iPad 4G data plan comparison: Verizon vs AT&T

iPad 4G data plan comparison: Verizon vs AT&T
So, you are planning on getting that new, shiny iPad and you also want some 4G goodness along with it, eh? Well, do not take out that credit card just yet. Before you do that, it would be very wise to choose the better carrier to get your 4G service from.

In the case with the new iPad, it is either AT&T or Verizon that you can pick. The choice, however, can be difficult to make as both carriers have pretty speedy 4G netwoks and have more than a few markets blanketed already. That is why we decided to put together their 4G plan offerings side by side for your convenience. Firstly, let us talk about...


Before we say anything about either carrier's rates, we have to give Verizon and AT&T two thumbs up for not doing away with their commitment-free 4G plans. Or in other words, neither of them would require you to sign a 2-year contract in order to use 4G connectivity on your iPad. And to make things even better, there are no activation fees, meaning that you can always try out the service for a month or two, then opt out, and hop back on whenever you feel like it. Now let us take a look at what the Verizon and AT&T 4G plans actually cost.

It looks like if you do not plan on using too much data, AT&T's 250MB data plan would be the one to pick. However, most of you would probably go straight for the 3GB data plan from AT&T, which costs the reasonable $30 per month. For $50 monthly, both carriers will provide you with 5GB of mobile data, and if you are a really heavy data user, the 10GB data plan from Verizon will give you the best value for your money.

Still, there are a few more things that we have to mention. If you intend on using your new iPad as a Wi-Fi hotspot, bear in mind that only Verizon will be offering the service, at least for now. On the other hand, while Verizon requires you to pay for your 4G service upfront, AT&T gives you the option to be charged for your iPad's 4G data at the end of your billing cycle.


But 4G connectivity does not matter much unless you are covered, right? And when it comes to coverage, Verizon definitely has the upper hand. The carrier has about 200 markets under its 4G LTE blanket, and that figure is expected to double by the end of 2012. Here is what the Verizon coverage map currently looks like:

Still, AT&T is not fooling around and is blessing more and more markets with its LTE service. And in cities where the carrier does not offer 4G LTE yet, you can ride on its HSPA+ network. Currently, the AT&T coverage map looks like this:


In a nutshell, if you are a heavy data user, we would recommend getting your iPad 4G service from Verizon. The carrier does not only have a much broader LTE footprint, but offers better value for your money, as long as you choose a plan with a monthly allowance of 5 or 10 gigabytes. And as an added bonus, you get Wi-Fi hotspot functionality at no extra charge. However, those of you who think that 3 gigs per month are more than enough might want to consider an iPad 4G data plan from AT&T. Just keep in mind that the carrier may have no LTE service in your area yet, so you might need to settle down with HSPA+.

source: AT&T, Verizon

Related phones

iPad 3 AT&T
  • Display 9.7" 2048 x 1536 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Apple A5X, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 32GB
  • Battery 11560 mAh
iPad 3 Verizon
  • Display 9.7" 2048 x 1536 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Apple A5X, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 32GB
  • Battery 11560 mAh



1. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

Sprint! lol

17. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

no dude...just no

2. jabberwocky

Posts: 89; Member since: Feb 21, 2012

When did we settle on $10 per gig? It used to be $30 unlimited and we're already down to $10 per gig? Try $5. Yeesh. This just convinces me to get a tablet with Wifi only.

4. bigdawg23

Posts: 467; Member since: May 25, 2011

Its what people will pay. They use to offer Unlimited to get people on smartphone data plans. Then because of the Top 5% that abuse the snot out of data by modifying their phone to use it as WIFI Hotspot we lost Unlimited. Its one thing to tethering occasionally but to tether all the time because you are so cheap to get a regular connection is another. I root my Android phones but never use tethering because its unnecessary. Currently I have a iPhone 4S until this weekend when I return to Android Via Galaxy Note. I will root it instantly to remove adware crap and other things. As a heavier user I am near 3-5GB per month. How, you get to 20-30GB on a phone that supposedly is not a hot spot is beyond me.

8. renegade626

Posts: 54; Member since: Dec 12, 2008

well said... It reminds me when my college had to start charging extra to print in their computer clusters. Its because they were losing so much money on the top 5% of users that were printing 1000+ page reports and entire textbooks on a regular basis.

3. nelsonl21

Posts: 18; Member since: Jul 17, 2011

Verizon has to update their map. It has been almost 3 years since you left the Puerto Rico market which was bought by Claro.

6. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

you can txt in PR at no cost along with using your 3g data...voice calls are .69 however (so just use data and text to communicate lol)

5. danwatson

Posts: 117; Member since: Jan 03, 2012

In other words, buy verizon. I seriously doubt people will be able to keep data under 3GB for long if LTE works well. If you stream video & music, you will definitely be over. Verizon offers WAY better coverage and the ability to use the ipad as a hotspot for roughly the same price.

7. BuckeyeCadet86

Posts: 78; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

You are missing the $20 1 gigabyte option on Verizon. It is only available through prepay but it is available.

