Apple has always launched two different versions of iPads: Wi-Fi-only iPads and Wi-Fi+Cellular iPad. As the name suggests, the main difference between the two is that the cellular iPads would allow us to connect to the internet via cellular data plans, so we can get internet in areas without any Wi-Fi.
Thus, if you plan to use your iPad in areas without Wi-Fi often, for example, if you travel a lot, then getting a cellular iPad can be a great option.
On average the cellular iPad is around $130 more expensive than the comparable Wi-Fi-only model with the same specs, and you’ll also need to consider the monthly fee for your iPad data plan. Whether these extra costs are worth it would depend on your needs.
The key to making the most of your cellular iPad is to choose the right iPad data plan, but choosing between all the different iPad data plans available in the market can be quite challenging. Here, we will discuss how.
Is Getting a Cellular iPad The Right Choice?
The main benefit of getting a Wi-Fi+cellular iPad is obvious: cellular connectivity. An iPad with cellular-data enabled allows us to use a cellular data network to connect to the internet. For example, we can use the iPad to access the internet during our commute when there’s no access to Wi-Fi.
However, it’s also important to note that only the Wi-Fi+cellular iPad has a proper A-GPS chip. A Wi-Fi-only iPad can only use Wi-Fi triangulation to determine the iPad’s location when using apps like Maps. Thus, location tracking is much more accurate on a cellular iPad, which can be an important factor to consider when you travel a lot with your iPad.
Thus, a cellular iPad can be the right choice for you if:
- You are okay with paying the extra $130 and the monthly fees for the iPad data plan
- You travel a lot with your iPad
- You frequently use your iPad in locations without Wi-Fi
- You want to be able to take/make phone calls from your iPad
- You live or work somewhere without Wi-Fi/internet access, but there’s enough cellular network coverage. You can use your iPad to serve as a personal hotspot for other devices in this case
- You don’t want to download your content (books, photos, music/podcasts, videos) in advance, and you need to be able to access them anytime you need to
- You need to use GPS services (i.e. Google Maps) a lot
- You often need to use Facetime, Zoom, etc. when commuting or traveling and cannot wait for Wi-Fi
- You often use apps that require internet access to work (i.e. online gaming, GPS-based apps, etc.)
Choosing Between Different iPad Data Plans
Most of us already own a data plan for our iPhone or other smartphones, and so the iPad data plan would be an additional cost on top of this plan.
Thus, choosing the right data plan for your iPad to ensure cost-effectiveness is very important, and here are some important considerations you should have when choosing between different iPad data plans:
- Your data consumption
It’s important to assess how much data you really need with your iPad.
For most of us, the actual number would be much lower than our phone’s data consumption, so you might not actually need a lot of data in your iPad’s plan. Estimate your average monthly data consumption, then choose the right plan that is the most cost-efficient according to your data usage.
If, for example, you’ll only use 1 GB of data on average every month, you don’t really need an unlimited data plan.
- Network coverage
You should choose an iPad data plan that offers reliable coverage in locations where you’ll frequently use the iPad without any Wi-Fi. If you travel a lot, you might also want to consider a data plan that offers regional or even global coverage.
Truphone’s data only sim for iPads, for example, offers coverage in 44 different countries. This is relatively true if you own a relatively newer iPad with eSIM, allowing more versatility to switch between carriers as you move between countries without needing to replace your SIM card.
You can simply visit the network carrier’s website and check their coverage maps for this purpose.
- Personal hotspot limits
If you are planning to use your iPad to share its data plan via Personal Hotspot, you should check whether the data plan limits its personal hotspot allowance. Some data plans offer a dedicated hotspot allowance so it won’t count toward your primary data count, some others will simply allow you to use the plan’s primary data allowance for Personal Hotspot.
- Travel details
This is an important consideration if you plan to travel a lot with your iPad. Some iPad data plans might offer ‘unlimited’ international texting and data, but most of them will typically offer very slow bandwidth unless you pay more. There are also iPad data plans that offer unique travel benefits like free in-flight Wi-Fi on select airlines.
- Read the fine prints
Many plans offer attractive extra features like ‘unlimited’ data/text/voice or ‘free’ international benefits, but typically there are always terms and conditions with these types of promotions. For example, most unlimited data plans would apply throttling (slowing down your speed) after you reach a certain data limit. Read the contract details carefully so you can effectively avoid future issues.
While choosing between all these different iPad data plans can be quite challenging, by following the above tips you can get the most ideal plan for your cellular iPad. This will provide various benefits, not only to maximize cost-efficiency with your iPad data usage but also to ensure network reliability.