Recently, it was announced that an updated iPhone OS will have support for Wifi tethering. Verizon is offering unlimited data packages, while AT&T announced today that they’ll offer an extra 2GB of monthly data transfer on the new iPhone Wifi tethering plans.
So if you happen to have an iPhone, why bother with a 3G iPad, when the Wifi version will be enough? Paying $25 twice for 2GB each of iPhone data and iPad data is $50, while for $5 less, plus the $130 you’ll save on the initial purchase, you can get 4GB of data to share between the two (and between any laptops you might have).
There are certainly some downsides – you’ll have to turn on and turn off the Wifi hotspot on the iPhone to conserve battery, and you risk running your iPhone’s battery down quicker. Gruber stated that in his testing on a Verizon iPhone, the hotspot feature used 5% every 20 mintues of hotspot use, or 15% per hour. The iPad’s battery is larger and is better suited to running for longer (and using the cellular data connection more frequently), however since you cant pool your data connections together (yet) and the 3G option is rather expensive ($130 for generation 1 iPads) you’re stuck using the iPhone as the hotspot. The only thing missing is a hardware hack to allow the iPad to recharge the iPhone so that the iPhone can last longer with tethering enabled.