Re: iPad WiFi only or cellular


I flew professionally w/ iPads for about 10 years.  The first generation was a joke the processor was so slow.  Only good for reading the flight and operations manuals - on the ground.  When the company went to the iPad Air 2 (9.7") everything, including approach charts (domestic and international), enroute charts (high and low, domestic, international, and oceanic), ops and flight manuals, training manuals and documents, and more was migrated to the iPad.  The company provided them with world wide roaming cellular accounts.  The EFB program used was a sort of super-big brother to Foreflight, Jepp-Pro.

I found the cellular function exceptionally valuable.  Yes you can tether to your phone, but many times that will range from mildly inconvenient to a real PITA. If you're in a bit of a hurry it might even influence you to forgo that one last weather and notam check before you depart.  When tethered to your phone, you're discharging 2 batteries instead of one. Your phone may very well have a much stronger battery than mine, but I find when I fire up my phone's hot spot function the battery drain more than triples.

Also, as mentioned, w/ cellular you get built in GPS.  Seeing your precise position on an airport diagram at a sprawling unfamiliar airport, at night, in bad weather can be worth its weight in gold.  While as stated the GPS isn't 100% reliable in the air (even at FL390 w/ an excellent view of the sky), it for some reason seems to nearly always work on or near the ground.  Yes, you can pipe GPS position to your iPad from an on board source, but again consider battery drain; wifi both transmits and receives while GPS only receives.  "No problem, I'll just plug it into my on board USB charge outlet".  Potentially then there could be one or 2 iPads, a Stratus, and maybe a cell phone plugged in.  Perhaps add in a music source.  Just how big a spaghetti jungle of cords are you willing to put up with in YOUR cockpit?

I've got a 7" android tablet w/ cellular that I use w/ Avare in my VariEze.  That said, I'm well aware that the IOS versions of various EFB apps are generally better than the android versions and that some of the best are IOS only.  I'm a realist.  Shortly after I retired, I bought a refurbished iPad that is identical - including cellular - to the one I used at work.  As an experiment, I took the sim card out of my android tablet and tried it in my new-to-me iPad.  It worked great and even showed up on my cell carrier's website as an iPad.  When I get my Defiant up to speed for serious IFR traveling, there's a good chance that sim will migrate to the iPad nearly full time.

Just my $0.02. 


On 7/18/2020 9:48 AM, aviationeyes wrote:
I've recently been using my old original iPad-mini in my long-ez. It is a wifi only version running iFly-GPS. It readily picks up the GPS signal from my uavionics based ADSB in/out system. I get maps, position, traffic, weather, although there have been rare instances of the iPad or iFly not acquiring the GPS. (It's a bug I have to figure out)   Overall it has been very satisfactory, although I find even the mini iPad kinda big in the Long-EZ cockpit (it is ram mounted to the longeron). Btw, I recently compared it to he latest mini and I wasn't impressed by how much better (brightness and contrast) the newer screen display was. 

On Sat, Jul 18, 2020, at 3:40 AM, JOHN STEICHEN wrote:
Absolutely Neil. I had forgotten the gps aspect. Very important distinction John s

On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 10:12 AM Neil K <neil.kruiswyk@...> wrote:
If you have an alternate gps source like Stratus or Stratux then wifi only works fine (although the cell model has gps which makes a good backup)

Neil K.

On Jul 17, 2020, at 10:36 AM, JOHN STEICHEN <nn27gz@...> wrote:

I have, in the past always purchased iPads with cellular. I continue to do so with my traveling ( ergo aviation ) iPad same with my wife’s mini iPad. We only do mini iPads. We have no professional use for the iPads. 
I just replaced my wife’s mini iPad for what looked like a hardware failure of the wifi component. since we dont travel as much and wifi is more available, I opted not to add the cellular component to her new mini ipad. 
for me,  the full size ipad is too large for my aviation uses.   In my cockpit I have 2 ipads.  One is nothing but a approach plate backup as I carry no paper plates or maps anymore. It is cheaper to buy a bottom of the line ipad for your backup than to maintain ANY current paper products. No that my 
Dynon has the seattle avionics maping and plates, the extra belt and suspenders extra ipad probablly over kill.  BTW  the extra backup ipad has always been wifi. 
although my phone has foreflight on it, i dont tend to use it for aviation very much, but probably could substitute for the cellular connection that you need for filing flight plans away from home.  Also  the asdb weather might substitute for a cellular connection  for pre takeoff weather from my ipad.  Do I have you confused?  LOL

On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 8:21 AM Spencer Boesch via <> wrote:
Good morning all,
Looking at upgrading and just asking for current thoughts or experiences.
Thanks in advance!


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