iPhone 4S Hotspot vs. MiFi Hotspot

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by johnnyindia, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2010
    I use a MiFi as a mobile hotspot. Costs $50 a month for 5G of data. I use it a lot while on the road, but hardly ever when at home.

    I found out my new 4S has hotspot capabilities and since my phone plan is unlimited data, does it make sense to cancel the MiFi and just use my iPhone as a hotspot? Or are there benefits to the MiFi over the hotspot?

  2. macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    The main benefit to having a separate hotspot is that it uses its own 5GB pool of data, whereas with a hotspot, you're sharing your data with your phone and any devices you connect with it. That, and with a MiFi, you don't need to have your phone in close proximity to your other devices for it to work.

    On AT&T, there is a slight limitation that they place on the hotspot, in the number of devices you can connect to it wirelessly. Even though the iPhone 4/4S can support up to 5 other devices over WiFi (and does so when on Verizon), AT&T for some reason limits you to 3. Though, you CAN hook up a laptop over a USB sync cable and share data that way, or you could pair a device using Bluetooth, and those two won't count against your 3. You do also get an added side benefit that your iPhone will charge over the USB sync cable while keeping your laptop connected to the internet.

    Lastly, if you have unlimited data and want to keep it on your iPhone, then you'll want to stick to your MiFi.

    I had unlimited data and a MiFi on a separate line, but even with the above caveats, I gave it up in favor of the 4GB personal hotspot plan with with my iPhone 4 (and now, my 4S). Why? I used the MiFi, but not enough that it made sense to keep paying for two separate data plans. Not to mention it's one less device to worry about losing or breaking, and since I always have my phone with me, I'm way more likely to have it for sharing my connection when I need it. it works great for tethering both my MacBook Pro, and my WiFi iPad when I'm traveling. And it saves me about $35 a month over having the separate data plans for my phone and the MiFi.

    In my experience, the 4S hotspot is pretty fast, at least as fast as the MiFi was. Your battery does get used up a lot faster, but, if you tether a laptop via USB like I mentioned before, that isn't a problem.
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2010
    Sounds like I should give up the MiFi since I only use it a couple months out of the year. But I don't understand this statement:

    "Lastly, if you have unlimited data and want to keep it on your iPhone, then you'll want to stick to your MiFi."

    Why will I give up my unlimited data plan by using the iPhone as a hotspot?
  4. macrumors 604


    Jan 8, 2012
    I don't think you can add tethering to an unlimited data package. So if you want to host a hotspot you'll lose your unlimited data.

    What I do is have a tablet on Verizon's network. Not only do you get to use the tablet (iPad or android) it includes tethering. So I get a lot of use out of it.
  5. macrumors Nehalem


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    You didnt say what carrier you're on.
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2010

    Just found out the tethering plan would be $45.

    The MiFi is $50 a month. So i guess I'll keep the Mifi
  7. macrumors 68020


    Oct 18, 2011
    Central U.S.
    Because the unlimited data plan doesn't offer the tethering service at all. You must change to a tiered plan with tethering supported data plan to use your iPhone 4S as a hotspot. Doing so, you will lose your unlimited data plan and won't be able to get it back. So I would just keep your mi-fi.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 9, 2011
    San Diego
    I carry a Verizon 4G LTE mifi with me everywhere I go, and the thing i like about it is the battery life seems to be better since it is separate from the phone. Since I have an AT&T iPhone, it's nice to connect to the 4G LTE mifi when AT&T 3G isn't good in a location... or I just use my AT&T iPhone when there isn't Verizon 4G LTE coverage or Verizon 3G is to slow. It's nice having a mifi hotspot handy... and even nicer if you have more than one carrier as on option when coverage is bad for a given location.
  9. macrumors G4

    Oct 14, 2005
    Actually, iPhone tethering on AT&T is $50/month now.

    Right now you're paying $80/month for data. $30/month for unlimited iPhone data, and then $50/month for 5GB of MiFi data.

    The $50/mo iPhone tethering plan would give you 5GB of iPhone data that can be shared tethering (by using your iPhone 4s as a Hotspot).

    Also, unless they just changed and nobody said anything about it, AT&T prorates plans if you change mid-billing period, so if you're not going to be needing tethering for awhile, switch to the $30/mo 3GB iPhone data (no tethering) plan. When you need tethering again, switch back to the $50/mo 5GB iPhone data (with tethering) plan.

    The "lose" here is that you'd lose your grandfathered unlimited iPhone data plan. Once you switch away from that plan, there's no switching back. But you'd have the potential to save $30-$50/month... You have to look at your data usage and see if it's worth it for you.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2012
    A question here, if I get an unlocked MiFi, would I be able to use it with at&t without contract?
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 27, 2010
    So Cal, USA
  12. macrumors G4

    Oct 14, 2005
    That's a decision the OP will have to make. For the potential of saving $30-$50/month compared to what he's paying now, it's at least looking into.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Sep 29, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    I thought that AT&T unlimited was really only a 3gb plan anyway with the throttling threshold they have set for it? If that's the case then it looks like your best deal is going to be to drop the "limited" unlimited plan and the MiFi and get the 5gb tethering plan for your iphone. As someone pointed out above, you'll save $30/month by doing that.

    I have an unlimited VZW plan for my IP4 and needed a hotspot on a recent family trip. I just logged into myverizon, chose the $20/2gb tethering plan and added it. It kept track of the data separately from my regular 3G usage. When I returned from the trip I logged back on to myverizon, removed the tethering plan, still kept my unlimited data and they pro-rated the tethering plan so I only paid for the portion of the month that I had it. I'm holding on to my unlimited only so that I have it with LTE when the next iphone is released. VZW throttles 3G unlimited at around 2Ggb, but does not, and supposedly will not (or cannot), throttle LTE.
  14. macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2012
    Re: iPhone 4S Hotspot vs. MiFi Hotspot

    Also, it's nice to have a MiFi if you need to be on a call and accessing data. I find that the iPhone data rate slows way down when I am on a phone call. For things like WebEx meetings where I want to be on the computer, it is nice to have the MiFi for the computer & dedicate the iPhone to the phone call.
  15. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2008
    Ideally, both. If you got the green. On different carriers, of course.
  16. macrumors 68020


    May 31, 2010
    Austin TX
    you can also use mifi (if your device supports) 4g.

    your 4s will only be 3g hspa+
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2002
    Lawrence, KS
    I'm actually having this question right now. I have Unlimited Data on my iPhone, I have a Verizon MiFi and I actually own but don't use an AT&T MiFi. I don't use my MiFi much either, so spending the $28 for 3GB on Verizon is a lot. Although, I am having trouble getting rid of THAT because it is such a great deal. I like the convenience of the separate MiFi, but it sure is hard to pay for it when you don't use it.

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