Why no built-in cellular connectivity?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by slartib, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. slartib, Aug 4, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2012

    macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2012
    I ordered my first MBA in January 2008 and my second last April (with hindsight, I should have waited 1.5 months until the last release, but this is another story). I love this machine because of its form. I disliked the MBPs because they are thick and have a useless optical drive. I like the new rMBP because it became almost as thin as the MBA by getting rid of the optical drive. I am tempted by a rMBP because I do some GPGPU programming with CUDA and it would be nice to have an nVIDIA GPU on my laptop (it will become a tough choice if a 13" rMBP with an nVIDIA GPU will come out, but this is yet another story).

    However, what I would need much more on an everyday basis is built-in cellular connectivity, since I am often travelling, especially by train (I am based in Europe). I work around this lack using a Huawei LTE USB stick or my iPhone 4S (sadly without LTE), but it is not the maximum of comfort. I have been wondering since 2008 why cellular connectivity is not included in an ultraportable machine like the MBA that has been stressing wireless to the point of disposing of an ethernet port. I have been wondering even more since cellular connectivity came with the iPad. Now yet another new MacBook has been released, the rMBP, without built-in cellular connectivity. Why? Does this mean there is a decided Apple policy to leave this feature away from MacBooks? Or is it just a matter of time until it won't be offered just with the iPad?
  2. macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2012
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Wonder if one could make a cellular SD-card, or if that's just beyond the functionality of the protocol/port/connector/space.

    In the MBA it'd "have to be" even smaller than a standard card since the slot isn't deep enough to fit an entire card.
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2012
    This would be a workaround too, not a built-in feature. Moreover I doubt it would work because I guess that GSM/UMTS/LTE need a different antenna than WLAN or Bluetooth.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    My guess would be price. If it included a cellular antenna, it would probably be at least $100 more. That, and I am not sure they even have space to put one in the Air without causing excess heat/battery draw.

    I guess they could treat the Airs like iPads and have a WiFi only model and a 4G model.
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    Most users don't need built-in cellular connectivity. Apple wouldn't build/include a feature that very few of its customers need. It's as simple as that.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2010
    I would have to wonder the affect on battery life. I'm not sure what the battery drain would be but the 11in for sure doesn't have any extra life to spare
  7. macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

    Jul 23, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    It's not that most users don't need it. It's that Apple would prefer that they buy an iPad if they need cellular connectivity.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2008
    A small rural village in western Poland
    Yeah, which is the reason the majority of iPads sold are the 3G or LTE versions.
  9. njp
    macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2012
    Niche market.

    You have an iPhone, just use that for connectivity. It's not that much of a hassle.
  10. macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2010
    I am guessing because of the form factor as it wouldn't look as streamlined anymore or be heavier or some other excuse but probably wont happen
  11. macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I think probably because of the current complexity of offering such a feature. The iPad has to have two versions, an AT&T-compatible version and a Verizon-compatible version. Those two then don't work on many of the LTE bands outside of the US.

    If they could use a single chip and cover the majority of 3G/LTE bands worldwide it might be worth it.
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 7, 2007
    I just tether mine to my phone on 4G and it works great.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2012
    Tethering my iPad/Air to my Galaxy Nexus works great, it's really an unnecessary expense and doesn't make much sense for either party.

    Battery life on the 11" already isn't great, I wouldn't want to add on additional things that'll become even more of a drain on battery.
  14. macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2007
    Not having this option has been a long frustration of mine, but I seem to be in the minority.
  15. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    Most Ultrabooks lack cellular connectivity (not just the MacBook Air). Between smartphones and tablets, Mi-Fis and similar devices, lots of people already have multiple data plans, and I'm guessing that the true market for a cellular-equipped notebook is relatively small.
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2006
    Not going to happened since it will dramatically affect sales of Super Phones.

    Apple, Samsung and Carriers will not be happy.

    Carriers like Rogers don't even allow Data ONLY plans, which is exactly what I want. If they did I wouldn't even own a Super Phone.
  17. macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2012
    you'll definately see it eventually. but i rekn battery ife definately would be a major issue. you'd see your mba battery time drop massively. when i tether off my iphone, it hots up real quick and the battery drains fast. couple this inside the mba and you'll be looking for a power adapter fast.
  18. macrumors 6502

    Jul 28, 2011
    I'm sure more people need cellular internet than Thunderbolt.
  19. macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2011
    In the past, when Macs included built-in modems, I usually found myself upgrading to an external, anyway, as modem technology advanced. I have a 1st gen iPad, and I'm stuck with 3G on that. I'm using a portable MiFi wireless 3G/4G adapter that I can replace with 5G when the time comes, and I won't be stuck lugging around built-in useless tech. But then, I run my laptops until they die.
  20. Guest


    Aug 5, 2012
    Just setup a hot spot with your iphone... Easy
  21. macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    That reasoning makes no sense at all.
  22. macrumors member


    Dec 16, 2010
    Here are my thoughts:
    1. They would have to have a plastic spot. The iPad's wi-fi is pumped through the Apple logo, and the 3G through a bar of plastic on top. Do note, though, that it could probably be done more elegantly on a laptop (Hinge area?)

    2. Battery life

    3. Nobody would use it. I had a Chromebook, and I never used 3G on the go. If I really needed to, I could tether using my phone.

    4. The Air is pretty tightly packed as it is.
  23. macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2012
    so far I am satisfied having iPhone tethering whenever I'm on the move. It's not exactly an LTE, but it do the job properly. I don't know why I want to pay another data plan for a separate connection for my macbook. For me this is a clever way to consolidate everything so that you need only a minimum amount of devices and you use them at the best way possible...

    However, I would love to see an LTE in an iPhone...:D
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2012
    St. Louis, MO
    If I understand cellular technology correctly (other forum members can correct me if I am wrong) if Apple built in cellular connectivity into the laptop, then you would be tied to one carrier.

    Also I believe cellular is different in Europe than in the US so a device that works in the US might not work overseas.

    This is the reason that you can get USB dongles for laptops for cellular internet connectivity.
  25. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2010
    51 degrees North
    most people these days have a smart phone capable of tethering and providing a wireless hotspot, so why bother including it in a laptop and requiring people to have to take out a separate data contract when they could share the one with their mobile phone.

    Its a dying requirement and Apple are smart to not bother wasting effort and space on it in their laptops.

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