Airprint, Wireless Direct and 4G LTE

velocityg4

macrumors 601
Original poster
Dec 19, 2004
4,635
1,212
Georgia
I can't find an answer to this. When connected to a printer for Wireless Direct printing. Can an iOS device still connect to cellular data for internet access or will it try using the WiFi connection provided by the printer?

Background:

A client of mine wants a new printer. They want one of the refillable Ink tank printers. Unfortunately I cannot find any with Bluetooth. From the looks of things Bluetooth printers are a dying breed.

This person only has an internet plan for their iPhone. No WiFi in home office or home internet. When connecting to a new printer via Wireless Direct. I need to know if this is going to be a problem.

Currently they just print using USB on a laptop and connect to the phone via WiFi for internet access. So that will be another potential problem with Wireless Direct printing.

As they need a new printer. They just wanted to add Bluetooth printing to the mix. So it would be possible to print directly from the iPhone. Also to make life simpler with their bookkeeper. As that person also connects to the iPhone for internet and USB for printing. They'd like to be able to simply connect to both wirelessly.

So, are there any options for this to work? Will they just need to give up on refillable ink tanks as an option?

I know there are Bluetooth USB adapters which work for connected devices. The concern with those is reliability and print/scan support via Airprint. I can't be recommending something that doesn't have a high level of reliability.
 

velocityg4

macrumors 601
Original poster
Dec 19, 2004
4,635
1,212
Georgia
More questions

Bluetooth viability: I'm finding inconsistent data. Some say Airprint does not work over Bluetooth. Others say it does work. Which is correct?

Hotspot: I just though of this. Can the iPhone act as a router. If the hotspot is active. Could the printer connect to it along with other devices? Would the iPhone be able to print via Airprint while acting as the hotspot? How about other devices through the hotspot?
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,379
704

cruisin

macrumors 6502a
Apr 1, 2014
961
218
Canada
Wireless Direct (as the name implies) lets you directly connect two devices over WiFi, and therefore skips over needing to connect to a wireless network first. The iOS device should still use the cellular data, but in my experience it depends on how well the WiFi device is set up. Some cheap WiFi controlled LED lights that I used took over the connection, so I needed to turn off and on WiFi to force a disconnect to use the internet. A printer I used over AirPrint worked as expected to scan and print while letting the phone connect to the internet over LTE.

Bluetooth printers (didn't realize they made these) are limited by the speed of Bluetooth (slow, so terrible for big documents and scanning in general) and you need to be in the same room to use them. Aside from the speed issue, WiFi is better as you can either directly connect to print or connect to the same network and print whenever you want even from a different floor. So I imagine that Bluetooth printers just cannot compete and are fading away.

AirPrint is a trademarked term (brand?) for a specific way to print and so it will only work wirelessly over WiFi (maybe over Ethernet as well). No Bluetooth or USB support. iOS devices have poor support for Bluetooth devices aside from audio and internet tethering, so I doubt they bothered with Bluetooth for printers.

WiFi hotspot use should support 5 devices, unless your phone provider added a limitation. Printing is possible as well, but I don't know if it takes over one of the 5 slots.

They should give up on ink tank printers if possible, as laser printers don't dry out and you get much more pages per "tank" (and it gets better if you get 3rd party toners).
 

slenpree

macrumors 6502a
Apr 13, 2010
704
160
UK
It depends if the DHCP server on the printer WiFi gives out itself as a default gateway. If it is designed properly it won’t do this and therefore the WiFi is only used for printing and your 4G will continue to work for internet.