The budget consumer and Wifi-only tablets

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In a recent post by Mister Mo titled Have you used any free WiFi hotspots, the majority of comments including mine was a resounding No, with the few who answered in the positive complaining that the service was either slow or unusable.

When you consider that of the many popular tablets out there, including but not limited to the Amazon Kindle Fire and the newly released Google Nexus 7, are WiFi only devices, you can see how big the problem is. Even the Blackberry Playbook is a WiFi-only device. The redeeming feature in its case is Blackberry Bridge which shares the user’s BIS connection from their Blackberry smartphone.

Recently, I put out a post titled Why I am getting the Nexus 7 and while a majority were impressed with the specs and the fact that it is a Google tablet, the issue of it being a WiFi-only device cropped up and there folks had a rethink.


Unlike what obtains in developed environments, Nigeria does not have wireless hotspots dotting every corner. Usually, individuals have to come up with their own internet, by subscribing to one or more internet bundles.


Let’s factor cost here. Assuming that I want to get a Nexus 7 now, I first have to have a way of providing internet to it. If I choose to use my smartphone as a hotspot, doing so will probably kill my battery faster than government repairing the Lagos-Benin expressway. The alternative may be to get a MiFi device or a WiFi router.

Now, let’s calculate and sum of the prices. MiFi devices currently cost around N20,000. Add the cost of a Nexus 7 – N51,000 (estimated) + 6GB data bundle N7,500. All these add up to N78,500. That is not cheap, at least for the average gadget buyer who just wants an affordable  tablet.


I know that this subject has been dealt with in a different guise, but it is such a big issue that. If you were to purchase a WiFi-only tablet, how do you intend to get internet service for it?


  1. You said it already:

    The alternative may be to get a MiFi device or a WiFi router.

    That’s just what I had in mind.

    I heard that Samsung established a few Wi-Fi Hotspots here in Lagos sometime ago.

    Is anyone aware of that?

  2. The data bundle need not be that expensive. There are cheaper packages but I’m sure you’re aware of that.
    The tech world; you just can’t eat your cake and have it

  3. EnjOy it while it lasts. I am very concerned about gadgets that are wifi only. I cannot buy a gadget and still have to go on another shopping spree for what will make it work. Good that we already have smartphones with wifi hotspots capabilities. But at another cost definitely, the battery life. The nexus 7 is a tempting device, but sorry,I will pass.

  4. But have it in mind that you will not have to buy a Mifi device for every wireless gadget you have.

  5. @Belushi I’m definitely enjoying the freeness, lol.

    To paraphrase what Abimbola has stated, a MiFi device is the difference between multiple MiFis for as many gadgets, versus one for all. For me, this is the best option at home rather than having multiple SIMs for as many devices.

  6. someone should please give me an idea of the average battery life of a mifi device and how long does it take to be fully charged.
    i want to have a comparism to using phone or tablet as a hotspot

  7. Bily. The average Mifi device lasts 3 to 4 hours on a single charge and takes about 3 hours to be fully charged from scratch. Some models have an extended battery sold as an accessory which can double the battery life.

  8. My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is wifi only and I have no regrets. I have a mifi device and with that, I connect my tablet, my laptop and my other smartphones using a single subscription. That makes economic sense to me rather than having separate subscription for a 3G tablet, my laptop and smartphones. Using my phone as a wifi hotspot is a no go area for me because of battery concerns. In my opinion, that feature was meant for occasional usage.

  9. @ Keweno agreed. A MiFi device is better economic sense than multiple subscriptions. Add to that the portability.

  10. For me, if it doesn’t have 3G capabilities then it’s just not for me no matter how impressive it’s specs might be. Slugging around another assesory just isn’t an option I’m willing to consider.

  11. The average Mifi device lasts 3 to 4 hours on a single charge and takes about 3 hours to be fully charged from scratch.

    If the above is true, i dont really see any point in getting a mifi device, using my phone or tablet as a mobile hotspot will do just fine.

  12. If the above is true, i dont really see any point in getting a mifi device, using my phone or tablet as a mobile hotspot will do just fine.

    Exactly!, even my mobile phone will last longer than that. I thought the battery life for a mifi device was like 6/7 hours.

  13. One thing about the Mifi devices is that most can charge by USB and if you have a laptop that has a good battery you can enjoy browsing for hours. My netbook has 6hrs battery life but my friend’s netbook can do 13hrs before running out of juice. You can charge it with your laptop or netbook in sleep mode while you use it on your tablet or any other wifi device.

  14. Well, every one has what works for him or her.
    Personally, I will not subscribe for separate data plans for my tablet, laptop and my smart phones and neither will I use my phone as my wifi hotspot because I still maintain that the hotspot feature was designed for occasional use. I remember what the fate the befell my Nokia smartphone I used as my modem back in the days.

  15. Hi Emmanuel, i just re-read this piece and must say you are right on the button! Whichever way we look at it, it ain’t cheap running a wi-fi only tablet!

    But having said that,things may be a-changing. For one, the new galaxy tab2 10.1 with 3g is now sooo affordable – SLOT is selling it for N85k! Yup.. that’s like 11k cheaper than the Amazon pricing (US$600 = N96k). Now,with a SIM card from etisalat or zain/airtel/econet/vmobile/whatever-they-are-called, one can actually survive on N2k monthly expenditure.Yup.

    Having said that, if like me, you still have a wifi only tablet (me trusty old GTAB10.1), then you have 2 options – a mifi (preferably from etisalat, seeing as MTN’s is not only a locked solution, but is also a perennial under-performer (IMHO). the second option is to use your android/BB as a mobile hotspot, which is what i do. SO how do i manage the hit on battery life? Exactly. its a huge problem,that – i carry both a USB data cable as well as a charger around, seeing as that is the only way one can survive!!

    But i think its pretty obvious,the best thing is to own a tablet that has built in 3G.

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