iPad 2: WiFi or 3G?

by on 10/21/2011 in Gadgets, iPad 2, WiFi

As more and more of us are tempted into picking up a tablet PC, we’re faced with a whole stack of options. If you’re an Apple fan of course, it’s a simple decision – you’re going to want an iPad. But unfortunately it’s not that simple; do you go for the 3G iPad, or the Wi-Fi only version?iPad 2

It’s possible the Wi-Fi version is for you – but frankly, it’s not likely. The only reason we can see for buying the Wi-Fi only iPad 2 is a lack of funds. Its American launch retail price was just over $100 dollars cheaper than the 3G version on the 16GB versions, crucially putting it just under the $500 price point. But if you can stretch to the extra few dollars (really, beg or borrow it) you’re going to get a whole lot more for your money.

Of course, most of the hardware itself is exactly the same. Either way you’re getting a 10-inch touchscreen device with 512MB of RAM powered by a 1GHz processor. Bringing you all the goodness of Apple’s intuitive and highly polished internet experience, with iTunes in full force alongside the now legendary App Store. You can get online anywhere that has Wi-Fi, from home or work to a café or train. But if you’re on the Wi-Fi version, unfortunately that’s where it ends.

Those few extra dollars for the 3G version make one small but significant addition – a SIM card. This means that, just like with a mobile or smartphone, you can get online anywhere you can get a 3G signal from your mobile provider. Of course, this will come with a small monthly fee but the extra connectivity is going to be worth it in the majority of cases. And it’s not as if you can change-up later: if you buy the Wi-Fi version, that’s that.

While Wi-Fi is becoming more and more prevalent in society, right now it’s a long way from being universal. And while you’ll probably have a 3G connection through your smartphone, there’s really no substitute for that bigger screen – as well as the plethora of superior iPad only apps that are starting to flood onto the App Store.

It’s sad but true: a lot of Wi-Fi is either rubbish, non-existent or costly just when you need it most. Hotels and public transport are two of the worst culprits, but we’ve all got our own Wi-Fi horror stories. Also, even in good Wi-Fi areas (even at home, or work), things go wrong – having a 3G back-up connection gives you the peace of mind, even when the fixed-line goes down.

Also, don’t forget you can set up your 3G device to log into any of your saved Wi-Fi hotspots whenever you come into range, meaning you’ll only be using up your 3G mobile broadband allowances when it’s absolutely necessary.

All in all, for such a small extra outlay, getting the 3G iPad over the Wi-Fi version is really a no-brainer.

About the author: Chris writes on behalf of Broadband Genie, the independent comparison website for all things mobile broadband related including MiFi dongles and Tablet PCs!.

11 Responses to “iPad 2: WiFi or 3G?”

  1. Power Wheels Jeep

    Oct 23rd, 2011

    Hi Frank

    Some good points there mate. But i think its all about what you actually want to use the ipda for. For example, i would like one for home, so when im on the mac, my girlfriend could just use the ipad. 9if we had one) !!

    Keep it up.

  2. Joomla Real Estate

    Oct 24th, 2011

    I think it has a lot to do with what you are using the devices for. It seems to me the 3g and 4g networks are just way too expensive.

    • Frank Jovine

      Oct 24th, 2011

      In this case if you don’t have either, you are SOL.

  3. Paul Lopez | BODHost Ltd

    Oct 27th, 2011

    Besides the financial aspect, it also depend on your needs, and mainly your mobility use. In my opinion additional investment in 3G model is worth, as it has a GPS. This is a plus point of 3G over WiFi model. Especially with the location if lost; you must wait until the thief connects to WiFi while the 3G iPad you follow its movement ( unless it off).

    • Frank Jovine

      Oct 28th, 2011


      3G is also worth it when you travel a lot and don’t have WiFi hotspots at your disposal.

  4. I bought ipads for my Realtors to use a few months ago… None of them have 3g. All my agents have smartphone with hotspot and they work great. Dont spend the extra money… That is my two cents.

    • Frank Jovine

      Nov 8th, 2011


      I agree as most places have WiFi so why waste your money for this option.

  5. junaid @ Technology Blog

    Nov 14th, 2011

    really the 3g + wifi model is great.should try it for sure and it is affordable too.

  6. Dan

    Jan 4th, 2012

    Something that is often not given enough thought (in my opinion) when it comes to deciding between the 3G or Wifi models, is that although the 3G models obviously cost more, they will also be able to be sold for more someday. So provided that you eventually will sell your iPad, presumably to upgrade to a newer one, some of this additional cost will be recouped.

  7. Tabby

    Jan 4th, 2012

    I would pick the wifi over the 3g.. though honestly I wouldn’t pick the iPad as my tablet. It has a cute gimmick, but there’s amazing competition out there for the ipad now. Like the transformer prime.

    • Frank Jovine

      Jan 4th, 2012


      I did the same as everywhere I go there’s WiFi.