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Do We Need a 3G/4G iPad?

by on September 13th, 2011

When the original iPad came out a little more than a year ago, I immediately jumped onto the 3G bandwagon and had a blast running around town iPadding around town safe with the knowledge that I would be constantly connected to my online life. Over time, though, the 3G shine slowly faded. I often found myself paying a lot for the connection (with Telus at the time) that I’m not completely using, in spite of a lower usage cap than my iPhone. By the time I got my iPad 2 less than a year later, I had already cancelled my iPad plan and bought myself a WiFi version instead. Now, less than a year and a half since the original iPad was released, I’m questioning whether Apple should even released a 3G/4G version whenever their next tablet is released. Here’s how I see it.

Free WiFi is Everywhere

If living in the city has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no lack of coffee shops, restaurants or unprotected wireless hotspots around for passersby to grab a quick connection and go. Sure, there are always concerns over data security and privacy, but for most tasks, free does the trick. Besides, the upfront cost of getting a 3G enabled iPad, the extortionist monthly carrier costs are just too prohibitive for ordinary Canadians to justify.

We Have Alternatives We Already Pay For

Now I haven’t seen the latest stats, but it’s probably a safe bet to say a large majority of iPad owners probably own a smartphone too, be it an iPhone, Android device or whatever. More and more of our smartphones are allowing us to tether other wireless devices to its data connection. Even for a marginal increase on our monthly bill, the overall cost is still much lower than having a dedicated connection on the iPad itself. Even for those without smartphones, there are still wireless hotspot capable devices on 2nd tier carriers (referring to Wind Mobile in this case) that are still affordable that offers a reliable connection and high usage caps at reasonable prices.

WiFi is More Universal Than 3G/4G Data

WiFi is a very well established technology and is pretty much standard around the world. Take your iPad anywhere and you’d be able to connect without worrying about compatibility issues or the like. This, however, can’t be said of wireless carrier data. Even for emerging standards such as. 4G (now being rolled out across major urban areas) there isn’t an agreed upon speed threshold, let alone standardized technical specifications. It’s possible (though unlikely) that Bell’s 4G network is incompatible with that of Rogers’. It’d be in Apple’s best interest to not even bother implementing these in their devices.

Wireless Carriers Don’t Make It Worth Our While

Unlike the iPhone, other smartphones or even other tablets, there simply isn’t the same kind of carrier subsidization for the iPad nor are there any enticing iPad specific plans data. From a value for value standpoint, there really is no compelling reason to sign up for an iPad only data plan. So why bother?

Apple is all about simplifying choice and making our tech buying decisions easier, so why do they want to keep providing a choice that neither gives them a real advantage against other tablets nor does it align with their simple and elegant mantra. Please Apple, just drop support for 3G on your next iPad. Make our lives a little simpler…please?

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