Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

Summary: Verizon iPhone customers not enrolled in a mobile hotspot plan may want to consider adding that feature to the data plan. It just might save you money.


When I bought my iPhone 4S last year I made a conscious decision to turn down the mobile hotspot service due to the additional monthly cost of those plans. I enrolled in the standard 5GB/month data plan without the ability to use the phone as a hotspot for getting other devices online as needed. I have come to regret that decision, as my tablets don't have integrated data capability and the ability to use my iPhone as a hotspot would regularly come in handy. What I found when I checked into it was the hotspot service would actually save me money.

See also: iPhone 4S: Day 1 with an Android phone owner

Last week I decided to look into adding the mobile hotspot service to my iPhone plan and was surprised to discover that Verizon has special data plans including hotspot service for the iPhone that end up being cheaper than my data only plan. I was able to change my plan from the standard 5GB data plan (no tethering) at a monthly cost of $50 to a 4GB data plan plus 2 GB additional hotspot data for just $40 per month. I traded 1GB of regular data for 2GB of hotspot data and saved $10 monthly.

It is no secret I use mobile devices to do real work on a regular basis. That is a hot button topic, with past coverage generating responses from those who don't believe it can be done. Responses also delve into what the real definition might be for "serious work" or "real work" when it comes to using gadgets such as tablets. Whatever others might feel about doing this work on a tablet, I do a lot of it and have no question of the value the iPad or Android tablet brings to my work.


I use the iPad 2 for most of this work, and increasingly run into situations where Wi-Fi hotspots are not available when I need to get online. Since activating the hotspot service with Verizon I find tethering the iPhone to the iPad to be so convenient, and it eliminates planning to make sure I am around a Wi-Fi hotspot all the time.

My next iPad will have integrated connectivity, either 3G or better 4G, if Apple decides to go that route. I used to think it wasn't worth the extra expense but I am using the iPad so much for real work that not worrying about connectivity is worth the extra cost. Meanwhile, until the next iPad is released I am happy tethering my iPad 2 to the iPhone 4S to get 3G connectivity as needed.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Tablets, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

    Yeah but if your 4s is like mine and others, that Hotspot will refuse to broadcast the SSID quite frequently! This feature worked fine on the iPhone 4 with iOS 4.
  • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

    Is that plan iPhone exclusive? If not, I don't understand the title.
    • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

      @Aerowind No, it isn't... I transfered the same plan to my Rezound when I got tired of the things, like this hotspot, not working right on my iPhone 4s.
  • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

    I dunno, with wi-fi everywhere, it gets increasingly difficult to justify the expense of broadband. I have an embedded 3G modem in my netbook. As much as I like the convienience and clean connection (no dongles) I couldn't justify the exense. So now it's dead. Tried tethering on my Incredible, and this saves me money over costs of 2 data plans (one for phone, one for 3G netbook) but again, I couldn't justify the expense. So now the tethering is gone too. The market for embedded 3G was a GREAT concept, but totally killed off by the greedy pricing models of the carriers.

    What is needed is "bucket" data pricing where you can attach multiple lines to one bucket of data as needed at nominal additional cost. In most countries, tethering is included as part of the data service. The current business models are windfalls for the carriers but stink for consumers, at least here in the US. If embedded 3G/LTE is to take off so that economies of scale can bring down the prices of embedding the chips on the motherboards or pci-cards like wi-fi, the pricing models need to radically change. But profit-driven as the US telcoms are, I see no chance of this happening. Sad.
    • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

      US carriers seem so strage, you buy 5gb of data, then they say how you can and can't use it. You bought the data didn't you! It makes sense to restrict usage(sort of) if they gave unlimited options because then it is too easily abusable, but they don't even offer that!
    • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

      @podstolom @beenman500
      Bucket what bucket? If they charge for SMS separately from data plan! Why what is SMS isn't that data as well? Carriers get away with whatever they want and have the publish suck it up since... hey... it's not like you got a choice if you want wireless service right?
      US carriers are far too greedy to do that and they won't allow it anyway since they have defacto monopolistic power and the "open market" is just a fabrication... an illusion to give the impression you have a choice as a customer. There is no choice and it's all the same crap... all that can be done is to try and use some way around a loophole that hasn't been patched yet.

      Back to your point of bucket... the first one you would think they would have done is to share data on family plans right? Well have you seen any company do that? All they want is your money and they could care less about adding value giving you more bang for the buck.

      Heck they don't even allow you to buy a smartphone without a dataplan... what if I wanted to use it only on a WiFi? Or what if I wanted to just go on a pay per use plan? Obviously they make sure not to offer pay as you go priced an even remotely attractive way... they price it absurdly instead so people won't even consider it and will go for monthly data plan instead.

