AT&T vs Verizon: Which 4G LTE new iPad should you get?

AT&T vs Verizon: Which 4G iPad should you get?

Once you've decided to get a new iPad, picked out your color, and settled on your storage capacity, if you're going with the 4G LTE model of the new iPad in the US, the question becomes -- AT&T or Verizon, which carrier should you choose? For most of us, the decision will come down to three factors - coverage, pricing and tethering.

Here's how it breaks down.

Pricing plans

Here's the pricing comparison chart that Apple displays on the ordering page for the new iPad. All plans are commitment free -- you can cancel at anytime.

So with regards to cost, you need to ask yourself how much data you plan on using. Realistically, if you have Wifi at home, work and school (if you're a student), you can probably get by just fine with AT&T's 250MB per month plan and cut the monthly cost in half.

On the other hand, if you plan to consume a lot of data, Verizon may be the way to go since they offer a 10GB per month plan.

LTE availability

In addition to price, you must also consider where each carrier offers coverage and if you're within that area. Here's a side by side comparison of Verizon's and AT&T's coverage maps (left is Verizon, right is AT&T).

at&t vs verizon coverage maps

Clearly, Verizon has much more LTE availability (green dots vs orange dots.)  If you live in an area where Verizon offers LTE and AT&T does not, your best bet is to probably go with Verizon, providing that their network is pretty solid in that area. If you're not sure, ask your family, friends, and coworkers who have LTE phones on Verizon's network.

If LTE is not available to you on either network, the next thing to look at is 3G coverage. If you live somewhere that only gets EDGE on AT&T (light blue on AT&T's map), Verizon is the way to go.

Most of you, however, will be in one of these last two categories: an LTE available area on both Verizon and AT&T, or, in a 3G, but not LTE available area on both Verizon and AT&T. For those of you in this category, I'm inclined to recommend AT&T, provided that the 3G network is stable in your area. Again, ask your friends, family, and coworkers for their experience.

Why AT&T, you ask? Because AT&T's HSPA and HSPA+ 3G networks are faster than Verizon's CDMA 3G network. It's all about the speed.

You can get a closer look at AT&T's coverage map here and Verizon's map here.

Tethering

If you want to have the ability to tether your iPad's network connection to your computer, then Verizon in your only choice. Verizon includes tethering in their data plans and does not come at an additional cost.

As of right now, AT&T does not offer this functionality.

Making the choice

So which one are you going to choose? Personally, since AT&T's LTE network is not available in my area, but Verizon's is, it was a no-brainer for me to choose Verizon (even though my iPhone is with AT&T). What about you?

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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There are 67 comments. Add yours.

k_kjong says:

can both of them be used internationally? with other sim cards I mean.
Or is it just limited for the AT&T model?

Alex says:

I believe so, I think I remember them saying something about World?

Dustin says:

Yes they can. They mentioned that in the keynote.

Joel says:

I am a Verizon customer. I ordered my Ipad yesterday after an hour on the phone in which I was advised by both Verizon and Apple that the Verizon version does NOT have a SIM card slot. I was told that the Verizon Ipad would not work (i.e. with data) in Italy, where I am going in two weeks. The AT&T version has a removable SIM card so that you can exchange the AT&T version for a locally purchased SIM card overseas and use (more inexpensively) a local data plan. I hope I was not misled. I'd be interested in any contradictions here....while I can still cancel my order.

Jeffrey says:

I just got off the Apple Store Chat and asked them this question and here is their answer "CDMA doesn't work on sim cards, but it does have a micro sim card tray so you can pop in a GSM carrier micro sim card when traveling!" So, you should be fine:)

Robert Duste says:

I have my new iPad and have set up the cellular account with Verizon. There IS a SIM card slot on the Verizon iPad ... there IS NOT a SIM card slot on the AT&T iPad. Verizon says the cellular service will work worldwide for the same $30/mo for 2MB. I'm going to Italy, Germany, France, and the UK for 7 weeks ... I'll find out.

