What Does Cellular Mean on iPad?

Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Ernests Embutnieks

As the world of tablets continually brings us with more improvements that have turned the iPad from a simple media consumption device to a literal laptop, the effort of increasing its portability has also remained on the conscious of Apple. This brings an important question: What does cellular mean on iPad?

Cellular on an iPad means that the particular iPad is able to access a cellular connection for Data. This can be a a 3G / 4G / LTE / 5G connection depending on the model of your iPad and your cellular reception.

In this article, we’re going to go over what exactly cellular means on an iPad, how to enable it, and if it makes a difference in your usage.

explaining what is ipad cellular

How to Find Out if My iPad is Cellular?

In the olden days, you could’ve looked at your iPad in hindsight and found out whether it was a cellular variant or not, as those versions had a cellular strip at the back of the device. Nowadays, the antennas are integrated into the sides of the chassis, which makes them hard to spot.

Therefore, the best way to find out whether your iPad is cellular or not is by following this method:

  • Open the Settings application on your iPad
  • Now, tap on General
  • After doing so, tap on About
  • Scroll down until you see Wi-Fi address
  • Now, if you have Network Provider and Mobile Data Number pop-up, you have a Cellular iPad. If you don’t, then you have a WiFi-only model.

Do All iPads Have A Cellular Model?

Yes, all iPads currently released and for the foreseeable future, too, do have WiFi only and a cellular model. Generally, the Cellular model is about $100-150 more expensive than the WiFi models due to the integration of a broadband chip within the iPad itself.

However, contrary to popular belief, there is no difference in performance between a Cellular and a WiFi only iPad. In fact, WiFi iPads tend to have slightly better battery life by virtue of them not needing to connect to a cellular tower for Data.

Besides this minor change, they have the same chipset, the same display, battery, ports, and design. So, if you were planning to buy one variant for the other for some other reason besides the cellular connectivity, you’d be making a major mistake!

How to Turn on Cellular on an iPad?

Once you’ve activated a cellular data plan for your iPad, you can then use Cellular Data and the Personal Hotspot feature (depending on your carrier) to be able to use cellular data while on the go. 

Here’s how:

source: apple.com
  • Open the Settings application on your iPad
  • After doing so, head to Cellular Data to turn on Data.
  • You can also adjust your Data from all the way up from 3G to 5G, depending on your iPad and carrier.

Is Getting an iPad With Cellular Worth It?

Yes, getting an iPad with cellular is definitely worth it because you’ll end up with a lot more portability and utility from your iPad as compared to one that only uses WiFi. Granted, there are some use cases where you don’t need a cellular iPad, such as if you strictly use it at home where you can use your own WiFi connection, the versatility of an iPad with cellular still remains unmatched.

Does A Cellular iPad Need a SIM Card?

No, the cellular iPad does not necessarily need a physical SIM card. You can either set up an eSIM on your iPad if it supports it. However, if your iPad does not support that option, you will have to resort to using an actual SIM instead.

In essence, the Cellular functionality in terms of connectivity and usage works similarly to an iPhone. They connect to the same cell towers and often have similar plans, except for the fact that the iPad cannot make calls on its own while the iPhone can. 

Can I Insert A SIM Card In a Non-Ceullar iPad?

No, you cannot insert a SIM in a non-cellular iPad because it doesn’t have a physical SIM slot to insert anything into in the first place. And, since it doesn’t have a broadband chip inside it, you cannot use an eSIM by scanning a QR code or contacting your carrier either.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What’s the point of a cellular iPad?

The point of a cellular iPad is to allow users the ability to access a cellular connection without using a Personal Hotspot from their iPhone. In essence, you can leave your phone behind and just use your tablet to stay connected to the Internet.

Do you have to pay monthly for iPad cellular?

Yes, you do have to pay monthly for iPad cellular given that you have it on your plan. However, if you do not use the Cellular feature on your iPad or have deactivated it via your carrier, there are no extra monthly fees involved in that case.

Does iPad Cellular Work Internationally?

Yes, the iPad cellular does work internationally, given that your carrier supports Data Roaming. Otherwise, you can always use a local SIM card from the area to use cellular on your iPad, the latter option being much cheaper in most cases. 

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I love tech and all about it. I'm interested in finding ways how they can make my life more productive, and I share my knowledge with my blog readers. I'm an iPad Pro, iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch user, so I know a thing or two about these devices and try to write helpful content around these topics.