All iPads Anyone else considering switching from an LTE iPad to wifi only with iOS8 continuity?

BrettDS

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 14, 2012
1,089
224
Orlando
Every single iPad I've owned, going all the way back to the original iPad has been a cellular one. I use it a lot on the go and love not having to worry about finding a wifi hotspot. A year or two ago, when I switched cellular plans to one that allowed tethering, I considered switching to a wifi only iPad, but after playing around with it for a little while I discovered that it was too much of a pain to enable the hotspot on the phone, then connect to it from the iPad each time I wanted to access data on the iPad when I was away from wifi.

But iOS 8 has me reconsidering. Now it's possible to leave the phone in my pocket and connect to it's hotspot from the iPad without too much effort. I turned off cellular data on my ipad a day or two ago and I'm hoping to use it that way for a few weeks to see if it's something that I can do long term. Here are the advantages and disadvantages that I see right now:

Advantages:

-Save money. It's an additional $130 to get a cellular capable iPad and in my case, an extra $10 per month to add it to my data plan, so if I buy a new iPad every year, this will save me $250 per year. Buying a new iPad every two years I'll save $185 per year.

-OK, maybe that's the only advantage, but saving a couple hundred dollars a year is a pretty big one

Disadvantages:

-It's still somewhat less convenient. iOS 8 doesn't automatically connect to the personal hotspot on the phone, so if I'm away from wifi then I'll need to go into settings and manually connect to the hotspot whenever I want to use data. Not really a big deal and it only takes a few seconds, but still less convenient than it was. It also means that I won't always have current email and other notifications because the iPad may not have a data connection all the time. Finally, it doesn't automatically switch off of the personal hotspot once a known wifi network is available. If I'm not careful I may wind up burning through cellular data when I could have been on wifi.

-Big blue personal hotspot active banner on the phone whenever the iPad is connected

-I'm not sure how much this will affect battery life on the phone. I'm sure it will have an impact, but I'm not sure how significant it will be

-The iPad is easier to use since find my iPad will only work if it has a wifi connection. Granted I've never lost an iPad, but with a cellular capable device I know that it will be findable in a lot more places as long as it can get a cellular signal. Of course, along the same lines, if I save $185 or $250 per year, then it will only take 2 or 3 years until I could pay for a new iPad to replace a lost one with my savings.

So, after all that, has anyone else made the switch or is considering making it? Any advantages or disadvantages that I've missed or other thoughts?
 

KeepCalmPeople

macrumors 65816
Sep 5, 2012
1,292
355
San Francisco Bay Area, California
You say you use it a lot on the go. A cellular iPad is therefore a no-brainer IMO. I think the new streamlined tethering in iOS 8 is for the occasional user. It may persuade those who use their cellular iPad capabilities rarely, but for those who use them regularly, it's worth the extra cost.
My next iPad will be cellular again.
 

SHirsch999

macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2011
652
180
Get a t-mobile SIM card. As long as you have a decent network for them you get 250 mb/mo free. Depending on your usage that will save you the $10/mo. It's more than enough for me.
 

iRobby

macrumors 6502a
Mar 22, 2011
994
5
Fort Myers, FL USA
I am switching. I am still using my first and only iPad the iPad 3 Verizon LTE 64GB.

I plan on getting an iPad Air 2. WiFi only. Reason being. I owned this iPad since March 16, 2012 and I subscribed to the a Data Plan only one month. Everywhere I use it has WiFi. Also, in the future I can tether it to my iPhone 6 Plus if needed.
 

BrettDS

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 14, 2012
1,089
224
Orlando
Get a t-mobile SIM card. As long as you have a decent network for them you get 250 mb/mo free. Depending on your usage that will save you the $10/mo. It's more than enough for me.

Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm afraid it wouldn't help me too much. I usually use 1 to 2 gigs of data a month on the iPad, plus I'd still have to pay the extra $130 for the cellular iPad.
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Jan 18, 2008
1,866
703
Hawaii, USA
I'm actually disappointed in the new tethering feature. It's an advantage over the old wifi option, but in my opinion it is still inferior to Bluetooth tethering. Here's why:

1) Both require accessing the settings, the new feature for the wifi screen and selecting the iPhone, the Bluetooth method for initiating an active pairing. There's no time-saving advantage.

