Resolved iPad with Cellular or iPad w/ wifi and a hotspot

Discussion in 'iPad' started by rpearlberg, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. rpearlberg macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    #1
    I currently have a 4th Gen iPad with wifi. Am I better off getting a hotspot or tethering my iPhone or selling it and buying an iPad with Cellular (either AT&T or Verizon).

    I would like to be able to use the cellular service as needed and be able to turn it on and off (for instance if I know I'm going on vacation I could activate the cell service on the iPad).

    What is my best/cheapest/easiest option?
     
  2. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    #2
    Best is always highly subjective. Your call to make. I personally prefer having cellular on the device versus tethering. YMMV as with any subjective matter.

    What's your top priority? Focus on that. What do you specifically mean by best? Best in what way(s)?
     
  3. rpearlberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    #3
    I should say cheapest. I'd like to be able to pay for the service monthly, or as needed.
     
  4. GBR macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    #4
    Best bet is cellular iPad. I've had all three situations. Wifi iPad w/ verizon hotspot, wifi iPad w/ iPhone hotspot, and cellular iPad. I will always be choosing the cellular iPad over tethering going forward.
    With a cellular iPad there's no contract for the data so you can turn it on one month and off the next or even change the data plan to suit your need. It's also seamless to use, no worry about connecting or reconnecting. And lastly you don't have to worry about draining and charging another device whether it be your iPhone with the hotspot or a separate hotspot itself.
     
  5. rpearlberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    #5
    Thanks for your input, this makes total sense to me. Now I need to try to sell my iPad and get a cellular one. How much is the month to month fee with Verizon/AT&T/Sprint? Do they charge activation fees?
     
  6. JackieInCo macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    #6
    No activation fees as long as you don't add on to a shared plan but if you just go month to month it's Ok

    I use AT&T and T-Mobile. I get LTE on T-Mobile at home where I don't get LTE on AT&T so I keep both plans.

    T-Mobile has a 3.5GB plan for $35.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. GBR, Aug 8, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013

    GBR macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    #7
    No activation fee.
    On Verizon (my only experience) its:
    1GB $20
    2GB $30
    5GB $50

    Also, as a cool iPad feature, with any plan (at least with Verizon) you get free tethering, so if you needed you could tether your laptop to your iPad in a pinch.
     
  8. rpearlberg thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    #8
    It seems I'm better off sticking with AT&T. I could get the 3GB for $30. The only benefit of Verizon is the free tethering....

    Hmmmm.
     
  9. Sparticu$ macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    #9
    I would stick with ATT. You get more data and they have the fastest LTE network.
     
  10. GBR macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    #10
    IMHO all that takes second place to which has the best service in your area. Where I'm at Verizon is 100 times better and more reliable than ATT, and Verizon's LTE is plenty fast, but you will have to look at your area and determine that.
     
  11. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #11
    Agreed, the OP should go with the carrier that has the best signal in the areas he will be in most frequently.
     
  12. JackieInCo macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    #12
    Unfortunately, the best way to find out who has the best signal is to try them. That kind of makes it hard to do.

    The big carriers aren't always better. Here are two caps, one with AT&T and one with T-mobile. Both tests were made at my house on my iPad Mini.

    Also, T-Mobile has a top off deal where if you run out of data, you can add 1GB for $10.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. CoMoMacUser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    #13
    I bought the iPad 1 with cellular. I regret that. It was a waste of $100+ for the modem itself. I used cellular service for the first few months and then shut it off when I realized that virtually everywhere I used the iPad, there was Wi-Fi. Haven't reactivated cellular in over two years.
     
  14. Badrottie Suspended

    Badrottie

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #14
    Yup I agreed and ATT allows you to change data plans anytime if you like. I used to pay $30 for 3GB but now I have a budget problem so went to 250MB for 15 a month. :apple:
     
  15. davidra macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    #15
    I'm about to upgrade from a 2 to a five and I'm trying to decide this same question. Since I have Verizon on my iPhone with a free hotspot, and it's always with me, I don't see any advantage to having a connected iPad. My situation is pretty much the same in that I am almost never anywhere using the iPad where there isn't free internet anyway. Am I missing something?
     
  16. HobeSoundDarryl, Aug 15, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #16
    "Missing something?" The other benefits that come with the cellular version. The tangible difference between the wifi and cellular version is not limited solely to having a built-in cellular data connection.

    And guys with iPhones are biasing the answers. Does OP have an iPhone to do what those guys are doing? If not, his benefits of a cellular model could expand well beyond the tethering iPhone data scenarios. For example, I bought an iPad Mini with cellular INSTEAD OF an iPhone. My needs were data, text and only a little voice, and cellular data only when traveling. I covered the voice to a "good-enough" level with VOIP (mostly talkatone & Skype, plus earbuds with microphone). As a result, instead of paying $1000/yr for phone service, I've paid about $60 so far this entire year for just a couple of rounds of cellular data (all the rest of the time leveraging free wifi).

