iPad: Wi-Fi Only Please

The explosion of the iPad is nothing short of amazing! If you compare the iPad’s growth to that of the iPhone over the first two years, you’d be hard pressed to find evidence that its success is slowing down any time soon.

While reading through the inevitable, yet somehow still intriguing, technology predictions for 2012 I found a point made by Shawn Blanc to be a rather interesting one. He predicted that;

I think Apple is going to sell more of the 3G models. Just a hunch, but as people start to realize that their iPad can serve as a primary computer then an extra $129 to get 3G becomes a valuable upgrade.

Will the 3G iPad become the dominant model in 2012? Are there good reasons for you not to upgrade to a 3G iPad?

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World Wide Web

The picture of the earth that sits atop this article is, without question, a little far fetched…

We’re nowhere near the point of global network coverage, even if you leave aside the unpleasantly expensive problems connected with data roaming. For a Wi-Fi iPad owner however, the thought of using my iPad anywhere is certainly an enjoyable one. I wouldn’t reject the offer of a 3G iPad, but I’m not sure I’d consciously shell out for it either. I don’t agree that we’ll see a substantial increase in their numbers, and here’s why.

Roaming Sounds Fun…

Over the years there have been calls for Apple to make a 3G enabled Mac, with the technology most recently being connected with the MacBook Air. This doesn’t look very likely, although it’s never safe to rule it out, and the reasons for this are the same reasons I think we won’t really see an increase in the uptake of 3G iPads.


I believe that this is the strongest case for the absence of a 3G MacBook Air and the reason I don’t think we’ll see a surge in 3G iPad numbers. A significant number of people who own iPads also own iPhones, and the case for tethering is becoming more and more convincing. Why buy a 3G enabled iPad, when you can seamlessly connect it to your 3G enabled iPhone that you always have on you?

I have that very capability, bestowed upon me by a generous network provider who charges nothing extra for the privilege – although I don’t know what the situation is like in other countries. I would advise any iPhone owner I knew to go for a Wi-Fi iPad, purely because the tethering situation all but negates any extra use you would get from the 3G iPad.

Tethering in action! What a lovely blue colour...

The fact that it works seamlessly just adds to the impact of tethering, you barely need to think about it! It’s also much better to consolidate all of your data costs and have everything go through your phone carrier.

You can also connect a Mac to your iPhone very easily using bluetooth tethering. I’ve personally found that browsing like this is still relatively pain-free, although I wouldn’t hit any streaming…

Limited Utility

To get a clear idea of how much I would actually use 3G on my iPad it’s worth thinking back over the last month and remembering the times I tethered my iPhone. The fact is that I would only have used it on two or three occasions, certainly not enough to make the extra contract worth the hassle.

Obviously everybody’s different, and use will differ vastly, but how often are you really going to need to use your iPad when Wi-Fi isn’t available? Surely tethering would suffice on those particular occasions?

If you have the money and find the turning on of your bluetooth a real pain, then perhaps a 3G iPad is worth your consideration…

Wi-Fi Everywhere

As a final point, it’s interesting to note that we’re not massively far off not needing network signal at all. Wikipedia has a long list of cities that already have, or are piloting, free Wi-Fi. How much longer until it’s ubiquitous?

Your Thoughts

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts – simply post a comment below! Do you have a 3G iPad and use it all the time? Do you agree? Have your say below…