Can I get an unlimited data only plan for iPad and tablets?

Can I get an unlimited data-only plan for iPad and tablets icon

I need a SIM plan with unlimited internet, so I can use my iPad on long journeys. I know Three do unlimited phone plans, so can I get one and use it in my tablet? If not, where can I get an unlimited data-only SIM plan?

Laura, via email

Laura got in touch with us to ask us whether she could use a Three unlimited phone plan in her tablet, or find an unlimited data-only SIM plan.

Short answers: no you can't, and there aren't any. And yes, that sucks. That said, there some big data options that might do the trick, which we'll go into in a sec.

Let's look at each question more fully.

Can you use a Three All-You-Can-Eat SIM card in your tablet?

Unfortunately, Three does not allow you to use your unlimited data SIM card in any device other that a phone. It's pretty explicit about this on its site, where it says:

"Swapping your SIM out of your phone and putting it into anything else that's not a phone, like a dongle or tablet, isn't allowed on any of our voice plans or on Pay As You Go, and we could suspend your service if it's detected."

So that also means Mi-Fi or portable mobile broadband gadgets are out too. Sadly, you can't even get unlimited data if you take an All-you-can-eat SIM and turn your phone into a personal hotspot (see our guide on mobile tethering for more information), as Three will only let you use up to 30GB a month. In fairness, that's quite a lot, but it's still not unlimited.

Find out more about mobile tethering here.

Now, it's worth noting that other operators do let you use some phone plans in your tablet. But these all offer fixed usage - you won't find an unlimited phone plan that allows you to use it in your tablet.

So if you want big data on iPad (or other tablets), then I'd say you should get a data-only plan. Which brings us to…

Young lad using an iPad

Can I get an unlimited data-only SIM?

I'll be honest, it feels pretty grotty to pile more bad news onto the stinky stack of disappointment, but here goes. There aren't any unlimited data-only SIM plans available from major mobile networks. It feels like there should be, and yet…

Your best bet then is to choose a plan that has lots of data - you may be able to find one that matches your usage adequately, even if you tend to watch a lot of data-hungry video while out and about.

The easiest way to go about this is with this simple three-step plan.

1. Use our guide to data usage to work out how many GB you need a month
2. Compare data SIM deals with our mobile comparison service
3. Choose a deal and follow the link to find out more information or - if you think it suits you - buy it

Obviously, the more data you want, the more you'll have to pay. Remember that you can always add a bit more data allowance if you run out, but then costs start piling up.

Data only SIM deals for heavy users

Here's a general idea of what data SIM plans are available from the major networks:

  • Three mobile broadband SIMs go up to 40GB
  • O2 plans go up to 20GB
  • Vodafone does plans up to a massive 50GB!
  • EE offers up to 30GB
  • giffgaff does 'gigabags' up to 1GB - not a good choice if you need big data
  • Virgin Mobile data only SIM plans go up to 10GB

Click the provider name to go through to a more detailed guide, where you can learn all about tariffs, deals and extras, as well as our honest opinion on the pros and cons.

Hopefully that helped Laura (and anyone with a similar question). If you need a bit more information on anything discussed, take a look at these guides:

To find out more about data only SIMs, this garish orange button will do you right:

To see our picks for the best SIM-only phone plans the month, endure the orangeness below:

And finally, to compare mobile deals… well, just obey the orangey button of guidance:

  • Compare SMARTY mobile deals

  • Which network has the best mobile phone coverage?

  • What’s the best mobile network for me?

  • Can I keep my mobile number? Switching networks, PAC codes & porting

  • What’s a mobile phone reseller?

  • How to stop nuisance calls to mobile

  • What is VOXI - and should I get a plan?

  • How many ‘cores’ does a smartphone need?

  • Can I use my Three mobile abroad?

  • How do I free up storage space on my phone?

  • How do I switch from my monthly mobile contract to SIM-only?

  • I'm on TalkTalk Mobile - should I switch to O2?

Compare broadband, TV & landline deals

Exclamation In Circle