When purchasing an iPad, aside from all the different models like the Pro, Air, Mini, or the regular iPad, we also have the option of getting a Wi-Fi-only iPad or an iPad with cellular capabilities. However, iPad Data Plan makes the iPad much more reliable.
A Wi-Fi+ cellular iPad means the iPad has a SIM card (or the newer ones, eSIM or Apple SIM) to connect to a cellular data network, just like your smartphone. On the other hand, a Wi-Fi-only iPad can only connect to the internet when there’s a Wi-Fi network available.
So, if you plan to use your iPad in areas without Wi-Fi, and/or if you travel a lot with your iPad, you might want to get a cellular-enabled iPad as a better investment. You can also choose to get WiFi Analyzer Apps to experience more efficient Internet.
However, to make the most of your cellular iPad, you’d need a compatible iPad data plan. So that you can connect to a reliable network. This, obviously, would mean an additional cost on top of your existing phone data plan. However, with all the different data plan options out there, choosing just one can be quite confusing.
In this buyer’s guide, we will learn all the different factors you’d need to consider when choosing a iPad data plans. By the end, you can use the information to choose the best possible data plan according to your needs and budget.
How To Choose an iPad Data Plan
Below, we will discuss the most important factors you’ll need to consider when choosing between different iPad data plans.
Figure out how much data you’ll need
Since most iPad data plans are priced based on data usage, you’ll first need to estimate your data usage. There are also iPad data plans that offer ‘unlimited’ data for a higher price. But in most cases, we won’t need as much data as in our phone plan.
If you only need less than 1GB/month, for example, you can get a reliable data plan for only $5/month. So it’s best to estimate your data usage not to spend too much on data you won’t use.
In general, here are some common activities you might do with your iPad. Also the estimation for the amount of data you’ll use with each activity:
- General internet usage (browsing, social media posting, etc.): 5MB/hour
- Emails sent/received: 500KB/email
- Typical documents/images downloads and uploads: 850KB/image
- Music streaming/download/upload: 5MB/song (for a typical 5-minute song)
- Video streaming/download/upload: 2MB/minute (120MB/hour)
- Full movies downloaded/uploaded: 2GB/film depending on the quality
- Online radio/podcast streaming: 128Kbps
- Online games: 15MB/hour
Also, an important consideration related to your data usage is how often you will use your iPad in areas with Wi-Fi. If, for example, you are going to take your iPad every day to the office (with your office’s Wi-Fi available), then you might not need too much data.
Once you’ve properly estimated your data usage, you should be able to narrow down your choices. For instance, if your monthly data usage is around 2GB, but Wi-Fi is abundant in your area, you might want to consider a cheaper plan.
Personal Hotspot Allowance
With your iPad, you can share your internet connection to other devices (including your iPhone, for example) via the personal hotspot feature. However, some iPad data plan limit the amount of data you can share via the personal hotspot feature. Some don’t allow personal hotspot altogether. Also, some might offer “unlimited” personal hotspot allowance but will throttle your speed.
Consider how often you’re going to use this personal hotspot feature. Then estimate the data usage of the other devices if necessary. You’d want to get a data plan that offers a personal hotspot allowance according to your needs.
This one is fairly obvious. You’d want to get a data plan from a provider with reliable coverage in locations where you’ll frequently use the iPad. Most carriers provide their coverage maps so you can check whether they cover these areas. You can also check out different online reviews and ask around on social media about the performance of a certain provider.
Also, if you travel a lot, you might want to get a regional or global iPad data plan to avoid those hefty roaming charges as you move between countries.
Newer iPads, or to be more exact, the following models:
- iPad Pro 12.9 inch (3rd gen or newer)
- iPad Pro 11 inch
- The iPad Air (3rd gen or newer)
- iPad (7th gen or newer)
- iPad mini (5th gen)
Now supports eSIM (embedded SIM) instead of the traditional physical SIM card. With an eSIM, you can easily switch between different network carriers without needing to replace the physical SIM card, among other benefits.
The thing is, not all data plans now support eSIM. So if you want to make the most of your iPad eSIM, look for a data plan that supports iPad eSIM.
Pay Attention To The Details
Check the fine prints of your data plan, so you don’t regret the subscription later.
For example, many data plans offer “unlimited” data allowance. While in truth, the provider will implement throttling (slowing down your speed) once you’ve hit a certain data usage threshold. Other plans might offer free international roaming, but it will only give you a very slow data speed when you are abroad. You’ll need to pay more to get a normal speed.
So, check every detail carefully, especially for the features that will matter the most according to your needs.
Finding the right data plan for your cellular-enabled iPad is very important to maximize the cost-efficiency of your data usage. Also to ensure you can make the most of your cellular iPad anywhere and anytime. If, for example, you are going to travel a lot with your iPad to different countries, then you might want to get a data plan with global coverage. That can also make the most of your iPad’s eSIM (if you are using a newer iPad). If you are ready to travel, check these flight tracking apps to keep track of your flights.
So, choose your data plan by considering your needs and budget, and the idea is to get the most affordable plan that offers all the features you absolutely need. You can also install Wifi booster apps on your iPad for added benefits.