Buried with asterisked footnotes in the press release announcing iOS 6.1, Apple today dramatically expanded international LTE support for the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini debuted in November, while apparently leaving LTE support untouched in earlier third-generation iPads. An updated version of Apple’s iPad LTE support chart illustrates the now considerable network differences between 2012’s iPad versions, as well as another interesting change: the dual-mode CDMA/GSM iPads designed for Verizon and Sprint now offer considerably broader LTE support than the GSM-only iPad that is offered to AT&T and Canadian customers.
The GSM-only fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini gained only three carriers in today’s update: Canadian carriers MTS and Sasktel, plus Mexican carrier Telcel. By comparison, the dual-mode CDMA/GSM models sold for Verizon and Sprint today added support for Belgium’s Proximus, Denmark’s 3, Telenor, and Telia, Finland’s DNA, Elisa, and Sonera, Greece’s Cosmote, Hungary’s T-Mobile, Italy’s 3, TIM, and Vodafone, Luxembourg’s Orange and Tango, the Philippines’ Globe, Portugal’s Optimus, TMN, and Vodafone, Romania’s Orange, and Switzerland’s Swisscom. Notably, the CDMA/GSM iPads support five LTE bands—1, 3, 5, 13, and 25—while the GSM-only versions support two bands, 4 and 17. With today’s update, it’s increasingly clear that the GSM-only iPad models will be significantly less useful than the CDMA/GSM models for LTE outside of North America, though they can still operate on slower pre-LTE networks.
According to Apple’s iPad LTE support chart, the company did not add the same new LTE carrier support to the third-generation iPad, which was released in March of last year. The third-generation AT&T iPad featured the same LTE band 4 and 17 support as the fourth-generation model, but the CDMA version was apparently built specifically for Verizon’s network, with support only for band 13.