iPad , GPS and 3G cellular network subscription

I start the year in a bad mood ! Unfortunately I have seen, through the experiences of many of you, ignorance, if not incompetence, many sellers iPad. Not only specializes supermarkets, but also among some Apple Certified Resellers ! This caused errors when buying for Christmas, and many of the disenchantment.

Among the information I have reported, Here are some pearls :

  • The iPad has no GPS (Apple Certified Reseller).
  • IPad Cellular cannot be used without 3G / 4G subscription (retail)
  • A SIM card is required for the position with the iPad (telephone operator)

To cite only the most surprising.


I provided, in several sections of this blog (¹) and on my website (²), detailed information about the Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad for navigation. But maybe I have not been clear enough, articles are too long or are not read to the end, or a little too hastily, whatever ? So here I'll correct some misstatements.

iPad Wi - Fi, and iPad Wi - Fi + Cellular

These two models, the first, iPad Wi-Fi, only has Wi-Fi as a means of network connection, and localization is provided by access points Wi-Fi (Hotspots), very random. The second model, called iPad Wi-Fi+Cellular, provides access to the 3G / 4G network using a SIM card and a network subscription (as an iPhone). The possessed a GPS receiver and a three-axis electromagnetic compass that provide highly accurate positioning, serving navigation mapping for car , marine or air applications. Localization can be obtained by alternately access points Wi-Fi, by cellular antennas trilateration, or built-in GPS.

iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular

With the risk of repeating, GPS positioning absolutely does not need the 3G / 4G cellular network, a subscription to this network is not necessary. The A-GPS chip built into this model is perfectly able to acquire satellites in the GPS constellation without the assistance (the "A" for A-GPS) by the cellular network. This assistance provides only acceleration of time to first fix, or accelerated location recovery if lost after passing through a tunnel, for example, through the connection on a dedicated server providing real-time ephemeris of the satellite constellation.

To have crossed France from side to side in a truck and car, with my iPhone as my iPad (using the CoPilot), Wi-Fi and 3G disabled, my position has been lost in a few places in the middle of narrow streets, as in La Rochelle, in the old city. At sea, I have never lost my iPhone with GPS position, even less with iPad.

So do not hesitate to confront the sellers and to teach their job, this will help all users.

Happy New Year 2011 all !

(¹) iPad , a Chartplotter Killer ?
(¹) iPad 3G : Initial information about built-in GPS
(²) http://www.francis-fustier.fr/gpsnavxhard.html


10 Replies to “iPad, GPS and 3G cellular network subscription”

  1. Hello,
    Personally it is in the opposite direction that I have done, AppleStore on buying my understanding that the basic ipad included a GPS !
    Is it possible to connect the USB GPS that I have for my MacBook (I am under no illusion…)

  2. Last point I am running my wifi not 3G IPAD putting my PDA HTC wifi router mode consumption is reasonable and does not seem to diminish the autonomy of the PDA. You win at least one network subscription ( I do the same thing with my laptop) by cons attention to consumption outside France costs ++ but it's true for any mode of 3G

  3. Warning, comment long enough, I'll try to do that in order :

    1 - Of course I will also begin by wishing you all a very happy new year and thank Francis for his advice

    2 : I will not enter the controversy about the competence of vendors, something anyway : these technologies are evolving very quickly, an (between quotation marks) "Small" seller in an Apple Store or other Orange or SFR store is not necessarily to blame, we could imagine that these bosses pay him more often for training. Hence, discussions can go much further and slip on more political subjects ... and this is not the subject. The subject being for us other "small" navigators : a system as reliable as possible, The cheapest possible, and there, it is clear that the iPad offers an alternative that more attractive. He uses some of my photos, I crossed the Atlantic with an iPad and I went for a walk on the side of Cuba with, GPS is not ...

    3 : A simple reminder and Francis was very clear : if you want a GPS must be the 3G version of the iPad : and this I can assure you : 3G version works everywhere.

    4 : Not worth taking a 3G, not worth having a SIM card, GPS works without.

    5 : There remains the question of connections : Objectively there are more and more WiFi around the world to connect and when we speak of navigation, it connects to take the weather, the limit there are more than 3G Wireless.

