By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York – The 4G LTE versions of the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad have begun to trickle into the U.S. market for activation on the AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless networks.
When it unveiled the two tablets in October, Apple had said the Wi-Fi+ Cellular versions would ship in the U.S. “about a week” after the Nov. 2 launch of the Wi-Fi models.
All three carriers are offering the tablets through their direct channels with month-to-month contracts at the prices set by Apple, but AT&T is also offering the Apple tablets and other tablets at $100 off for a limited time with activation on a two-year contract.
Indirect-channel availability, which is an Apple decision, wasn’t disclosed by the carriers.
Sprint has begun offering both models in their 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities and in black and white in limited quantities in select stores. The devices aren’t available through the company’s web site. The carrier also said it is working to bring the devices to all of its retail channels, including Sprint.com and Sprint telesales, “as soon as possible.”
Sprint acknowledged that the tablets are in short supply not only by limiting sales to select carrier stores but also saying if its stores run out, consumers will be placed on a wait list if the consumer purchases a $50 Sprint gift card.
For its part, Verizon Wireless is offering the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini in all three memory capacities on its web site, but the black version of the 16GB mini doesn’t ship until Nov. 18, the black version of the 64GB mini doesn’t ship until Nov. 19, and the white version of the 64GB mini doesn’t ship until Nov. 21, the company’s web site shows. The 64GB version of the fourth-gen iPad ships Nov. 19.
For its part, AT&T said consumers who want to buy the new iPads can do so at AT&T’s stores and online, but purchasers who order either model on AT&T’s web site have to wait for shipment in 7-14 business days, a spokesperson said.
Through AT&T’s direct channels, both the mini and fourth-gen iPad are available in all three memory capacities, but the mini is available for now only in black, the spokesperson added.
All three carriers are offering the tablets with month-to-month contracts at the hardware prices set by Apple. For the iPad mini, those prices are $459, $559, and $659 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions, respectively. The fourth-gen iPad retails for $629, $729, and $829, respectively, with the same memory capacities.
At AT&T, for a limited time, the carrier is also offering all of its tablets at $100 off when purchased at a carrier store, or at select agents and retailers with a two-year data plan agreement.
At Verizon, the Apple tablets can be activated month-to-month by new and current Verizon subscribers through its Share Everything plans for $10 monthly access and by existing subscribers on its legacy plans.
At Sprint, month-to-month plans for the Apple devices start at $14.99 for 300MB of 3G/4G LTE on-network data, $34.99 for 3GB, $49.99 for 6GB and $79.99 for 12GB. Sprint contends its plans offer 20 percent more data for the same price as AT&T at the $14.99 and $50 tablet rate plan.
Sprint smartphone customers can add either device to their account with a specially discounted rate plan that includes 1GB of 3G/4G LTE on-network data for only $15 per month or as little as $10 per month for 100MB of data on the Sprint network.
For a limited time, Sprint is waiving the activation fee on all 3G/4G LTE tablets.
The AT&T-network models can be activated on new data-sharing plans or legacy plans.
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