Which iPad 2 Should You Buy?

Illustration for article titled Which iPad 2 Should You Buy?

This graphic guide will tell you which model is the perfect iPad 2 for you, depending on where and how you are planning to use it (click on the image to expand).


What experience told us

When it came out last year, nobody knew which iPad to buy. Everybody here got the model they thought would work, but nobody was sure. Now, after spending almost one year with it, we know exactly what we—and you—need.


For example, Chris Mascari and Brian Barrett spent extra money on the iPad 3G but, after using it all this time, they discovered they rarely used the 3G connectivity. Every time they used their iPads they were in their houses, a coffee shop or a restaurant, where Wi-Fi is almost always available. They are now buying the Wi-Fi model.

I bought the iPad Wi-Fi 64GB. Like Chris and Brian, I rarely find the need to access the internet on the iPad unless I'm sitting down somewhere. And generally, as a person in New York, that means there's likely Wi-Fi.

Who really really needs 3G connectivity

But none of us here are heavy commuters. My home is close to the office, so I use the NYC subway—where, surprisingly for being the capital of the world, there is no 3G service yet—for only a few stops.


The only people who actually need 3G connectivity are: a) those who commute a lot and don't have a Wi-Fi connection in their trains or buses and b) those who really need to be connected at any time in any place, in the middle of a park, a road or the street c) those who travel a lot without a laptop internationally or domestically d) those who don't live in dense urban areas without Wi-Fi everywhere e) people who think an extra $130 is not too much to pay for insurance to have it when you do hit the road and think tethering to a smartphone or Wi-Fi hotspot is too annoying to do every time you need to have a connection. (Which is now a viable option for iPhone-owning iPad users with personal hotspot powers in iOS 4.3.) If you belong to any of these categories, then the 3G is a good option.

The other deciding factor is the GPS. None of us have used the iPad for true GPS location services. In cities, Wi-Fi geographical positioning works perfectly well. Those who need real GPS in the car or trekking may need an iPad 3G. However, a smartphone will serve that function better than the iPad, since they are smaller, lighter, and their form factor and screen size is good both for cars and walking.


Black vs White?

It's kind of one-sided. All but one of us chose black. Here's why.


AT&T vs Verizon?

It depends. Like the iPhone 4, Verizon will have better coverage, but lower top speeds. Unlike the iPhone 4, the iPads have generally had better reception and a giant antenna on top—sorta hard to "death grip" that!—so AT&T connectivity issues are likely to be less annoying. Having said that, Verizon iPhone users seem to be living happier than AT&T ones. But while Verizon's network seems to be living well with iPhone 4 and Android users sucking down bandwidth, we don't know what will happen down the line.


The other major consideration is cost. AT&T's plans are simple: 250MB for $15/month, or 2GB for $25/month, though overages will screw you more with pre-paid plans vs. post-paid. (Though if you've kept your original iPad 3G's unlimited data plan, it'll carry over.) Verizon offers a broader range of options, and gives you a better deal if you're going to be using more data: 1GB for $20/month; 3GB for $35/month; 5GB for $50/month; 10GB for $80/month. Quick summary: If you are gonna just a little bit of data, AT&T is a better deal, but if you're going to use a lot, Verizon is a better deal. (CNN Money has a very precise breakdown.)


There's another factor, though, which may not come into play day-to-day, but could be the tie breaker.

If you are in Europe or travel internationally frequently...

Another reason for the AT&T version: Most foreign countries support GSM like AT&T. If you live in some countries in Europe—like Spain—you can get a duplicate of your microSIM card and have an iPad 3G at no extra cost, using the same data contract as your telephone. If that were the case here, I would think about getting the 3G just in case. But since that's not an option, I will buy the iPad 2 Wi-Fi with 64GB.


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