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Should I get the Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad?

Answer: There are two types of Apple iPad models: 1) Wi-Fi only and 2) Wi-Fi + Cellular. The Wi-Fi only model allows you to connect to Wi-Fi networks, while the other model supports both Wi-Fi and cellular data connections. Depending on the iPad model and service provider, cellular data access may be provided through either a 3G or 4G connection.

iPads that support both Wi-Fi and cellular data (sometimes called "cellular iPads") typically cost about $130 more than their Wi-Fi only counterparts. For example, a third-generation 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad is $499, while a 16GB cellular iPad is $629. Additionally, in order to access cellular data, you must purchase a monthly data plan from Verizon or AT&T. These data plans do not require a long-term contract, but they cost $15 to $50 per month.

If you have Wi-Fi access at home or work, the Wi-Fi only model is probably a good choice. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can download and upload data for free. Most ISPs offer unlimited data plans for home users, so you don't have to monitor your data usage either. For most home users, I recommend the Wi-Fi only model.

However, if you travel a lot and your iPad is your primary computer, the cellular model might make sense. While the Wi-Fi only iPad requires access to a Wi-Fi network, the cellular iPad allows you access the Internet from anywhere you have a cellular signal. If you are frequently on the go, the convenience of the cellular iPad may be worth the higher price and monthly fee.

Published: July 31, 2012 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center