Besides, if I don't like this arrangement there's always next year and a different iPad model.