Wi-Fi vs USB vs Bluetooth: which method is best for tethering your iPhone? With the introduction of ‘Personal Hotspot’ (Wi-Fi internet tethering) in iOS 4.3, I wanted to find out how it compared to the existing USB and Bluetooth tethering options. The graphic below shows the results (download speed and remaining battery power) based on a test tethering my iPhone to my MacBook Pro using Wi-FI, USB and Bluetooth. Each test was run for 20 minutes, starting with a full battery and no apps (except the Settings and Clock) running on the iPhone. For this duration, I used my MacBook Pro to browse websites (as I normally would) and to test the download speed of the connection. Note: My iPhone is connected to the Optus 3G network.
Based on these tests, I have concluded that:
- Wi-Fi is the best tethering option for speed, convenience and features (e.g. multiple connections). I’d recommend connecting the iPhone to mains or USB power to prevent battery drain.
- USB is the best tethering option for power saving. Keep in mind the power you save on your iPhone will be consumed from the computer battery (if it’s a notebook that’s not connected to mains power).
- Bluetooth is the worst tethering option and I see no reason why you should use it over the Wi-Fi or USB options!