iPads are fantastic when you have access to reliable WiFi. But if you moved to a rural area or you travel to off-the-grid destinations often, it might get you wondering—is a SIM card necessary for your iPad to function?
A SIM card isn’t always needed- however, having one is necessary for an iPad to work if you’re in an area with cell phone reception but without WiFI. Not all iPads come with SIM trays. Therefore, if you know that you’ll be needing a SIM card for your iPad, make sure to purchase a Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad model.
I have first-hand experience using SIM cards when I’m in rural areas. So, I’ll share what I’ve learned with you here, along with the best iPad models for lightning-speed 5G at the end of this article.
When You Need a SIM Card for Your iPad
You only need a SIM card for your iPad if you want to use cellular data. Otherwise, you’ll be able to use your iPad via WiFi.
The advantage of having an iPad with a SIM card is if you travel or live in a rural area where WiFi companies don’t yet reach. In that case, provided you have cell phone reception, you can use a SIM card to channel that reception into Internet data on your iPad.
It’s important to note that inserting a SIM card into your iPad won’t give you any added features.
Instead, it’s strictly a way to receive Internet when you don’t have access to WiFi.
How to Know if Your iPad is SIM Card Compatible
Not all iPads have the capability to hold a SIM card. Therefore, you’ll need to check the sides of your iPad to see if you spot a nano-sized SIM tray.
If so, it means that you can insert a SIM card into your iPad and use it with a cellular network.
The location and shape of the SIM tray vary across iPad models and countries. So, if you’re unsure whether your iPad has a SIM tray, take it to your local Apple store.
Otherwise, if you’re on the market for an iPad, make sure you purchase one with a SIM tray included. Apple calls their iPads with SIM card devices “Wi-Fi + Cellular” models.
If your iPad doesn’t have a SIM tray, you’re out of luck—you can’t build one into it.
Types of iPad-Compatible SIM Cards
You can’t buy any SIM card, pop it in your phone, and call it a day. Instead, you need to purchase an iPad-friendly SIM card. They include:
- SIM card from your phone carrier
- Embedded Apple SIM or Apple SIM card
Should you choose the eSIM route, note that not all Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad models support it. Furthermore, this SIM card isn’t available to people in all countries and regions of the world.
The Beauty of the Apple SIM Card
I highly recommend using an Apple SIM card for your iPad when possible. That’s because Apple allows you to connect with any telecom company they partner with.
In contrast, if you purchase a SIM card from your phone company, you’ll only be able to use the cellular data from their cell phone towers.
Another benefit of the Apple SIM card is that you can use it when traveling abroad.
That way, not only will you skip having to sign up for a new phone carrier every time you switch countries, but Apple’s SIM card plan is overall a much cheaper option.
You can expect newer models of the iPad to come with an Apple SIM card, given that it first appeared in the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 models.
iPad Models That Support 5G
If you decide to purchase a SIM card for your iPad, you’ll undoubtedly want the strongest connection possible.
So, below are the iPad models that offer a 5G connection with a SIM card (assuming that 5G is available in the area you’re in).
- iPad mini (6th generation)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
- IPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
When SIM Card Internet Gets Finicky
You can expect to have a mostly trouble-free experience using your iPad SIM card, provided that you’re in an area with strong cell reception.
Nevertheless, you may experience moments when your iPad freezes when you try to use the Internet.
In this case, it’s best to remove the SIM card and put it back in. Doing so offers your iPad a mini reset without you having to worry about it erasing any data.
Removing your SIM card is easy; simply press the SIM card tray. It’ll pop out the SIM card where you can remove it and place it back in the tray.
When you push the tray back in, the webpage should go back to working smoothly. Remember—this is assuming that you have a strong cell tower connection.
Are You Ready to Get Your iPad Connected to the Internet?
SIM cards are a powerful—and sometimes the only—way to get your iPad online. Thanks to cell towers, the SIM card allows you to use cellular data to connect to the Internet.
So, whether you rely on cellular data 100% of the time because of where you live or want to stay connected to your iPad during rural trips, purchasing a SIM card-compatible iPad is an excellent option.