To 3G, or not to 3G?

When I started this blog I was convinced that I would get the 64GB + 3G model.  Upon reflection I’m now super torn about this, but for a reason I’ve not seen mentioned often.  Let me explain.

First let’s get something out of the way: I want my iPad as soon as possible!  In the long term will it kill me to wait an additional 30 days for a 3G model?  Of course not.  But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter to me.

I would love to save the $130 cost on the radio up front not to mention AT&T’s data charges over time.  As a related aside, my intent on the data plan would be to literally turn the plan on and off on the fly as needed.  If AT&T pro-rates this feature as they do all iPhone add-ons – which remains to be seen – this would be a relatively cheap way to get 3G data only when you absolutely needed it.  About $1/day if there’s really no penalty for activating and deactivating on the fly.  You’d still have to pay the $130 premium for the radio of course.

If I went with wifi-only I could of course jailbreak my iPhone and use MyWi or a similar app to create a wifi hotspot from my iPhone and use that to surf on my iPad.  HOWEVER, for me there’s one big fly in this ointment: international travel. SJ mentioned that international data deals would be announced soon. Hopefully this means prior to shipping either model.

The issue is that AT&T’s international data roaming rates for the iPhone are f*#$ing insane.  Like prohibitively expensive such that when I travel I turn off data roaming on my iPhone entirely and use wi-fi only.  This works “okay” but there are definitely times and places where there’s no wifi, and so I basically can’t use my iPhone for data.  Which in turn would mean that I also couldn’t use my iPad.

Having to use an AT&T iPhone data plan with a jailbroken iPhone in order to surf on the iPad overseas would cost a fortune.  That’s why the international plans SJ mentioned are critical to me.  If they’re at all reasonable in terms of price, lack of contract requirement, ability to activate and deactivate, etc., then I’m afraid I’ll have to wait for the 3G model.  If not, then I might as well get the wifi only model, jailbreak my iPhone, and suck it up when overseas.

For the moment I still lean toward 3G.


About Tony Moody

I make movies. I wield a Les Paul and an iPad. I consume media - copious amounts. And I dabble in assorted nonsense. What do you do?
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10 Responses to To 3G, or not to 3G?

  1. Rachael Andrews says:

    Have you considered something like this ?
    I have been pondering the same as you with regards to the iPad, and looking at the Fon coverage maps, pretty much everywhere I go (I’m in the UK and don’t travel internationally but it is worldwide) seems to have a Fon spot. As there’s no monthly fee if one has a home wi-fi network to “Fon up” with one of their gizmos then it could be worth having under one’s belt.
    I also have the option of tethering my iphone to the iPad as I’m with O2 (assuming the iPad supports it, no reason why it shouldn’t – famous last words 😉 ), but its still expensive for the times I’m likely to use it.
    Saw you posts on macrumors btw. Good stuff.

    • yoyoyankees says:

      Wow that’s pretty interesting – thanks Rachael! I like the idea of this product/service, a sort of add-to-and-share network. I’d be a little hesitant to get one at the moment only because I can’t say that I have encountered many Fon spots in my travels. I can’t say that I have not however either. It’s more like . . . I haven’t been on the lookout so haven’t been paying attention. I focus more on the unlock status and signal strength than the name. Guess I need to pay more attention to this! Many thanks…

  2. dekka007 says:

    I think SJ meant by International Data plans. That Data Plans for other countries such as Europe, Asia countries will be announced soon.

    I don’t think he mean AT&T will release International Data Plans for other countries on US 3G Ipads.

    International roaming rates are country dependent and I am pretty sure AT&T would not be able to negotiate a cheaper deal than their current iPhone international roaming rate.

    • yoyoyankees says:

      Yes that’s exactly what I understood too, sorry if it seemed otherwise. This is not dissimilar from the iPhone rollout, when various international/regional carriers struck iPhone deals after AT&T did in the US. My guess is that now that all of those companies are already in business with Apple, the lag won’t be as long for them to release their data plans for the iPad. And since the microSIM is unlocked you should – if Apple handles the software right which I would assume they would! – be able to simply jump onto say an Orange or Vodafone plan wherever they have coverage.

  3. Tim Chaten says:

    Thought I’d through it out there GPS is included in the 3G model and as far as we know not in the WiFi only model. Also it is cool that you can turn it on if you need it for a trip or what not for just $30 bucks. Another thought you could go with unlimited iPad data and jailbreak the device turn that into a MiFi and run Skype via WiFi from your iPad and voila $30 a month and $66/year with Skype and you’ve got a phone replacement for many people.

    This is one idea I want to flesh out more and will be doing an entire episode on it at and in iTunes at –

    Check it out – episode 1 is on the iPad and what it brings to music education.

    Love your blog so far – keep it up! 🙂

    • yoyoyankees says:

      Hey thanks for the reminder about GPS (not to mention the kind words!) Somehow in my excitement over pondering possibilities I neglected to consider the GPS factor. I *definitely* want that. Some have questioned whether an iPad’s data plan would have to be active for the GPS to work in the moment, something that somehow wouldn’t surprise me. But still better to have it than not. It also makes the $130 3G premium feel somewhat more reasonable when you consider that it includes this additional, useful feature.

      On my way over to now!

  4. When you travel internationally just pick up a local sim and tether. Isn’t AT&T one the only carriers that don’t allow tethering? I live in China works like a charm with my iPhone 3Gs and my laptop. Hopefully I’ll be able to do this with an iPad too. I plan to buy the cheapest and then move up the ladder at rev 2 which will be a better machine and I will know exactly what i need.

    • yoyoyankees says:

      Thanks for commenting. One of the potential issue for U.S. iPhone users traveling abroad is that the tether switch is simply not present on the device itself (someone correct me if I’m wrong). There’s no slider anywhere in the prefs as there is for wifi, bluetooth, etc.

      Perhaps it can be done via jailbreaking (though it can already be done via apps like MyWi after jailbreaking), or by installing a non-U.S. version of the OS.

  5. Great reading, thank you

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