Sam says:

Hi....I bought an AT&T iPad but I didn't have good reception in the area so I swapped it for Verizon and I am using my AT&T sim card in it....that works same as it worked with the AT&T iPad.....

Sue says:

Hi there, What have u find out about which one version has a removable SIM card so that you can exchange the version for a locally purchased SIM card overseas and use a local data plan?
some said yes some said Verizon has sim card slot. I just bought AT&T one but I also want to be sure can use oversea sim card, so if not I can return.
Thank u

Brendon says:

I purchased a Verizon version. It has the SIM card slot. I live in Colombia part-time. You have to remove the Verizon SIM and replace it with a local SIM. I chose Comcel here. I had to visit the local store to get everything setup, but otherwise no issues so far, works like a charm.

Brendon says:

Oh...and I also use the mobile hotspot feature internationally.

Gab says:

Hey Brandon,
Thank you for your comments. I am looking for a reliable way to make phone call thru internet to US from Co using internet, do you have any suggestions?
Thank you in advance
Gab Patinoh

bdegrande says:

One other wrinkle, if you are still on an unlimited AT&T plan, you can transfer it to a new iPad, and supposedly (I am not sure about this), AT&T has not throttled tablet users, only phone users. Even if there is throttling some day, you are still getting 3GB for your $30 rather than 2GB, although you don't have the option of going month to month.

Tys says:

I just got off the phone with an AT&T rep and was told that I'd be able to transfer my unlimited plan from my iPad "1" to my new iPad "3" no problem. Hopefully they don't change their minds before the 16th!
Verizon, according to the above map, has 4g in my area while AT&T does not, but I've been very pleased with my 3G speeds , so I'm choosing unlimited 3G with AT&T over limited 4G with Verizon.

Leonardo Russell says:

I wish it was duel LTE, but sadly that won't be until next year (if we're lucky). I have Verizon 4G at my home, and the map seems to be getting better. I'm torn because I've had the AT&T iPad and iPad 2 since they came out, and I've been mostly happy with the speeds. When I travel into parts of Virginia from West Virginia I lose that LTE from Verizon but I have 3G from both. AT&T is much faster on the 3G, and the more data for the buck is a given. But how long until AT&T starts screwing over tablet owners? I really like some advice, the LTE is tempting and I know Verizon is rolling it out fast and should have it by years end, where as AT&T is never going to catch up (or so it seems). Thoughts?

Greg says:

I went with Verizon also for the same reason. They have more LTE coverage over much of California.

Ryan says:

How about more realistic comparison for a lot of people...
AT&T LTE market = 28
Verizon LTE market = 196 and rapidly growing
Who covers you?

Dave says:

Why do you state that Verizon is "rapidly growing" but not for AT&T? Verizon started their LTE push earlier so yes, their coverage is much larger for the time being, but since AT&T started upgrading to LTE last year, they've been growing just as fast if not faster than Verizon. I don't have a dog in the fight, so I'm coming at this from an unbiased angle, but it's important to know the facts.

techmom#IM says:

Ugh. Neither. I have wifi most places and a Clear hotspot for other places. Not LTE speeds but better than 3G and they don't throttle me till about 20 GB. So I could actually stream movies.

crateish says:

My Clear Voyager hotspot is getting me between 7 and 10 Mbps. I can connect my MBP, my iPhone, and/or seven other users. I'm getting the WiFi model. AT&T gets plenty of my money and I don't trust Verizon.

Rich says:

AT&T is $30 for 3GB which offers you more for the same price as Verizon. Get your facts straight please.

jack says:

Important question is which is better for international roaming. AT&T has LTE 2100 and Verizon model has CDMA EV-DO (They both have several other options). So which is better for international roaming, europe, asia, etc?

Ryan says:

Verizon has LTE on-board along with the CDMA. This means that the iPad will potentially work in over 130 carrier networks around the world. Specifically, you can count on it working on Vodafone.

Ryan says:

Well -- that's assuming all countries have a network deployed. Over 130 networks have signed onto LTE..and I mention Vodafone since it's part of Verizon so they would most likely share frequencies.

