The cellular models of the IPAD AIr 2 and the IPAD mini 3 come ready to work on most of the major wireless networks. Thanks to the Apple SIM, you can even setup AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile — and switch between Spring and T-Mobile — right on your IPAD. (Verizon requires its own specific model and SIM.) If you’re trying to decide which carrier is right for you, there are several factors you’ll need to consider, including coverage, cost, and quality. Understanding how the Apple SIM works The IPAD Air 2 and IPAD mini 3 are both sold with an Apple SIM pre-installed. The Apple SIM works with AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile and is easy to set up. Once you turn on your IPAD, it’s as simple as either replacing an existing IPAD on your account or setting up a new one. There are however a few key points you need to remember: Verizon does not support the Apple SIM. If you want to use Verizon, you’ll need a Verizon nano SIM. If you choose AT&T, your Apple SIM will lock to AT&T. Check your LTE data coverage A data plan, regardless of cost, isn’t any good to you if you don’t have great service with a specific carrier. So the first thing you’ll want to do is decide who has the best LTE data coverage in your area. Click each of the links below in order to view interactive coverage maps with each carrier. This way you can instantly rule out any carriers that have subpar coverage in your area. AT&T coverage maps Verizon coverage maps T-Mobile coverage maps Sprint coverage maps Data speeds If more than one carrier has good LTE coverage in your area, the next thing you’ll want to figure out is which carrier has the fastest speeds and most reliable coverage. Luckily, PCMag has put together a pretty amazing map and in-depth coverage of what carriers perform the best in different areas of the country. So if you’re struggling between a few carriers, PCMag has done all the heavy lifting for you. Fastest Mobile Networks 2014 The Verizon factor All IPADs are sold unlocked. However, Verizon will only allow IPADs in their database on their network. So, if you buy any other model, you won’t be able to use it on Verizon. Not ever. If you buy the Verizon model, however, you’ll still be able to switch SIM cards and use it on other networks. It sucks, but it’s reality. So, if you think there’s even a small chance you might want to use your IPAD on Verizon, now or in the future, you’ll need to buy the Verizon model. Adding your IPAD to your existing cellular plan AT&T and Verizon both offer share plans — Mobile Share and More Everything respectively. Currently it will cost you $10 per month to add your IPAD to your existing AT&T or Verizon share plan. If you’re already a Verizon or AT&T customer with a share everything plan, and you have data to spare, you can’t really beat $10 per month. You already know what kind of coverage you have, so as long as that’s not an issue for you, adding on your IPAD is the best value. Standard data plans AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer separate data plans for tablets. If you want a different carrier, or if you don’t currently have a carrier, you can simply choose a data plan and go. Depending on how much data you need and what carrier has the best coverage in your area, here is what you can currently expect to pay: */ 200 MB 250 MB 1 GB 2GB 3 GB 4GB 5 GB 6 GB 7 GB 9 GB 10 GB 11 GB 12 GB 13 GB AT&T — $14.99 — — $30 — $50 — — — — — — — Verizon — — $20 $30 — $40 — $50 — — $80 — — — T-Mobile Free — $20 — $30 — $40 — $50 $60 — $70 — $80 Sprint — — $15 — $35 — — $50 — — — — $80 — The chart above indicates regular pricing for tablets on all carriers by the month. It’s worth noting however that T-Mobile currently has some specials running through January 2, 2015. 1 GB – $10, regularly $20 3 GB – $20, regularly $30 5 GB – $30, regularly $40 5 GB to be used within 150 days – $10 Verizon and Sprint also offer daily and weekly plans starting at $5. T-Mobile currently will give you 500 MB for $5 and it’s good for 24 hours. Sprint will give you 300 MB for $5, which is also good for 24 hours, or 500 MB for $10, which is good for one week. International data plans If you travel outside of the US regularly, roaming data rates is something you’ll need to consider. Currently T-Mobile is the only carrier in the US to offer free roaming in over 120+ countries at no extra cost to you. Tablet plans with international roaming start at $20 per month for 1GB and go up from there. However, if T-Mobile isn’t the best option for you overall, remember that IPADs are sold unlocked. If you go with Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T, you can swap in a prepaid international data SIM when you arrive at your destination. Not only will it be cheaper than an international data plan, you’ll most likely get more bang for your buck. Who should choose Verizon? If you’re already a Verizon customer and you’re already on a data share plan, you can add your IPAD for $10. That’s probably the best deal you’re going to find cost wise, and you obviously already have good Verizon coverage in your area if you already use them. Verizon also has one of the most expansive and fastest LTE networks in the US overall, so if you spend time in multiple areas of the country, Verizon is a solid choice. If you haven’t picked up your IPAD Air 2 or IPAD mini 3 yet, keep in mind you’ll want to purchase a Verizon model if you think you’ll ever want to put it on Verizon, even if you aren’t now. Check out the Verizon Factor section above for more information. Who should choose AT&T? If you’ve already got a mobile share plan with AT&T, just like Verizon it will only cost you $10 a month to allow your IPAD to pull from your existing data pool. AT&T also offers a little more bang for your buck than Verizon on some of the lower tiered standalone data plans, so consider that if you’re debating between the two. Who should choose T-Mobile? T-Mobile is offering 200 MB of data for free to IPAD customers. That means you get that 200MB each month for as long as you own the device. While 200 MB isn’t a ton of data, it may be enough for folks that are mainly on wifi and only need cellular data in a pinch while traveling or out and about. IPAD users who travel abroad should also heavily consider T-Mobile for IPAD data since they are the only carrier to offer truly free roaming in over 120+ countries across the globe. Who should choose Sprint? Sprint has some flexible daily and weekly plans that are reasonable for folks that only need cellular data every once in a while, but so does T-Mobile. If Sprint is the only carrier with LTE in your area, their prices are pretty closely aligned with the others and it may be a good choice. However, Sprint doesn’t currently offer anything in its lineup that makes it appealing over the other guys, especially since their network continuously ranks lower on LTE speed tests than all the others, in most areas. What choice did you make? If you purchased a cellular IPAD Air 2 or IPAD mini 3, what carrier are you planning on going with and why? Be sure to let me know in the comments. And if you’re still undecided, hit the link below to get some input from our forum members in the carrier discussion lounge! iMore carrier discussion lounge

Source: The IPhone Blog

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