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Question about buying a Wi-Fi + Cellular model vs. specific carrier option

Discussion in 'iPad Air Forum' started by argon, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. argon
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    argon iPF Novice

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    Let me start off by saying that my wireless experience is limited to a six-year-old pay-as-you-go AT&T cell phone ($25 / 25 minutes per 90 days). I'm about to buy my first iPad, and would have done so a few moments ago, except for this: Initially I thought I'd get the Wi-Fi only model, since I really don't need (at this time / don't want to commit to) monthly carrier service. But, I thought that maybe someday I would regret that decision and wish I had bought the Wi-Fi + Cellular model "just in case." For $130 more, I'd risk it, thinking this would be a lot cheaper than maybe / possibly buying an entirely new, fully-featured iPad someday in the future. But as I selected my desired options on the iPad Air "Shop Now" page, the last option was forcing me to select a carrier (one of four offered) and saying that the iPad Air would only work with the carrier I select (right now, when making the purchase). I was (naively?) thinking that I could make that decision later on, with carrier selection / implementation made via connecting the iPad with the carrier's local rep or website. So, if I'm not ready to commit to any carrier service at this time--let alone trying to figure out the best deal for my (unknown level of wireless/cellular air time use)--am I forced, then, to just buy the Wi-Fi-only model? Please advise. Thanks.
  2. JewelGarden
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    JewelGarden iPad Fan

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    Hi Argon

    The iPad Air is equipped to function on all types of cellular networks. So if you change your mind about the carrier you want, find a better deal, or travel outside your provider's area, you can fairly easily switch to a new carrier and a new plan by swapping out the SIM card. Now, please be aware that carriers have some restrictions so you may need to go into a store to get activated with a new carrier (dropping in an old phone SIM card won't work, for example).

    Purchase away and enjoy your new iPad without cellular anxiety! You're in for a treat!
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  3. argon
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    argon iPF Novice

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    Well, I happened to call Apple to check to see if military-related purchases via Apple's Gov/Military program would be tax-free (no, and BTW, no discount on the iPad Air), and the rep & I got into a discussion about carriers. She mentioned that I would be restricted by the operational type of cellular service provided by a specific carrier, and that this would be important because I would not be able to change carriers if one used (for example) GSM and the other used CDMA.... What's the validity of this concern? (And how do I start a new paragraph here with paragraph break / blank line? Hitting the "Enter" key doesn't do it.)
  4. scifan57
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    scifan57 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's of no concern at all. In fact, the only difference between the AT&T and Verizon iPad Air models is the SIM card that comes with it. For example, you can remove the Verizon SIM card and insert an AT&T SIM card and connect to the AT&T network without a problem. You should be able to use the same iPad Air with almost any cellular carrier in the world.

    Read this thread for the details. http://www.ipadforums.net/apple-ipa...s-first-global-mass-market-mobile-device.html
  5. zstairlessone
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    zstairlessone iPad Ninja

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    If you know which carrier you are more likely to go with in the future get the one for that carrier (it will have the SIM for that carrier) or you can get the AT&T as they let you start and stop the monthly use and billing from the iPad making it easy to activate for a trip say you are going on next month - activate from settings take your trip, de-activate and you only owe that month for a bill based on the data you setup for. For me this is an easy way to hedge for those extended out of WiFi periods that may come up.

    The other thing, you get the GPS chip with the cellular iPad, not with the WiFi only model, but can purchase a BT GPS device if you get/already have the wifi only model.
  6. argon
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    argon iPF Novice

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    JewelGarden and scifan57 -- Thanks for the info. Scifan57 - that was a very informative link. I'll be making the purchase soon. ***** (OK, I still can't start a new paragraph.) ***** Zstairlessone -- that idea and feature with AT&T sounds really good. My concern is that I go on vacation every year to New Mexico. (Recall that I have AT&T cellular service.) A few years ago I was in Espanola (north of Santa Fe) and could not connect to Santa Fe (well, OK, there were a couple of mountain ranges in the way...); I had to use the land line of the place I was in. I asked a couple of people but forget which cellular carrier people mostly used there.... What would be your second choice, if any other carrier allows episodic service? The Verizon web site has four comparative USA maps showing nationwide coverage; Verizon seems to have the best coverage; not thrilled with their (relatively expensive plans). Well, I don't spend that much time too distant from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Gallup; AT&T just might be best, all things considered. Thanks, everyone. (This will probably be my final logistical concern before getting the iPad and figuring out how to use it. Thanks for your patience.) *********(New Paragraph)******** PS -- Has anyone purchased their iPad Air directly from T-Mobile in order to take advantage of their offer of free 200MB/month? I'd go ahead and pay the sales tax if it was worthwhile. However, upon reading their plan, it seems that upon exhausting that free 200MB you are automatically /seamlessly kicked into a monthly contract plan for that month; I'd want to have a choice to stop at 200MB or their requesting consent to going into the paid plan.
  7. scifan57
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    scifan57 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    BTW, to start a new paragraph, simply tap the return key twice.

