Mobile devices by definition are meant to be carried around and keep you connected. It’s an easier bet with a Smartphone because, well, it is always connected. But what about Tablets? With the release of new Tablets we usually see WiFi only models sold alongside LTE or broadband models, the latter with a higher price tag, as well as ongoing payment to your provider. Sometimes the LTE models aren’t released at the same time as WiFi only models. So users looking to toodle around town with a Tablet that is WiFi only are forced to look for WiFi hotspots or tether to another device for connectivity. In most cases, once released, LTE Tablet models come with the ability to use the Tablet as a personal hotspot for other devices.
I’ve used an iPad 4 as a mobile hotspot when my wife and I are traveling and she wants to use her Netbook, or I need to do some serious work on a MacBook Pro. These are usually bursts of activity and not all day affairs. In previous lifetimes I relied on MiFi cards to do this work. But, if you did for some reason need to run a mobile hotspot off of a connected Tablet, you might want to take a look at the iPad Air or an iPad 3. More specifically, take a look the tests that Anand Lal Simpi at AnandTech has posted.
With the iPad 3, Anand Al Shimpi was able to use an iPad 3 with LTE as a mobile hotspot for 25.28 hours. With the new iPad Air he slightly adjusted his testing and was able to get 24.08 hours of constant connectivity hooked up to a MacBook Pro.
You need to read the post to see his testing parameters because I don’t think this is how most users would operate in real world conditions. Nonetheless, it is impressive to know that with an iPad Air in hand, you could get through the day if you needed to. These are impressive results for the iPad Air and the iPad 3, and I would imagine the iPad 4 would be comparable. There are many, myself included, who think purchasing a Tablet these days without a cellular plan, or access to one (via a Smartphone perhaps), isn’t the best way to get maximum usage out of the investment. Of course that calls for an investment of a different kind to pay for that connectivity.
Keep in mind that data plans between carriers are different and tethering can be an extra charge or tied to a Shared Plan, so make sure you pay attention to the details.