9. renegade626

Posts: 54; Member since: Dec 12, 2008

im pretty sure thats for any 3g/4g ipad out there

10. kcombs

Posts: 275; Member since: Dec 15, 2010

" settle down with HSPA+". HSPA+ in some areas is crazy fast.. at&t has upgraded the HSPA+ a lot since they started using it. I get 9-12 Mbps on H+ and 23-32 on LTE with my Note in the Orlando area, some areas are faster.

22. jagon91

Posts: 13; Member since: Aug 03, 2010

wow... On t-mo my HSPA+ average is around 20. I always wondered how at&t's HSPA+ network was...


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

VeriZon hands down. And, iKnow what everyone is thinking: wait, he's about to bash the NEW ipad but, seriously, iAm not. This is about the bestest' 4G LTE coverage (albeit iLTE) in the land with the better options. That Verizon 4G iLTE is blazin' hot with coverage. Whereas, AT&T's map looks like it's riddled with Chicken Pox. Imagine the iDiot who subscribes to a 250 MB $14.99 Data Plan, only to pay $29.98 for 251 MB when he/she (or, botj) goes over because, NO ONE uses less than 250 MB of Data.

15. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

I only use about 100MB at most per month with my smartphones... Granted I'm mostly on WiFi, and my tablet is WiFi only, but I never am in a position where I am not connected to WiFi for what I'm doing.... if I'm in an area with no WiFi, it usually means I'm driving (and therefore not using the phone) or relaxing (and therefore not using the phone), and using my onboard media (i.e. music) during that time

12. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Not sure what these guys are smoking but anything running on faster than 3G speeds will eat up 1 GB very quickly. I would go straight for the 5GB deal to be safe, no point in going over and paying $10 per GB over(if you use a GB over or not). I'm using a Droid X and I easily get to a GB with normal use of the phone in a month and that's not even using Netflix, just searching and downloading and of course apps like weather and such. Soar past 250 mb in less than 2 days.

13. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Just use Wi-Fi and save money - for those with unlimited plans - tether - Verizon will not care as much as AT&T will about that, but it will save money in the long run. 3GB usage on a tablet can be easily used in a few days. Not worth the money.

24. Scuba_Steve

Posts: 79; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

Not everyone can be connected to wi-fi. I only have it at work and since I work multiple locations, not all locations have wifi either. I do not have internet at home nor does my girlfriends place, this being the reason why I bought a tab with verizon service. I signed up on the 10GB plan for my galaxy tab 10.1 and I was hitting that easily. I switched to the 2GB (to save money) and I hit that limit in two days. *Words with friends, youtube, facebook.

26. wumberpeb

Posts: 453; Member since: Mar 14, 2011

No offense, but 2GB in 2 days...do you work?

14. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Don't forget to compare data speeds.... AT&T's LTE has been proven to be faster than Verizon's (and more reliable.. how many times has Verizon LTE been out nationwide since it launched?), and you have the fallback of HSPA+ when off LTE, which offers speeds (on AT&T) up to 21 Mbps... As for usage, I think only the folk that use their tablet all the time for both business and personal use that are never around WiFi would need more than 3GB monthly...

25. Scuba_Steve

Posts: 79; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

False... Half the coverage, half the customers, you're not going to run into as many problems when you're managing a smaller service.

16. Carlitos

Posts: 695; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

At&t has a 2GB plan and its for $25. Why is it N/A i currently have it.

18. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

grand fathered? they do not offer that in their brochures...

20. Carlitos

Posts: 695; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

No not grandfathered. About a month ago i added a line with the SGS2 and, a 2gb plan for $25 was vailable and its been like that still.

23. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

i saw a brochure about 4 days ago that didnt have that plan on it...either way if you're gonna pay for data on an ipad it might as well be Verizon :)

19. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

This shouldnt have been a comparison article at all... it's like apples and oranges. Verizon is a much stronger and faster network with way better customer service. ATT is trying to stay competitive sure, but they are doing a horrible job at doing so, their customer service is awful and the HSPA+ is garbage here. I understand that it's location based, but if I'm going to spend the same amount of money on a silly Ipad in the first place, it's a no brainer what network to go with...

21. cuppacappachino

Posts: 8; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

So I'm just going to throw it out there that you would have to be an idiot to go on AT&T's 5gb plan for $50 when you will pay the same amount for 5 gigs of use on the 3 gig plan, but on months you use less you will save money. Or am I mistaken? You use 5 gigs one month on the 3 gig for $30 plan. You're charged an overage of $20. $30 + $20 = $50 I find the existance of the 5 gig plan on AT&T insulting because it will never save money over the 3 gig plan and has potential to cost more.

27. TheLeopard

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 02, 2012

Reposted from PC Mag online: Don't imagine you get 4G from Verizon for $30/month As a long-time Verizon user I was happy to upgrade from the iPad1 to the new 4G model but was astonished when I signed up for the data plan. Be prepared for a big first bill. Instead of the advertised $30 for 2GB price my receipt read as follows : Estimated monthly access fee $55.16 (includes one prorated and one full month), Selected Services Access Fees $12.85, Equipment surcharges $48.01, Taxes and fees $5.08, Estimated total $121.10. Apparently this includes an activation fee of $35 and if you stop the service for a month they will charge the same fee again when you reactivate. 03.19.2012 by ronaldecohen

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