What are iPad SIM card deals?
An iPad SIM card deal lets you get online with an iPad when you’re away from home and far from a Wi-Fi signal. WIth a SIM card package you get access to mobile broadband with a bundle of data for use with an iPad.
What do I need to use a SIM card deal with an iPad?
In order to use a SIM card deal with an iPad you must have an iPad which has built-in mobile internet support. However, many iPads are Wi-Fi only models which do not have a SIM card slot.
How can I tell if my iPad supports a SIM card?
It’s easy to tell if you can use a SIM deal - just look for a SIM card slot on the edge of your iPad. If this is not present you have a Wi-Fi only model.
If you’re in the process of buying an iPad check the specifications, or ask the seller if it supports a SIM card.
Can I still use mobile broadband if I have a Wi-Fi only iPad?
To use mobile broadband with a Wi-Fi only iPad you will need to pick up a mobile Wi-Fi dongle. These share the mobile internet connection over a Wi-Fi network, so will work with any iPad. Wi-Fi dongles are not expensive, and allow you to share the connection with other devices.
Micro SIM or nano SIM - what size SIM card does my iPad need?
There are two different size SIM cards used by the various models of iPad so you’ll need to know which type your iPad uses - although it’s often not too much of a problem as many iPad SIM only deals include combi-SIMs which convert into different sizes.
The iPad 1, iPad 2, iPad 3 (aka new iPad) and iPad with retina display (aka iPad 4) all use micro SIM. All subsequent models use nano SIM.
This quick reference table shows which size SIM is needed for each iPad model:
|iPad (Wi-Fi + 3G)||•|
|iPad 2 (Wi-Fi + 3G)||•|
|New iPad / iPad 3 (Wi-Fi+3G)||•|
|iPad with Retina Display / iPad 4 (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad Air (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad Air 2 (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad mini (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad mini 2 (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad mini 3 (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad mini 4 (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad Pro (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
Can I get 4G SIM card for my iPad?
There’s a good chance you can take advantage of superfast 4G mobile broadband on your data enabled iPad. All iPads since the iPad 4 - including all versions of the iPad mini - support 4G.
Note that the (now discontinued) iPad 3 did have 4G, however it was for a specific frequency that will never be available on any UK network, so if you do want 4G on your iPad and own this model you will need to upgrade to one of the latest models, or use a Wi-Fi dongle.
Should I buy an iPad and SIM card separately?
If you don’t already own an iPad you may be considering one of two options: purchasing the iPad separately then pairing it with an iPad SIM card deal, or purchasing an iPad with a mobile broadband deal.
Buying the iPad separately can be good value. You can look out for special offers on the iPad itself, and you have the freedom to use any network. This can also work out cheaper overall, as the cost of the iPad is often added on to the monthly fees with iPad contract deals.
But if you’d prefer to spread the cost then an iPad with mobile broadband deal can be an easy way to do this without resorting to credit cards.
What should I look out for to get the best iPad SIM card deal?
Our comparison tables have been built to make it easy for you to quickly find the best package. But what you should look out for when comparing iPad SIM deals?
Before going any further it’s crucial to check network coverage in the locations where you’ll be using the iPad, because mobile broadband speed is heavily dependant on signal strength.
To check coverage use the official network map tools, which you can access by clicking the network logos right here:
Contract SIM only deals will not have any setup cost, but if you select a PAYG deal you’ll need to pay for the initial bundle of data.
This is the base monthly cost of the deal. If you do not exceed the data limit you’ll never pay more than this, but you are committing to paying this amount for the length of the contract.
You’ve got a fair bit of choice and flexibility with iPad SIM card deals. As well as PAYG, you’ll also find one month contracts as well as 12, 18 and 24 month deals. Longer contracts tend to offer more data for the money, but one month contracts let you cancel at any time.
This impacts how much you can use the mobile broadband service, but as there are no unlimited mobile data bundles for iPad you'll need to think about this before buying. It’s a good idea to choose a data limit a little higher than you might think you’ll need, but don’t go overboard. If you exceed the limit the network may charge extra, or throttle the speed. Not sure what data limit you need? Read our guide to mobile broadband data allowances for more help.