People planning on buying a new iPad often wonder — should they get the version with cellular data? It’s a fair question because it stems from other questions, like will you ever be in a spot where you need it? What are the advantages of getting an iPad with cellular connectivity? Is it worth the extra money? We answer all your questions and address your doubts in this article, where we take a closer look at the pros and cons of iPad with cellular capabilities.
Pros and Cons of iPad With Cellular
Clearly, there’s a market for users who wish to buy an iPad that you can add a cellular plan to because the first iPad has it, and so does the newest crop of iPads launched in 2021. In short, iPads that support cellular connectivity aren’t going away anytime soon. But is it for you? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of getting an iPad that supports adding a SIM.
Pros of iPad with Cellular
We can think of a few pros when you choose the cellular version of an iPad, and here are some of them.
You can’t expect to always find a good WiFi connection when you’re on the move, and having mobile connectivity can solve that issue. If you wish to use your iPad to watch a movie or browse the Web while you’re traveling, it’s best if you get a model that supports cellular data. In fact, your experience will significantly improve if you get one of the newer iPads that also support 5G networks; you can access the internet at lightning-fast speeds!
Having GPS connectivity can amplify the experience of owning an iPad since it can be pretty valuable outdoors. The good news about owning the WiFi + Cellular variant of an iPad is getting a GPS chip. And what this means is you can now use your iPad as a navigation device. This means you get access to Google Maps, TeleNav, MotionX, TomTom, Waze, and many other apps that use your GPS connection to serve you information. It’s not uncommon to see pilots of boat captains using iPads on their consoles for specific data.
Here’s another idea — using a cellular iPad as your primary car navigation system means you also get an additional layer of security as it will notify you of its location constantly through Find My Device! But note that leaving your iPad in a hot car can damage it permanently. So if you plan to leave it in your car, keep it protected from exposure to extreme temperatures.
For office work
If you’re someone who works on the move, there’s no telling when you may have to access the internet for urgent work unexpectedly. At these times, finding a stable WiFi network to connect to can be very stressful. If you would like to avoid such situations, it’s best to get a cellular-capable iPad as you can simply pull up your documents or office email accounts and get cracking.
This also means that you may not need to lug your heavy laptop around everywhere, as you could just carry your iPad keyboard or folio case and use your iPad as your main work machine. And if you need a recommendation for iPad keyboards, just read our comprehensive buyer’s guide for iPad keyboards!
If you tend to work or access sensitive documents while you travel, the last thing you want to do is use public WiFi networks to access your information. After all, there’s no telling who might be snooping on the data you send and receive in networks like those. And believe it when we say it’s commonplace to hear stories of data stolen from users on such networks.
If you want to listen to podcasts or access other streaming services while traveling, having an iPad with network connectivity can be a huge blessing. Getting a cellular iPad model means you can listen to Spotify, tune in to online radio on your daily commute, or even access video apps if you want to kill time. Just make sure you get a good data plan!
Cons of iPad with Cellular
Cellular connectivity is a feature, and like any other feature, it comes at a price. So let’s take a look at the only reason not to choose the cellular model:
The price of a WiFi + Cellular model is always higher than the WiFi version of the iPad, typically by about $150 to $200. So let’s say, for example, you decide to buy the new 11-inch iPad Pro for $799. If you picked the version with eSIM support, you’d have to shell out $900. Now, this can be a dealbreaker for many people, and rightfully so, as that is a sharp price hike.
Now add to this, you also need to pay for a data plan. Of course, it depends on use, but getting a plan from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile can get expensive if you plan to use a lot of data.
iPad with Cellular: What is it?
Most people are familiar with the iPads that connect to WiFi, but Apple also makes iPads that work with your network carrier. Apple calls these the WiFi + Cellular models, and these iPads cost more and have a modem that allows them to connect to your carrier. You can put an eSIM inside these iPads, as you would in your smartphone, and have data connectivity throughout the day.
Related Read: iPad as Phone: Is it possible and how to do it!
We’ve already listed a bunch of advantages of getting the cellular iPad variant above, with the main reason being portability. Having this version means that you don’t ever have to depend on spotty public WiFi spots, nor risk exposing your data to such networks. Besides this, you also get a GPS chip on the cellular models, which the WiFi iPad models lack. iPads with cellular data also let you work on the move and not have to pull out your laptop to tackle some tasks.
How to get it?
While purchasing an iPad, look for the cellular model of the iPad that you wish to purchase. It is listed as an option on Apple’s website, but if you’re shopping for iPads on Amazon, make sure you read the product description to confirm you’re purchasing the iPad version that supports cellular data connectivity. You’re looking at paying between $150-$200 more for the WiFi+Cellular model of your iPad.
If you decide you don’t want to spend all that extra money on the cellular model, is there a way you can still get some of the benefits? Of course! Here are a couple of ideas:
Using your phone’s Personal Hotspot feature
You can turn on the hotspot on your phone and connect to it using your iPad. This is useful if you’re away from your home network and want to use your iPad online. Simply turn on the mobile hotspot feature, input the login credentials on your iPad, and you’re good to go. This way, the iPad will piggyback off your smartphone network, and you can get your work done.
The main disadvantage of this method is that it can be taxing on your smartphone’s battery life, as it’s constantly connected to the cellular network for its task and the data demands of your iPad.
Using a WiFi Dongle
A WiFi dongle is a device that connects to your network carrier and works as a WiFi network that you can connect to with your iPad or even smartphone. A WiFi dongle or a broadband dongle is also called a WiFi stick or an Internet stick and is also referred to as a USB network adaptor.
To use it, all you need to do is turn it on, and within a few seconds, it connects to your network carrier and turns on its WiFi network. It works the same way as your phone’s hotspot, but this way, you can use your smartphone freely, and it does not drain your smart phones’ battery life.
Difference between WiFi and Cellular on iPad
The main difference between the WiFi iPad and the WiFi + Cellular version would be that the WiFi model does not support connecting to a network carrier like AT&T or Verizon, and it does not have a GPS chip either, which means you can’t use apps that need GPS connectivity. You will still be able to use your iPad at different locations as long as you have a WiFi network you can connect to.
We found a great video that compares the experience of owning an iPad with cellular connectivity vs a regular WiFi iPad:
Weighing the pros and cons of iPad with cellular, the benefits are manyfold when you buy the cellular model compared to the WiFi variant. But we must add, getting a WiFi dongle can be much cheaper than paying extra for a cellular iPad! But that would mean that you miss out on the advantages of a GPS chip. We can only sign off by saying that it trickles down to what you personally expect from your iPad. If you have any additional questions for us, feel free to leave us a comment!