    If OP has an iPhone and can tether, his "best" (defined by him as "cheapest") may be to do exactly that. However if he doesn't have an iPhone, an iPhone-oriented solution for him is definitely NOT going to meet his criteria for "best." In fact, that's probably the worst (most expensive) way to go (per his definition of "best").

    OP, if "best" = "cheapest" it's probably a used iPad (or just use the one you have now) that is good enough for your needs (which could be up to several generations old to help minimize price) and a used mifi device that runs on the cheapest service in your area. You'll probably want to heed the advice of service reliability in choosing that service, including potentially NOT choosing the cheapest if it has bad service in the places you will go. There is some convenience cost in de-coupled cellular (juggling 2 devices vs. 1) but that is probably THE way to cheapest.

    And consider downloading an app like the one from jiwire and simply leaning on using it to locate the nearest "free" wifi if you don't absolutely need the extra convenience of a cellular connection. There are lots of places that offer wifi and apps like that one will identify those near where you are or where you are going to be. Maybe you'll find that nothing is so urgent that you actually need a cellular connection (and the cost of it).

    I don't buy into "best" = "cheapest" myself but I am a guy spending about $60/yr in total on his cellular plan for data, text & voice. Consider all of your own uses- and the details of quality of service in the places you go- and choose wisely.
     
  17. davidra macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    #17
    Well, since I really don't want to miss something, can you outline the "tangible benefits" that are independent of having built-in data connection? If you're talking about saving money only, for someone that doesn't have any smartphone with a data plan, and in fact hardly needs a phone, I guess you're right. I just don't think there are a lot of those around. Could be wrong....


     
  18. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #18
    I'm talking hardware. Besides 4g data, what else can the cellular version do that the wifi can't. GPS is one benefit that helps with many apps.
     
  19. CoMoMacUser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    #19
    In some cases, the LTE connection might be faster than the Wi-Fi connection. I have HSPA+ on my Nexus 4, and usually it's noticeably faster than Wi-Fi.
     
  20. KeepCalmPeople macrumors 65816

    KeepCalmPeople

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area, California
    #20
    In my experience public wi-fi hotspots that do not require login credentials such as in Starbucks, at least in the US, are always slow (1 - 2Mbps max, frequently much slower).

    Public, unencrypted wi-fi hotspots are also insecure. Unless you are running a VPN on your iPad/iPhone, there is a risk of eavesdropping. With cellular Internet, the connection is always encrypted.

    To each his own. I teach the guitar privately and visit my student's homes. I can lookup music, e-mail files to my students during the lesson, and so much more, within seconds of the need arising. Cellular on my iPad is well worth the added expense.
     
  21. JackieInCo macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    #21
    I'm in my car 8 hrs a day for my job and for me it was no question that my iPad would have cellular. There are times when I need to use the maps to find an address and do anything else I could do if I had a computer.
     
  22. ScottNWDW macrumors 65816

    ScottNWDW

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    #22
    To go Wifi/Cellular or stick with just WiFi is really a personal issue of the user. With my next iPad I am seriously considering going with the Cellular version. I have/had WiFi only versions of the iPad since it's original release, and for the most part it has been pretty nice. Having a WiFi only device does have some issues that the Cellular version would eliminate. As an earlier post mentioned, the free WiFi in places such as Starbuck's, the food court at the mall, Hotel Lobbies, etc can be very sporadic or at best be very slow.

    My partner and I can go to the local mall and be sitting across from one another in the food court and he will have a WiFi connection with an iPad1 and I will have nothing with the iPad 3 or iPad mini. Or I would have a signal and he wouldn't, or we both have a signal.

    We just got back from a vacation and at the hotel we stayed at, he was unable to get any signal with the iPad 1, but I did get connected with the iPad mini but not the iPad 3.

    I do have a MiFi Liberate Hotspot from AT&T which works great when I am in places where the signs is super slow or just can't get a signal and from my experience with the Liberate made me realize that my next iPad should have Cellular on it. I am finding that I am using the Liberate Hotspot more often because often times it's hard to get a decent signal. With the Liberate I can use my Mac or iPad(s) wherever I am. One of the downsides to that is it's another device I have to recharge. The battery life on the Liberate though is a good 8-10 hours so it does last all day for my needs. The downside is, I may not always have it with me.

    When I get my next iPad (considering a 64 or 128GB iPad 4 or just waiting for an iPad 5) I will most likely get one with the cellular. This way I can stay connected and only have one device to worry about carrying around. The cellular may not get used all the time, but when getting a signal is important, at least with cellular built in it is more likely.

    In my area AT&T works best. I have been considering trying out their new Next program.
     

Share This Page