Apple connects 4G iPads with a global SIM for travel

Owners of the cellular iPad and iPad Mini are probably aware their portable computers come with a SIM slot, and if they want to go travelling, Apple now even has its own SIM card they can do that with.

Launched this week, Apple is joining the ranks of Telstra, Optus, Virgin, Vodafone, and a bunch of others with a SIM card of its own.

It’s called the Apple SIM — you saw that coming, didn’t you? — and it is pretty much what it sounds like: a SIM card sold by Apple that connects devices to a service to provide mobile activity on.

Specifically, it’s a data only connection, so there are no voice calls here, with Apple telling GadgetGuy that this is one of those services designed for if you want to head overseas, with a prepaid system to let you connect to mobile internet services in places like the US, Canada, New Zealand, and quite a bit of Europe, relying on as prepaid amounts of between $10 and $50 for anywhere as much as 75MB to 3GB, country dependent of course.

Apple’s service isn’t technically being run by Apple, though, with America’s GigSky network taking the reins on this one, and it in turn providing access for anyone who buys an Apple SIM to use it in their respective product.

That said, since the Apple SIM can only be bought in an Apple Store, we’re going to assume that the only people likely to use this are buying for an iPad or iPad Mini.

We do feel the need to play devil’s advocate here, however, and say that while it’s all well and good that Apple has its own SIM card and an internationally connected mobile provider, it’s not a whole lot different to the several providers you can find locally, including GlobalGig.

In fact, there are numerous providers of international internet access in Australia, and one of the major telcos — Vodafone — even allows you to pay $5 per day to extend your regular access and bandwidth for use overseas.

Regardless of what provider you choose, more choice is always a good thing, and while we don’t think Apple’s SIM (and its use of GigSky) will necessarily open the market for more competitive pricing, it at least gives iPad owners something else to consider when they’re shopping for an iPad.

Alternatively, if they’re a Telstra customer and use Telstra Air, they can skip the 4G model altogether and go at it where ever a Telstra Air-connected WiFi network is.

Your options have just opened up, sort of like Apple’s new mobile provider.