iPhone tethering is a process used to turn your device into a wireless modem or a movable wifi hot spot. Tethering your iPhone allows you to connect any wifi device such as a
laptop to the internet using your iPhone cellular connection using your iPhone data plan over 3G.
As you can see from the picture below, the iPhone is acting as antenna sending signal as a wireless router.
You can tether your iPhone in three different ways. You can use USB, Bluetooth, or wifi. With the USB option, the connection is wired. You will always be
charging your iPhone while tethering using USB as it will be connected through a USB cable. With wifi and Bluetooth, however, your iPhone could be a distance away from your laptop or your iPad. The Wifi and Bluetooth options are completely wireless. I will discuss the wifi option here in this page as I think it is the most common to use.
Types of iPhone Tether:
The first generations iPhones didn't support tethering because the iPhone software didn't support it then. The only way to tether your iPhone was through jailbreaking.
When iOS 3.0 came out, tethering was a built in feature and was available through the iPhone settings.
1) Apple Way of Tethering:
The default way or Apple way of tethering could be enabled from your iPhone by going to Settings --> General --> Network --> Set Up Personal Hotspot.
Once you have a tethering plan with your carrier, this feature will turn on. Some carriers charges for such a tethering plan. For example, it costs $25/month for a 2GB tethering plan with AT&T in the US.
Apple calls tethering "Hotspot". Once, you turn on tethering, your iPhone becomes a personal hotspot. You will see your iPhone network available for other wifi devices such as a laptop. Simply turn wifi on in your laptop and the iPhone hot spot will appear as an available wifi option.
2) Tethering Through Jailbreaking:
The other way of tethering an iPhone is available through jailbreaking. This method of tethering was available way before the iPhone software supported tethering. This tethering feature was available on iOS 2.0 and below through jailbreaking. The beauty of this tethering method is that it is free. All what you might pay is a one time fee which is the cost of the application from the Cydia store.
All your tethering usage after that is used from your iPhone data plan. I have unlimited data plan, and therefore all my tethering using this method is completely free.
There are two great tethering applications available in Cydia. PDANet and MyWi. MyWi is highly recommended as PDANet is a little complicated to set up.
iPhone Tethering with PdaNet:
PDANet is a free application from Cydia, but it is a little complicated to set up. After you install it, follow the following steps to establish a connection:
You need to make a shared network connection between your iPhone and your laptop called "ad hoc" connection or computer-to-computer connection.
1- Set up a computer-to-computer connection using the methods explained in those two sites for Mac or PC.
2- After you have established a computer to computer connection, on the iPhone wifi setting, select that network from the list of available hot spots.
3- Then run PdaNet.
4- Now on your laptop or iPad go to your list of available wifi networks in your wifi settings.
You should see your iPhone connection as an option in the wifi list. Select it and you will be able to go online with your laptop computer or iPad.
MyWi is the best iPhone tethering application from Cydia. It costs $20 and is much easier to use than PDANet.
1- After you download and install MyWi, run it and turn on wifi tethering in settings.
2- Give your network a name, under "WiFi Name"
3- Now enable wifi on your laptop, or iPad, and look for that name in your hotspot list.
Once you select your iPhone as the hotspot, you will be able to go online.
MyWi is simply the easiest iPhone tethering solution available. Your iPhone becomes a portable hot spot anywhere you go. Then, you can connect your laptop, your iPod touch, or your iPad to to the internet anywhere you go.
Drawbacks of iPhone Tethering:
Cost: Some carriers do not allow tethering your iPhone without a fee. Therefore, if you are using the free jailbreak tethering method, be aware that you might be required to buy a tethering plan.
If your carrier finds out that you are tethering your iPhone, they might add a tethering charge to your plan. AT&T offers a tethering plan for $25 per month for 2GB in addition to your iPhone data plan. Shop around and understand what the tether plan will offer.
Tethering your iPhone could drain your iPhone battery very quickly. Therefore, you have to be very careful not to forget tethering turned on for example, when you are not using it. Of course it is best to have an iPhone battery charger connected to your iPhone while tethering to keep the battery charging.
Tethering your iPhone allows you to use it as a hotspot anywhere you have cellular data coverage. You can tether your iPhone either by paying for a tethering plan from the carrier or by jailbreaking and installing a tethering application.