The Verizon LTE-enabled version of Apple's new iPad has one clear advantage over its AT&T counterpart: the ability to act as a 4G mobile hotspot. But what sort of performance and longevity can buyers expect from this feature? Apple's own battery estimates provide no clear indication of how long the iPad will hold a charge when sharing its LTE connection with other devices. Without a definitive figure, it might seem reasonable to assume that hotspot usage would mirror the company's 9-hour estimate for browsing the web on LTE. Yet, as AnandTech recently uncovered and our own testing confirms, the new iPad can actually offer an astounding 24+ hours of hotspot functionality under the right conditions.
Still, it's important to point out what those "right conditions" are. First and foremost — and easily the most inconvenient aspect of this — the iPad's beautiful Retina display must remain off if you want to reach the absolute maximum of its hotspot endurance. During our testing, we also disabled notifications and push email accounts known to slowly chip away at battery percentage. After configuring a nearby laptop to utilize our iPad's LTE connection, we ran a test that continuously cycled through web content on the machine. To our pleasant surprise, things ran largely in line with AnandTech's initial discovery. Perhaps that's to be expected from the massive 42.5Wh battery that rests underneath the new iPad's 9.7-inch display, but we're so accustomed to seeing LTE devour battery life that it's hard not to be taken aback. Best of all, we saw no evidence of dropped or stalled connections. That's not to say there aren't caveats here: LTE reception in our Manhattan office is top notch, and it remains unclear how things would fare in areas with weak signal.
Of course, Apple doesn't advertise its latest gadget as a $629 wireless router, but the idea that you can turn get this kind of sustained operation from the new iPad is reassuring. For those in locations with LTE service, it also makes a compelling case for opting to go with the new iPad on Verizon rather than AT&T, at least until Ma Bell enables the feature for its customers.