If you own an iPhone 4 and have upgraded to iOS 4.3, you might be aware that it included a new feature which allows you to broadcast your own personal hotspot. Some people now feel this has made dedicated hotspot devices redundant but that’s simply not true.
There are many reasons why you would want to own one or the other and perhaps even both. So, let’s take a look at the iPhone 4 personal hotspot VS a dedicated mini pocket wifi device.
iPhone 4 Personal Hotspot – Benefits
Perfect For Casual Users – There are plenty of compelling reasons to ditch the dedicated wifi in favour of the iPhone personal hotspot. The biggest reason would be if you’re a casual user and not an every day one and that’s because the vast majority of mobile carriers now include some data allowance with a plan.
If you only check Facebook on your iPad or laptop while out and about, only having a personal hotspot is ideal. Having said that, most people won’t fall into this category simply because they’re online every day.
It’s Always With You – If you own an iPhone 4, you probably carry it with you at all times. That’s great because it means you will always have the ability to set up personal hotspot. You won’t ever get caught out because you forgot to bring your pocket wifi with you.
Use All That Data Allowance! – When surfing the Internet, the vast majority of people use far less quota on their phone than when on a laptop or PC. Considering many mobile plans now include upwards of 200Mb of data allowance, a personal hotspot will give you more ways to use what you are already paying for.
iPhone 4 Personal Hotspot – Drawbacks
Battery Life – Just like everybody else, I love my iPhone but let’s face it, if you’re an every day user, you know how dismal the battery life is. Playing games, checking email, watching videos and listening to music is a major drain on the battery life of your phone.
Unfortunately, that’s nothing compared to how much battery life the personal hotspot feature chews up.
Surfing the Internet can easily consume a few hours of your time as well as your battery. Given constant use, you can expect to get about 3 hours of total battery life when using the personal hotspot feature. If you forget to charge your phone, you might spend the day unable to check Facebook and use Twitter. That can be very frustrating for those of us who love social media.
If you’re a regular user, the hotspot feature is great for a back up but you’ll definitely want to keep your pocket wifi with you at all times.
Data Allowance – Almost all mobile plans now include data allowance but the amount provided isn’t much if you are an every day user. Many mobile carriers charge expensive excess usage fees that can cause your phone bill to balloon out into the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
On stand alone data plans provided with pocket wifi modems, you enjoy a much larger quota because it’s purely a data service. Having a dedicated pocket wifi device and using the iPhone personal hotspot as a backup makes good sense if you are a regular user.
No Support For Personal Hotspot – Even if you’re fortunate enough to own an iPhone 4, not all mobile providers currently support the personal hotspot feature. If you’re on a prepaid plan such as one from Optus or with a company that resells network access such as TPG, you’re out of luck. Fortunately though, having a dedicated wifi modem can actually work out cheaper.
For example, TPG have a great mobile post paid plan that costs $14.95 a month (no contract). A Vodafone pocket wifi entry level plan which includes 1.5Gb of data costs $15 per month for a combined total of $29.95 a month for your phone and Internet access.
A comparable plan with Optus that includes less cap value than the TPG plan but the same amount of data as Vodafone costs $49 on their BYO plan. While this Optus plan will allow you to use the iPhone personal hotspot feature, you’re paying an extra $20 a month.
Lacks Support For Many Multiple Users – The iPhone 4 personal hotspot only supports 3 concurrent connections via wifi as opposed to 5 with a dedicated pocket wifi. For most people, this is a non issue but it’s something to consider if your family own multiple devices and kids who will want to access at the same time. It could be the difference between peace and quiet or fighting for access.
Finally, having a dedicated wifi hotspot won’t unnecessarily drain the battery life of your iPhone. If you’re anything like me, you always need mobile phone access and as well as a portable wifi hotspot.
If the iPhone 4 battery life was better, this wouldn’t be an issue but why run the risk of using up all your battery. It’s not only an inconvenience but extremely frustrating to be without a mobile phone. If you can’t afford to be without either, you’ll want to consider purchasing a pocket wifi and using your iPhone hotspot as a back up in case the primary connection goes down.
iPhone hotspot verdict? Ideal for light or infrequent use but every day users will want a dedicated hotspot device. If you’re looking for one, why not check out my Vodafone pocket wifi review. It provides fast speeds with sizable data quotas at a great price.