I went with the Verizon iPad WiFi+4G LTE

On Friday I posed the question: “Which iPad WiFi+4G LTE is Better: Verizon or AT&T?” and overwhelmingly people responded with “go with Verizon.” When I woke up that morning and looked at the comments on the blog and social media, I decided to head out to the Verizon store on my way to my studio. I figured that although I absolutely hate standing in lines for this stuff, it would be worth a shot. Keeping in mind that I was meeting someone at my studio at 9AM and that left me very little time from doors open at 8:00 AM to get in and out. I got to the Verizon store at 7:37 and I was stunned to see absolutely no line whatsoever!

I thought to myself “something must be wrong! I’m never 1st in line, let alone “only one” in line.” A sales rep opened the door and asked if I was here for the new iPad and I said “yes” and he told me that they would open at 8. I asked if they had the 64GB model in and he said that he would check. A few minutes later I looked back in the window and he gave me the thumbs up. By the time the doors opened at 7:56 AM (for the mad rush), there were only 4 of us there.

I was in and back out with a Black 64GB Verizon WiFi+4G LTE iPad in hand by 8:01 AM.

Why did I go with Verizon one this one?

My 1st two iPad WiFi+3G models were on AT&T and since I got in on the ground floor of an “unlimited data plan” with no contract, when the New iPad was announced I just automatically ordered the AT&T version. Then I started reading some other posts online asking “why go with the AT&T one?” and it got me thinking and doing a little research. This really cast a doubt in my mind as to why I should stick with the AT&T version? Here’s what I found out:

Verizon’s 4G LTE coverage in over 200 cities above.
AT&T’s 4G LTE Coverage above and with Michigan not even in the Coming Soon area.
  • I live in Michigan and Verizon has LTE service here and AT&T doesn’t. Not only don’t they have it, but it’s not even on the publicized roadmap for this year!
  • I travel abroad quite a bit and this was a big concern until I found out that the Verizon version also supports GSM and has a standard Micro SIM slot too. Yes Verizon does international too, but GSM is EVERYWHERE!
  • Lastly Verizon supports wireless tethering (sharing your fast LTE connection with your laptop or other WiFi devices) at no additional cost while AT&T is still scratching their heads on how or when they will make it available. <-this was kinda the last straw!

How well does it work?

I got back to my desk and began the setup and restore process on the New iPad. Once it was done, I saw the Verizon status bar, but before I setup an account I popped my AT&T SIM with unlimited data from my iPad 2 and put it in the New Verizon iPad and my jaw dropped when it just worked. I turned off WiFi and was surfing on AT&T’s faux 4G  (non LTE)  HSPA+ network from my Verizon iPad.

I put the Verizon SIM back in (yes it comes with one) and setup a 2GB/month plan for $30/month. Next I had to test the LTE speed

Whoa!

Yes the speeds live up to the hype. Very close to if not exceeding many broadband connections in people’s homes today and certainly faster than anything I’ve seen on AT&T to date.

Finally I have tethering

One of my other frustrations is that while I enjoy an unlimited data plan on my corporate iPhone 4s, I can’t do a Personal Hotspot (without jailbreaking) because in order to add that feature I’d have to give up the grandfathered unlimited data plan that I have. I have an AT&T MiFi (yes another monthly cost). So perhaps one of the tipping points was that Verizon freely allows tethering with no additional charges or contracts. You buy your data plan and use it the way you want. What a concept!

It’s also FAST! Here’s a speed test from my MacBook Pro while using the Personal Hotspot over the iPad’s 4G LTE connection.

Speedtest from my MacBook Pro tethered to the New iPad’s 4G LTE connection

 

Going Abroad

While Verizon claims that their iPad will work in other countries I see no provision for adding any international roaming data the way AT&T does directly on the iPad. Granted AT&T’s international roaming rates aren’t cheap and you can probably do better picking up a local SIM in the country you’re visiting, but at least they are convenient to do right there on the device and you buy as much or as little as you need for a trip. When that data runs out or the month (30 days) expires you can buy more when you need it. This is definitely one of those times where I could see the need to pop back in the AT&T SIM or a local SIM that you get in the country you’re visiting. Verizon wants you to call them and enable International Roaming and they aren’t really advertising the rates from what I can see.

 

The Bottom Line – The Best of Both Worlds

While I have no real love or hate for AT&T, I haven’t had any problems to date with my last two iPads. However, from a competitive feature advantage and 4G LTE coverage advantage I have to give the nod to Verizon! I returned my unopened AT&T iPad to the Apple Store over the weekend with no regrets. I have the option of keeping the unlimited AT&T data account by simply hanging on to the SIM (and continuing to pay for it) for a bit and see if I ever need it. Lastly because of the Tethering feature I could potentially kill my MiFi account and even save money while still hanging on to the AT&T plan as the MiFi plan costs more. Not to mention the iPad gets about 4x the amount of battery life of my MiFi.

 

Whoa, whoa, whoa, what about the Retina Display, speed, etc.

