Do you wish you had bought a cellular-enabled iPad, and not just a basic WiFi-only model?
There's now an app (and case) for that - the new AT&T Modio LTE case for iPad Mini, which AT&T today announced will be going on sale on March 20th.
But is it actually a worthwhile upgrade?
Or is it perhaps one of the most ill-conceived mobile hotspots ever created?
Introducing the AT&T Modio LTE Case
The AT&T Modio case is in essence an AT&T LTE mobile hotspot, only built into a rather dull and thick looking iPad Mini case. But unlike typical mobile hotspots that allow for all of your nearby devices to connect, the Modio only seems to allow the iPad it is mated with to get online.
The case has its own 4,600mAh battery that allows for up to 16 hours of usage, but it does not power or recharge the iPad. The hotspot automatically turns on and connects when you open the case, and shuts down when you close the lid.
The Modio case does have one additional upgrade on offer for your iPad - a microSD card slot that provides up to 32GB of removable storage that can be accessed only via the special Modio companion app.
As for cost - the Modio case costs $199 without contract, or $49 with a two year contract. Adding a Modio-enabled iPad to a Mobile Share Value plan costs $10/mo - the same price it would cost to add a regular cellular iPad to a shared plan.
A version of the Modio case for the full-size iPad Air is also in the pipeline, but pricing and availability has not been announced yet.
Smarter Ways To Get Your iPad Online
iPads with built in cellular data cost $130 more than WiFi-only models, so does it really make sense to pay $199 for a case to do the same thing?
The WiFi-only iPad does not have a built in GPS receiver either, and while adding a Modio case may get you on LTE - it will still leave your WiFi iPad unsure of where it is. This makes a Modio-equipped iPad a poor choice for RV navigation tasks.
Rather than buying a Modio case, if you want your WiFi iPad on LTE, you are probably much better off selling it and upgrading to a cellular model to get GPS, and unlocked cellular capability that can be used on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. The Modio leaves you no option to leave AT&T if you ever decide to switch carriers.
Or for the same price as the Modio case, you can get all your tech online with our current favorite AT&T hotspot - the excellent AT&T Unite Pro (read our review).
The Unite Pro costs $20/mo to add to a Mobile Share Value plan, a slight increase over the $10/mo cost of using a Modio case. But it is a much more flexible solution.
And of course - you can always keep using a WiFi-only iPad tethered to any smartphone's personal hotspot feature.
In the long run - the Modio case just doesn't seem to have a lot to offer.