Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by Ernests Embutnieks
Picture this – you head to the Apple Store, excited to pick up a brand new iPad only for you to be met with a plethora of options. One such decision, which might seem the most arduous is choosing between a WiFi only or a cellular + WiFi model. This begs the question, why are cellular iPads more expensive?
Related: Should you get iPad with Cellular?
Cellular iPads are more expensive because they require an extra LTE chip, RF antennae, and modules. Essentially, a cellular model squeezes an entire phone’s circuitry into the tablet which drives up its cost.
In this article, we’re going to dive into the technology used to create a “cellular” model of an iPad and whether the cost markup is actually justifiable.
How Much More Does A Cellular iPad Cost?
The cost of a cellular iPad versus a WiFI one is inherently indicative of the model. While yes, a difference always remains – the exact number is dependent on what you’ve actually purchased.
|iPad Model||WiFi Model Price||Cellular Model Price||Price Difference|
As shown above, according to the model of the iPad you are willing to purchase, you are looking at a markup of about $130-200 just for the ability to get a cellular data plan on your iPad. So, no matter what model you ended up picking up, you’ll have to shell out at least $130 for LTE.
Cellular iPads – Why Are They Expensive?
Cellular iPads are expensive because an extra chip needs to be fitted inside them alongside antennae and radio frequency modules. In essence, it demands more R&D with harder assembly as well.
Plus, both the iPad WiFi and cellular models have the same battery capacity. While yes, there will be a difference in battery life between using LTE and just WiFi, the capacity remains the same. So, the extra cost is also spent on trying to fit the same-sized battery in a relatively smaller chassis.
From what we’ve seen, here are the differences between a WiFi-enabled versus a cellular + WiFi-enabled tablet:
- Extra Circuitry
- LTE Radio / Chip
- Radio Frequency Antennae
- Cellular Module
Related: Can iPads Make Phone Calls?
Is A Cellular iPad Worth It?
Yes, a cellular iPad is worth it if you do not have a mobile phone with you all the time or prefer using your tablet as a standalone device. Otherwise, if you have a mobile phone that also has Personal Hotspot, you don’t need to opt for a cellular model.
In essence, the cost itself is not exactly justified. Personally speaking, we don’t feel like a $100+ markup makes sense for just a few bits of extra circuitry and an LTE chip. Plus, if you do have a mobile phone, there’s no need for an LTE-enabled tablet.
Before you even start consuming your first kilobyte, you’ll need to spend $130-200 on going for a cellular tablet. Next, you’ll need to opt for a separate data plan for your tablet as you’ll need to insert a SIM card slot inside it too. So, ultimately, you’ll end up spending much more than the initial $130-200 in the span of a few short months.
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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.