So you’ve got your 4G smartphone, but what if you want a 4G tablet, too? Which one is best for your needs? Let us tell you what’s out there.
Welcome to Gizmodo’s 4G Week: Everything you need to know about 4G in Australia. From the networks that do and don’t support it, through to the devices you can use and the best deals out there.
• 4G In Australia Explained
• Every Australian 4G Contract Mobile Phone Deal Compared
• 4G Smartphone Buying Guide: The Right Handset For You
• 4G Tablet Buying Guide 2012: How To Choose The Right Tablet
First, let’s cover the basics one more time.
Before you start on your quest to buy a shiny, new 4G tablet, it’s worth considering the basics that should underpin all tech purchases:
Know Your Budget
Setting a budget and sticking to it is paramount when it comes to tech buying, and it’s especially important when it comes to getting a phone on a contract. 24 months is a long time to be stuck with one device, and if it’s beyond your means, you’ll either be stuck paying too much for something you don’t need or something you can’t afford. Do a bit of maths, find a figure you can comfortably afford per month and stick to it. Don’t let yourself be duped by slick talking mobile salesfolk. At the end of the day, it’s always you left holding the bag.
Decide What You Need Above What You Want
Make a list of features you know you can’t live without in your tablet. Need an ace camera? Make sure there’s a note of it. Desperate for customisation options? Android’s the one for you. Need a certain amount of battery life? Write that down, too. Don’t get sucked into a certain device because it’s shiny and neglect everything you need day-to-day.
Check Your Coverage
Having 4G support on your device sure is fun, but you need to check if you’re in a 4G coverage area first. No good getting your new phone home and figuring out it can’t do the speeds it says on the tin. You can search for your address on Telstra’s 4G maps here and Optus’ here. MVNOs like Virgin Mobile run on the Optus network, but if you want to be sure, it has coverage maps also. Vodafone currently doesn’t support 4G. For that, you’ll be waiting until next year.
Research Your Device
Once you have one or two devices in mind, hit your nearest search engine to see what people who own that device think about it. You might just find that it goes bang after a month with the device or it doesn’t do something you hoped it actually did. You can read reviews that we and other tech sites write until the phone goes out of style, but we can’t tell you what it’s like to live with over an extended period of time like others can. Also, make sure you try before you buy. Even if it involves insisting that a salesperson powers up a phone for you to try before you sign on the dotted line.
Know Thy Telco
Here’s a bit of information on the telco landscape right now. For more information on 4G in Australia, read our 4G Frequencies explained feature.
Optus is a solid 12 months behind Telstra in the 4G coverage race, so the handset selection isn’t as bountiful as you might think. Still, different networks mean different coverage footprints and price structures. Optus currently has 4G coverage in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, with Brisbane and the Gold Coast coming early next year and Adelaide to follow in mid-2013.
Telstra has a solid head-start on the number-two telco in Australia, meaning that it has managed to iron out more device exclusives. Telstra has pledged that it will have 66 per cent of the population covered by mid-next year, meaning that it will hold onto its number one spot for some time yet. More coverage means more places you can use your 4G coverage before you failover to Next G.
While Optus and Virgin Mobile share the same 4G network, Virgin often has cheaper prices on 4G handsets, often the same devices Optus is offering too.
Armed with that knowledge, let’s get started…
Author’s Note: any tablet can be made into a 4G device if teamed with a 4G wireless hotspot. Right now we’re just taking a look at tablets with integrated 4G radios.
Apple iPad (4th-Generation)
After all the legal hubbub surrounding the Apple’s 3rd-Generation iPad that caught it a $2.25m fine, Cupertino wasn’t about the repeat its own history by releasing a non-4G compatible tablet to Australia.
The iPad 4th-Generation was quietly shuffled out as Apple released the iPad mini, and it stocks a beefed up processor and the all important 4G antenna.
This is a tablet for someone who wants a smooth, uncomplicated tablet experience that comes complete with some of the most polished apps around.
• Carriers: Optus, Telstra, Virgin
• OS: iOS 6
• CPU: 1.4Ghz dual-core A6X
• Screen: 9.7-inch Retina display (2048×1536, 264ppi)
• RAM: 1GB RAM
• Storage: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
• Camera: 5MP rear, 1.2MP front
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
The Galaxy Tab is Samsung’s all-purpose tablet. Much like you’d order a drive-thru meal from a take-away joint, the Tab comes in a variety of sizes, depending on how hungry you are for screen real-estate.
It ranges from 7-inches right up to 10.1, and right in the middle we have the Tab 8.9: the first 4G tablet to go on sale in Australia.
The Tab 8.9′s benefits come from portability, network speed and raw power. This is a tablet for the inner road warrior who always needs to be connected.
Be warned, though, the Tab 8.9 isn’t exactly new, which means you’ll likely find a better deal on something slightly more modern.
• Carriers: Telstra
• OS: Android 3.2
• CPU: 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9
• Screen: 8.9-inch PLS TFT (1280×800, 170ppi)
• RAM: 1GB RAM
• Storage: 16GB, 32GB
• Camera: 3.15MP rear, 2MP front
Telstra 4G Tablet
It’s not got a creative name, but the Telstra 4G Tablet isn’t a bad little piece of hardware.
It’s a 10.1-inch device that fits neatly into the “my first tablet” category.
This device is one for a family looking to share a device around or even a young one just looking to get started with a tablet of their own. It’s sturdy while still being light and it runs Android 4.0, so you can get all the latest apps.
• Carriers: Telstra
• OS: Android 4.0
• CPU: 1.5 GHz dual-core
• Screen: 10.1-inch (1280×800)
• RAM: 1GB RAM
• Storage: 16GB
• Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front