If you've been searching for the personal hotspot feature on your new iPad, we have some bad news for you. It's currently not available on the iPads that are being sold in Singapore.
According to a Facebook post by Digital Life Singapore, the personal hotspot feature was found to be absent from the settings. A quick check on our test unit confirmed it, alongside reports from our forum members who noticed the missing feature.
With no LTE speed available on the iPad due to the disparity in frequency bands used by the tablet and the three telcos in Singapore, the missing hotspot feature puts the spotlight on the telcos and Apple once more.
We have since contacted the three telcos for an explanation behind this. Though SingTel wasn't able to provide us with the rationale for not including the personal hotspot feature, the telco did state that they are "working with Apple to enable tethering on the new iPad".
Update: StarHub has also responded to our queries with the following statement:
"We understand there are consumers who like to have the ‘personal hotspot’ feature on the new iPad shipped to Singapore market. We are consulting Apple on how to potentially make this feature available on the new iPad to meet market demand.”
Now here's another interesting note: on Apple's support page, we noticed an entry on installing carrier settings updates on iOS. Within the page, this particular information might shed some light on the situation for the missing hotspot feature on the new iPads:
Carrier settings updates are small files (about 10 kb) that are installed on your iPhone or iPad Wi-Fi + 3G. Carrier settings include updates to Access Point Names (APNs), MMS settings, features such as tethering, and default apps such as Stocks, Maps, and Weather. You might receive notifications periodically about installing a carrier settings update.
Given that the personal hotspot feature was unavailable on the earlier iPad 2, chances are the three telcos might have loaded the earlier carrier settings used for the iPhones and the iPad 2 onto the new iPad. A quick check on a new iPad, an iPad 2, and an iPhone 4 using the same telco network revealed the same carrier version.
Each carrier's settings will usually come with a profile that indicates whether that particular iOS device will have wireless tethering enabled. In the case of the iPhone 4 and 4S, this will be activated. Once the profile detects that it's running on an earlier iPad and iPad 2, it will remove the wireless tethering feature. We've also experienced the same situation when we switched an iPhone 4 to an AT&T network in the United States, which promptly removed the personal hotspot option.
Thus, there is a possibility that a carrier setting update will enable the feature. This is still subjected to the approval process as laid out by Apple, which is reflected by SingTel's earlier comment on how the telco is working with Apple to enable tethering.
We've also had reports from forum members who have contacted SingTel's customer service operators and were informed that the personal hotspot feature will be enabled once it is approved. We have reached out to Apple for an official statement regarding approval of the hotspot feature, and await for more updates from them.