For my most recent iPad purchase, I decided to upgrade to the WiFi + Cellular option, figuring that it would be nice to have the flexibility of using the iPad when I didn’t have access to WiFi. Verizon charges $10 extra a month, so the expense seemed justified. Little did I know that would really cost me $1,793.70 over a decade. While convenient, it doesn’t seem so convenient to justify the additional expense.
I also took a look at my Verizon logs and realized during a typical month I hardly use any data at all – maybe 50MB. That’s because everywhere I go I am bathed in WiFi. Even during months when I traveled for work, my maximum amount of data added up to a whopping 375 MB.
This seemed like prime real estate for making a cut with no pain. However, I wasn’t quite ready to give up cellular coverage. In fact, it can be quite handy from time to time.
Enter T-Mobile’s free data plan. Hard to believe, right? T-Mobile offers 200MB/mo of data free to iPad owners. There’s no catch. If you go over that amount, of course they will gladly sell you more data. I’m betting that it will be a rare month when I’m in a non-expensable situation where I go over 200MB and that even if I do from time to time, this will be cheaper in the long run. My biggest concern is the reliability of the T-Mobile network, but I can always use my iPhone as a hotspot if I need to access the Verizon network.
It turns out, the process of switching over isn’t that hard either.
Order A Prepaid Mobile Sim Starter Card
T-Mobile offers the 3-in-1 Sim Starter Kit for sale, but it’s often free or $0.99 using a discount code like SIMSALE or FREESIM. For my iPad Air 2, I made sure I purchased the Sim Kit advertised as “for use with unlocked, compatible LTE and GSM tablets and hotspots.”
Place your order and then wait a few days for delivery.
Replace Your Existing SIM with the T-Mobile Sim
Once your new SIM arrives, you’ll need to replace your existing SIM. It’s probably a good idea to hang on to your old SIM in case you need it in the future. If you purchased the 3-in-1 kit, the SIM should come in three effective sizes (regular, micro and nano) so it should work with your device. The plastic surrounding the SIM card will break apart as shown in the photo.
Connect to T-Mobile Network
After the SIM is installed, it’s time to activate your device on the network. Click on System Preferences/Cellular Data/Manage T-Mobile Account.
Setup a New T-Mobile Account
Choose Your Plan. I opted for the Plain and Simple giving me 200MB of data for life.
Create a New Account. Unless you have an existing account with T-Mobile, you are going to need to create a new account. I was never asked for any payment information.
New Data Plan. After you make the purchase, your new SIM card should activate quickly and you’ll receive a confirmation email letting you know that your plan is active. The 200MB resets every 30 days.
One Final Recommendation
While reviewing my iPad’s data usage, I found that even when connected to a WiFi network, the iPad will pull some data from the cellular network. I believe this mainly has to do with Microsoft Exchange’s push service. In order to conserve cellular data, I simply turned off Cellular Data on my iPad. The next time I need it, I can easily turn it back on. This doesn’t seem to impact push service – it just forces everything to go over the WiFi network.
What about you? Are you paying for data plans or other subscription services that you don’t need? Is it worth the hour of work and minor inconvenience to save $1,793 each decade? Let us know in the comments.