Apple’s iPad: Data plans explained

Today Apple announced their ‘latest creation’ the iPad. The iPad is essentially a larger form factor iPod touch with the capability to also provide 3G data for use while you’re out and about. Let me break down the data options.

First off, there are two models to choose from with differing capacities of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB of memory. The first model is Wi-Fi only. The prices for this model are $499, $599, and $699 respectively. The second model is The WiFi + 3G. Those prices are $629, $729, and $829 for each capacity respectively.

The only carrier for the iPad (so far) is AT&T. Now, many groan at this prospect, particularly those in San Francisco and New York City, I am in the Chicago area, where there have been few reported problems with the AT&T network that are not structural in nature.

There are two data plans, a $14.99 per month and a $29.99 per month. The $14.99 per month gets you 250MB of data. This is good for those casually go outside of Wifi and would need to occasionally download something.  if you’re planning on spending a lot of time on the 3G network you might want to consider the second option that comes in at $29.99 per month. The second price point will give you an unlimited data plan, but don’t be fooled, unlimited probably means a couple gigabytes of bandwidth. In most cases 5GB is the cap and I know, as of right now with my iPhone, I’ve never hit that cap. The highest I’ve gone was 1.6GB in a month, and that was out of the norm.

I know you are already thinking ‘I do not want another monthly bill’. Well, you’re in luck. Apple has managed to convince AT&T that the iPad plan will not be a contract plan, but instead a ‘pre-paid’ or ‘pay as you go’ type of contract. This means that if you know you’re going to be traveling a lot during a particular month, you may opt to pay the $29.99 for the plan for that month and not pay for the plan the next month.

The iPad will probably be different in terms of data usage given the fact that it is a larger screen and is a much better video watching device than an iPhone. However, only time will tell how much data is actually used,  and we won’t know that until we can actually get our hands on one.

If you do not feel like having to pay AT&T but still want to be able to get data while on the go, take a look at our own Josh Schnell’s post on how to circumvent the data plan.  It’s speculative at the moment, but the concept is pretty interesting.

I'm into everything technology related, particularly anything Apple related. I enjoy programming and tend to lean towards server-based technologies over client-based. You can contact me on twitter, via e-mail, or follow me on friendfeed.