Better option: 3g ipad or tether through iphone?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by barrett14, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. barrett14 macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2010
    I have an ATT iphone and it would be cheaper for me to tether a wifi only ipad through the iphone rather than buy a 3g ipad and buy its own plan.

    Am I making a mistake by doing this?
  2. huskerchad macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2002
    It's what I'd do. In fact it's what I'm doing. I have a 3G iPad that I'm replacing with a wifi iPad 2 because the tethering works well and as you say, is cheaper in the end--even paying through AT&T for everything and not jailbreaking is cheaper. Go figure.
  3. gostan macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2002
    West of Boston
    If you have lifetime data on your Iphone you will lose it if you elect to tether as ATT will not allow you to keep the grandfathered lifetime in place. Nonstarter for me.
  4. barrett14 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2010
    ya that is a downside but I only use about 250mg of data on my iphone each month... So with tethering I will have 4gb between the phone and ipad... don't see myself coming close to using it all so it wasn't a deal breaker for me.
  5. levitynyc macrumors 65816

    Aug 19, 2006
    I looked at my iPhone data usage and in 2 years, I never went over 2GB of usage. I'm usually at 1.2GB and thats with Slingbox usage.

    I decided to save 130 on the iPad 2 and just went straight Wifi and changed my plan to the tethering plan immediately.

    I'm never going to go over 4GB and saving 10 dollars a month compared to paying 25 just for the ipad data and the saving over the actual purchase made it a no brainer for me.

    Even IF end up using 6GB of data every few months (which is a ton of data) It'll still be cheaper just to pay for the overages.

    Also keep in mind that the grandfathered unlimited data may not last forever.

    Goodbye unlimited data.
  6. ukwildcat macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2009
    I think it depends how often you use your iPad away from wifi. For me, it's only about 2 months out of the year, so the increase in cost for 12 months for me doesn't seem worth it for tethering. Also, I like the flexibility of the 3G version.
  7. gmikesell macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2009
    When I got in line for the iPad 2 yesterday, I was planning on a wifi only model. However, while I sat there with my iPad 1 tethered, I realized I would need to conserve my phone battery as much as possible so using hotspot was not a good idea. That's when I engaged the 3G on my iPad 1 and decided I did prefer to get the 3G model.
  8. barrett14 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2010
  9. titans1127 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 10, 2009
    I chose to go with tethering as I still have an unlimited data plan and MyWi on my jailbroken 3GS. Definitely much cheaper in the long run for me
  10. Mark Booth, Mar 12, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011

    Mark Booth macrumors 68000

    Mark Booth

    Jan 16, 2008
    If you will constantly use your iPad via the cellular network (either with built-in 3G or tethered), then buying a WiFi-only iPad and tethering to your iPhone 4 is the less expensive way to go.

    If, however, you will only occasionally need to use your iPad on the cellular network, it is less expensive to but the 3G-capable iPad and buy 30-days worth of data as you need it.

    Also, you lose the GPS feature when you buy a WiFi-only iPad. So, if you have thoughts of using your iPad as some sort of navigational aid over 3G (turn by turn directions, etc.), you will want the 3G-capable version.

    Lastly, keep in mind that when you are tethering you are using up battery life on BOTH devices.

    For me, it seems worth the extra $130 just to get the ability to use built-in 3G data and the GPS. Just because I buy a 3G-capable iPad doesn't mean I have to use its built-in 3G. I could still tether it over WiFi and only turn on a 30-day supply of 3G data in the iPad if I feel I absolutely needed it. And this is one of the reasons I am considering getting an iPad 2 that is on Verizon. My iPhone is on AT&T and I have no intention of switching as my AT&T service is outstanding throughout my area. But when I travel, AT&T can get spotty. Having an iPad that can use Verizon instead would be helpful when traveling.

  11. levitynyc macrumors 65816

    Aug 19, 2006
    I was testing it out and its not too bad. It does get a little warm though.

    It really depends on your usage though. I don't plan on going anywhere away from an AC plug or WiFi for any extended period of time. Its just a very useful thing to have in case I need it, especially for my laptop.

    Its funny, my hotel WiFi went out last night for a few hours and REALLY needed to use my laptop for work and the tethering worked like a charge for me in a bind. Much better than finding a WiFi hotspot at 11PM.

    Keep in mind you can turn it off at any point on your AT&T contract and go to just 2GB.

    Sure, best case scenario getting the 3G model and data, but for myself, I'd rather save the 130 dollars up front and essentially only pay 15 dollars extra a month for something that is normal 25.

    Over the first year that is 250 dollars which will more than cover overages over my lifetime.
  12. sparkomatic macrumors 6502a


    Jun 8, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    I was gonna get a 3G but they ran out so went with wifi only and am going to do the same thing.

    I've heard MyFi is rough on the iPhone battery but I'll most likely be near a power source whenever I tether so I'm not to concerned.
  13. RyGuySD macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2011
    Confused Noob...

