#1 Posted by MrPilkington (985 posts) -

So I'm looking to buy an iPad Mini with Retina this holiday season. I've decided on the iPad Mini, and I think that the 16 gig version is fine for me. I play a lot of games on tablets, but I generally play them one at a time, so I am fine with saving the hundred extra dollars for upping it to 32 gigs of storage and just erasing and downloading games. However, I am trying to decide whether I should get an LTE version or not. I had a 3G iPad 2 for a while, however, I NEVER used the cellular even once. I never even really had a reason to. In my current case though, I am moving to a University in the summer to finish my bachelors degree for two years. In between semesters, I will be living with my mother and grandparents for two or three weeks at a time and these are areas without internet. I currently own an iPhone 5 and was looking at the tethering feature for it. Is the signal strength better if I have cellular services built straight into the device, or is it just as good if it is tethered to a device? Should I consider getting the LTE version on the safe side (trying to keep costs down) or would I be fine during these stays at family members for the next couple of years, just tethering when I want to get online? Thank for your thoughts.

#2 Posted by MB (14392 posts) -

I know it's not a Mini, but have you looked into the deal that T-Mobile is doing with free 4G for life with iPad Airs? It's only 200mb a month free, but still.

#3 Posted by MrPilkington (985 posts) -

@mb: I've never even heard of this. So yes, I will look into it. The only issue is that in the areas my family lives, T-Mobile gets no service at all.

#4 Posted by Quid_Pro_Bono (586 posts) -

@mrpilkington: I just bought an iPad Air and went for the wifi only model. I have Verizon so the tethering is free on my 5S. Now, I can't speak technically about the signal differences between using the built in antenna in an LTE iPad and tethering to a phone, but I can tell you that I've used both my iPad and my MacBook multiple times with my phone's tethering and have never had any problems at all. In fact, I've often forewent sketchy public wifi for my phone's LTE just for security purposes. I used that ~$100 for the 32gb upgrade and never looked back. I prefer the freedom to have tons of apps, photos, and other stuff (I have iTunes match to avoid music clogging things up) to skipping the 30 second process of turning on the LTE tethering.

#5 Posted by wchigo (603 posts) -

From what I understand, tethering should give you just as good as a connection as if it was LTE enabled; the only thing to keep in mind for this is that it will use up your phone's data so you need to be sure your plan is substantial enough to support basically doubling your usage (in a matter of speaking, though you may use your phone less with the iPad around) and it will deplete your phone's battery quite quickly, so you need to make sure you're around an outlet or have a portable charger with ya.

Generally, the sentiment I hear is that if you can tether, do that and save yourself the $130; in that regard, it's probably better to use that money for extra storage but seeing as you think 16 GB is enough, just keep it for yourself and spend it on other things you'll enjoy. I assume you'll not be putting movies, music or podcasts on your Mini and just games? Otherwise, you'll find that the 12-13 GB available for your use goes very quickly.

#6 Posted by DriveupLife (1151 posts) -

I 3G tether to my ipad air from my iPhone 4S quite often and it's excellent. Almost exactly the same speed. Just be aware that your battery life on your phone drops very quickly while tethering.