Apple iPad 3G Review

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The 3G-enabled iPad features the same elegant design as its wifi-only sibling with one exception: a black plastic strip that runs along the top of the device. Since the metal casing blocks electromagnetic signals, Apple was forced to modify the design of the iPad so that the cellular modem antenna could actually get a signal to the surrounding towers. On this review unit, the plastic strip here didn’t fit perfectly against the rest of the device. It’s barely noticeable, but it’s there, though it doesn’t feel flimsy in the slightest.

 Along the left-hand side of the device is a sight familiar to iPhone owners, with a small round hole inside of an aluminum cutout. This is the SIM card slot, a necessary addition to the iPad’s hardware. In a move away from industry standards, Apple decided to go with a micro-SIM card instead of the traditional SIM card most GSM-standard phones take today. In terms of functionality, the two cards are exactly the same; they both have the same metal contacts on the rear. The micro-SIM, or 3FF, is simply smaller, clocking in at just 48% of the original’s size.

Apple has yet to say why they decided to go for the micro-SIM form factor over the regular SIM card; while saving space is a likely consideration, so too is the fact that it makes using non-official SIM cards in the new iPad more difficult. The upcoming iPhone, scheduled for release later this summer, will very likely use the standard as well.

Now that the iPad 3G is out, the Internet can likely expect a wave of adapters that fit micro-SIM cards to the larger SIM card form factor since users will no doubt try to take advantage of the cheap data plans AT&T introduced. As stated earlier, there’s no difference between the two SIM card styles apart from physical size; an iPhone owner could even file down their full-sized SIM card to the shape of a micro-SIM and slot it into the iPad. We don’t recommend doing either, though.

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