The new US and UK iPad Air 2 and Mini iPad 3’s now come with a new, programable SIM (see wikipedia SIM article for more info) card for their cellular data services. This is a first in the industry and signals a new movement to more flexible cellular data plans.
Currently, the iPad 2 Apple SIM card supports AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the US (what no Verizon?) and EE in the UK. With this new flexibility one can switch iPad data carriers anytime, seemingly right on the phone without having to get up from your chair at all. You no longer need to go into a cellular vendor’s store and get a new SIM card and insert the new SIM card into your iPad Air 2.
It seems not many cellular carriers are be signed up to the new programmable SIM cards. But with the new Apple SIM’s ability to switch data carriers in an instant, can the other data carriers hold out for long.
What’s a little unclear to me is how the new Apple SIM doesn’t show support for Verizon but the iPad 2 Air literature does show support for Verizon data services. After talking with Apple iPad sales there is an actual SIM card slot in the new iPads that holds the new Apple SIM card and if you want to use Verizon you would need to get a SIM card from them and swap out the Apple SIM card for the Verizon SIM card and insert it into the iPad Air 2.
Having never bought a cellular option for my iPad’s this is all a little new to me. But it seems that when you purchase a new iPad Air 2 wifi + cellular, the list pricing is without any data plan already. So you are free to go to whatever compatible carrier you want right out of the box. With the new Apple SIM the compatible US carriers are AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. If you want a Verizon data plan you have to buy a Verizon iPad.
For AT&T, it appears that you can use their Dataconnect cellular data service for tablets on a month by month basis. I assume the same is true for T-Mobile who makes a point of not having any service contract even for phones. Not so sure about Sprint but if AT&T offer it can Sprint be far behind.
I have had a few chats with the cellular service providers and I would say they are not all up to speed on the new Apple SIM capabilities but hopefully they will get there over time.
Now if Apple could somehow do the same for cable data plans or cable TV providers, they really could change the world – Apple TV anyone?