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Should some buyers in the US be concerned which iPad they buy?

Assuming you don't prefer AT&T over Verizon while in the US, but instead want to be sure the device will have the correct antennas, not need messing with APN settings, configuration profiles and/or jailbreak the device when the time comes to use it outside the US of A.

Are there any internal antenna, firmware, or chipset differences to allow the Verizon iPad to work better with the legacy Verizon (non LTE) data networks? If so, is this better or worse for world usage or specific countries or locations?

My impression from Apple's marketing is that they are identical devices made from the same parts and manufacturing process and only get differentiated when the micro sim is inserted and it gets labeled a Verizon or AT&T iPad for sale in the US. Note: although I'm focused on US iPads, if an answer is general for iPads worldwide, awesome! However, I don't need that information for the purposes of this question.

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I know that unlike the iPad 2 the Verizon iPad does have a sim tray. Apart from that I know nothing more. –  Graeme Hutchison Mar 20 '12 at 18:29
    
@bmike Sorry, but I don't fully understand the question. Do you want to know the physical differences, or do you want to know which model you need to by to be world-wide compatible? –  gentmatt Mar 20 '12 at 18:38
    
Please edit this into shape if my assumptions are faulty - I basically want to know if the chipsets are identical or different. In the past, getting a VZW iPad 2 or iPhone 4 meant not getting good GSM coverage overseas, no? I guess, are both new iPads 100% equally suited to travel - or does one work better than the other due to hardware or firmware that's designed by Apple to not change. –  bmike Mar 20 '12 at 18:41
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@bmike About the second part of your question. Apparently, outside of the U.S. you can only buy the AT&T model. I've checked the websites for Apple UK, Germany, Japan and Australia. –  gentmatt Mar 20 '12 at 19:52
    
interstingly enough I just came from a local store that sells ipads and I asked them if they had both verizon and at&t versions in stock, He said that they are the same and only differ when you get them activated at one of the other.. I shook my head because I too thought here were physical differences in the antenna ? –  user20755 Mar 27 '12 at 3:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, the two models are physically different. The radio is different.

As per Apple's website, the radio frequencies aren't the same. The verizon iPad supports Verizon LTE, and as per this post, AT&T 3G. However, the Verizon iPad does not support all LTE frequencies that the AT&T iPad does.

From Apple.com:

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

Wi-Fi + 4G for Verizon model: 4G LTE (700 MHz); 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)

Notice that there are some differences between the listed frequencies. They're nearly the same, but not quite.

Edit:

To confirm, the difference is a hardware difference, not a software imposed limitation on AT&T LTE. From the Macrumors article:

The Verizon iPad hardware supports only the 700 MHz band for LTE to match the carrier's technology, while the GSM version sold for use on AT&T's network supports both the 700 MHz and 2100 MHz bands as used by that carrier.

If you're looking to travel internationally, go with the AT&T iPad. (I got the Verizon iPad because I wanted the free hotspot feature, which AT&T does not offer for free at this time.)

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Excellent! That is how I should have asked the question. Is the difference in LTE 700+2100 vs 700 a result of an easily changed carrier profile setting when you pop in another SIM or are there hardware antenna and chipset differences that prevent the VZW unit from ever talking LET at 2100 MHz? I wonder if this is because they list what the carrier will deliver and not of what the device is physically capable. –  bmike Mar 20 '12 at 19:11
    
I'm unsure, but I would infer from the Macrumors article that the hardware is the difference. Edit: See my edit, it's hardware based. –  Moshe Mar 20 '12 at 19:13
    
I think that's the best we can do now - i will likely bounty this later - I'd feel better getting an Ars or reputable tear apart documenting the differences rather than take a rumor site's unsourced speculation. It will be interesting to see why VZW can do 2100 MHz on DC-HSDPA/HSPA+ but not 2100 MHZ LTE if it's in fact a hardware limitation. –  bmike Mar 20 '12 at 19:21
    
I'll keep looking for now. –  Moshe Mar 20 '12 at 19:23
    
@Moshe You contradict yourself. Both models support the same GSM frequencies in your answer. –  gentmatt Mar 20 '12 at 19:32

There is a difference in hardware, at least that is what AT& T and Verizon say...I gifted my AT & T ipad to a friend who is on the Verizon Network, she took it to Verizon to change out the sim. (thinking it was just the sim change out that was the difference) Verizon stated that the AT & T ipad would not work with their sim card...the only way to be able to use the ipad on Verizon 3 g was to purchase a Verizon jetpack (mobile hotspot). I was thinking maybe this is a ploy by Verizon to sell a 2 year contract for the hotspot...so I contacted At & T, they verified that an a Verizon ipad would not work on their network and vise versa and the only workaround other than purchasing the correct version ipad for the specific carrier is to get a mobile hotspot from the carrier of your choice. I contacted Apple support and they stated the information is true that is why when purchasing an ipad you have to chose a specific carrier.

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