    See, a new paragraph is the result.
  8. argon
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    argon iPF Novice

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    Thanks!................OK, it's not working for me.... hitting the return key (Enter) many times..................................... BTW, I'm going with AT&T -- getting tired of strategizing hypotheticals.... But what is not hypothetical is the problem with Pad resprings and reboots that I read about as I searched the web for other info. I think I'll stand aside for a few days / couple of weeks until this bug is sorted out. Hopefully it's only an OS7 bug and not a hardware glitch.
  9. jimt29
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    jimt29 iPad Fan

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    I have the iPad Air with T-Mobile. I also have a FREE program called DataMan that watches my data usage. I haven't approached the 200mb limit but DataMan is supposed to warn you when you do.

    I got the T-Mobile plan because I don't plan on using the cellular service very much and it really is FREE. If you choose any other network there is a monthly charge and this I didn't want. I've had the iPad Air since November 4th and have not experienced any reboots or resprings.
  10. Danceking
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    Danceking iPF Novice

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    I dont get why ANYONE would want to buy a celluar iPad device i really don't .. Unless they don't have a mobile phone. If you have a mobile phone well certainly this is the case in the UK. You can tether your iPad to your phone. I have a mobile phone and i get 8GB of data to my phone i'm currently using about 2gb of data so there is 6gb of data that i am not using.

    If you have a smart phone then simply look at altering that contract and tethering your iPad to it (Tethering is connecting your iPad to your iPhone or smart phone device by bluetooth then using the mobiles data allowance). It will save you money on the original purchase of the iPad plus will save you the monthly expense.

    Most times i use an iPad is at home or when i'm stationary out an about in coffee shop or at work and most places i use my iPad i have wifi connectivity of some sort. For the odd occasion i don't i can tether it to my phone or when i'm travelling on trains etc. I also have a broadband contract that allows me to connect to 10's of thousands of wifi spots around the UK In fact around the globe for free specially at coffee shops mcdonalds train stations you name it.

    So again i don't need celluar check out your mobile phone and see if you can tether you iPad to it the speed is the same as having its own sim card it will save you additional expense and make sure you get the most out of your current contract or pay as you go sim.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  11. MoonlitSonata
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    MoonlitSonata Super Moderator Staff Member

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    In my experience, tethering is fiddly and expensive. I'd rather have the ipad be 3G enabled than have to bother tethering. Then again, I'm stuck with a terrible Android (biggest mistake ever) phone for another year. Plus, I can take advantage of the free deal from T-Mobile. I realize that not everyone can do that, but that's why I would shell out the extra cash.
  12. AQ_OC
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    AQ_OC Super Moderator Staff Member

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    One has to get the cellular model in order to get the GPS chip in an iPad. An iPad makes for an excellent Nav device when used correctly.
  13. argon
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    argon iPF Novice

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    .................................................................................................................. (My "Enter" key works on this forum on my workplace PC, but not on my home PC (Windows 7, IE10)...very weird.) My mobile phone is a "pay-as-you-go" type and I must purchase minutes every 90 days to keep the account active; US$25 for 25 minutes, and I use only 10 minutes per month, at most. So, doing anything on/with my mobile phone other than what I am using it for now (emergencies, infrequent calls, etc.) is not an option. I have never owned any kind of tablet and do not have the experience using one; my decision is simply to have that cellular option covered if I find I need/want it. I still don't know what I'm finally going to do about selecting a carrier, but I have some time to further consider my decision as I wait until the cause and fix of the resprings & reboots is solved. Thanks, I appreciate the reply.
  14. maxtwo
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    maxtwo iPF Novice

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    I had not used my cellular part of my ipad in 18 months but last month on Holliday it was worth every penny.so I bought the same again to day on my up date to ipad air.
  15. Danceking
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    Danceking iPF Novice

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    I cant comment about tethering with an android device as i have never owned one. But tethering with an iphone is a piece of cake. Plus once you do it once you never have to do it again. Just switch personal hot spot off and on .. If you can connect to a wifi spot then you can tether.

