iPhone data + iPad wifi = heaven!

2011 January 2
by Colin

I haven’t quite wrangled up the necessary funds to purchase an iPad yet– it seems that it’s not quite a niche that needs filling given I’m toting around an iPhone and a 13″ Macbook Pro wherever I go. However, one of the most discussed topics I see regarding the iPad is from novice Apple users who question as to whether or not it is worth paying for two cellular data plans; one for their iPhone, and one for their iPad.

There is a solution for some users if they are willing to take a few risks and modify the stock Apple OS. You can theoretically jailbreak your iPhone (if not already) and wirelessly tether the iPhone’s 3G connection so you can use surf on the iPad through the phone.

MiWi is an app (downloaded through Cydia for a one-time $20 fee, they also offer a free 3-day trial) that can setup your iPhone as a network access point (it will create a new “wireless device” that is available when you are using an iPad, laptop, etc.). Here’s a Wired article detailing the functionality of this “hack” (ironically the first thing that popped up on Google when I was trying to get to the MiWi home site). Now when you surf on your iPad, it routes the data transfer signal through your iPhone. Speed does not appear to be significantly degraded– you can easily still get up to 1 M/s download, so even streaming music or videos shouldn’t be a problem provided you have a strong connection to a tower (and you’re not in a location where 50,000 people might be trying to access that tower!)

If you go this route you just have to be careful about data transfer. MiWi keeps track of it for you, and you have a couple of options for visualizing it. Data transfer is key because new iPhone customers are likely on a tiered data pay structure– they have monthly transfer caps of either 200 MB ($15) or 2 GB ($25). I (and I assume many early iPhone adopters) am grandfathered in with an “unlimited” AT&T plan (which will eventually turn out to be like Comcast’s version of “unlimited” but for now you can’t beat it)– these individuals should be salivating at this post by now. Regardless of plan, you can obviously run up a few hundred megabytes very, very quickly browsing, so you might want to up your iPhone data transfer cap if you are at the bottom end their plans. However, this $10 bump would still be much cheaper than buying a whole new data plan for the iPad.

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