The new iPad ultimate buying guide

Has Apple changed the game again with its "new iPad", what's new and should you buy one?

What's the deal with 4G and will it work in Australia?

The new iPad is 4G (LTE) capable in the US and Canada, with separate models that will work on the Verizon and AT&T networks. However, Wi-Fi + 4G models of the new iPad use the 700MHz and 2100MHz LTE bands while Telstra, the only carrier in Australia to currently have a 4G network, uses the unsupported 1800MHz band.

Aussies users will still benefit from dual-channel HSPA+ technology which provides a theoretical maximum download speed of 42Mbps, but this is not 4G. Think of it more as 3G+. Australia isn't the only country to miss out on 4G connectivity: over 14 commercial 4G networks across the globe use the LTE 1800MHz band (the same as Telstra 4G).

New iPad Despite not being compatible with Telstra's 4G network in Australia, Apple still advertises 4G on its Australian iPad Web page.

Despite the iPad's 4G capabilities not being of any use in Australia, Apple is still advertising 4G connectivity as a feature on the Australian Apple Web site. 4G is listed as one of the major new features on the dedicated, Australian iPad page, while the wireless broadband model of the new iPad is now called Wi-Fi + 4G rather than Wi-Fi +3G.

How much does the new iPad's Internet access cost?

All three major Australian telcos have announced new pricing plans for the third-generation iPad. Here is a complete overview of the current pricing details for both pre-paid and contract plan iPad data in Australia.

Telstra prepaid plans

Telstra sells a prepaid SIM for the iPad for $30. The prepaid SIM pack includes 3GB of data which has a 30-day expiry. Telstra customers can then recharge their new iPad with the following data plans:

1GB: $20
3GB: $30
6GB: $60
9GB: $80
12GB: $100
12GB: $150 (365-day expiry)

All of the above Telstra pre-paid data plans are available without a contract but have a 30-day expiry. The exception is the 12GB, $150 plan which has a 365 day expiry.

Telstra contract plans

Telstra will sell the new iPad on a range of 24 month data plans starting at $48 per month for the 16GB model, but will not offer the tablet on 12 month plans or sell the iPad outright.

Telstra's 16GB, 32GB and 64GB new iPad plans are detailed below:

New iPad

New iPad

New iPad

Optus prepaid plans

Optus offers both pre-paid as well as BYO month-to-month iPad data plans. The telco offers four month-to-month plans with no contract as follows:

4GB: $29.95
8GB: $39.95
10GB: $59.95
16GB: $79.95

For prepaid plans, an Optus prepaid iPad starter kit costs $30 and includes 3GB of data with a 30-day expiry.

Optus prepaid recharges start $20 for 1GB of data with a 30-day expiry and range up to $130 for 15GB of data with an expiry of 12 months. Other prepaid Optus options include $40 (5GB/60 day expiry), $50 (6GB/60 day expiry), and $80 (8GB/6 month expiry).

New iPad

Optus contract plans

Optus offers the new iPad on 24 month contracts, with no shorter 12 month contracts available. Optus's plans start at $38 per month for the entry-level 16GB iPad model over 24 months.

Optus' new iPad plans are detailed below:

New iPad

Vodafone prepaid plans

Like Optus, Vodafone offers both pre-paid as well as BYO month-to-month iPad data plans. The telco offers four month-to-month plans with no contract as follows:

2GB: $19
4GB: $29
10GB: $39
12GB: $49

Vodafone offers a whopping NINE pre-paid data plans for the iPad. The plans are best broken up into 30 day expiry, 180 day expiry and 365 day expiry, as follows:

250MB: $9.95 (30 day expiry)
1GB: $14.95 (30 day expiry)
4GB: $29.95 (30 day expiry)
10GB: $49.95 (30 day expiry)

6GB: $100 (180 day expiry)

12GB: $150 (365 day expiry)
18GB: $200 (365 day expiry)
25GB: $250 (365 day expiry)
30GB: $300 (365 day expiry)

If you recharge before the end of the credit expiry period any unused data will be rolled over to the next month — provided you don't exceed Vodafone's maximum balance of 39GB.

Vodafone contract plans

Vodafone offers the new iPad on a range of 12 month plans in addition to 24 month contracts. Vodafone's plans start at $47 per month for the entry-level 16GB iPad model over 24 months.

Vodafone's 24 month 16GB, 32GB and 64GB new iPad plans are detailed below:

New iPad

New iPad

New iPad

Vodafone's shorter 12 month 16GB, 32GB and 64GB new iPad plans are detailed below:

New iPad

New iPad

New iPad

What do you think of the new iPad? Does it offer enough upgrades over the iPad 2 for you to buy one? Let us know in the comments below!

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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