Can you use mobile broadband with the iPad?

When it comes to mobile broadband and the iPad, this has been available since the first model was launched. Depending on the model you have and your needs, you have the option of Wi-Fi with 3G or 4G LTE (long term evolution). Wi-Fi and 3G are available on all models, whereas 4G LTE is only available on the latest model. So let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages to each. The Wi-Fi-only model is the least expensive.

  • Wi-Fi: With Wi-Fi you can access the internet wherever you go, as long as there is a signal and you have a passkey. However, there is one obvious restriction that you will often need to be in a home, café, airport or restaurant or somewhere that advertises Wi-Fi in order to be able to access the internet. Wi-Fi is becoming readily available practically everywhere nowadays and there’s often no extra cost. Wi-Fi is simple to use and many establishments provide the network key for free. You may also be able to use Wi-Fi without a network key (open network); however, this isn’t advisable as this can risk your data being compromised by an outside, malicious party.
  • 3G: If you are looking to access the web while on the move, then it’s preferable to have 3G or 4G LTE (long term evolution). The reason being that you are not tied down with the same restrictions as Wi-Fi. With 3G you are receiving a cellular signal and as such can receive a signal almost anywhere in the US. All you need to know is that the area is covered by your carrier. It may be advisable to buy a 3G-capable model if the nature of your employment has you on the move regularly, or if you vacation a lot.
  • 4G: 4G is only available on the latest model, the iPad 3 or iPad Retina as it has come to be known and is the latest mobile broadband technology. Whilst the iPad 2 supports 3G, it isn’t quite as fast as 4G so if you tend to live stream or if you transfer large amounts of data then 4G is for you. When purchasing an iPad you will have to choose a carrier, you can then sign up to a 4G package. The question you have to ask yourself is do you need or want 4G? The reason for this question being that there is a significantly larger outlay if you buy a 4G LTE iPad, as opposed to the model that just has Wi-Fi. You will also have to pay a monthly fee for the 4G service so there is an ongoing cost.  However, if you are buying it because you need it for work once or twice a year when you are on vacation then you can turn the plan on and off at will without having to pay for it during the times you are not using it. There are some areas where 4G isn’t available yet so do check before purchasing, if 4G isn’t available then just go for 3G.

All iPads support Wi-Fi and there is an option with every model to purchase 3G (although again, it’s slightly more pricey), whereas only the latest model supports 4G, whichever model you choose will depend entirely on your needs.

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