This is the latest in our Weekend Poll series. For last week's, see What Is Your Maximum Screen Size For A Phone?

Tablets come in two flavors: either Wi-Fi only, or packing 3G/4G from a carrier. In the former, it can be purchased without a contract and usually for a lower price. The 3G/4G model typically costs more (although it may be cheaper thanks to a carrier subsidy, which is offset by the cost of the plan), and comes on contract. The benefit of that added radio and contract is fairly obvious - you have access to data nearly anywhere you go.

So, which do you prefer? Are you content to use Wi-Fi (whether via tethering or just a normal network), or would you prefer the added functionality (and cost) of the 3G/4G radios?

Tablet Fight: 3G/4G or Wi-Fi Only?

View Results

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Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Rohit R

    wifi only, tether from phone if i NEED data on it

    • Skypirat

      That would be really great if tethering was not so battery eating function. I wouldn't feel comfort switching it on and off every time I wanna check my twitter feed, you know.

      • Eric

        Takes me three seconds to turn tethering on. Also, I bought a tiny battery pack for $16 that will charge my phone entirely from 0% battery to 100%.

        Not for everyone, but it's an easy thing to do, and saves you $50 a month.

      • Chris

        3G/4G radios drain battery life on tablets, so it's really a trade between your cell phone and your tablet.

    • Jon Garrett


      I'm already paying over $250 for 3 phones with AT&T. there's no way Im every buying a tablet with a plan.

      tethering plus wifi signals everywhere is enough for me.

      besides, I mostly use my tablet at home.

    • Cliffy

      Thats exactly what I do bro

  • Ken Masters

    I'll always get the 3G/4G model even if I only plan on using it over Wi-Fi on the offchance that I decide I want mobile data one day.

  • djembeman

    I'm actually very surprized that more people haven't replied that they want a Tablet with it's own data connection. I personally just want a wifi tablet, because I still have Unlimited data and won't have to pay on an additional limited data plan. I want to get the Asus Transformer 2 when it comes out.

  • Kevin

    I would think that if someone is going to buy a tablet, they might already have a smartphone. So what's the point in having to pay for two data plans?....the carriers really should look into a discount deal. I bet they would sell more of them.

    • Skypirat

      Look here, it depends on many things. In my country for example there's still any carrier that could provide me with 3g data and affordable voice calls plan. People are still to have two different SIM cards for each service. That's why I'd rather prefer buying that modem inside version.

  • Rob

    it really depends where you are and what you do... if you travel around in a car all the time, not so much point I guess. I travel on public transport a lot, so it makes a lot more sense for me. I don't want to have faff around a lot with the phone, or drain the phone's battery. The additional SIM to give me just data for the month is really peanuts, so why wouldn't I?

  • Rami

    My iPad 2 is a wifi only model and i tether through my Samsung Galaxy S II, the only thing i need is the newly released 2000mah battery to keep my phone alive through the day.

    • Dj

      The fact you used 2 conflicting devices in the same sentence makes me wanna slap that iPad2 out of your hand. Lol I'm just playing but iPad2 really?

  • Roy Blumenthal

    I *WISH* my Transformer had 3g. Because it doesn't, I leave it at home most of the time. And I use my iPad1, which is a vastly inferior machine. Which has 3g.

  • Hugo

    3G is a must.
    I don't live in the US, so I don't need a plan or carrier contract for mobile data.

  • Tyler Walles

    wifi only... everywhere i go always have a solid wifi connection... and if i wanted to use data on the go, id just tether it to my phone when needed

  • Brandon Starcevic

    Wifi till data isn't so ridiculous. the future is far off when it comes to screwing the consumer with something that should be next to nothing.

  • Curt

    Wi-fi only, there is no way I'm paying for data for both my phone and a tablet. Bluetooth tethering is much more frugal on the battery than wi-fi tethering. I can leave BT tethering on for most of the day without seriously impacting my phone's battery life.

  • Adam

    I would get the 3G/4G version if I wasn't forced to pay extra for the data. There's already 1.5gb of data I don't use on my smart phone, it would be quite silly to pay for even more data I won't use. Tethering all the way until my phone provider can gimme a good deal.

  • Rob

    I'm assuming all the people moaning about data costs are in the US then?

