iPad 3G UK review iPad 3G UK review

ratingratingratingratingrating
We love
Simple 3G set up, feels natural to use wherever
We hate
OS limitations still a grind
Verdict
If you're buying an iPad, you won't regret the option for 3G
Launch Price
£From 529

iPad 3G UK review

The iPad 3G is finally on sale in the UK, but if you weren’t one of the hordes who queued to nab one on launch day last week, you may still be torn. Do you plump for the Wi-Fi only Apple slate and pocket the extra cash, or upgrade so you can turn the data on at any time? We’ve been trundling around London town with one to find out, so read on to see which you need in our iPad 3G UK review.

Read the rest of our iPad UK review:
iPad UK review: Overall verdict
iPad UK review: Design and build
iPad UK review: Kindle vs iBooks
iPad UK review: iPad OS
iPad UK review: One month on

It’s worth stressing up front that there are few visible differences between the iPad 3G and its pared down Wi-Fi only brother, bar a black trim along the aluminium back panel. In other words, the iPad 3G is still a scorching looker with a dazzling display, though perhaps a tad heavy (But you get used to it, we can assure you), and extremely prone to fingerprints. And you still don’t get headphones in the box, so be sure to kit yourself out with some because that speaker won’t be welcome when you’re streaming video on the move.

But after using the iPad 3G extensively out and about, we have to admit: even if you don’t plan on playing for a 3G data plan month in month out, you’ll really appreciate the option. We love the iPod touch, but there’s no denying it can feel crippled when you’re outside of a Wi-Fi hotspot, and the same is true of the Wi-Fi iPad.

But with a micro SIM slotted inside the iPad 3G, you’re no longer dependent on the flaky hotspot of whatever coffee shop you’re in to peruse your emails. Instead, you can open whatever app you want at anytime, without any limitations. Set up couldn’t be easier either: stick the SIM in, and check data is on in the settings.

If you’re in an area of strong reception without too much demand, the iPad 3G feels like pure computing unleashed: it’s really not about the device any more, but what it lets you do. Watching live TV in the park is brilliant if you can find shade, and web surfing on such a large screen on the bus is just as fun – and natural. We’re ambivalent about GPS on the iPad 3G (It’s too large to use as a satnav), but there’s no denying it locks on to your exact location at shocking speed, making Google Maps all the more useful.

Unfortunately, our experience with the iPad 3G has been let down by the network. Any existing iPhone owners on O2 will know how the 3G can dribble rather than pour in large cities, even in areas of strong reception, and the problem’s only exacerbated on the iPad 3G’s large screen: it’ll find you promptly, but take an age to pull up the actual mapping, for instance, or leave you staring at Dropbox while it loads that photo gallery stashed online.


iPad 3G UK unboxing: photos


Of course, this is an issue that varies drastically based on where you live and where you’ll use the iPad 3G most – and with plenty of networks offering micro SIM cards, you really are spoiled for choice. Just be sure to shop around and check with your friends lugging high end smartphones around as to how they’re finding data speeds day to day where you are.

A 3G connection is no panacea though, we have to admit. Some of the fundamental problems we have with iPhone OS on a tablet are just as true on the iPad 3G: the lack of a true file structure is real obstacle to proper work productivity, and could stop many from binning their netbooks for one. Multitasking isn’t due until at least the Autumn with iPhone OS 4 either, so if you want to listen to Spotify while browsing the web, you’re stuck until then.

But a 64GB iPad 3G is a completely different gizmo to a lowly 16GB Wi-Fi version. That extra storage really lets you use it as a media centre (We’ve been using it as a dumping ground for EyeTV recordings and aren’t even closing to filling it), and above all, the 3G connection has earned the iPad a place in our backpack every day, while the Wi-Fi iPad idles away its time on the sofa next to the Royles.

For the top end iPad 3G, you’re looking at an extra £270 over the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad. That’s a lot to ask, but if you want an iPad anyway, it’s unquestionably worth it. For those still on the fence, you’re right to wait, but we have a feeling iPhone OS 4 will make you jump off it in a few months time.

Read the rest of our iPad UK review:
iPad UK review: Overall verdict
iPad UK review: Design and build
iPad UK review: Kindle vs iBooks
iPad UK review: iPad OS
iPad UK review: One month on

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