How to Survive With Your WiFi-Only iPad (Even If You Are On The Road)

Whether it’s due to pricing or just your initial intended use, you may have purchased a WiFi-only iPad and wondered if you have made the correct choice. The ability to be online almost everywhre on the Wifi + 3G model sure looks attractive, but fret not. Today, we will go over several ways on how you can survive with a WiFi-only iPad, even when a situation may warrant a WiFi+3G model.

Advantages of getting a WiFi-only iPad

The most obvious advantage is the lower price. If you have access to a WiFi network most of the time, it makes more sense to get a WiFi-only model than a WiFi+3G model. For the 3G model, not only have you pay more for the device, there is also the 3G fee that you have to pay to your ISP.

For me personally, I mostly use the Internet on my Mac because many times when it’s in use, I’m also utilizing other software like Photoshop or Xcode for example, something i can’t do as efficiently or even at all on an iPad. Only a couple of times a year do I find myself having to use the Internet while on the road or in a place where WiFi isn’t readily available.

using internet on my mac

What if you are always on the road and require your iPad to be always connected to the Web? Here are your alternatives:

Alternative One: Hotspots

mobile hotspot

If you aren’t familiar with mobile hotspots, they are the closest to a 3G iPad that you can get. Through the use of a cellular connection, you have the ability to have a WiFi connection sent to your iPad as well as other Internet capable devices.

Advantages: They provide an opportunity to apply mobile hotspot to your already established mobile plan. This makes it seamless to pay for and use. Plus, with hotspot devices usually being subsidized by the carrier, you won’t have to pay anything extra upfront.

Disadvantages: You still have to pay for Internet service, and worse yet, you are tied to the contract you are paying Internet service for. This is helpful for heavy users, but not for casual Internet surfers.

Alternative Two: Rethink Your iPad

rethink your iPad

When you reach out for your iPad, what do you do on it? To check a quick email? Maybe to release your thoughts into a tweet. Is your laptop near by, or non-existent? It seems that for you to be able to know whether or not a 3G iPad upgrade is right for you is to know how you use or how you will use your iPad. It may not be necessary to have a 3G capable iPad if you only use it for book reading or game play.

Plus, the need for an iPad for some individuals can be essentially cut out if they have another iOS device. This all lies in making sure to make your laptop usage more streamline. This can mean keeping up with OS X updates, especially in a time now where OS X is becoming more and more like iOS.

Alternative Three: Cache or Tether

wifi tethering

A third alternative is to make use of caching and tethering. Cache is the saved Internet memory that your web browser or application may have, especially with media, once the item is fully loaded. For example, if you are watching videos on YouTube that is fully loaded, you can continue to watch it even when out of your WiFi signal. The cache allows you to continue to watch the video because it’s not streaming. This works with websites as well. An official way Apple has implemented this is through Reading List. This saves a cached version of a webpage, allowing you to click back and view later.

The second alternative is tethering. This is similar to our first alternative with mobile hotspots, however it works by turning your smartphone into a hotspot. More streamline in adding to your mobile plan, many times they can cost $20 extra a month. You have the ability to then go on your iPad and search for the signal as a WiFi signal.

Advantages: Much easier to add the plan to your already established mobile plan. Can be much cheaper than mobile hotspots, especially if you would have to purchase a mobile hotspot receiver unsubsidized.

Disadvantages: Again, you are still paying for an Internet connection. You are also sharing your Internet connection with your smartphone, which can lead to a slow connection overall.

Who needs a 3G iPad?

who needs 3g iPad

Who in fact needs a 3G iPad? We have shown you that you can live without one, but there may be individuals who really have the need for a 3G connection. One example is business users. These are individuals who may be hashing out final drafts of presentations while as a passenger in a car or in an Airport with slow WiFi. Or maybe you’re an individual who finds their iPad as their main or only Internet surfing website, where going out and signing up for a full Internet provider may actually be too much of a commitment.

If this is you, then I highly recommend going out and getting a 3G iPad. If not, you can save yourselves some money by getting the WiFi-only model.

Ari Simon Ari Simon

Ari Simon has been a writer with Make Tech Easier since August 2011. Ari loves anything related to technology and social media. When Ari isn't working, he enjoys traveling and trying out the latest tech gadget.


  1. I had a Wifi only iPad. For me, the biggest problem was the absense of a real GPS. “Apple Location Services” didn’t do it for me.

  2. Why did this article weigh options on if I should upgrade when the title is about using a wifi-only iPad? The information about the cache material was helpful. Otherwise this just told me that i still needed Internet and to decide how much Internet meant to me.
    Rephrasing of the title would be helpful. Maybe “Do you need the 3G iPad, or should you stick with your wifi one.” Otherwise I learned 1 tip.

    1. Hi Jill,

      The readers of this article are most likely considering whether or not they should get the WIFI version or not. That’s why the advantageous we’re mentioned. Due to the lower price, they are certainly set on getting it either way, but the intro is meant to solidify or help them reconsider their choice. Yes, regardless you’ll need Internet. The question is whether or not its through only wifi or 3G. The current title is SEO friendly for us. There are others who may have needs differing from your own and will find this article helpful to them and I’m glad your knowledge was enriched as well!


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