When buying a tablet most people look for a built in 3G feature, however, since there is a great price difference between the WiFi-only version and the 3G version, approximately Rs 7,000 in the case of top of the line tablets, one needs to question the rationale of buying the 3G model.
Sony S tablet, for example, costs Rs 29,999 when you get a 3G version, but only Rs 22,999 when you buy an only-WiFi model. In case of Apple iPad 2 the difference is bigger: the 64 GB WiFi+3G model costs Rs 44,900 vs the WiFi-only one costing Rs 36,500, with a difference of Rs 8,400. The difference in the 16 GB version is the same. Acer also has two different versions of its Iconia tablet, though only the WiFi tablet is widely available.
Buy a smartphone instead
Most of us do not use tablets for calling, but we do consume data, or do some video chat and that needs either 3G or WiFi. Since while travelling you do not get WiFi, people argue that 3G is a must. Indeed it is, however, it need not be on your tablet. Many tablet users also own a smartphone, which often comes with WiFi tethering (hotspot) feature, making it a WiFi router, and you can share the 3G connection with your tablet.
However, if you do not have a smartphone, you can buy one with the Rs 7,000 or more that you save by buying the WiFi version. There are many Android phones that you can choose for less than Rs 10,000, including Samsung Galaxy Y and Pop, and Motorola Fire, LG optimus Net, and many other models from Indian handset makers.
This way you will not only upgrade your phone but will also have to manage just one 3G connection for all your devices. Moreover, if you already have a smartphone but it doesn't support a WiFi hotspot feature, you can go for a 3G WiFi dongle which cost in the range of Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,500 and you will be able to use it for your laptop, PC, smartphone and tablet.
What about affordable tablets?
In case of affordable tablets the story is slightly different, as the cost difference between 3G and WiFi-only tablets is not that big. Though there is no tablet with 3G and WiFi only versions, if you compare tablets with the same specifications, but with or without 3G, the feature difference comes out to be close to Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000.
But since the most basic WiFi-only tablets support 3G dongles, you will have the option of choosing CDMA and GSM dongles, both of which have their own benefits. While CDMA ones are cheaper (both in terms of price and tariff), and also offer coverage in more cities compared to GSM 3G dongles, their speeds are less than half at 3.1 Mbps compared to 7.2 Mbps offered by GSM ones.
So, even in case of affordable tablets you will have a wider choice if you choose the WiFi-only model. However, here the difference is little so you can buy the 3G versions since you will not have to carry a separate dongle. Moreover, you can also create a hotspot with these tablets for connecting your PC or laptop.