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I was thinking about buying an iPad 3 in the US for use in Canada (I travel back and forth a lot) and wanted to know which one would be compatible with the Bell Network in Canada. I've compared the specs and honestly just don't understand the differences.

Anyone know whether the AT&T or Verizon iPad is more likely to work with Bell?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It does seem to be a difficult choice, but the bottom line is that if you are typically in a 4G area, then you can get either iPad. It only matters when you are in an area without 4G coverage - then you have to choose either GSM (Rogers/AT&T) or CDMA/EVDO (Bell/Telus/Verizon). Since you're looking at Bell, go with the Verizon model. At minimum, you'll get 4G with the Bell SIM card, and if you can get the setup and configuration right, you might be able to get 3G in Canada, although that seems tricky.

Apple has typically sold the GSM model in Canada, however Bell Canada does use EVDO for 2G and 3G connections, so the Verizon iPad 3rd generation might be more suitable for your particular use.

Note that everyone in Canada is moving to LTE, and both models support LTE as well as the various radio frequency bands needed for any given common LTE network.

For comparison, check out the technical specifications listed for the iPad 2 on Apple's Canadian store:

http://store.apple.com/ca/browse/home/shop_iPad/family/iPad/select_iPad2

Versus the technical specifications listed for the iPad 3rd generation shown on Apple's US store:

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_iPad/family/iPad/select_iPad

Canada iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G model: UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

AT&T iPad 3rd gen Wi-Fi + 4G for AT&T model: 4G LTE (700, 2100 MHz)1 ; UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Verizon iPad 3rd gen Wi-Fi + 4G for Verizon model: 4G LTE (700 MHz)1 ; CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz); UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Some online reports have suggested that the LTE (4G) SIM cards from AT&T work on their Verizon iPads, which indicates that it's likely that on 4G networks it doesn't matter which iPad you buy - it only matters when you have to fall back to 3G or 2G away from population centers. Since Bell Mobility in Canada uses CDMA/EVDO for their 3G coverage then you'll likely have better coverage if you purchase the Verizon model in the US - but it's not a guarantee that you'll even be able to connect it since it's not SIM card based, as GSM is. You'll need to provide the IMEI to Bell Mobility, and hope that it's not locked to Verizon in the cellular chipset.

I believe you'd have better luck choosing a GSM provider (Rogers) in Canada and using the AT&T model, switching the SIM card as necessary between the US and Canada.

You might find the following useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_mobile_phone_companies

It indicates that of the three providers Apple supports (Bell, Rogers, and Telus) only Rogers has GSM 3G coverage - which is interesting because that means that Bell and Telus customers don't get coverage outside their LTE areas.

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Thanks very much Adam! –  Christopher Mar 20 '12 at 19:14

I bought the AT&T iPad 3 in the US and brought it to Toronto this week. I bought a Bell Mobility LTE micro-SIM from the local Bell store. I swapped out the SIM cards and the IPad connected to Bell right away. Rebooted just for good hygiene's sake.

At the moment, the icon indicates that I am connecting to 3G. I have not been able to find any references to indicate whether the icon is wrong or not. I got a 7.3 Mbps download from a speed test which seems fast for 3G so perhaps I am connecting at LTE speeds and the icon is wrong?

In contrast, I got 4.3 Mbps today back in the US with my AT&T SIM and the 4G icon live.

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Thanks. That's great to know. –  Christopher Apr 6 '12 at 1:11
    
@B34chBum 4G on AT&T could be either LTE or HSPA+, the latter of which is slower. If Bell considers HSPA+ to be 3G, then you were connected to the same sort of network in both your speed test cases. AT&T calls their HSPA+ network 4G (but it was slower than the Bell test you did), even though Bell's same offering is termed 3G and seems to have been faster. Gotta love marketing to confuse anything. :) –  CajunLuke Apr 16 '12 at 20:16

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