Today the first iPad 3Gs will go on sale starting at 5PM at Apple Retail Stores and Best Buy. Those who preordered at the time of announcement should be receiving their shipments via Fedex before then. The device itself hasn't changed except for a black strip at the top where the 3G antenna is located and there's now a removable micro SIM tray along the left side.

Activation is handled entirely within the iPad OS itself and AT&T offers two domestic dataplans: $14.99 for up to 250MB of data transfers per month, and $29.99 for unlimited. If you'd like to add international data roaming the options are as follows:

iPad 3G Data Plans
  30 Day Billing Cost
250MB (Domestic) $14.99
Unlimited (Domestic) $29.99
20MB (International) $24.99
50MB (International) $59.99
100MB (International) $119.99
200MB (International) $199.99

Sigh. I long for the day when we'll get reasonable wireless internet pricing internationally.

The most interesting thing I've run into thus far is the fact that while operating on the 3G network we appear to be network bound rather than CPU bound. I timed simultaneous web page loads on both the iPhone 3GS and iPad 3G to get an idea of 3G performance on the devices. Each test was repeated at least 3 times and as many as 7 times to ensure repeatability. Outliers were thrown out and averages are reported below:

iPad 3G vs. iPhone 3GS - Cellular Network Performance
  Apple iPad 3G Apple iPhone 3GS
Load www.anandtech.com 28.3 seconds 21.3 seconds
Load www.digg.com 12.9 seconds 12.0 seconds
Load www.engadget.com 27.6 seconds 26.1 seconds
Load www.arstechnica.com 19.0 seconds 20.7 seconds
Load www.techreport.com 11.2 seconds 10.9 seconds

The iPhone 3GS is actually slightly faster over 3G. I suspect this is an OS/browser optimization issue because loading up AnandTech would occassionally come up lightning fast on the iPhone, presumably because it's loading almost entirely out of cache while I could never get the iPad 3G to do the same. If we look at the rest of the tests the race is far closer with the iPhone 3GS usually getting the slight edge over the iPad 3G. The opposite is true in one of the benchmarks. At the end of the day it seems that the A4 does nothing for web page loading performance over 3G. It's only over WiFi that you'll see a big performance gain over the iPhone 3GS (or perhaps on web pages with few images/ads).

More pics of the iPad 3G in our Gallery.

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  • powerspec - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    How about running some speedtest apps on each to see which is faster? Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    Anand wrote, "Sigh. I long for the day when we'll get reasonable wireless internet pricing."

    I was very surprised at how GOOD the pricing was for the iPad 3G. No contract and $15 or $30 for 250MB or Unlimited. I know of know other carrier in the US that offers anything close to that for a contract-free device.

    — — —

    I returned the WiFi iPad. The lack of RAM (256MB just like in the 3GS) wasn't enough to sustain Safari pages without them reloading between tasks with more RAM needed for each each and the GPU over the 3GS. I have to assume that the 3G card also takes it's toll and that this problem is the same or worse. Does it still have 256MB? How much RAM is free when running iStat on the iPad?
    Reply
  • HXGuy - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    Safari wasn't reloading due to the lack or RAM, it was reloading because that is how Apple designed the Safari app.

    If you use another browser, such as Atomic Web, you will se that the iPad can support multiple tabs without any reloading, so it is not a RAM issue.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    If that is the case then i will repurchase an iPad, 3G this time, when it's fixed. However, my documenting of the RAM usage between the 256MB 3GS and 256 iPad WiFI showed that even at start up the iPad needed substantially more RAM and that there was very little left for apps. But you've given me hope, so thank you. Reply
  • mczak - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    I agree domestic pricing certainly doesn't seem outrageous. Maybe that was referring to the international options though. 1 dollar and more per megabyte is definitely not reasonable. Not that I know of any better offers... Reply
  • swimomatic - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    You do know that you cut off the important last word to that quote?
    He was speaking to the lack of a decently price international plan, not domestic in the US.
    Reply
  • swillfly - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    Whenever I read articles about the latest cellular gadgets I cringe a bit. Just look outside. See those weird looking and maybe rusty antiquated towers? Yup. That is the tower you're triangualated and connected to.

    I think that Anand's spot-on about the iPhone OS/browser issue. 3Gs versions of apple products generally have better hardware and extra features like camera, memory, etc. in addition to optimized firmware. I'm not sure if it justifies the high price of getting such trendy gadgets though. Especially considering the nature of cellular technology.

    The actual cellular network itself is in such a state of flux at any given time that it makes testing challenging. Perhaps a prolonged testing of the iPad and iPhone from one particular stationary spot would yield better results. Time of day, how overloaded the tower is at the time, outages/maintenance on the network side, etc. are all factors that cannot be controlled so well. Telecoms are the ones who determine a large percentage of how you get connected to any cell within their network. Getting consistent test results while having to rely on the various telecom technologies seems less trustworthy than running a broadband speedtest for wired networks. Because it's all up in the air -literally.
    Reply
  • sxr7171 - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    Could we please also have benchmarks of those pages loading on a typical netbook running Win 7 and an Atom processor and also for reference sake maybe one running Win 7 with basic laptop style Core 2 Duo or i3 running perhaps Firefox?

    The iPad seems pretty darn fast (on Wi-Fi) and I'd really be curious to see how far in terms of speed the experience is behind an Atom based machine and a even a typical laptop. It would allow many of us to see if the iPad could replace a netbook or ultraportable for couch or bed browsing.

    It would really be appreciated at least from me.
    Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Friday, April 30, 2010 - link

    In the WiFi iPad review Anand did benchmark it to an Asus Netbook.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3640/apples-ipad-the...
    Reply
  • sxr7171 - Saturday, May 01, 2010 - link

    Thanks I should have looked more closely. There is still a ways to go to get it rendering as fast as even a netbook. Reply

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