I thought I was done here, but you probably want to hear my impressions about the New iPad in general. So here are a few first impressions:

  • Although the New iPad is technically heavier I don’t notice the weight much. I did notice it going from the iPad to iPad 2 and figured that this one would feel heavy again. It doesn’t.
  • Yes the retina display is nice, but honestly with MY EYES, I can’t see that big of a difference YET. I have an eye doctor appt this afternoon as I’m overdue for new glasses :)
  • Photos still look great (ones at 1024×768 or higher), but I can’t DEFINITELY see the difference in LOW RES photos now. They look jaggy! If you are using your iPad as a portfolio device you’re definitely going to want to replace your photos on it with high res versions. While most of my photos look fine, some were apparently a lower resolution than others and I can see the difference immediately.
Low res photo above looks really bad zoomed in on the iPad Retina Display
My existing photos at larger resolutions of 1024×768 (and higher) look fine zoomed in.
  • YES, the camera is much better. That’s not hard to do since I viewed the camera on the iPad 2 as “unusable” for photos. I still wont’ be doing much shooting with it, but it’s nice to know that at least now I could.
  • Larger screen captures. Since you now have 2048×1536 resolution this means that your screen captures are going to be at the higher res too. This is a good thing for authors and bloggers.
  • Is it worth upgrading from an iPad 2? Probably not unless you want the faster speed of the 4G networks. Otherwise, you might want to skip this one and wait for next year’s model. If you don’t have an iPad or you have a 1st generation iPad, it’s time to upgrade. I’m already starting to see new Apps come out that don’t work on the original iPad. That trend will likely continue.

Get the SpeedTest App I used above here on the iTunes


  • Holger F.

    After two days of usage my impressions with the iPad3 are mixed from the view of a photographer. Yes the display is razor sharp–if you have the right content. Text is definitely like printed, zooming in zooming out, just fun. So a big advantage while reading books or browsing websites.

    Photos are amazing if they do have HIGH RESOLUTION. They get this kind of final clarity you get when you first put on your new glasses ;-)

    However, this can not been seen if you transfer the photos by the standard procedure via Aperture and iTunes (or iPhoto and iTunes), because in this case Apple determines the downscaling of the image and I never found a way to define the resulution of the resulting images. This is not the case shooting with the build-in camera or transferring the images via the camera connector kit. In both cases there of course is no downscaling at all.

    Another matter is COLOR. Though there is a really great saturation there is a significant color shift. The former iPad1 had an amazing “right colour” showing the images very close to my calibrated monitor. The iPad3 is much cooler in COLOUR which is a pity.

    Further, as there is no progress in power iOS will still not be possible to develove RAW images with a reasonablenxess performance, room for improvements as always.

    Best
    Holger

  • MMI

    Terry, why did you go with iPad + Verizon when you have a MiFi? I read last week that FaceTime is not available over LTE networks. Are there advantages of a cellular plan over using MiFi?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      1. Using the Personal Hotspot of the iPad LTE is about 3-4 times faster than my MiFi speeds
      2. You can do FaceTime via a WiFi connection (MiFi or Personal Hotspot) from your Mac/iPhone, just not via the iPad directly over LTE (confusing and silly yes, but it’s WiFi only). So as long as your device thinks it’s on WiFi, FaceTime should work.
      3. Lastly the cost of a MiFi plan averages about $50-$60/month. An iPad 4G LTE dataplan is $30 for 2GB and $50 for 5GB ($80 for 10GB) on Verizon. I look at it as potentially combining two functions into one plan and even saving some $$$ if I only use 2GBs of data or less. Not to mention carrying one less device.

      • MMI

        Thanks Terry

  • Jim S

    I have been extremely satisfied with my iPad LTE from AT&T. As far as LTE speed on AT&T network, yesterday I got 49 Mb per second download. This was truly amazing.

    One of the reasons I chose AT&T was the HSPA+ performance you get when moving beyond the LTE footprint. Finally within a short period of time, AT&T will have LTE available in coverage that rivals Verizon.

    I am one user who stuck with AT&T and have no regrets.

    • Shock Me

      I can vouch for this. My town happens to be ATT LTE launch city. The new iPad gets around 40 Mbps.

  • Jan

    Terry, I stopped by Apple today. I wanted to compare my web site on old iPad vrs new. Loved the better resolution and color. There is a color shift but not enough to bother me. I am a big Verizon fan being that I travel the west where Att drops off completely in many rural areas.
    I asked about the Verizon sim card the woman said there was no sim card. I asked about tethering to laptop she said I would have to pay extra for that. So I was confused since I had just seen your post. Could she be that untrained?? Usually the sales people are fairly informed. Was it as simple as you explained? Personal hotspot already an option no need to add on?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Wow, you clearly came across an untrained rep.
      There is DEFINITELY a Verizon SIM in it (I updated the post above with a picture of it so that you can see for yourself) and the Personal Hotspot is there and you just turn it (as my screen shots show above) on and no additional cost to your Verizon plan. This has been blogged about by several other bloggers and industry news sites.

