3G or Wi-Fi

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Psychmike, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. Psychmike macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2008
    I am thinking about picking up the iPad2 and am not sure if I should be getting the Wi-Fi only or 3G version.

    I would like to be able to look up location information on the iPad, even though I will have my iPhone with me. Sometimes, the iPhone map is too small to see while driving.

    If I buy the Wi-Fi only version, will it still be able to access GPS information on my iPhone through tethering? Will it be able to pull up and update maps through tethering?

    Or, will I need to get the 3G version to properly access location information and update maps? In any case, I don't plan to subscribe to 3G services just for the iPad.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. opticalserenity macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2007
    The WiFi model does not have a GPS chipset. It triangulates using Skyhook locations of WiFi and towers.

    And I recommend the 3G to everyone, because it really adds to the iPad experience to be able to get online wherever you are.
  3. Psychmike thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2008

    But I intend to tether with whichever model I get. If I get the Wi-Fi model, I'll still be able to use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot and get online. My question is whether the Wi-Fi model can access the geolocation information from the iPhone.
  4. zenio macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2011
    The only caution I would add, is that 3G is pretty expensive.

    So unless you're going to use it daily, you might want to think twice and do the math for your out of pocket expenses involved.
  5. Q Bert macrumors regular

    Q Bert

    Mar 7, 2011
    Chicago Burbs
    I already have an in-dash GPS in my car so that added feature from the 3G version is not of interest to me plus I don't want to pay data plans. WIN !!!
  6. Mystikal macrumors 68020


    Oct 4, 2007
    Irvine, CA
    Unless you were grandfathered into the unlimited data plan.
  7. DiamondMac macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2006
    Washington, D.C.
    People keep asking this question and everyone gets the same answer

    What do YOU think? I mean, do you need a connection most of the time?

    I personally need a connection at all times. My business has no Wifi, the places I visit daily have no Wifi OR Wifi that is locked. I travel often and it is 50/50 that I have Wifi at the locations.

    So, it is a no-brainer for me.

    Others though on this site got just Wifi and have no regrets b/c they use it at home OR have Wifi at their work AND home.

    So, the choice is yours
  8. gigaguy macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2010
    My iphone has no data plan, hacked on Tmobile with no contract, so I bought the ipad1 3G ATT. Love being connected anywhere, plus I have the Unlimited Plan they no longer offer. I don't always use that much data but it's hard to give it up and only $5 more than the 2GB capped plan.
    Will move the SIMCARD to a new ATT 3G is they really exist!
  9. ldobson macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2009
    Personally even though I could tether using the iPhone (and probably will) I just bought a 3G model so I have that feature. Theres going to be times that you dont have access to wifi, be it theres no wifi hot spots or all wifi hot spots are protected. Nice to have the 3G option.
  10. levitynyc macrumors 65816

    Aug 19, 2006
    I sat in line for 3 hours last Friday intent on buying the 3G model because I had the unlimited data plan from AT&T. I then checked through my 2 year usage and the most i ever used was 1.6GB.

    On the line I changed to the tethering plan and used my laptop to do some work. I decided to go WiFi only. I saved $130 on the iPad and only added $15 to the bill for tethering.
  11. Capt T macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2010
    If you plan on using it in the car then you probably will want the 3G version since with the GPS it will give you the most acurate location. Also there are some navigation apps that do the turn by turn instructions you may be interested in.

    So if you go 3G you will need to decide between Verizon and ATT if you are in the States. If you plan on going overseas I would recommend to go with ATT since you could have the option to put a sim card from the country you visited if you wanted. I not then since you plan to tether with your phone most of the time you may want to go with the carrier you don't have on the phone so if you are ever in a bind and the phone has low signal might be able to use the other. Just some things to consider.
  12. Tomacorno macrumors regular

    Sep 29, 2009
    To 3G or not to 3G

    Going through the same decision process. I think it would be mainly used at home although I would like to experiment with replacing my day planner with an iPad at work. WiFi at work is wonky - it works but frequently makes you log back in which is a bit of a pain -at least that is what happens with my iPod touch (do not have an iPhone as we use Blackberries). But is it a $20 per month pain?

    I am talking myself into 3G with the kicker being a long road trip planned with the family. I keep thinking, boy, it would be nice to have access if we want it while touristing up the west. But really, making the 3G decision adds hundreds of dollars of cost to your iPad experience. From the initial $130 to every month that you buy data. I like the buying by the month idea but I am watching these activation fee rumors. That would knock me away from Verizon for sure.

    OK, I have talked myself into 3G while writing this post. So thanks.:)
  13. 548827 macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    For the extra cost I believe the 3g is worth having even if you're not sure how much you will you use it... Nothing worse than needing something at an important time and knowing you could have had it for that bit extra.
  14. JayDH macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2008
    If you are usually around Wi-Fi and have an iPhone with hotspot, just save the money and get the Wi-Fi iPad. You can always use your hotspot when you need to use it on the go.

