Ask LH: How Can I Tether My iPad To My iPhone?

Ask LH: How Can I Tether My iPad To My iPhone?

Dear Lifehacker, For Xmas I received an brand new iPad (with 3G), but I also have an iPhone 3GS with a data plan. I do not really want to go and get another data plan as I very rarely use all the allowance for the iPhone plan, as I mainly use them both at home or in the office. What I would love to do is ‘share’ the phone’s mobile broadband with the iPad. Any suggestions? Yours, SIM Sage

Picture by bfishadow

Dear SIM Sage,

While being able to share your data allowance between an iPhone and an iPad would be great, it isn’t something that’s possible with a standard iPhone and iPad combo. Mostly this is a decision about profitability rather than user convenience; telcos (and Apple) make more if they can sell you two SIMs.

While the iPhone includes a tethering option to allow sharing its connection with another device, this works via USB or Bluetooth, which means the iPad itself is out. (In Australia, we’re also relatively lucky that the tethering option is widely available through all iPhone carriers and doesn’t cost a fortune; in the US, the reverse applies, though that’s partly a consequence of offering no download limits on some iPhone plans and then trying to restrict those being used all the time.)

As with many iPhone-related issues, to solve the problem you need to jailbreak your phone so it can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Not everyone is happy to do that, but it does have a number of benefits. If you choose to go that route, here’s the steps to follow (as detailed by Lifehacker US writer Adam Dachis, who recently solved a similar problem for a stateside reader):

  • First, you need to jailbreak your iPhone.
  • Second, download the MyWi app from the Cydia store (which you’ll find on your jailbroken iPhone). You may have to search for it, but chances are you’ll just see it advertised on the Cydia front page. To buy it, you’ll need to authorise your account through Google or Facebook and Amazon or Paypal. Once you’ve purchased MyWi, click the install button in Cydia and it’ll install it on your iPhone.
  • Finally, launch MyWi application from your iPhone’s home screen and click the Wi-Fi button up top (the second button from the left). All you have to do is flip the “WiFi Hotspot” toggle and you’re ready to connect any other device via Wi-Fi. (You should also enable the WEP security option to stop wholesale leeching of your connection by fellow commuters.)

If you don’t fancy jailbreaking, the other possible option is to plug your iPhone SIM into some kind of Wi-Fi hotspot device to share its connection. However, that means carrying the hotspot around as well, and having a phone that won’t receive calls while you’ve taken the SIM out. But since most iPad SIM plans in Australia are pre-paid, experimenting to find out your actual usage isn’t too expensive.



  • If you’re not in a rush to jailbreak, iOS 4.3 (currently in beta) has a personal hotspot feature that allows you to share the 3G connection via wifi. It’s carrier dependent though, so it remains to be seen which (if any) Australian carriers will allow it, and if so if there will be an additional fee…

  • iOS 4.3 has wifi hotspot functionality built in, and it should be released very soon, so there is no need to jailbreak your iphone if you can wait a few days. Reports indicate Telstra will be supporting the iphone wifi hotspot functionality. I haven’t looked into other telcos.

    • I too am waiting for 4.3 to arrive to solve this problem for me. Maybe I can get some value from the 4GB monthly downloads I get with my iPhone plan.

      No wonder Optus so “generally” increased it from 1GB… it’s impossible to used that amount of data using just the iPhone. Esp when they cap any single download at 20MB.

      • With that 20MB limit, doesn’t that only apply to the iTunes store and not the internet at large? You could download a large PDF or use dropbox to sync large files to your phone.

        I use most of my 2GB quota watching YouTube 😉

  • Personally I prefer Bluetooth Tethering for the iPad and iPhone, I’ve been using iTether from Cydia since Aug 2010, saving $100 because Work pays for my mobile! IMHO Tethering over Bluetooth is much more efficient.

    I found this a bit tricky to setup, so here’s my instructions:
    1) Purchase the iTether app via Cydia on your iPad (not your iPhone).
    2) Turn off bluetooth on your iPad.
    3) Turn on bluetooth on your iPhone.
    4) Turn on internet tethering on your iPhone (if you missed step 3 it will ask you here anyway)
    5) Remain on the tethering screen on your iPhone.
    6) Open the iTether app on your iPad.
    7) Press the “More…” button to search for bluetooth broadcasting iPhones in the vicinity.
    8) Select yours (if you didn’t name it when first registered, you’ll have to go by the MAC address if you live near/work with multiple other iPhone users).
    9) On your iPhone, a pop-up should ask for your access key.
    10) On your iPad, a pop-up should tell you the access key.
    11) Enter the key on your iPhone.
    12) …
    13) Internets!

    Extra bits:
    14) You can now close the settings app on your iPhone, and the iTether app on your iPad.
    15) To shutdown, re-open the iTether app on your iPad and switch off the daemon. You can also turn off bluetooth and tethering on your iPhone if desired, but you don’t need to.
    16) Add iTether Springboard icon (search in Cydia) to quickly enable and disable iTether.

    A bit fiddly, but it does the job, and $15 cheaper than MyWi! The batteries last MUCH longer on the iPad and iPhone using iTether too.

  • If you jailbreak your iphone, just install PDANET Free from Cydia, creates a wifi hotspot for ONE device (or more if you buy the paid version). You can also tether to PC by USB or Bluetooth.

  • This selfishness on the part of the telecommunications companies is the reason why Google will dominate. Walls are comng down. Open will always win out. This closed Apple world cannot last. It is like communism of technology. People will revolt. Let’s hope net neutrality wins and we continue to have choice. competition against apple is the only reasons this walled garden will ever change.

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