My iPad mini arrived a day earlier than expected and circumstances forced me to put it right to work. I bought the 4G/LTE model on the Verizon network and added it to my Share Everything plan. It only costs me $10/month and it shares the 10GB data pool on my plan.
Before the device arrived it occurred to me that it would make a great MiFi-like device in a pinch. The long battery life (~12 hours so far) coupled with the fast LTE connectivity could be tasked as a mobile hotspot when circumstances warranted it.
Little did I know such a circumstance would occur right after receiving and activating the new iPad mini. Once the tablet was put on my Share Everything plan with Verizon (a quick phone call) I started downloading the apps I already own on the bigger iPad. I didn't want to install all of the dozens of apps I have on the big iPad as I rarely use some of them. Instead I set out installing the dozen or so key apps I use a lot but in the middle of that process the Internet connection in my home office died.
Given the timing of the outage I first thought it was a fault in the new tablet, but that was not the case. My entire AT&T Uverse web connection was dead.
I reached for the Samsung Mobile Hotspot device I use in such situations but remembered my hotspot theory about the iPad mini. The Samsung hotspot only gets about 4 hours of battery and with no idea how long my connectivity would be out I fired up the personal hotspot feature on the iPad mini.
One of the advantage of the Verizon Share Everything plan is that any data device can be used as a hotspot at no charge. That $10/monthly fee for the iPad mini was looking pretty good as I fired it up as a hotspot.
I shared the LTE connection with my Chromebook, iPhone 4S, and a MacBook for about four hours. The connection was fast and I couldn't even tell it was a mobile connection.
I kept the iPad mini battery consumption as low as possible by keeping the display turned off whileusing it as a personal hotspot. The Smart Cover kept the screen off by simply closing it.
The iPad mini used just under 40 percent of the battery with the 4 hours of dishing out lightning fast LTE to three devices. That is on pace with what I thought I'd get out of the battery while using it for connectivity.
That probably makes the iPad mini the perfect tool during extended outages like the recent storm in New York City. Being able to keep multiple devices online for a full 12 hours on a charge is a pretty powerful utility. In my case it will save me the $20/month I pay Verizon for the Samsung Mobile Hotspot I no longer need.
Update: I've heard from iPad owners that it can serve over 20 hours as a mobile hotspot. The iPad mini has battery life as good as the bigger iPad so it will likely serve as long in mobile hotspot duty. I haven't had the mini long enough to give it the full life test.