Carrier-sold iPad 2 Sim locks snag unwary buyers

Caveat bites emptor

Buying an iPad 2 from a network operator - or one of its third-party resellers - comes at a price beyond the cost of the data contract and the hardware, it seems: the 'magical... again' gadgets are Sim-locked.

So says Reg Hardware reader Ryan who, having tracked down an iPad 2 at his local Phones4U - he had to stump up for the 64GB model in his haste to possess the new tablet - found that the gadget, sold with an Orange Sim, is locked to that network.

The retailer's in-store rep, he claims, told him that was not the case, that iPad 2s are not locked.

To be fair, some seemingly are not. Apple sells 3G-enabled iPads 2s with or without a Sim, and makes no distinction between them. "The iPhone sold by the Apple Online Store is Sim-free," Apple says.

So is the iPad 2. Since Apple doesn't know which network you may subsequently connect the tablet to, the gadget has to be unlocked. Not that Apple's website makes this clear, mind you.

The moral: if you want an unlocked device, don't buy it from a carrier or one of its agents. You wouldn't expect a phone sold by O2 - or any other operator - to be unlocked, so don't expect 3G iPads - or any other tablet - to be either.

If you buy from a retailer who can only supply devices with a specific network's mobile broadband package, it's a good bet the tablet will be locked to that network.

Ryan is currently trying to get a refund from Phones4U - we wish him luck. But emptors who wish to avoid this particular caveat should learn from his example. ®

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