    Do I have this correct?
    I can either:

    - Keep my unlimited iPhone data plan (AT&T) for $30/month and spend the extra $130 upfront for 3G iPad plus ~$15 monthly to turn on iPad data on an as-needed basis, or
    - Lose my unlimited iPhone data by switching over to the 2GB data for $25/month and $20 for the personal hotspot feature. A total of $45 month.

    Is the personal hotspot/tethering feature ($20) able to be activated on an as-needed basis too, or would this option mean I *have* to pay $45 a month, even if I don't tether my iPad in a given month?

    Additionally, if we're on a family plan with 2 iPhones, is it possible to change just one of the data plans (to allow for tethering) and yet keep one phone with unlimited data (if we decide to Jailbreak)?

    If Option 2 is correct, it seems that I'd recoup the extra $130 for the 3G model in ~9 months. Then I'd only have to pay for data on the rare time I'm away from WIFI.

    If I have to pay $45 monthly for the *option* of needing to tether (which will be rare), it might make more sense to pay the $130 up front and save on the monthly data.

    Am I looking at this correctly?

    Or, maybe it's just easier to JB and keep our existing unlimited data.

    Thanks for spoon-feeding the noob!
  14. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Unless you plan on using the 3G service all the time with your iPad, I would use personal hotspot. It saves you $130 in hardware, money you can use for 6.5 months of data service.
  15. COSWORTH macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
  16. RyGuySD macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2011
    Thanks, Michael.

    Does this mean that my monthly data will now be $45 *every* month, or only for the months in which I activate the personal hotspot?

    I ask because I don't plan to use 3G often. If this is true, wouldn't it make sense to save the $15 per month on data (paying $30 vs. $45 monthly)? This way I'm only out the $130 for hardware (8.5 months to recoup with $30 data) and then paying the additional $15 one or two months for iPad data.

    Just making sure I understand how the pricing works. Again, thanks.
  17. physicsguy13 macrumors 6502


    Oct 5, 2010
    Huntiingon Beach, CA
    You can activate/deactivate the tethering feature any time but you will pay $45 every month that you have tethering active on your account whether you tether or not.
  18. JoelMarcey macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    Northern California
    I heard somewhere that tethering was pro-rated within in a month. So if you activate tethering and use it only for 7 days, you would pay a part of that $45 for that month -- like $12 or something.

    Is that true?
  19. mrcalabash macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Call me a data hog but one month while traveling with my iPhone I used over 8gb of data--from gps, and extensive music and Netflix streaming. Hotspot doesn't cut it if you have unlimited data. My wife has limited data so hotspot is an option on her device when traveling together.
  20. RyGuySD macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2011
    Is it possible for me to only change one of the data plans for our 2 iPhones on a family talk plan? This will allow us to keep unlimited data in hand (and JB just one of our lines).
  21. dmb420 macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2010
    IMO, it is significantly cheaper to jaibreak your iphone and install MiWi.

    This will allow you to create a wifi hotspot with your iPhone. Doing this allows you to save money by not having to buy a 3g iPad or pay extra for iPad data / tethering.

    If I remember correctly, MiWi Costs $20.00.. Totally worth it since it will pay for itself in 2 months.

    Plus, you won't have to sacrifice your unlimited data on the iPhone. (if you were one of those that was grandfathered in.)
  22. redman042 macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    I considered tethering but, for me it's just not a good option.

    Battery life on the iPhone is the biggest issue. With hotspot on, you will get far less battery life than a 3G iPad pulling data that way. I don't recall the number of hours but it's something like 3 or 4. May be plenty of time for many, but if you're streaming a movie or something, it might not be quite enough. Remember you also need battery left for calls.

    Second issue is convenience. I just want to whip my iPad out and use it instantly, no matter where I am at. That's part of what makes it "magical". Having to pull out the iPhone and launch tethering, wait for it to start, then wait for the iPad to connect, is just another added step and delay. For a real quick task like syncing Toodledo or checking stocks, I'll end up just saying screw it and using the phone. Now I'm enjoying my iPad less.

    But I can afford to put a little more money in to the equation to get maximum enjoyment. By no means am I saying that everyone should do this or that you won't enjoy the device as a result. Just another perspective.
  23. mrcalabash macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    I believe it is (although I'd check with att). I have a family plan but the data plan goes by individual phone. As far as family plan goes it seems to apply mainly to shared voice minutes and the option to buy unlimited texting for the group.
  24. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    I tether using my Droid X (I know I know). It isn't JUST about tethering my iPad, it is also about Tethering EVERYTHING. Just yesterday, I was at my parents house and I turned on Wifi Tethering and in the kitchen we had my Wife's Laptop, my Mother's Laptop, my iPad 1 and my MBP all tethered to my phone. Yes yes it was slow when we were all surfing, but we couldn't have shared my network connection if all I was using was my iPad. The other three laptops would have been out of luck.

    So really, Tethering goes waaayyy beyond the iPad.

    Edit: I should point out that the reason we used my Droid X for 'net usage was that the power went out so we could no longer use their broadband/wifi.

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