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January 15, 2012 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Where should I have 3G function? iPhone or iPad?

In October I broke down and bought a 3G iPhone. I love it, use it all the time.

On Friday I won an iPad2 in a drawing. (YAY! Thank you KPCC, you are my favorite radio station, ever!) Delivery in about 2 weeks, so I don't have it in my hands yet. I have played with iPads before though and love them. But from what I can tell today, this iPad will be wifi only.
I was looking forward to having 3G on a larger screen, using it as a GPS in the car, being able to browse the web while out and about, etc. I thought all iPads had 3G. Who knew?
Definitely a first world problem here, but still...

1. Will Apple let me upgrade it/swap it +cost for a 3G model?
2. What combination of iPad + some phone makes the most sense functionally? and financially?

iPad WiFi + iPhone: Is it too frustrating not to have your full iPad functions all the time? (I have heard about using the iPhone to create a personal hotspot, and then to use the WiFi on the iPad, but I think that is like $20 /month, which is more than an upgraded iPad would be.)

iPad 3G +iPhone: I would have to pay for two separate data plans, right?

iPad 3G + dumb phone: I can picture using iPad for my browsing and using a non-smart cell phone. Daughter would be happy to swap phones with me I think. Or does a smart phone offer something a 3G iPad does not (besides phone calls)

I keep a 200 MB data plan only, so we are not talking about huge amounts of data here.

In short: What combination do you use? What are the benefits and problems that you have found with it?

Thanks, hive!
posted by SLC Mom to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I tend to use my iPhone for EVERYTHING because I can just slip it in a pocket. The iPad comes along when I have something to do- Which means that wherever I'm going (For coffee, to a friend's place, the library, work) will likely have WiFi. Do you really wanna whip out your iPad for directions on a street corner? A lot of "3G Situations" tend to be stuff like "I need directions ASAP" or "Where is the best Korean restaurant?", in which case it is totally easier to use a tiny phone, as opposed to a tablet.
posted by GilloD at 2:40 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's very little that the ipad can do that the iphone can't, I can't imagine wanting to carry around my ipad everywhere.
posted by empath at 3:08 PM on January 15, 2012


Like GilloD, I carry my phone everywhere for quick on-the-go information and for bored-standing-in-line Twitter updates. I can't imagine using my iPad in those instances because it's too big and bulky to pull out, use and quickly put away. I use my iPad more like a limited laptop than a larger-screen iPhone. I use it to watch Netflix while I'm in the bathtub, to Facetime with my hubby when I'm travelling, and to compose longer emails/blog posts/etc.

Will Apple let me upgrade it/swap it +cost for a 3G model?
Probably, you;d have to pay the difference in price though.

iPad WiFi + iPhone: Is it too frustrating not to have your full iPad functions all the time?
Like empath said, my iPhone can do pretty much everything my iPad can.

iPad 3G +iPhone: I would have to pay for two separate data plans, right?
Right. But the iPad data plan is a monthly service, no two-year plan that you're locked into. And I think it's about $35 a month for the iPad data. I've never activated my iPad 3g (it was a gift) but I like having the option to if I knew I would be spending a lot of time away from wifi but near 3G.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:17 PM on January 15, 2012


Will you be in out of wifi that often? In my normal routine I am surrounded by wifi at home or work so the lack of 3G on my iPads doesn't bother me. But even when travelling on different continents I usually had access to wifi somewhere. I use my iphone for GPS in the car and when I want to browse the web on the iPad I am usually sitting, indoors and near a hotspot. I can't imagine paying for the use of two 3G dataplans every month, that seems like an excessive expense.
posted by saucysault at 3:18 PM on January 15, 2012


I have an iPad and a dumb phone, which works fine for me, but I think you'll fine you'll be plenty satisfied with your status-quo situation. The main time I actually use the 3G on my iPad is when I'm a passenger during my long commute to work every day; I can check email and even write blog posts, etc. That said, I often wish my 3G device were smaller and more portable and better at taking pictures.

