Refurbished iPads for T-Mobile - where are they?
April 10, 2014 7:04 AM   Subscribe

The refurbished area of the Apple Store is full of iPads (+Cellular) for all the major carriers...except T-Mobile. It seems they've been out of stock for a long time. Are T-Mobile users just extra careful? Is there some kind of different restocking policy in place at TMO?

So I'm trying to find a refurbed iPad for my mother-in-law, who travels to Germany for months at a time. I always buy refurbed from Apple and have never had a problem. I love it. I don't really need the latest generation either. I thought a 4th Gen iPad/Retina would be best for her.

Because she's going to Germany I thought going w/TMO would be the best bet for the cellular side. At least I could get a data SIM card over there for her that TMO would support somehow. But I've been checking the entire Apple Store for a few weeks, and I even check the RSS feed and history at (great site BTW), and it looks there have been zero iPads w/TMO for sale for a long, long time.

Does anyone know why this is? Does T-Mobile sell them through a different channel? I'd like to only go through Apple because of the warranty but if there's something else that Apple supports, I'm all ears.

I've also read in a few spots, like here at Apple's discussion forum that you can unlock an AT&T iPad and use it with a TMO SIM. Has anyone ever done this and can explain how to get AT&T to unlock the device? Does it come unlocked by default because you're not paying the subsidized price? I'll jailbreak if I have to but I'd rather make this simple for my MIL who's not technical at all.

posted by JoeZydeco to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Best answer: I believe T-Mobile has/had a deal where everyone gets a small amount of wireless data free on tablets every month, which might be a reason they're out of stock.
posted by ndfine at 7:07 AM on April 10, 2014

I believe t-mobile only started selling the iPad when the newest version, the iPad air came out. So if you get an iPad 2, 3, or 4, the GSM radio won't be optimized for T-Mobile's network. This means you're gonna max out at 2g speeds, even though the iPad 3 and 4 are LTE capable on AT&T's network.
posted by skewed at 10:18 AM on April 10, 2014

Response by poster: I believe t-mobile only started selling the iPad when the newest version, the iPad air came out.

Apple has a model number MG932LL/A assigned to the generation before the Air (4th gen?), so it's definitely not new, but it might have been the last carrier to add this model.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:49 PM on April 10, 2014

Best answer: It could be a function of the carrier's popularity. More iPhones are sold for AT&T than any other carrier, and correspondingly the AT&T model of each new iPhone sells out first, and later are the easiest to find on the refurb and used markets. Since T-Mobile is the underdog among cell networks in the U.S., the pool of T-Mobile-specific iOS products is going to be the smallest, and might actually be too small to meet the demands of the used/refurb markets.
posted by ardgedee at 4:23 AM on April 11, 2014

Response by poster: Turns out that starting today T-Mobile is dropping the cellular charge on all of the tablet hardware (including iPad), so I guess this pretty much negates the question. But thanks for the insight.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:46 AM on April 12, 2014

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