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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

What I Use: iPad Pro with Cellular


For the last few weeks I’ve been using an iPad Pro rather than either my iPad Air 2 or my MacBook Air. It’s been a bit of adaptation, but long after my full review has been written and posted, I still find myself using it and liking it.

In fact—and here I’m going to sound like one of those old razor-commercial testimonials—I liked it so much, I bought one. During the very writing of this newsletter, in fact. I usually opt for a mid-range model for most of the Apple devices I use, but Apple has limited my options with the iPad Pro, and I guess it worked: I bought the 128GB cellular model. (Space Gray, of course. I always go Space Gray. Even my Apple Watch is the “Space Black” Apple Watch Sport.)

I opted for the model with more storage space because, as I’ve written about on Six Colors, I’ve been editing podcasts on the iPad Pro using an app named Ferrite, from the amusingly named Wooji Juice. But podcast audio files can be quite large, and I want the iPad Pro to have room to hold them all.

Then there’s the matter of a cellular option. I’ve been thinking about the iPad’s cellular option for a while now, and there’s probably a Six Colors piece on it out there somewhere, so forgive me if some of this ends up on the site in some form in the future.

My thought process traditionally goes like this: I’ve always got an iPhone with me, and it’s got Personal Hotspot built in, so why would I ever be somewhere that I would need to access the Internet from my iPad and not my iPhone? It doesn’t seem like it’s worth the extra $130—Apple’s standard price increase for cellular models—for a feature I probably won’t ever use.

Just the other day, though, I was in an office lobby before a meeting. There was no Wi-Fi, and my iPhone had a single bar of AT&T service, degraded down to 4G from LTE. And I needed to fix something on the Six Colors website. And I thought to myself, now would be a handy time to have an iPad with access to a different carrier. I realize that’s an edge case, but it’s a practical one: If there’s no AT&T service, maybe Verizon or T-Mobile will do the trick. It’s an interesting thought, and T-Mobile sweetens the deal by offering 200MB per month for free.

So that’s one scenario. Another is battery related: Two devices with cellular means that if your iPhone dies, you still have data on your iPad. And another is travel related: iPads aren’t locked to a cellular carrier like iPhones are, so if you’re traveling abroad and want data access, it may actually be a lot cheaper for you to access the Internet via an iPad than via your iPhone.

I’m sure I’m missing scenarios here. Maybe there are scenarios where kids have iPads but not iPhones, and are sometimes away from their parents, and so it makes sense for them to use devices with their own Internet connection? And after all, at least on my plan it’s only $10/month to add another tablet to my pool of data. (I had a similar discussion with my father-in-law over Thanksgiving about cars that connect to 4G and have in-car Wi-Fi. Can’t this be just solved by tethering?)

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