What is the attraction of LTE built into the iPad?

I’m trying to understand the value proposition of LTE on the iPad. Most of us have cell phones with tethering. The data comes off the same plan, but to add a device adds $10-$20/month just to have it on the plan. If you’re like me and you never go anywhere without your phone, is there a discrete benefit, or is it simply that it’s worth the extra money to you to not have to bother with tethering? Thanks!

I work from my iPad, managing website content, uploading via ftp, sharing client files, etc. I tried the tethering thing for the past couple years and what I found is that I frequently have issues connecting or disconnecting. It would work but was a pain in the arse.

For $15 a month and the added cost of the LTE option when purchasing the iPad, totally worth it to never have to think about it. I can’t believe I waited this long to make the switch from wi-if only iPad.


This has been discussed quite a bit => Activate cellular on my new iPad Pro?

To answer your question, I still have LTE activated on my iPad even though my phone can tether. Tethering is simply not as smooth/easy as turning on a cell antenna on the iPad. Also you don’t have to pay a month fee per se. I use TMobile for my iPad (iPhone is on VZW) - inpay $10 for 5GB which lasts 5 months. A killer deal for the way I use my iPad. For super heavy portable use, I can also see the benefits of just adding it to the plan for $10/mo. YMMV

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Question. Do you look for a wifi signal in the places that you visit when stopping to do some work etc. I have the cellular version and it is activated, but so far, everywhere I have been has had a few wifi signal and I have used it. In those places, I generally use the wifi unless it’s slower than the LTE

I was tempted to add LTE, when I purchased my last iPad, primarily for GPS. In the end, the additional cost of the hardware plus $360+ a year for service was more than I could justify. I rarely have a problem tethering.

Tethering is a pain (as is getting on unfamiliar WiFi). They’re just one more point of friction between me and what I want to do with my device. With a built-in data connection I don’t have to worry about that. The internet is just there, right away, no fiddling around. For me this is a huge quality of life improvement.

I have one iPad without LTE, an iPad mini that was supposed to be a quick and easy out and about machine for times when I didn’t want to carry around my iPad Pro. However, the lack of a cellular data connection and the friction associated with it has lead me to hardly ever take it out of the house. I always end up just living with my phone or taking the big iPad.


I’m in a service field and need to respond to my clients in a timely manner. The LTE iPad helps that happen, without the hassles of tethering, yucky public WiFi, etc. it’s so transparent, it just works.

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I’m on the Verizon unlimited family plan. With tethering we would only get 15gb each for our phones at full speed. We get 22gb for each device before network management may slow speeds. Since we averaged 60gb of data each month on a recent trip tethering would not have cut it. We were able to use some WiFi along the way but all too often it was much slower than LTE.

First off, I have to say that my biggest objection isn’t the $10/month (although that seems absurd since it doesn’t actually get me additional data, so I’m just paying more to access the same amount of data, which is dumb. It’s like paying more for having an extra A/C outlet in your kitchen. Why?! Of course the answer is the same as why Verizon charges $30 to “activate” a new iPhone that is replacing an old iPhone: “Because we can.”)

My objection is that Apple’s cost of ~$130 to add LTE seems unconscionably high. It seemed excessive ~8(?) years ago when they introduced the first cellular iPad, and it seems insulting to suggest that the tech hasn’t gotten any cheaper for them in that time. But they decided that it was going to cost $130 and people paid it, so they kept it. Not surprising, especially in the time of Tim Cook’s Apple, Inc.

As far as why some people pay it, I think the most frequently cited reasons are ease of use over tethering, plus the fact that tethering tends to put a significant drain an iPhone’s battery, which none of us wants since Apple keep making them thinner and thinner every year.

Objectively, it seems like a bad financial decision.

In practice, I find myself much preferring to have an iPad with LTE rather than without it, so I pay the stupid monthly fee and Apple’s exorbitant up-charge, but reserve the right to grumble about it online.


