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Mobile Broadband for 3G iPad

A simple guide to iPad 3G Sims

The 3G version of the Apple iPad is proving to be very popular, and why not when the opportunity to add a micro SIM means you can have access to mobile broadband on the speedy iPad anywhere? But there are several deals out there and choosing the right one isn’t always easy. This page gives a brief overview of the dealsavailable and some information on what to look for.

iPad 3G SIM Card Deals

Right now Three and Vodafone offer iPad SIM deals, all deals are one month rolling contracts which means that you can cancel at any time so there is no long term commitment. Below is a summary of what each network offers:


iPad SIMs From 3Three have the best 3G coverage of any networks and recently won coveted awards for best mobile broadband network and best value mobile broadband. They also have the best value iPad SIM deals:

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1GB a month data, 1 month contract, £7.50 a month

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10GB a month data, 1 month contract, £15 a month

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iPad SIMs From VodafoneVodafone also have a very good 3G network (although with slightly less coverage than Three) and are renowned for their customer serivce and good value data. They recently won an award for fastest mobile broadband.

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1GB a month data, 1 month contract, £10 a month

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3GB a month data, 1 month contract, £15 a month

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5GB a month data, 1 month contract, £25 a month

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What Is A Micro SIM?

A little unhelpfully the iPad doesn’t use a normal sized SIM card like we’re used to in mobile phones, instead it uses a new sized card called a micro SIM (also found in the latest iPhones). This is to ensure that you can only use an Apple endorsed iPad micro SIM deal in your iPad so sadly you can’t swap a SIM card between your mobile phone and your iPad. The new format is probably also one of the reasons why as yet there aren’t so many iPad SIM deals available although we do expect this to change in the future.


What Other things Should I Look Out For

Before ordering your new iPad SIM its worth thinking about exactly what you will use it for and whether there are any other parts of the deal that are appealing to you. For example, Three offer free Skype calls, free Instant Messaging and Free Twitter with their iPad SIM deals which don’t come out of your total allowance. Vodafone meanwhile offer good deals for using mobile broadband abroad although you should always check the exact costs for the country you are visiting as ‘roaming’ charges can be high if you aren’t careful.


Can I Still Use WiFi When I Have an iPad SIM Installed?

Yes, of course. The beauty of the iPad micro SIM is that you don’t need to be within a WiFi hotspot to be able to access the Internet as it connects via mobile broadband over the mobile phone networks. However, when you are in a WiFi hotspot you can still connect via WiFi instead, saving your precious mobile broadband data for when you need it on the move. The iPad will automatically connect to a WiFi network first if there’s one available and then connect to 3G mobile broadband via the iPad SIM if there’s no WiFi available.


How Much Data Do I Need With My iPad SIM?

Probably the most important thing to consider when deciding with iPad SIM deal is right for you is how much data you are going to need for your iPad. We’ve put together a full guide to mobile broadband data usage but as a general rule of thumb you should consider that for each gigabyte of data in your deal you can roughly:

- Surf the Internet for 10 hours
- Send or receive 1000 emails
- View 20 minutes of online video and
- Download 30 music tracks

For light to medium usage we recommend the 1gb deal from 3, if this isn’t going to be enough for you then you should consider one of the larger bundled data amounts. Remember, you can always trade up or down to a lower bundled amount at any time once you see what your actual usage is and with one month contracts you can also cancel at any time.


Getting Connected WIth Your iPad SIM?

Once you receive your iPad SIM from the network connecting it is straightforward. It’s not quite the plug in and play approach we’re used to with normal SIM cards and mobile phones, but it’s not exactly a major pain either. You simply insert your new iPad micro SIM into your 3G iPad then open iTunes which you use to configure the SIM. Simply follow the onscreen instructions and you’ll be up and running in no time.