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My oldest daughter lives in England and is returning there after the upcoming holidays.

Her Mother and I live in the USA. She desires an iPad Mini as a Christmas gift. She is an iPhone 4S user with O2 as her carrier in England.

Two questions seem tied in my mind:

  1. If we buy her an iPad Mini equipped with a 3G/4G radio and she intends to buy some sort of data plan in England, which one should we buy...the Sprint, the Verizon, or the AT&T model?

  2. Are there advantages/disadvantages to setting up the iTunes account for her new iPad (a) in the US, with a US-based credit card; (b) in the UK (her home), with a US-based credit card; or (c) in the UK, with a UK-based credit card?

I've looked around for an hour or so and cannot find definitive answers to these questions...or maybe I'm not savvy enough to understand what I've read.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The LTE choice seems fairly clear as the Spring and Verizon models match the LTE coverage that EE has in the UK. O2 isn't listed, but you can see the information yourself here:

http://www.apple.com/ipad/LTE/

Further information is available from the iPad specifications page - but the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA capabilities of both models are the same. The Verizon/Sprint models have more LTE bands and CDMA as well but in Europe, the LTE situation isn't totally clear yet.

If you get an Apple ID in the US - you will be restricted to the content in the US store. The same for choosing the UK store. Since it's a hassle to juggle accounts and you can't get updates from an old country if you move accounts to a new one - it's better to pick one account unless you intend to maintain and juggle both going forward perpetually.

I would buy from Apple if you can since their holiday return policy is very lenient and you could return things in January if you choose poorly or learned more after buying. Also consider, AppleCare is tied to the country where you buy so if AppleCare plus isn't available in the UK and you are OK shipping it here for service, you might let that affect your buying choice if you want that coverage over the standard AppleCare.

The good news is you can easily use her UK account here in the US and all her apps will work on the US device. The only problems would be radio (not a problem on the mini hardware) and warranty support. Since you live here, you can get her a pay as you go month of data with no commitment or long term contract. She won't need to unlock it and can work with her choice of carriers to serve it in England. No carrier lock, no hassle, no jail breaking needed.

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EE=Orange in the UK so you definitely want the Verizon/Sprint model.

Unless you have a compelling reason to use the US store, use the UK store. The credit card, store country, and address all have to be from the same country.

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Bill - in this case, the buyer lives in the US, but I've never heard of an issue when you wanted to buy something as a gift from another countrie's store. –  bmike Nov 24 '12 at 23:08
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