Please help me choose an iPad mini

I am thinking of buying one for my daughter for Christmas. I want to get one with wireless and cellular. She travels a bit, and would be taking it out of the country. When I bought my iPad, I had to choose a carrier, but the Apple site seems to be saying that you don’t have to do it anymore, but you should choose the carrier you think you will use.

I have been on the sites of the four carriers and can’t seem to find a straight answer about international coverage. Does anyone have any advice?

I could just give her a card at Christmas telling her to pick one out, but I know she will just say she doesn’t want me to spend the money. I think she would like it on trips, though, so I’d like to get it.

I just bought an iPad Mini, and I had to select a carrier when choosing the amount of memory, color and so forth.

I am currently posting from my ipad mini I got, as a gift, last Christmas. I am currently on holiday in Thailand. I do not now, nor have I ever, had any kind of carrier to sign up to or pay for, so colour me confused by your question.

You can’t make phone calls so what’s the carrier for? Do you mean like 3G coverage, (or whatever it’s called?) so you have an internet connection everywhere, regardless? Personally I’m not finding it an issue. The planes, the airports even the little guesthouses all have wifi, it seems to me.

(I text using a free app called TextPlus, free and works internationally.)

The 2013 iPad Air and Mini support a long list of 3G/LTE bands. There is only 1 model and it supports 3G, CDMA and LTE. The ordering options are just to determine the default SIM chip, you can swap it out for other supported carriers at will.

Here is a list of supported LTE carriers and frequency bands.

Meant to say that you can pick up 3G SIM chips with a data plan in most airports or cities and just swap it into the mini.

Moderator Action

This is more of an advice/opinion thing than a factual question.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

Thanks, yes I mean coverage other than wireless. My daughter likes to geocache, so I would like her to be able to use it in the car. The last couple of hotels we have been in didn’t have free wireless, so she and I shared my iPad to check email and do other things online. The last airports I was at didn’t have free wireless, either. I do live in a small rural community, though.

I’m on my second iPad. For the first I had AT&T for the carrier, and for the second I chose Verizon. I think I had to choose a carrier when I bought it, and I can’t access the sim card (I don’t think) to change carriers. If the iPad mini is different and she can change carriers if she wants, then that would make my decision much easier.

Does your daughter have a phone with a data plan? If so she may be able to use it as a wifi hotspot for the ipad. That would eliminate the expense of having a second data plan.

Your issue seems to be CDMA vs GSM networks? The iPad mini used to have CDMA and GSM models in the US, where AT&T (and T Mobile) have a GSM network (and therefore provides you with a SIM card) whereas everyone else uses CDMA.

So, for the original iPad mini, you had to buy a CDMA iPad or a GSM iPad. This no longer appears to be the case - from this thread, it appears that the new iPad Air and the iPad Mini Retina both have CDMA and GSM built in, and there’s just the one model.

YMMV, check with the Apple store if you want to be sure.

Thank you. I just checked with Apple and they said with the iPad mini there is no switching between them. I have to pick one and live with it, just like the old iPads.

I may call and talk to someone else. I’m not sure if the person even understood what I wanted. No matter how much I said she would confuse it with whether I was buying a straight wireless iPad and then tell me there were no carriers for that. It is the Friday after Thanksgiving, so I am sure she is swamped.

IMHO, the answer to the OP is factual, not opinion - however there do seem to be bad facts here.

The Apple specs clearly show a single model A1490 Pad Mini Retina which works with carriers worldwide - on LTE where available, otherwise with a 3G SIM from any carrier you choose. CDMA support is also there for non-LTE services from US carriers like Verizon and Sprint. The original Mini (non-Retina) had US and non-US models, so if you purchase that one - get the appropriate one.

Selecting a carrier at purchase time is a convenience only.

The Anandtech review covers this nicely. It says:

Apple specs say:

Thank you! That’s what I wanted to know!