Got an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Huawei Honor Tab, or any other kind of tablet? Want to use it when you’re out and about, on public transport, or in a café? Sounds like you need a special tablet SIM card deal to connect you to the ‘net.
The kind of SIM you need is a data-only plan. These connect to the internet via 3G or 4G mobile broadband, just like a smartphone. The only difference between a tablet SIM and a phone SIM is that a tablet deal has no minutes or texts - just a data allowance. So whether you have an iPad or a Galaxy Tab, here’s how to choose the right one.
What size SIM card do I need?
SIM cards come in three sizes: standard, micro, and nano. It’s important to get the right one for your tablet - otherwise it won’t fit in.
Luckily, most networks offer combi-SIMs (aka combination SIMs). These are standard SIM cards that can be broken down into smaller sizes to fit your device, so you’re guaranteed to end up with the right kind.
The size you need depends on the make and model of your tablet. Take a look at the table below to see which SIM some of the most common tablets require.
iPad (original, 2nd gen, 3rd gen, 4th gen)
Honor Pad 2
Tab2 (A10, A8-50)
Galaxy Tab 2
Galaxy Tab 3
Galaxy Tab 4
Galaxy Tab A (2016)
Galaxy Tab S
Galaxy Tab S2
Can’t find your tablet here? Check its user manual, look up its specs on the manufacturer’s website, or just get one of those combi-SIMs.
Bear in mind that some tablets can’t connect to 3G or 4G at all. These are usually branded as ‘Wi-Fi only’ tablets, and they haven’t got a SIM card slot anywhere. If that’s the case for yours, and you still want to use it when you’re out and about, you might be better off with a portable Wi-Fi device.
Which networks do tablet SIMS?
You can get a SIM deal for your tablet from networks like these:
- EE - gives you the UK’s fastest 4G, with some good-sized allowances
- Giffgaff - lets you buy a 30-day ‘gigabag’ of data allowance whenever you need it
- iD Mobile - offers one-month contracts at great value
- O2 - includes free use of O2 Wi-Fi hotspots
- Three - available in a nice wide range of allowances
- TPO Mobile (The People’s Operator) - good value deals, and part of your bill goes to a charity of your choice
- Vodafone - has some of the biggest data allowances out there
Picking a data allowance
Tablet SIMs are available with all sorts of monthly data allowances, ranging from a tiny 250MB up to 50GB and more. That’s a lot of choice! Pick your deal based on how much you reckon you’ll use your tablet for connecting to the web - when you’re not using Wi-Fi, of course.
I mostly use my tablet on Wi-Fi, but need 4G for when I can’t connect to it
A smaller allowance, just enough to be safe, will suit you - 1GB per month or less is a good shout. Anything that lets you pay-as-you-go - such as giffgaff’s 30-day ‘gigabags’ - may be useful too.
I use my tablet every now and then for the internet, Facebook, and playing games
You’ll be fine with a relatively low allowance of up to 2GB or so.
I use my tablet quite a lot for browsing, social media, apps, and watching the occasional video
Go for a slightly bigger tariff. Look for deals in the 2GB-10GB range, depending on exactly how much you’ll use.
I use my tablet constantly, rely on it for work, or travel a lot
Get a nice chunky allowance in the 10GB-50GB per month range. 10GB is enough to squeeze in many, many hours of browsing, while 50GB will let you stream a couple of hours of HD video every single day.
I have no idea how much I’ll use my tablet
Start off with a one-month plan. Pick an allowance that seems sensible, and see how much you use. Because it’s such a short contract, you can change your allowance later, or sign up to a longer-term (therefore better value) deal on a single tariff once you know how much you need.
Have a look at our guide to data usage for more info.
Tablet SIM deals are generally available with either a long term contract - 12, 18, or 24 months - or short term, one-month rolling contracts. Most pay-as-you-go mobile broadband works on a 30-day basis too.
The main advantage of long-term contracts is that they’re usually much cheaper per month, compared to one-month plans on the same network and tariff.
One-month contracts, on the other hand, let you change your allowance whenever you like - or cancel it altogether if you find a better deal.