Tell me if this sounds familiar. You're having problems with your cell provider and want to switch to a new company but decide to stick it out because switching feels like such a hassle. It's a common problem. Sadly, up to now there's no easy way out of this problem with your smartphones. Now, Apple has made it really easy to switch between T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T right from the settings menu on its new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. But, unfortunately for users, AT&T is striking back and locking down customers' new iPads.
All iPad Air 2s bought at the Apple Store include a new SIM card that makes it easy to use them on those three major networks. All you have to do is select your data provider and choose the plan you want.
But, what if you don't like your provider? Thanks to the SIM card, you can just select a new provider from the menu when your contract is up. Unless you choose AT&T, that is.
When you choose AT&T from the menu, a pop-up warning will show up letting you know that you will need a new Apple SIM card if you decide to switch carriers in the future. iPads purchased from Verizon will already be locked to that service.
So, should new iPad owners stay away from AT&T entirely? Not necessarily.
If you already have your phone plan with AT&T, then it will probably be easier to stick with the company. And, if you're happy with the service you get there, then you probably won't need to worry about changing in the future. But, choosing AT&T does have its drawbacks.
"Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only," Apple wrote. "If your Apple SIM becomes dedicated to a specific network and you want to choose from other carrier programs, you can purchase a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store."
But, if you do decide to change carriers, you'll have to buy a new SIM card at your local Apple Store. ARS Technica is reporting that it'll cost you $5. Apple has simple instructions on its website about how to remove and replace your SIM card.
If you're not sure you want to stick with your provider long term, then you're better off choosing Sprint or T-Mobile. But, before you pick your provider, make sure it provides good data coverage in your area.