How to Pick a Data Plan for Your (New) iPad
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
March 09 2012 12:10 PM ET
Whether you're buying an iPad or another tablet, you may want one that connects to a cellular network for those times when Wi-Fi is unavailable. Now, for the first time, you can connect to 4G with an Apple product — the new iPad.
It's priced the same as the original iPad 2 series, so the cheapest new iPad is $500. (That older model has since gotten a $100 discount.) You'll pay $130 more up front to add 4G capability. Apple's CEO Tim Cook demoed the new device on AT&T's 4G network, but it will be available on Verizon as well. While the 4G iPad is capable of speeds up to 73 megabits per second, expect around 12 Mbps in real life (still better than many people get on their home Internet connection). The good news is that the 4G iPad will have the same 10-hour battery life as the 3G-equipped iPad 2, Cook said.
Over the course of a year, you'd wind up paying around $500 more (for both the hardware and a typical data plan) than someone who has a Wi-Fi-only tablet. However, you'll never be left with a blank screen while your device is looking for Wi-Fi . The new 4G iPads run on 3G networks when you're out of a 4G coverage area.
And, you don't have to activate a data plan when you buy your tablet. iPad 4G service can be purchased on a month-to-month basis — no two-year contract.
Both AT&T and Verizon offer monthly plans with different data allotments. To eyeball how much data you might want, we've expressed it in terms of movies — since that new iPad has a killer HD screen with great color. Every hour of video will consume around 350MB of data, so a typical full-length feature film (90 minutes) will eat up 525MB. If you will be watching away from W-Fi, less than 2GB won't do. Fortunately, you can adjust or suspend your data service from month to month.