3G & WiFi or WiFi Only iPad?

3G & WiFi or WiFi Only iPad

I see a lot of people asking the question on Twitter, "Should I get the 3G iPad over the WiFi only version?" and my simple answer is no.

Why pay extra for the iPad itself for 3G connectivity, then the data package to go with it when WiFi is widely available and quite often, when out and about, free.

I went away for a week on holiday to Southwold in Suffolk, on the east coast of England, knowing that the property we were going to didn't have WiFi. What I did find though was the Blyth Hotel with free WiFi, beautiful food and good hospitality!

Having done a little research before we went away I knew there were quite a few WiFi spots in the area, so I didn't panic.

iPad 3G Data Plans UK

One thing that also put me off the 3G iPad was the cost of a data package. I already pay £25 a month for 8mb broadband in the office so the thought of paying £15 a month for a 3G tariff combined with my monthly O2 iPhone bill just didn't seem logical.

My use of the iPad is mainly in the office, at home or at a hotel/bar/cafe which all have WiFi. If I'm on a train then the iPhone is great for picking up email and reading the odd blog post, I can manage without the iPad for 30 minutes, just about!

Although if without WiFi for any length of time there's always the few hundred blog posts on NetNewsWire to catch up on.

Here are the data plans that might help you decide:

O2 iPad data plans

Orange iPad data plans

iPad plan Cost
Pay monthly for what you use 5p (per MB)

iPad bundles

Cost UK Usage Allowance
iPad Daily (valid for 1 day until midnight) £2 200MB
iPad Weekly (valid for 7 days until midnight) £7.50 1GB
iPad Monthly 15 (recurring) £15 3GB + unlimited browsing at Wi-Fi hotspots**
iPad Monthly 25 (recurring) £25 10GB + unlimited browsing at Wi-Fi hotspots**

Vodaphone iPad data plans

I can't think of many places I go that don't have WiFi in some form available. In my eyes you would have to be someone constantly on the move to see any benefit in getting the 3G enabled iPad.


The worst case scenario could be that, with no WiFi available, you have to resort to using your iPhone or Blackberry to pick up or send an email. But then again that's what that device is there for, brief mobile browsing.

If I'm thinking of doing some work for any decent length of time away from the office I always make sure I have 3 basics things, WiFi, power and a good chair!

So the question you really have to ask yourself is "Am I going to be without WiFi often enough to see the 3G iPad as a viable, cost effective purchase?" If the answer is no then stick to the WiFi only version and happy browsing.

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Thomas's picture


i think 3G is ok, and if you had a connection everywhere it would be pretty nice.

Anonymous's picture


Can't see any advantage in ipad over my macbook Pro - and current iphone 3gs - what is the fuss about?

celine's picture

I agree. I would choose to

I agree. I would choose to have the wifi.why would I let myself to suffer with 3g when I have the convenience of using the wifi.

Anonymous's picture

3G connection "just works"

If less technical users will be sharing the iPad, having a 3G connection that "just works" when out and about enhances that magical effect that Mr. Jobs often touts. Certainly, my wife wouldn't know an SSID if she tripped over one. I got great value out of my iPad's 3G option during my summer vacation this year -- and remember. You don't have a contract, so you can just cancel the 3G for those months when you don't need it.