    6 : Especially since the cost 3G subscriptions often horribly expensive abroad. And, comment in response to John, Illimytics the SFR with the Iphone, I'm not sure it works on the iPad, J'en ai a, I must test.

    7 : Speaking Test, Francis and I'll just leave together in February to Tahiti, We will test everything and tell you more when we return, Francis at least tell you more.

    8 : On a more general, iPad is for me the system I use every day, but I'm not leaving without my Mac for MacENC 2 main reasons :
    a - To take files weather at sea, mac manages the iridium, iPad not.
    b - In some places, I checked, I can cite for example Panama, Navionics mapping is a bit light, well above the NSW, but one can argue that in some places, the Gulf of Morbihan example, ENCs are not simply.
    The iPad I am therefore a great complement and back up, especially since I also find solutions to bring light in the plane, is solid, it consumes nothing, it heats less than a mac and so on ... So I come to my final point :

    9 : It all depends on your navigation program. In a vast majority of cases, The iPad 3G is more than enough, Francis and offers a training / installation to customize your installation, in your place I feel safe ... and take care, I gain nothing, but yeah, if I can help Francis, well as better, because I, carefully follow his advice, I had to make in 30 000 miles without problem with a Mac, un iPad, and finally make some paper savings, PC and other software.

    One last point anyway, what capacity ? I have a 64 GB, it must be said that in addition to 4 Navionics card games, I have all my documentation Boating, the pilot charts (the latest version of iBooks also plant a lot of) some movies (too), once again, it depends on your program, but 32 GB, maybe it's just a little (I still 21 GB available).

    Good going, you know everything, and if you need advice, a skipper for your boat ... but I'm attention can be a bit expensive ... Happy New Year to all and especially good sailing.

    1. Thank you for this comment, that responds perfectly to the question I asked you this morning on facebook.
      I am well back in the club of those who are outraged at the incompetence of the apple sellers and especially of non-information (desired???) they have their manufacturer.
      I will dive into the blog today Fustier Francis.

      Good luck to you for February.

      Jacques Boulan « Saxo »

  4. Thank you Francis !
    I can only confirm : even in Paris at the Apple store at the Carrousel du Louvre, Apple's flagship store, Incompetence is the rendezvous. Must Francis offers his services.
    I just got my IMUX, branch planned in late January, if the tests prove conformity on the iPhone to my expectations, I go to the iPad. SFR me my plan to use the Iphone as a modem in the limit 1 Go not need another subscription.

    It m’ Apple has responded that this type of connection was impossible because of the lack of USB.
    Mr and WiFi seller ?
    And Blutooth……..

  5. Greetings and best wishes to all.
    I confirm the incompetence and complacency of young salesmen Ipad or whether we, paradox, in particular Apple Store. I sail with iNavX and prepare my wifi network (AIS receiver ect ect ect…).
    Francis should call them to inform and train.

  6. I want to congratulate you on the quality of information on your site. I can bear witness. I'm trying to equip myself with the Cabotage coastal Ipad. After consulting your items, I chose the IPAD Wifi 32 GB (+ navionics 46 G) and wait for the external GPS dispoinibilité BadElf, assuming a slightly better performance of the external GPS and to IPAD able to switch to another one for the Iphone or my son. The case is not hopeless for those who have been misinformed (I actually knew too much about the subject that sellers) and find themselves with an internal GPS without IPAD !
    In passing the cost differential IPAD 3G/IPAD Wifi + External GPS seems low.
    thank you again for your information and advice,

  7. Hello, Best wishes and thank you for your site (and blog!)
    I have an iphone with iNavX and 46X, I just bought a 64GB 3G IPAD with a 2GB plan from Orange…
    I confirm that vendors are rare incompetence on the topic…
    Fortunately, there are people like you ! thank you again.


  8. I totally agree with your article and ignorance of vendors about the difference between 3G and WiFi …
    I allowed myself to let the coordinates of your site at the boat show at the representative of the IAIS …
    Thank you for your site and Best Wishes

    Jean-Baptiste DOUCET

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