iPad 2: AT&T or Verizon?


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Tomorrow, March 11th, is the iPad 2 launch day. We are sure the lines have already formed around the Apple Stores. The tablet is set to go on sale online at 4AM EST (1AM PST). Meanwhile, retailers such as Best Buy and Apple Stores 5PM local time, so those of you who live out on the East Coast can get it a little earlier than the rest of us if you go to the store rather than shop online. Nice.

Those getting the iPad 2 with 3G capabilities may be wondering which model to go with: AT&T or Verizon? Well if you already have a cellphone plan under one of those two networks, then there's almost no question (though even they may want to see what each offers). However, those on other carriers, may want to weigh their options.

Let's take a look at some of the differences between the two networks.



Pricing is important. After all, if you are going to be paying a monthly fee for a service, you want to know how much it's going to be, right? Luckily, both plans are contract free, meaning you can opt out, or back in, at any time without penalty.

Here's a great chart that lays it all out cleanly and easily, courtesy of All Things D:

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As you can see, Verizon offers data at cheaper rates, and they offer more data limit options. They are also a bit more generous with their overage charges when you start going for the larger plans.

What's nice about AT&T though, is that you can do the postpaid plan if you are a current subscriber. This will add the monthly fee to your regular bill and cuts the overage charge a bit.

What you really have to ask yourself here is how much data you will be using. 250MB isn't much at all, but is it enough to suit your needs? Though five dollars more will get you four times the data with Verizon.


Network Speed

AT&T offers the fastest 3G network in the nation. That's according to them (of course) and some past studies. For instance, Metrico Wireless recently took a look at how the AT&T and Verizon iPhones handle data. They found that "the AT&T iPhone experienced double the mean data download speed of the Verizon iPhone, but the mean load time for an average Web page was about the same on both devices."

They also found that the AT&T iPhone had a 10 percent success rate over the Verizon iPhone while moving (as in a car). However, while stationary, the results were the exact opposite, with the Verizon handset having a 10 percent success rate over the competitor.


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Network Reliability

While AT&T is much faster, according to the studies, speed is nothing if you can't be on a reliable network. That is AT&T's biggest downfall. Personally, the iSmashPhone staffers (for the most part, at least) seem to live in areas with great coverage. However, some of those users in areas like San Francisco have been known to have horrible coverage from AT&T.

In fact, this has become such an issue for AT&T that affected users hate the carrier and were praying for the day that the Verizon iPhone was released. Verizon has even taken potshots at AT&T over their coverage (then again, AT&T does the same with network speed).


What's Really Important

You, and the people around you, know your area better than we do. Ask friends who their carrier is, and how reliable it's been. Find out who will be right for you in your area.


Final Thought: Ask yourself if 3G is Right for You

You may also want to ask yourself if 3G is for you. This was the question we posed yesterday.

But here are a few things worth thinking about:

– Do you travel on the road enough to justify the extra costs of 3G? Even if are on the road a lot, having internet doesn't do you much good if you are driving.

– While on the subject of driving: The iPad 3G also has Assisted GPS, meaning it can be handy if you are traveling and need to figure out where you are.

– Most hotels and many restaurants offer free wifi. Even planes these days are offering wifi connections with 3G speeds.

– You wouldn't be able to use your 3G on a plane unless being arrested and convicted of a Federal offense sounds like an fun idea.

– All that said, we've found that the iPad tends to stay home most of the time as the laptop is our tool of choice for long-distance travel.





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