Microsoft has launched a 4G-LTE enabled version of its Surface 2, adding AT&T data to its flagship hybrid for the first time. Of course, the Surface 2 isn’t the only tablet to let you browse the Web and send e-mails over cellular data, with Apple’s iPad Air being one of its most notable competitors. Which tablet provides the better 4G deal? We put similar configurations of the two slates head to head in order to find out.
Putting aside the app ecosystems and designs, we just looked at price. Microsoft’s 4G LTE Surface 2 costs $679 and packs 64GB of storage. The Microsoft slate is significantly cheaper than the 64GB model of Apple’s LTE-enabled iPad Air, which sells for $829. Both devices are available without a contract, leaving you free to purchase however much data you need.
Despite being the cheaper device, the AT&T-compatible Surface 2 only gives you one choice of carrier. If you opt for the iPad, you can set your tablet up with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon or T-Mobile, the latter of which offers 200MB of free data per month. Sprint provides 1GB/3GB/6GB of data for $14.99/$34.99/$49.99 per month, while Verizon sells 1GB/2GB/6GB of monthly data for $20/$30/$50 per month.
If you go with AT&T on either device, the provider’s DataConnect plans start at $14.99 per month for 250MB of data and go up to $30 per month for 3GB and $50 per month for 5GB. Sprint and Verizon’s data plans have a bigger cap of 6GB, which might entice users looking for the most possible 4G LTE data.
Overall, choosing between the two 4G LTE tablets is a matter of price versus versatility. The AT&T Surface 2 is $150 cheaper than Apple’s WiFi + Cellular iPad Air, meaning you could go on a 5GB data plan for 3 months before you’ve paid as much as the iPad’s upfront cost. However, if you’ve got an existing data plan with another carrier or want the freedom to choose between all of the major ones, the iPad Air might be for you.