Apple iPad 3G review

Now out in the UK, we look at the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G - is it worth the extra cash?

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Our Verdict

Another fantastic device from Apple, but we're not so happy about the price premium you pay for the 3G version.


  • Great user interface
  • Fantastic app experience
  • Great screen
  • HD video looks brilliant


  • Not convinced about the keyboard
  • It's pricey!
  • Tariffs not cheap either

Update: check out our Apple iPad 2 review

After many delays, the Apple iPad is now available in the UK in both 3G and W-Fi-only flavours. The model we're testing today is actually called the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G in full parlance, but iPad 3G will do for us. (Read our review of the iPad Wi-Fi version.)

If you're hoping to get your hands on one you'd better be quick though - Apple Stores had limited stock on launch, while website orders now cite just 'June' as a shipping date.

The iPad 3G checks in at a pricey £529 - £100 more than the Wi-Fi only version. And that's just for the basic 16GB edition - it's an extra £70 for the 32GB model and a further £100 if you want the full 64GB. That means the top end iPad 3G that we're testing here checks in at a sobering £699 – ouch.

Then, of course, you need to budget for an iPad data tariff – check out the fourth page of our review for more details on all the costs.

If you're more interested in the iPad Wi-Fi, then check out our main Apple iPad review.

The iPad 3G is a little different in terms of appearance – it has a black plastic strip at the top of the back of the iPad, which makes sure the iPad gets decent 3G reception. An all-metal case wouldn't be any good for this.

There's also the microSIM slot, so you also get a SIM eject tool as well as the Dock Connector to USB cable. Sadly, there's no dock in the box, but you do get a power adapter.

The other big boon of the iPad 3G is that you get GPS capabilities, so you'll get a better experience in, say, Google Maps and geo-tagged tweets, for example. Both models do have a digital compass, though. However, testing in our other iPad review for the Wi-Fi-only model indicated that the iPad Wi-Fi was still fairly good at picking up the current location via Wi-Fi.

ipad 3g

The iPad uses iPhone OS which, at the time of writing, is yet to support multi-tasking. However, iPhone Os 4.0 is imminent, which will mean that multi-tasking apps will be supported.

The use of the iPhone and iPod touch OS means that the iPad is a great living room-type device. It's great for just popping online or emailing sporadically. We've seen tablet-type computers before, of course – most notably courtesy of Microsoft – but they haven't stepped up to the plate. Instead, they've had dodgy handwriting recognition and poor controls.

As usual with Apple, they've taken something established and done it better – and that's even before you get to the apps which take the iPhone and iPod touch model to a completely new level.

Even Windows 7, with its touch compatibility, isn't quite up to the job of providing a completely intuitive touch-based interface.

So no wonder Apple has had so much success with iPad. But remember this is just the beginning – we'll soon see tablets based on Android (like the Dell Streak) and, later in the year, Google's Chrome OS. So let's look at iPad 3G in depth.