    • Patrick

      Jan,
      Verizon now has all of the details on their website. Select “Learn More” under “The New iPad” and you can find data plan details described.

      • Jan

        Thanks Terry. Patrick, I looked at the web site before I posted to Terry. Terry explains it much better . Thanks guys.

    • http://www.awclarke.com Andrew

      I experienced the same issue when I went to an Apple store. I explained that tethering was my reason for selecting the iPad 3,and the girl I spoke with told me tethering was not yet available. I eventually had her check on-line, after which she told me that I had learned something. She obviously forgot that I had told her the feature was available. lol. It sounds like they really need to train their Apple staff better.

  • Mark Hayden

    I’m a bit confused…

    You wrote: “I travel abroad quite a bit and this was a big concern until I found out that the Verizon version also supports GSM and has a standard Micro SIM slot too. Yes Verizon does international too, but GSM is EVERYWHERE!”

    Is that supposed to read: Yes ‘AT&T’ does International too… ?

    Thanks, Terry! I love your reviews!!

    -Mark

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Hi Mark, Thanks!
      What I mean to say by that is while Verizon may have CDMA based roaming agreements, most of the world uses GSM. It’s still not clear to me that when you roam abroad on Verizon are you roaming only on CDMA networks (this would have to be the case with older Verizon CDMA based phones) or are you now roaming via GSM since the iPad and iPhone 4s support GSM too?

  • Andrew Urbaczewski

    Same story down in Dearborn Terry – Got to Verizon store at 7:50 and I was #2 in line. No one else showed up before 8. I was out the door at 8:03 with my 64GB version. Anyone waiting in line is wasting their time.

  • Reggie

    Hey Terry,

    How’s your new iPad LTE data plan working out for you? Do you find yourself using significantly more data or are you well under your plan cap?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      about 375mb used so far. We’ll see how this week goes since this is the 1st week I’m on the road with it and I will definitely need to use the Personal Hotspot a few times.

  • http://xverse10.com/ X-Money

    I have 4G LTE iPad for AT&T my fastest I’ve seen so far was 35Mbps with 15Mbps Upload. I was just at a Jack in the Box down the street from where I live. I haven’t went downtown Houston yet but I will soon. I tested iPad on AT&T 4G (HSPA+) I had 8Mbps and my AT&T Uverse where I get 12Mbps. It’s amazing to see my new iPad to have faster connection than my broadband.

    Here’s link to my blog page:

    http://xverse10.com/2012/03/23/my-best-speedtest-net-results-for-my-new-4g-lte-ipad-on-att/

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  • Mark Johnson

    Terry,
    Great advise on iPad topics, thx.
    I have AT&T and the (NEW)iPad formally-iPad3 in blogs. I live in Seattle, and Apple “Genius” folks said AT&T has 4G, and my pad displays 4G but your connectivity maps show otherwise, please advise, thx,
    Also, you published 25iPad tips using Adobe indd CS5. I downloaded your copy, (thank you) and noticed you have page flipping animation when I open it in iBooks.
    How is that done, via indd CS5 or iPad iBookstore library?
    Thanks once again!
    Mark

  • Chris

    New Verizon iPad works fine overseas. I’m in Germany and am using on any network I want. Also it’s unlocked so I bought a local per paid sim on the o2 network. Works great. Speeds are about 2600 Kbps down and 1500 Kbps up. iPhone 4s roams flawlessly on gsm over here as well. Even with a Verizon sim. When I get back stateside it will automatically switch back to CDMA. As for the iPad, I’ll just pop Verizon’s sim card back in and there you go. I’m here til the 29 th. any questions just ask.

    • Joel

      HI Chris,
      I go to Germany and a lot of other places for brief (<1 wk) trips. Never had a single problem with my ATT phone, but I'm leaning to the Verizon iPad because it seems better for me when I travel here in the U.S. With ATT, I can buy a small overseas data package1 month at a time (50 MB or something) for $25, which gets me through my usually short trips. Do you know if Verizon offers something like this? I may not have time/forget to go find a local SIM before I get to the hotel or whatever and need to use it. Thx.

  • StevieO

    Very cool. I have heard from several sources that AT&T is targeting an LTE rollout in Detroit by the end of August but I think you made the right choice. Verizon’s LTE network is growing faster than Sprint, AT&T ,and TMobile networks combined plus they have 3G pretty much nationwide.

  • EB

    Terry, We have the Verizon 4G LTE version and have now burned 2 sim cards turning off the month to month coverage which is a major Apple selling point. We have Wi-fi at home and only need internet when visiting where there is no Wi-fi.

    Verizon has told me that there is no way to suspend coverage without burning the sim card. It seems that this would be in violation of their agreement with Apple since Apple uses this as a major selling point and you pay approx $200 more for the Ipad capable of using cellular data. With your contacts will you please find out how to suspend coverage on a month to month basis with Verizon.

    If Verizon’s plan doesn’t work as Apple sells it Apple should quit selling the Verizon version of the Ipad in my humble opinion.

    Thank you in advance.