If you were patient enough to hold out on the wave of iPad releases, and if you specifically wanted to grab a 3G-capable model, then today is probably already clearly marked on your calendar. That’s because it’s April 30th, the official release date of the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G in the U.S.
Customers who originally pre-ordered before Apple’s (s aapl) recent cut-off date should expect their iPads to arrive in the mail today, or you can try your luck with retail stores, which are going to be selling the new iPads beginning at 5 p.m.. today. Pre-orders for the Wi-Fi + 3G models were originally lower in volume than those for the WiFi-only version, so it’ll be interesting to see what the response is like at brick-and-mortar retail.
I personally am also very interested in seeing how soon unofficial sales start across the border here in Canada. Following the launch of the original Wi-Fi model, you could buy one the same day at a not completely ridiculous markup, so I predict the same thing this time around. Of course, international iPad users won’t yet be able to get 3G service, since no deals or pricing have been announced with carriers yet, but presumably the devices will work fine with those networks late in May when the Wi-Fi + 3G iPad ships worldwide.
Don’t just show up at the Apple store this morning expecting to pick up a new iPad, though. The launch is scheduled for 5 p.m., and Apple stores across the country are closing down between 4 and 5 specifically to set up for the launch. It’s odd timing, and will no doubt cause some confusion at retail sites in terms of people coming by too early, but Apple must have a reason for not just starting the shopping day with the iPads on the shelves. Whatever the case, expect a lot of confused customers being ushered out the doors at 4 p.m. who are oblivious to the product launch.
The 3G capability is a killer feature for the iPad, in my opinion. Undoubtedly the iPad’s UI is a hit with consumers, as is the user experience in general, but the ability to remain connected while traveling, be it just around town or internationally (as international providers become available) elevates the device from being an amazing entertainment and media player to a lifestyle changer, in terms of both work and play.
Are you getting one? Does your local Apple Store have stock? Is there a lineup? Are you upgrading from a Wi-Fi only model? Let us know your thoughts on all things 3G iPad in the comments.
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