Which Tablet Should I Buy: Wifi versus 3G

woman holding a tablet
Image courtesy of [Michal Marcol] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Ten years ago, our choices when it comes to electronic gadgets were pretty much limited. Should I buy a PC or a laptop?

But with the emergence and popularity of mobile gadgets, the decision of choosing the right tablet with the right features has become harder.

Should I get and Anroid or iOS? Should I get a 3G or a wifi only device? Should I get a 10″ or a 7″?

 

And the list goes on…

 

I bought a tablet a couple of times in the past, so I know how it’s like to bombard yourself with all those questions.

The good news is I’m going to share some tips based on my experience and research, so you can make a better decision on which tablet suits you best.

 

Wifi and 3G tablets can pretty much accomplish the same tasks, but there are also notable differences such as the price, connectivity, and how you’re planning to use them. 

 

3G

You might be on the fence when planning to buy a 3G tablet. Mostly because it’s quite expensive compared to its wifi counterpart. But  consider a few things first before going with wifi and abandon a potentially good relationship with a 3G tablet. 🙂

 

 Why a 3G Tablet is worth the extra money:

•    If you’re going to a new place, you can use Google Maps or similar apps to help you get to your destination. 

 

•    You can easily check important emails if you’re not in front of your laptop or PC.

When I used to work from home, I have to constantly check my email. I didn’t want to miss any emails from my boss. As much as possible, I wanted to reply right away. While most of the time DSL connections are reliable, there are the occasional blackouts, power failure, or faulty routers, which wreak havoc on my life as a home-based employee. So, having a back up internet connection gives me a sense of security.

•    If need you to kill time, a 3G tablet is your best friend.

Stuck in traffic? Going on long road trips? With a 3G tablet, you can check your Facebook updates, Tweet about random things, or browse photos in Instagram. The options are endless!

 •    Some tablets that allow you to turn on “portable wifi hotspot”.

This feature can turn your tablet into a “router”. Let’s say you’re in the car with a friend who has an iPod touch. He/she wants to connect to the internet, but there’s no connection available. Once you turn on the “portable wifi hotspot” on your 3G tablet, your friend can now connect using your 3G connection.

 •    Some 3G tablets allow you to use the device as a phone.

Personally, I love this feature because it simplifies my life. I don’t have to carry a phone and a tablet. The only downside to this is you have to use the headset every time you make a call or when answering an incoming call. When you don’t have a headset handy, you have to put the bigass tablet to your ears. Which totally feels and looks awkward.

 

Trouble with 3G tablets:

•    It is more expensive than its wifi counterpart.

The difference can range from P3000-P5000 depending on the brand.

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As you can see, there’s a P6000 difference between a wifi and 3g version of a 16-gig iPad mini.

 

    It can eat up your phone credit.

Sun, Globe, and Smart actually provide a lot of options when it comes to paying for internet connection. You can pay per minute or per hour. Or you can subscribe to promotions that will allow you to have unlimited internet for 24 hours, 3 days, 1 week, or even a month.

 Heads up: Make sure to turn off your 3G connection when not in use. In the first few months of using my tablet, I always forget to turn it off.  It felt like my phone credit magically disappeared.

 

   3G connection is unstable and is highly dependent on location.

3G connection is like playing UFO catcher in an arcade. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and catch a random stuffed toy, while most of the time you’ll go home empty handed.

 

Quick tip: Before signing up for a 24-hour unlimited internet connection on your tablet, make sure to do a speed test first.

 

wpid-Screenshot_2013-01-04-08-59-06.png
This speed test was taken in Northgate Cyberzone. At first, the speed was quite fast. But it fluctuates later on. I believe this is due to bandwith limitations set by Globe when signing up for surf promos.

 

wpid-Screenshot_2013-01-10-23-43-07.png
This speed test was also done in Alabang on the same date after the initial speedtest (above). As you can see, the result is disappointing!

Wifi

 Why Choose Wifi

  •  It’s inexpensive.

It’s plain and simple. Wifi tablets like the Nexus 7  is considerably less expensive compared to 3G tablets. As of this post, it costs a little over than P12000 in Asus outlets.

  •  It allows you to disconnect from the internet in places where there is no wifi connection.

 According to a research done in University of Gothenburg, being constantly online can cause stress, sleeping disorders, and even depression. When you have a wifi only device, you have no choice but to wait until the next wifi hotspot is available.

 

This can be a good thing as it allows your mind to disconnect from the internet.

 

  • Even if there’s no internet connection, you can still accomplish a lot of things. You can:

 

  • save PDF documents and read them when you’re stuck in traffic;
  • download and watch movies;
  • play mobile games; and
  • write notes or work on your assignment using a document editor app.

What’s wrong with wifi tablets?

There’s really nothing wrong in buying wifi tablets. It can practically do anything that a 3G tablet does. But it has also its disadvantages.

 

When you badly need an internet connection, you have to go to the nearest coffee shop or restaurant that offers public wifi.

 

In times  when you really need an internet connection, this can be a bummer.

 

Lastly, it doesn’t give you an option to use your tablet for call and text. 

 

The bottom line:

Buy a 3G tablet if you:

  • always need internet connection, most especially when travelling
  • want the option to use your tablet for call and text

A wifi tablet is best if you:

  • want to opt for a cheaper gadget
  • have access to wifi connection almost all of the time

So, what do you think? Would you go for a wifi or 3G tablet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irene Chan

Irene Chan

Irene Chan loves two things: communication and technology. With this tech blog and her role as Head of Communications at Veems, she believes she has the best job in the world. 🙂 Besides those two things, she's also crazy for coffee, dogs, and zombies.Follow her on Veems to get tips and fun updates from her geeky life.
Irene Chan


  • Hello Geeky Girl,

    Well i already own a 3g tablet and i think it has wifi too. Since wifi us very important to surf the net. And yeah you are right that is inexpensive when compared to 3g.

    Thanks

    • Irene Enriquez

      Hi, Sarvesh! 🙂 What tablet are you using? Yeah, 3G devices are a bit more expensive. But so far, I really like my 3G tablet, so the extra money is pretty worth it. 🙂

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