Bottom line: stick with the wifi-only iPad, you don't need them both to have 3G
posted by rzperllian at 3:35 PM on January 15, 2012


Work has provided me with an iPhone and a WiFi iPad (for which I love them quite a lot). I don't know how this works with service providers elsewhere, but here in Korea, all I need to do is turn on the Bluetooth connection-sharing hotspot on my phone and connect to 3G with the iPad that way, if I'm somewhere without wifi.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:24 PM on January 15, 2012


I generally concur with all of the above opinions. I would say that paying a contract price to get a 3G iPad isn't worth the added benefit of the larger screen, since you're already paying for the data plan on your phone. You're getting a *free* iPad with Wifi, and honestly, I think that the you'll get the most bang for your buck just enjoying it as-is.

If you're really insistent upon using your iPad while out and about, you could look at adding hotspot service to your iPhone plan, and then just connect your iPad to your iPhone.
posted by erstwhile at 7:42 PM on January 15, 2012


I was looking forward to having 3G on a larger screen, using it as a GPS in the car, being able to browse the web while out and about, etc.

Okay, the GPS would be nice, but as the driver, you're not going to be looking at it very much. Just use an app on the phone with voice directions (I like Waze). Pre-load maps on your iPad. You'll know where you are with the phone, and you can check the map once you've (hopefully) pulled over. You can get a GPS receiver for the iPad, though.

Where are you going that doesn't have wifi? It's everywhere - shopping malls, coffee places, etc. Your dentist's office probably has it. You're not going to walk down the street checking Facebook on your iPad (I hope).
posted by desjardins at 8:03 PM on January 15, 2012


The iPad is very hard to use for maps in the car--I know, because I have done it. It's hard to see if it's lying on the seat next to you, and it is too big and bulky to pick up in one hand for a quick glance. Stands to prop it up in eye-view are very expensive. The phone works much better for this.

My iPad is 3G capable and I have activated the 3G maybe once when traveling in the 18 months I've had it (you can get 3G service one month at a time with no contract). I was glad to have it when I used it, but we paid a pretty big premium up front for the capability and I don't think I would bother if I had it to do over, especially now that I have an iPhone. Also, even in just the 18 months since I got it, WiFi hotspots have proliferated, so it is even easier to do whatever I want with it even without the 3G.
posted by not that girl at 9:12 PM on January 15, 2012


(I have heard about using the iPhone to create a personal hotspot, and then to use the WiFi on the iPad, but I think that is like $20 /month, which is more than an upgraded iPad would be.)

This depends entirely upon your carrier. It's free where I am, and takes maybe a minute to set up, and seconds to use. It's what I'd do. It's definitely worth asking about.
posted by pompomtom at 9:36 PM on January 15, 2012


I have a 3G iPad and an iPhone. I carry my iPad often, and use my phone way less than I used to.

I've contemplated dropping the data plan on my iPad and putting that money towards a tethering plan on my phone, but I have a sense that my iPad will become less useful if I have to deal with tethering to use it when I'm away from WiFi. One option I considered was getting the cheapest data plan for the iPad, but tethering for any prolonged use.

It really depends on how you think you'll use the iPad. I will say though, even if you can't exchange the iPad, you could probably sell it in the unopened box for close to full price. Keep in mind though, there will probably be a new iPad in March, which will knock down the resale price of an iPad 2.

I'll also add, the iPad's data plan doesn't require a contract. You can try it out and cancel it if you decide it isn't worth it.
posted by Good Brain at 2:20 PM on January 16, 2012


Final answer: I went with the 3G because it gives me the most flexibility and the data plan can be canceled at any time. That ability to NOT have a data plan was the key to my decision. Thanks to those who mentioned it.
I actually hang out in places with no wifi. Like my office, the hospital my husband keeps getting admitted to, the passenger seat of the car.
I'm going to give my iPhone to my daughter in March and see how things go without it. If I can't survive, I have a cell phone contract I can renew in April.

Oh, Apple did the exchange without blinnking an eye.
Thank you!
posted by SLC Mom at 10:11 AM on February 28, 2012


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