  • DJ

    I personally will never ever ever even use a 3G/4G Tablet unless it was given to me for free and it would have to be Verizon's LTE and given to me for free with a free contract lol and unlimited unthrottled data. I'm currently waiting on a tablet im not quite yet ready to drop $600 on a tablet that is going to be old tech in 1 month. So im waiting for a 10.1(or around there tab), wifi, it can be any brand, skinny, mini hdmi, @least 720p screen, Ice Cream Sandwich, id prefer either the Exynos processor or the Time Omap which I belive is second best for now. But to be honest where those quad cores! Lol. If it's Samsung it must be. The newest Nd bestist SAMOLED display available or something comparable that's a must to be honest the difference from a Galaxy S 1 or 2 SAMOLED AND SAMOLED plus screens compared to my HTC Sensation 4G pos qHD screen is night and day.

  • Greg

    Until we get data the same way the iPad gets data "month to month" then I think Tablets with data will fail.
    They want to bleed Android users with a 2 year contract! FAIL

    • Rob

      well, again, I assume this is a US perspective. Obviously it doesn't have to be that way, and it isn't that way elsewhere.

  • L boogie

    Though the 3g/4g speeds are nice, wi-fi is where I'm cruising through at the moment especially since I'm around good reception areas. Can't speak for carriers elsewhere but if U.S carriers could initiate a reasonable price point for tablet data plans then I might consider but since tablets are nowhere near a reasonable price structure, why should I assume that this could happen.

  • Kevin

    I wasn't aware that only the U.S. had data plans? I thought everyone was getting screwed.....

    • Rob

      it's not only the US, but seemingly the costs are far more prohibitive in the US. You can certainly get very very cheap data in the UK, and it's getting cheaper.

      I actually currently have 3 data SIMs in addition to my normal mobile SIM (which itself has unlimited data)

  • Dean

    I actually prefer the Wi-Fi version of a tablet. I am not tied to a particular carrier. I am using a a 4G MiFi mobile hotspot device to connect my Galaxy Tab 10.1 and XOOM. Currently, I am a T-Mobile user; but I am considering defecting to either Sprint or Verizon if the AT&T buyout of T-Mobile is approved. All I have to get another MiFi device not another tablet.

    • Rob

      Hm, well, tablets with mobile data don't have to be tied to a carrier either - and they aren't in europe. Similarly MiFis don't have to be either - the concept of having to get even a new MiFi just because you've changed carrier is ridiculous!

      • Zomby2D

        The problem with that, in the US at least, is that carriers uses different technologies (GSM/HSPA/CDMA/LTE/WiMAX) as well as bands. It proves harder to migrate from one to another using the same device.

        Here in canada the three major players uses the same 3G HPSA+ bands (same as AT&T) and the startups are all using the ame bands too (same as T-Mobile). It makes switching carriers a little easier, as long as your device is unlocked.

  • jim

    with as hard as these stupid companies are bending us over for 3g/4g pricing, wifi only hands down

  • sgtguthrie

    I'll be more than happy with my 100 dollar touchpad once the cm team releases a build. They've made GREAT progress, and i can't wait to replace webOS! The browser options (or lack there of) as well as lack of useful apps are certainly what killed it...

    A special thanks to everyone involved in porting android to this device!

  • Darkseider

    Wifi only and tether the tablet. For the brief instance I may need data on the thing.

  • Randall

    I don't even understand the need for a tablet anyway. I won't (ever again) own a phone under 4 inches in screen size, and I personally haven't found an app that I really need that is on a tablet that I cant get on my phone. Other than the convenience of a large screen to look at, I dont see a reason to buy a tablet in the near future unless they come way down in price. They would have to get down to $300 or less (for a good one) for me to even consider it.
    If I had to choose between 3G/4G and wi-fi only, it would be wi-fi only. Mobile data in the US is too slow, too expensive, and (excluding Verizon) doesn't cover enough ground. I live in Des Moines, IA (a city of 300,000+) and I live right in the middle of a very nice and populated area. There is a spot that's about a mile in diameter where you get NO signal...ZERO bars, right in the middle of the city, and I happen to live right in the middle of it. The only connection I can get is wifi, so mobile data would be worthless to me anyway. Way to go Sprint.

    • http://www.eurodroid.com Phil Oakley

      Ha, you should see the UK and our data here then...

      You have it great in the US compared to how we have it in the UK.

  • http://twitter.com/shamus_carter james kendall

    wifi only that way i dont have to put up with the crap that carriers add to the device.