Any time Apple releases something new, the questions soon follow. That’s especially the case when it’s an entirely new product like the iPad. A tablet that blends elements of Apple’s iPhone and iPod mobile devices with the Mobile Mac experience, the iPad doesn’t fit neatly into Apple’s existing product line. Combine that with the rush to declare this device either a dream (“It’s revolutionary and magical!”) or a dud (“It’s nothing more than an oversized iPod!”) before Apple has even shipped a single device, and you’ve got an atmosphere ripe for more confusion than clarity.
We’d like to help you separate the signal from the noise. We’ve taken some of your iPad questions, added a few of our own, and then set out to provide some answers based on Apple’s presentation and our own hands-on time with the device. Surely, more information about the iPad will come out between now and when the device finally arrives in March, but this guide should tackle some of the more immediate questions about Apple’s latest device.
What’s the iPad going to cost?
Apple is yet to release details of the UK pricing for the iPad. A good rule of thumb is to take the US price, convert it to the UK price using the daily exchange rate, add 17.5 per cent VAT, then another 7 per cent or so (Steve Jobs said during the iPhone launch that this was because “it’s just a bit more expensive to do business here... store stuff, ship stuff around”.)
However, we’ve found a better rule of thumb is to take a product on the US store that matches the US price you’re looking at, then find the same product on the UK store and see how much it is. The more recent the product the more accurate the price. Our estimates are below.
Pricing depends on two factors: the amount of storage the iPad includes, and whether or not it has support for 3G networks. An iPad equipped only with WiFi connectivity costs $499/£388 (16GB), $599/£510 (32GB), or $699/£591 (64GB). The WiFi-plus-3G version costs just over £100 more at each size – $629/£490 (16GB), $729/£612 (32GB), and $829/£693 (64GB).
Will all models be available at the same time?
No, Apple said that the WiFi-only models should go on sale in 60 days, but the ones with 3G won’t be available for 90 days since they require FCC approval. So that means the WiFi-only iPads should arrive around 26 March. The 3G-enabled devices will launch in the US about a month later, for now we have no indication of when the 3G models will launch in the UK.
Are there any other differences between the WiFi and 3G models?
Besides price, there are a few physical differences. The 3G models weigh about 50g more, with a black antenna window that covers part of the top and stretches onto the back of the iPad. The 3G models also include GPS functionality (which we’ll discuss in further detail a bit later).
If I wait and pay more for the 3G model, will I get free 3G access?
No, the extra cost is ostensibly to cover the extra hardware required for 3G connectivity. You’ll still need a data plan if you want to use 3G.
And what’s that going to cost me?
In the US Apple has struck a deal with AT&T that lets users pay either $15 a month for 250MB of data, or $30 a month for unlimited data. But unlike with the iPhone, a 3G plan isn’t mandatory, and there’s no contract involved – it’s pre-paid and on a month-to-month basis.
In the UK it is possible that the 3G versions could be subsidised and available as part of a long-term contract from the network provider.