    I do see the benefits now of having a celluar if your travelling internationally and getting a sim card in the country your visiting .. But for me who is in UK and travels around the UK i dont see the benefit and i think most people buy it just in case and i think most will admit that they rarely use the celluar network and if they do then tethering it to a phone would actually suffice.

    I have tethered my laptop to my phone and its blisteringly fast specially on the 4g. Try it :)
  16. jimt29
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    jimt29 iPad Fan

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    Are you somehow locked in to that $25.00 plan? I have an iPhone 5 and am on T-mobile. I pay a flat $100 a YEAR for 1000 minutes.
  17. col.bris
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    col.bris Administrator Staff Member

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    Making decisions to purchase products like iPads is straightforward when buying wifi only. The model size and color is the only other choice. Adding cellular at least in Australia however does need extra thought. The type of customers I sell iPads cellular models are business people ie outside contractors, real-estate personal, managers and company owners truck drivers and sales people to name a few. Another group are Australian mature adults or grey nomads whom are traveling around the world. The latter buy mainly cellular minis for portability and having gps is an added benefit. They can also interchange sims in different countries without much effort. in addition they typically have low cost phones like Nokia that are used as phones for calling and text and are not interested in smart phones

    Using a phone to tether is a good choice for some regardless if it is Apple, Android or Windows smartphone. Be aware one may need to charge the mobile more frequently as it can drain the battery. Also some windows smart phones do not tether easily so check it out first before buying your iPad. The other item is the added cost of the increase in data usage on a tethered phone so make sure it is not more than $15 a month. The fact is in Australia at least prepay plans for 12 months with 12gb limit costs $180 year which is only $15 a month really not a lot of extra money for the convenience of having it built in. Some users are also locked into phone companies that have poor service and in some cases donot allow tethering.

    The third option is mobile portable wifi rechargeable hot spot modem.

    [​IMG]

    These come in 2 flavors 3G or 3G and 4g both support up to 5 devices and come with prepaid 3gb data for 30 days included. Cost of these modems range from $50 to $150 depending on brand and models They suit families whom often have several iPads and or any mobile wifi device like e-readers and laptops and are great for traveling as well as in the home. These are also popular with users whom are renting where they do not have access to broadband as they support other devices like printers etc as well. This type of mobile device is available in most countries so check it out.

    So there are reasons why users buy cellular instead of going with the above options and that is why Apple sells so many.

    The long and short of it is if you are buying an iPad make a list of your needs and if you really need to access the net other than using wifi consider your smart phone or use a portable wifi hot spot modem and finally a iPad with cellular also look at the network monthly costs prepaid or contracts and purchase the iPad which suits you and your needs.

    Hope that answers some questions
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  18. AQ_OC
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    AQ_OC Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Colin is absolutely on mark. Especially on that battery drain while tethering. An iPad as a much larger battery than most phones...better to tether from an iPad than a phone, if you are on the go. I will never buy an iPad without the cellular.
  19. argon
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    argon iPF Novice

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    .................... No, I'm not locked in - after a month or two grace period, the account simply closes.................... The info you've provided may be a big game changer for me and my wife. I will check out the T-Mobile cell phone rates and re-read these posts about how to tether. We may become a Real Apple Family -- iPad Air, iPod Touch, and two iPhone 5s! I just may buy my iPad from T-Mobile, afterall, to get those free monthly minutes to use as a buffer to possibly having to go to tethering. Thanks! (I'm wondering if upgrading to IE11 will fix my unresponsive Enter Key problem....)
  20. jimt29
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    jimt29 iPad Fan

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    I purchased the iPad Air from Apple. I then went to a T-Mobile store and got the SIM card and free service. NO data comes with my plan for the iPhone. I use wifi only for data. They do have a $30.00 monthly plan that includes data.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013

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