Apple plans cellular connection in laptops, finally

Yes, I was also quite baffled that Apple laptops apparently haven’t had 4G/5G connectivity yet. My two work laptops in the past five years both had it and I took this spec for granted in high-endish notebooks. Not so in Apple world, now I realize…

It can help. Especially if the CDMA/FDMA cellular bands are close to the 2.4Ghz WiFi band. If you are using 5Ghz WiFi it is less likely to interfere, although there are harmonic effects. Also if you are losing any data on the WiFi and you have to drive the retry requests through the also lossy cellular connection that is much worse then using IP over USB which is going to be far closer to zero loss.

Apple has statistics on how many Mac laptop owners are iPhone owners, and back when I had access to those numbers they were close enough to 100% that you could treat it as 100%. So it if you can actually make iPhone tethering seamless it makes more sense to offer that as the solution.

From a UX point of view it is basically “go to the WiFi menu and select your apple phone as if it were a WiFi network”. For me it almost always just joins up, makes the phone do its thing, and acts like I still have a network connection. If I’m going to be using it for a while, I connect the phone to the MacBook via a cable because it’ll keep it powered (and in theory sending the traffic over the wire is a better experience).

However not only do I hear from people from time to time about it not working, and occasionally (maybe 1 in 20 times) it doesn’t work for me and I need to retry or reboot the phone to make it work, it is also a resistant rumor on Mac sites which indicate lots of people think they would pay money for it. People don’t tend to want to pay money for something if they already have a “works perfectly fine” solution.

So while I think from the prospective of a MacBook user fixing the iPhone tethering to make it 100% reliable would be the best way to go, it is perplexing that Apple hasn’t decided at some point to make it another option they can get $100+ for, or something to add to the Pro line but not the Air as an additional way to justify the several hundred dollar price jump.

Hopefully if they do make it an option (or a free addition) they keep the weathering because I don’t want to pay my cell company an extra monthly fee for what I get free right now.


Thanks for this!

Interesting, thanks for that insightful response!

So do I understand correctly, to establish cellular connectivity for an Apple laptop, you first need to switch on tethering on your iPhone, then select the device in the WiFi menu and wait for the data connection to start working, right? I don’t assume people just leave tethering on on their iPhone since it eats battery.

From an UX point of view, this is much worse than what I’m used to from my work laptops, which just automatically connect to 4G/5G if there’s no known WiFi in range, without any manual interaction needed.

i tether my mac with my android phone frequently. and just like any wifi network, once you connect it remembers. all i have to do is open my laptop, unlock my phone and hit the hotspot button. it’s no trouble

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Nope, selecting the phone in the WiFi menu turns on teathering on the iPhone. My phone can remain in my pocket during the entire operation.

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You probably don’t want the first blush of anything from Apple, so yes wait for the base with numericpad that doesn’t penalize you for gripping it if it -is- also a back camera thing that doesn’t nod against the grip. Or a stand mixer if those things are interchangeable now.

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