      If you don't need data plan... ditch it! It's a waste of money and often more a luxury than a real need. If only more people had some cojones and ditched their data plans and toys we would be able to force some real competition and have plans that would be priced in affordable ways instead of ending up paying thousands of dollars a year for phone that often are only used very sporadically. Maybe since we have been rendered incapable to take action demanding something better...then perhaps we do deserve what we get (?).
  • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

    I wouldn't have an Apple product if you gave it to me! They are JUNK and Apple cares NOTHING about what customers want or need.
    • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

      @jimbritttn Thank your for your thoughtful, informative, relevant and unbiased post.
  • I wouldn't have an Apple product if you gave it to me!

    Thats about the only way I will ever own one, I simply can't justify the added expense coupled with the locked-down system environment, at least Windows and Linux let you use pretty much whatever system or hardware you want, without giving Apple another B J everytime you neeed something proprietary.
    • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

      @jaybyrd Care to back up your little tantrum with some examples other than just your hate? Please explain to me how having an iPhone cost me more than using an equivalent smartphone, assuming I even liked it as much.
  • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

    Hi, I have felt for a long time that you folks in the US were 'ripped-off' by your providers, 3 mobile ( here in Sweden have recently launched a plan which would be the stuff of your dreams, based on the above, Here are some of the details. ;-

    Cost: 399Sek/mth (just over $60)
    Data: 20GB/mth (no overage charge, speed is cut)
    Speed: 32Mb down 4.6Mb up
    SIM cards/plan: 2 or more
    included in price is, for example, iPhone 4S 16GB, Galaxy SII or Note.

    I know you probably think I am talking BS, but honestly FREE 'top of the line phone', 20GB data allowance and multiple devices sharing the same plan for $60/mth.

    Oh, and I almost forgot to say there is no extra cost for tethering.

    you do have to pay for calls ($0.15 per call + $0.06 per minute) and SMS ($0.06).

    Are you jealous?

    My contract (approx.)$45/mth for 2 years gets me $45/mth of usage in a mix of ad-hoc use or service bundles in any mix I choose, and includes a no-charge Atrix 4G (which as an offer included HD multimedia dock and laptop dock, at no-charge). Does anything your side of the pond compare?

    • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

      Way to Go Sweden! Show 'em how it's done RIGHT!!! :)))
      I'd give anything to see Verizon Wireless's CEO's jaw drop and eyes go wide with mortal FEAR if he saw a plan like this.
  • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

    What ?! Save the cusomer some money?! Verizon will figure out a way to stop that nonsense !
  • It's hard to understand members of the more money than brains club

    Clear Apollo 4G mobile hotspot - $50/month unlimited data
    T-Mobile prepaid SIM - $8/month

    Monthly cost for calls and data across my smartphone, notebook and netbook - $58. No data caps, no overage charges, no throttling, NO CONTRACT, and it's at 4G speeds.

    Wanna talk about saving money? My methods can turn even a lame 3G iPhone into a fast 4G iPhone, and offer unlimited tethering!
  • RE: Using the Verizon iPhone as a hotspot may save you money

    I have problems with that personal hotspot feature on my iPhone (with AT&T). Even if I leave it activated, I pretty much have to turn personal hotspot off and then back on to use it. Otherwise, my tablet won't connect. I finally bought an iPad 2 with 3G plan on AT&T rather than keep using the iPhone tether or a mifi device.
  • I won't do this for several reasons...

    The iPhone battery is the smaller of the two and you would have to plug it in to use it as a hotspot.
    The iPhone does not yet have LTE and the speeds of the 3G won't approach the max of 14.4 Mbps anyway.
    The plans available aren't unlimited unless you were grandfathered in at ATT.

    My plan is to keep my LTE hot spot card and wait for Verizon to offer a data plan for ALL my devices even if their is a cap. Then I can consider the savings.

    Until then I will stream Hulu+ and Netflix over unlimited ATT 3G and use it until I get throttled and make up the difference with my 5GB 4G LTE plan from Verizon.
  • Assuming you have decent LTE or 4G speed

    This may work with Verizon. But on Sprint, there is "the myth of 4G". I'm a travelling consultant, and I spend most of my time in major cities around the US. 1 time out of my last 20 locations I actually got something called 4G (if you call 500kbps fast). Every other time, 4G is not available. Places like Dallas, Raleigh, Kansas City, Chicago, no 4G. So to depend on 3G (at abou 200kbps) for multiple devices in a hotspot configuration? Try the US mail. It's faster!