iPad mini: Mobile hotspot for 12+ hours, perfect emergency tool

iPad mini: Mobile hotspot for 12+ hours, perfect emergency tool

Summary: The iPad mini is many things to different people, but with the right data plan it can replace a MiFi with over 12 hours of connectivity.

TOPICS: iPad, Mobility
iPad and mini
iPad 3 and iPad mini

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.

See also:

Topics: iPad, Mobility

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  • I'd say that's about the best use for it...

    ...considering it's one of the few uses that doesn't require you to look at the godawful display.
    • ????????

      I look at my mini screen all the time including typing this message right now.... It looks fantastic. What's so horrible about it other than media hype and spec sheets?
  • iPad vs. iPad mini in hotspot service

    Remember that the original iPad (and all the 10" versions) have a much bigger battery than the iPad mini mainly because the screens are much bigger. If you are using the devices as only a hotspot, and you aren't powering the screen, the amperage drain should be very similar between the two devices. Therefore, I would expect that the iPad mini would have a much shorter battery life than a full iPad when in hotspot only usage.
  • Any hotspot device...

    Any LTE hotspot device could have performed the same function as the iPad Mini did in your example. Fact is the iPad Mini is a lack luster device that Apple over charges for. If it had retina, which I assume it will on the next release, then maybe but it still would be about $100 more then I am willing to pay.
    Rann Xeroxx
    • Uh huh..

      Tell that to the millions who already ordered it.
      Eric Litvin
  • Square peg in circular hole

    20 hours of run time won't do much good if the 10GB data cap renders it useless far before the battery depletes.

    You would save far more money buying a decent extended battery for your existing mobile hotspot than using the overpriced iPad Mini for tethering. To be honest, you could do everything mentioned in the article with just a LTE smartphone and a universal extended battery, WITHOUT a 7" tablet or mobile hotspot device to begin with.

    Here's an article suggestion James - let's discuss how to save REAL money by making smart gadget choices. There are better emergency tools out there than Apple!
  • Home office?

    I don't get why battery life matters... Why are you using a battery at all and not just plugging it in?
  • Home office?

    "I don't get why battery life matters... Why are you using a battery at all and not just plugging it in?"

    And what is it compared to the battery life of the three devices he is tethering?

    I have a Verizon MiFi... or did, until I gave it to a friend who is outside the reach of cable and DSL internet.

    I gave it away because it has been replaced by my "everything" shared data plan on an AT&T Atrix 2.
    I pooled data across devices that were greatly varying in cellular data needs, coming up with a lower monthly cost and more data for the device where I want it.

    Same description as the iPad Mini in this article, in a device I already have.

    Battery life of the Atrix seems no worse while operating as a hotspot than without, which is to say, quite variable. I think hotspot uses less power than display.

    Battery life of the phone can be extended by plugging it into the USB of the laptop, and continuing to operate as a hotspot while charging, something I had to hack a cable to accomplish with the MiFi.

    I could also use my universal USB charger gadget. Mine is Ryobi, but a bunch of different ones exist now.

    For long outages, I use an inverter running off my car battery.

    -- clarence
  • what about the AT&T version?

    does the AT&T version allow tethering or did AT&T prevent it?