Rick says:

I have worked with many different cell towers. CDMA/Verizon works great in metro areas that are set up with digital service. GSM/ATT works both digital and analog. In 2005 75% of cellular networks GSM stat is not a very good marker since technology has become more dependant on digital devices. Macau has decided to phase out GSM and that would make sense because it is a populated region that supports tourism.

buci1er says:

I assume that the iPad for AT&T has HSPA+. Which, if the case, has comparable speeds to most of Verizon's lte network anyway. AT&T has HSPA+ pretty much everywhere where they have 3G .
Not to mention the fact that GSM is pretty much literally everywhere on earth.
I'll be getting an AT&T model

Dustin says:

Can I pull my 4G sim card out of my verizon mifi and stick it in my iPad?

Ryan says:

I believe you can. Both iPad and laptop connections get a phone number. You probably have to assign the number to the iPad to use the SIM just like you do with LTE to LTE phone swaps.

Joel says:

I was told by Verizon that you cannot remove the Verizon version's SIM card.

GreenDize12 says:

Went with AT&T/GSM. I haven't had any real complaints with AT&T. I also took into consideration that I've thrown less money on AT&T these last 3.5 years, than all the money I threw on Verizon in one year alone. Just my 2 cents.

Daryl says:

Neither of them because both are ripoffs in a tiered data pricing. When they bring back unlimited data plans then we'll talk.

Juan carlos says:

I have 0.68 mbps with 3G AT&T download Speed and 21 mbps with wifi Comcast wtf

billybaldin says:

Verizon has has prepaid data with similar prices to their contract data but you only use what and when you pay for. If you don't need data for a few months, you don't pay for it. Going to take a trip and will need some on the road? Pay for 5gb and use it up. Need more? buy more? it is the way I am going. I won't need data ALL the time but when I do Big red will be there ready to load me up!

Kamal Kumar says:

Hello, Can I buy ipad 4g in USA and use it abroad with any other local sim that supports 3g? Is there any hardware differences between at&t and verizon? Is the data plan compulsory? Can I buy and ipad 4g without having any data plan?

dloveprod says:

I just realized there is a difference between 4g and 4g lte, AT&T doesn't even have 4g lte coverage here.

Jeff says:

Don't forget, as noted in the first paragraph....."you can cancel at any time".
I like to look at that as you do not need to turn on the cell radio and can use it ad hoc with proration. I know at least verizon will prorate the cost, but remember that data gets prorated too.
So if you turn on 3g/4g for, say, 1 week, you will technically be alotted 1/4 of the data. So it is often better to leave the thing on for a whole month, possibly, than to risk large overages..if you think you data use is weighted heavily to the period of use......

Dustin says:

So this morning I looked again, and the data plans on Apple's website have changed. Verizon's 10 gig plan is gone, replaced by a $20 1 gig plan....

Alan says:

In speaking with quite a few random AT&T reps, I found (for what I believe to be the first time ever) absolute consistency in what each said re carrying plans over from an older iPad to the new one...
Since the new iPads have LTE, the plan needs to be provisioned differently and needs to use one of the newer SIM cards (which will come with the device, anyway). HOWEVER, the pricing will carryover if you transfer your service from the 3G SIM to the LTE SIM (i.e., unlimited if you still have it, $25/2GB if that's what you've got, etc.)
Can't guarantee this is really what will happen (i.e., will everyone be forced onto new pricing) but it's hopefully good news for people who are on the unlimited plan or the $25 plan.

Dan says:

while Verizon has greater LTE coverage than AT&T they also are frequently having LTE outages , combined with the fact that AT&T's HSPA+ is faster than Verizon 3G swayed me towards the AT&T version

Ian says:

It looks to me like the Verizon version supports all of the same network frequencies that the AT&T version does. So why can't I use a AT&T LTE micro sim in the verizon version? Is it a hardware difference, or are they locked to a carrier with (unlockable) software?

Joel says:

I was told that the new Verizon Ipad does not have a SIM card slot.

Brendon says:

This is not true. It does have micro SIM slot.