LTE is extremely convenient and I’m very happy for that when I need it. Also, if you want GPS then you need to get an LTE capable iPad.

I could tether, but the convenience when I’m travelling, of just opening the iPad and being connected is one less thing that I have to worry about when between flights.

If work were not paying for the plan, I’d sign up for one only when it’s needed (generally when I’m travelling) and not bother paying the rest of the time.

It’s incredible how finicky and unreliable getting a tethering connection is. We’ve had it for how many years now? Even between my 2016 MacBook Pro and iPhone XS Max I have to daily toggle personal hotspot and wifi in order to get a pairing. Sometimes I have to reboot one and sometimes even both devices. My iPhone as a hotspot no longer shows up at the top of the wifi list like it used to. It’s almost like apple wants it to suck… eh @tjluoma.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t experienced the tethering problems you and others have mentioned. But it just occurred to me, I have a rather old phone (6s) which uses a qualcomm chip. It’s starting to sound like the tethering problems might be a case of “Intel Inside”.

I plan to upgrade my phone next year. Sounds like I may also need to plan on an LTE iPad.

Like many of the people who have already replied having the mobile data option gets around the issue of tethering not working in a consistent manner. I am lucky to have access to WiFi at work, but some ports are blocked (IMAP email for example) and we use deep packet inspection to block VPNs (I work in a school and we do not want the kids getting on YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, etc. and using up all of our bandwidth). At these times having a 4G connection is very useful.

I also use my iPad for preparing school work and we have remote access setup so that we can get to our files when we are out of the building. Again, I am normally on WiFi when doing this but there have been a number of times when I have used my 4G connection to get this work done. Not having to worry about accessing an unknown WiFi network and just being able to login to the work servers is a really useful thing to have access to.

With regards to the cost I do not have a data plan with my provider. My iPad is not locked to any one network and one fo the ones in the UK (Three) has pay as you go SIMS which come with 12GBs of data. This data lasts for up to 12 months from the time you first insert the SIM card and access their network or until you use up all of the provided data. I brought three of these cards via a seller on eBay for £30 each so my cost of mobile data access for a year is £30. At the time of writing I am using the second of the three cards and the first one lasted me the full year as I am on WiFi at home and work.

I had not through about this but now you have mentioned it it did seem to work better when I was using my 6s. I upgraded to the iPhone 8 a couple of weeks after it was released last year and this is the phone I am still using. I had not thought about the change of phones causing the tethering problems but that could be the cause of the problem.

Having LTE in my iPad convinced me to never get one without it again. I went from occasionally using my iPad to taking it with me everywhere. It transformed the iPad from a nice-to-have device to a great productivity tool.

LTE is far more convenient than tethering, especially in situations where you need access quickly. Tethering has often been finicky and frustrating (it shows I’m connected but…) and it runs my iPhone battery down more quickly, which is a big negative for me. Free Wifi is not always available and when it is, it is often shared, insecure, and painfully slow.

As for the $130 cost of the added hardware, it may seem like a lot but that has been the add-on price in laptops for a cellular data card for the last 15 years across many manufacturers. This is a place where I don’t feel Apple is charging more than the industry.

The only iPad I’d have without LTE is if it stayed in my house 100% of the time. In that use case, LTE isn’t necessary.

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Tethering is a PITA. And the main propositions for LTE: speed+speed+speed, always.

It seems like this comes down to use case. I will tether my iPad maybe once or twice a month. I mostly use my iPad at home or at work where I have WiFi. I can not justify the extra money for the few times that I need it in a given month. It takes a few seconds to set up and I have had to occasionally reboot my devices to get it to work. But never found it too bad. It would certainly be different if I found myself needing a mobile connection more often.

But I also have my mother-in-law who uses the iPad as her primary computing device. She is not tech savvy in any way. I found it so much easier to get her a LTE iPad. She does not have WiFi in her house. So it is basically the only way she connects other than when she comes to visit us. It is one less thing I need to worry about supporting for her. I could not even begin to imagine trying to explain to her how to tether.