    If you will always need a 3G connection, or don't have/want to use the iPhone hotspot feature, the 3G iPad is a good idea. Like someone said before, having a constant connection makes the iPad experience even better.
  15. maxap macrumors 6502


    Sep 20, 2008
    I think I will go for the Wi-Fi only version and well for a number of reasons:

    - The plastic strip at the back of the device which makes it less attractive/sturdy in my eyes;
    - The plastic strip appears to scratch or even to break under certain circumstances: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2585850&tstart=60
    - I don't see myself using 3G connection that often: I guess I will not be carrying my iPad with me outside as I will be afraid to drop it. (I always use my iPhone to check e-mail and do some minor browsing);
    - If I need to use Internet on my iPad while travelling, I will connect it to my iPhone via Personal Hotspot;
    - And, of course, the 3G version is more expensive.

  16. richardbb85, Mar 14, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2011

    richardbb85 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009
    how is it worth it when he has an iphone alredy? if cost isnt an issue, then i say go for it, i just dont see how it is worth the price on the ipad.
  17. agwilson macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2008
    Cost of 3G

    When is it cheaper to buy a 3G iPad than to upgrade your current iPhone to tethering?

    Below is a calculation of the number of months of service required before the iPad 3G premium plus service is a savings over just upgrading the existing plan to tethering.

    Using these base values from AT&T service:
    iPad 3G Premium (one time cost) of $130
    iPad 250MB Plan of $15/month
    iPad 2GB Plan of $25/month

    iPhone 250MB Plan of $15/month
    iPhone 2GB Plan of $25/month
    iPhone Unlimited Plan of $30/month
    iPhone Tethering Plan of $45/month

    To calculate the number of months of service where owning a 3G iPad with service is an overall savings over upgrading to tethering we get the equation:
    Premium for iPad with 3G plus cost of iPad plan times x months = x months times (Cost of iPhone Tethering minus Cost of current Plan)

    *Taxes and possible discounts are not taken into account

    iPad 3G 250MB Plan v. iPhone 250MB Plan
    130 + 15x = (45 - 15)x
    130 = 15x
    x = 8.67, after 9 months you save $15 per month

    iPad 3G 250MB Plan v. iPhone 2GB Plan
    130 + 15x = (45 - 25)x
    x = 26, after 26 months you save $5 per month

    iPad 3G 250MB Plan v. iPhone Unlimited Plan
    130 + 15x = (45 - 30)x
    130 + 15x = 15x
    *x drops out, poor x, same cost per month for either service, but $130 premium for 3G iPad

    iPad 3G 2GB Plan v. iPhone 250MB Plan
    130 + 25x = (45 - 15)x
    x = 26, after 26 months you save $5 per month

    iPad 3G 2GB Plan v. iPhone 2GB Plan
    130 + 25x = (45 - 25x)
    130 = -5x
    x = -26, you lose $5 per month from the start plus your $130 investment

    iPad 3G 2GB Plan v. iPhone Unlimited Plan
    130 + 25x = (45 - 30)x
    130 = -10x
    x = -13, you lose $10 per month from the start plus your $130 investment

    x represents the number of months of service it takes for the 3G iPad to be a savings per month over upgrading to tethering. When x is a negative number you are losing the initial premium plus you are losing money each month by purchasing a 3G iPad and having a data service over tethering.

    The ideal situation for purchasing a 3G iPad is when you have a 250MB plan on your iPhone and only intend to get a 250MB plan on your 3G iPad. In this case, after 9 months of service you are saving money each month on the iPad 3G plan over just buying wifi and tethering.

    These calculations do not take into account the joy of owning a 3G, the GPS chip usage (you do have an iPhone already with one), or the hassle of having to tether each time you want to connect your iPad to the 3G network.
  18. 548827 macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    I like to keep my options open. Best of luck to the OP in making this decision. Thanks
  19. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    It also doesn't account for recouping a portion of the $130 price delta when reselling the ipad, nor potential service discounts if using the postpaid plan (you did mention this early on).
  20. brettatk macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2011
    I was also torn between the 3G + wifi or wifi only. I finally decided on the wifi only. I have wireless at work and home. If I take it somewhere that doesn't have wifi then I'll tether it to my iPhone using MyWi.
  21. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    My only gripe with tethering (note I have a 3G model but intended on getting WiFi) is that the few times I used it on my iPad 1 it drained my battery remarkably fast. Somewhere near the tune of at least a percent a minute.

    I think for saving battery life on my phone the 3g was worth the price of admission alone. For me also I wouldn't want tethering as I rarely need it.. only a handful of times.. so to pay for 12 months a tethering fee I would be better off spending on the 3g and activating it the few times I need it.
  22. 548827 macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    A couple hours online and its killed your phone then... I guess any longer term user really needs the 3G model.
  23. Psychmike thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2008
    Why don't YOU answer the question?? I'm not asking if I should get 3G or Wi-Fi. I'm saying that I want to make sure that my iPad can get geolocation data. For the Wi-Fi model using the iPhone as a hotspot, will the iPad pick up geolocation information? How good / bad is geolocation using cell towers alone without GPS?
  24. miamialley macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I originally planned on getting Wifi only, but then decided on the 3G iPad. I'm definitely glad I did. If I don't want to pay a monthly fee, then I don't HAVE to. However, I always have the luxury of knowing that I can access the internet from anywhere via my iPad. Nice.
  25. ggt macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I'm wondering the same thing. Can someone with an iPad 2 and iPhone 4 run a test so we can see if the GPS on the iPhone is used by the iPad?

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