Michael says:

Does anyone know about occasional use in Canada? Will I need a new SIM? Will the U.S. data plan work as-is in Canada, or will there be a Canadian plan I could sign up for? Any difference between AT&T and Verizon in this regard?

Shin Hornish says:

These days, it is possible intended for Wii owners to cleverly run an unlock software and can download complete the additional features and never have to kill their gadget.

Jeffrey says:

Hello,
iPad 3 will first one and I have some questions based on posts above.
1) If I have the AT&T unlimited data plan on my phone can the iPad 3 be put on that plan?
2) Which one is better for overseas?
3) My plan is to use wi-fi mostly and buy data plans when I travel, which one would be better?

dong says:

I have a question.
Since the data plan can be month to month,can I buy the verizon version for the first month then switch to ATT plan later? looks like the verizon version support all the band just missing the LTE 2100 band which is not there yet.

Milton Sisson says:

Hey, this is new to me. Thank you for this helpful article!

sal says:

Did anyone notice that Verizon's data calculator shows a 5x increase in data usage for streaming video? ATT 4g is 120mb per minute and verizon 4g is 650! Not a good deal at all!

great iPads says:

hey guys, does the verizon version has the micro sim slot, thats the only factor that i concerned, cuz i travel a lot, some place has only CDMA, while other have only GSM, someone knows?

Chris Dunphy says:

Using the new release of our app 'Coverage?' I created some screenshots directly overlaying AT&T's and Verizon's LTE and "4G" maps. The post is here:http://www.technomadia.com/2012/03/verizon-vs-att-4g-lte-networks/

Memo says:

Question...
According to AT&T, "Usage in excess of 3GB for the 3GB plan or in excess of 5GB for the 5GB plan during the service period will be billed $10 for each additional 1GB."
Ok... so I don't see any reason why anyone would want to buy the 5GB plan.
If you buy the 3GB and use up to 5GB you pay... $50. If you use less than 3GB, you pay $30
If you buy the 5GB and use up to 5GB you pay... $50. If you use less than 3GB, you pay $50.
Why would anyone buy the 5GB plan?

offdahglass says:

This is a very excellent point! Makes complete sense.

Rick says:

I live in the DC area and visit mostly Chicago, NY, and Southern CA. All places with good coverage, generally speaking. My main issue is overseas travel. A lot of travel to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Europe and Israel. My iPhone is on AT&T and so is my iPad2. I am inclined to stay with that for the New iPad. Any reason to reconsider and move to Verizon?

Felecia Bibles says:

It may be for a couple of reasons :

Don Nowlan says:

Thanks for mentioning that. I actually did not know it was possible to tether a Kindle to a laptop. Just don't let Amazon find out; they might send you a bill .

Kathleen Stenman says:

Hello, I think this info is a great advice for many readers out there. Thanks a lot for writing it.

sue says:

Do anybody know which Ipad3 I should buy, AT&T or Verizon if I want to use it international, putting other country simcard (GSM)?

Nalinrath says:

I want to buy ipad 4g in USA and use it abroad with any other local sim. should I buy AT&T or Verizon? Is there a sim card slot on Verizon ipad3? cuz' some said yes some said:/
Plz help.. thank u

Brendon says:

Verizon is your best choice. I use my Verizon iPad3 in Colombia on the 3G/GSM/HSPA Comcel network, prepaid, no issues.

Brendon says:

...using a micro SIM provided by the local dealer (Comcel) of course.

Art says:

I have T-Mobile and plan to use my iPad via my Access Point on my Samsung Galaxy S. Does it then make a difference which iPad I get, AT&T or Verizon? What other considerations are there?

Brendon says:

If using WIFI (which is what your Galaxy S creates - a private WIFI network), then just get the WIFI model, no need for an ATT or Verzion model.

kenM says:

I am travelling to India, which cellular version of the new ipad should I purchase ATT or Verizon.

polly5 says:

I live in a mountainous area on the central coast of CA. , we are not able to use our cell phones up here. (neither Verizon nor AT&T reception is good). Would I still be able to access the web with a 3G or 4G ipad??