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I'm not really bothered which is quicker - I'm guessing this is wifi anyway. I just want to know which would allow me to get the most life out of my iPhone 4S when tethering to it with may MBP. Thanks!

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Since the radios control power based on range and interference, why not run some tests and report what you find? – bmike Oct 30 '11 at 19:12
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Speed is primarily limited by your 3G network connection.

Battery wise, Bluetooth should use less power (especially in the 4S) but the difference may be quite small anyway.

If you tether it with a MBP you may be better of with using the cable between iPhone and computer.

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If you're trying to save battery on your laptop, USB would not be a good idea since it charges your phone (thus draining your laptop battery) while tethered. – Luc May 5 at 20:58

Although Bluetooth might use less instantaneous power, it will be slower and thus leave the radios turned on longer. Having the cellular radio turned on for data tethering will burn the most power by far, especially if you are far from the nearest cell tower.

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I am writing this from a taxi cab between Baltimore and DC. Bluetooth connection between iPad and iPhone 4s giving me over 500kb speed up and down. Last hour use took less than 5% of the battery on either device. Wifi uses a lot more.

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