2) Once the connection is made, the wifi-based tether times out if there's no internet activity. The Bluetooth connection remains on until one device goes out of range or has Bluetooth disabled. Thus, you can pair once and be tethered all day long.

3) Bluetooth is more power-efficient. It'd be interesting to see how much battery drain would occur in head-to-head trials comparing the wifi with timeout compared to Bluetooth active all day, but I wouldn't have the patience to keep reconnecting the devices even with the new, easier wifi connection. I don't need to tether much these days, but one year ago I did it regularly with a 1st-generation iPad mini and an iPhone 4S and found that the battery drain was surprisingly minimal when tethering all day (9 AM to 6 PM straight).

4) Bluetooth is technically a slower transfer medium than wifi, so your iPad won't have the full LTE speeds when tethering over it... but in practice, I never felt that the connection was slow. If you're doing heavy upload/download activity it might be a factor.

Given how Handoff relies on Bluetooth, I really expected Apple to have both devices tether automatically through Bluetooth as well. The technology is perfect for it, and most people who try to tether don't seem to be aware of it (nor of its benefits over the standard wifi tether). Once I learned of it, I figured there was no point in my purchasing an iPad with cellular. Some people may still need it, but Bluetooth tethering is fantastic and far more convenient than the wifi-based tether, even with iOS 8's improvement.
 

tmarks11

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2010
509
32
Unless they include GPS on the wifi model (which I doubt), I will buy the LTE version. GPS installed is worth the extra money even if I didn't use data.
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Jan 18, 2008
1,866
703
Hawaii, USA
Unless they include GPS on the wifi model (which I doubt), I will buy the LTE version. GPS installed is worth the extra money even if I didn't use data.
I did a little test once and it seems that if you tether, your iPad pulls GPS data from your iPhone. If anyone is curious about this I can try to do a more involved test to see if that's what's really happening.
 

BrettDS

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 14, 2012
1,089
224
Orlando
Unless they include GPS on the wifi model (which I doubt), I will buy the LTE version. GPS installed is worth the extra money even if I didn't use data.

I'm pretty sure that all iPads include GPS now. My kids iPad mini Wi-Fi only ones do. I think it was just the first gen that didn't.
 

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
8,357
4,345
I did a little test once and it seems that if you tether, your iPad pulls GPS data from your iPhone. If anyone is curious about this I can try to do a more involved test to see if that's what's really happening.
Nah, it's just using wifi location, not GPS. If you move to an area with absolutely no wifi, you'd lose the location even if the iPad is tethered to your iPhone.
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Jan 18, 2008
1,866
703
Hawaii, USA
Nah, it's just using wifi location, not GPS. If you move to an area with absolutely no wifi, you'd lose the location even if the iPad is tethered to your iPhone.
You might be right. I disabled wifi on my iPad and then tethered to my iPhone, and it reported that it couldn't find my location. I'm not 100% convinced, only because I know that location services on a Mac won't work if wifi is disabled (even if there's an active internet connection). If I remember to do so, I'll try again with wifi enabled in an area where the iPad doesn't pick up any other wireless networks.
 

tmarks11

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2010
509
32
Wifi model definitely does not have GPS.

Take a look at the Apple iPad tech spec page:

http://www.apple.com/ipad-air/specs/

About half way down the page under "LOCATION. The left column (wifi only) says "Wifi", the right column (LTE) says "Assisted GPS and GLOSNAS".



big mistake, IMHO, as GPS on an iPad is a killer navigation device.
 

BrettDS

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 14, 2012
1,089
224
Orlando
Interesting. I'm not sure how much the GPS matters in my decision, but it is something else to consider.
 

MiamiC70

macrumors 6502
Oct 16, 2011
276
60
I have iPad 3 LTE and even though I have only used LTE 1/2 dozen times I want GPS in my iPad. Only way to do that is buy LTE version.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.