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Buyers Guide to Micro SIM Tariffs Comparison

Micro SIM cards are a relatively new phenomenon. Basically, they have been around since the release of gadgets that allow you to enjoy mobile broadband on the go. The biggest player, in this sense, is the iPad which is undoubtedly the nation's favourite although it comes at a fairly high price.

The iPad is not a laptop or a netbook but it is not a smartphone either. The best thing about the iPad is that it gives you much more flexibility than the normal smartphone with its bigger screen; however, it combines many of the same features found on a traditional computer. If you want the 3G internet connectivity on your iPad to actually work, then you'll need a micro SIM card. The 3G-enabled device will give you much more freedom than the one that just comes with Wi-Fi.

What Is a Micro SIM Card?

A micro SIM is basically the same thing as a SIM card but it's a bit smaller. With the exception of a smaller size, they are completely identical to the normal SIM cards in everyday phones.

Apple was among the first to adopt the micro-SIM with the iPad 3G and iPhone 4, since the smaller size enabled them to work with the additional millimetres of space available.

How Much Data Do I Need?

That's the main thing you need to consider before choosing a micro SIM tariff and it all depends on how and how much you plan to use your iPad. If you read the news online now and then, then you probably won't need that much data as someone who regularly streams high-definition videos on YouTube.

According to Three, 1GB a month will give you 1,000 Outlook/HTML emails, web for 10 hours, 5 four minute videos and 32 four minute music tracks. If you think that will be enough for you, you can get an iPad micro SIM cards with Three with 1GB inclusive for £7.50 a month. If you need more, then get the £15 10GB 1-month rolling contract with Three which gives you 10,000 Outlook/HTML Emails, Web for 100 hours, 50 four minute videos and 320 four minute music tracks.

Apart from a Pay Monthly tariff from Three, you may opt for a PAYG micro SIM tariff with GiffGaff. Just order online one of their free SIMs by completing a form online and they will send you one that fits both Micro SIM & standard SIM. Then top-up and buy one of their gigabags - £7.50 for 1GB or £12.50 for 3GB.

Remember To Check The Coverage

The first thing we recommend doing is to check 3G coverage of each of the networks. Make sure that 3G coverage is available where you intend to use your tablet computer. If only 2G or GPRS coverage are available in your area, look for another provider. A good tip is to ask a friend about their experience or grab yourself a free PAYG SIM card on that network, stick it in your iPad and see how many bars of signal you get.

The Easy Way - With Scissors

An interesting feature of micro-SIMs is their backwards capability, meaning systems that use it will work with earlier models or versions of the same product. This allows technically savvy consumers to cut down their old mini-SIM cards into micro-SIMs using scissors, tape, and a lot of patience. This "trimmed down" mini-SIM works perfectly with devices that use micro-SIMs. Numerous Youtube videos exist displaying this technique, making it easy and painless for the average customer. If you find a standard 3G data plan which is better value than those designed specifically for iPad, this method is worth a try.

Apple has plans to shrink the micro-SIM card down even further. One idea is to embed the SIM into the device, and allow users to pick their carrier without having to swap cards, thus saving space. At the time of this writing, Apple hasn't made an official statement, but they've sent orders to the ETSI to build something for them. Expect the Micro-SIM, and innovations like it, to lead the future for miniature technology.