One device, all networks. That's been a fond dream through the iPhone and iPad lifecycle, and while the iPhone 4S remains a unified device (sans 4G LTE support), the iPhone 5c and 5s remain split into CDMA-enabled and pure GSM model numbers.
Enter the new slimness. The cellular-capable version of the iPad Air, like the forthcoming iPad mini with Retina display, actually ships in only one flavor: universal LTE. All the US carriers, major and minor (Bluegrass? Aio?) support wireless on the device, and it ships unlocked. Is it, you might wonder, possible to do a bit of gaming the system with nano SIM swaps and network shopping? Specifically, can you take an iPad bought under the banner of the "other 3" US carriers (VZW, AT&T or Sprint) but pop in and use a T-Mobile SIM with its 200 MB of free-for-life monthly data?
It seems that the answer is "yes, it is possible." NBC's Devin Coldewey dug into the subject and confirmed with reps from both T-Mobile and AT&T that the SIM swap is feasible, anytime you want to do it. For direct confirmation, MacRumors forums poster Picho affirms that he/she has indeed swapped SIMs from all US carriers into a new iPad Air, with everything working as it should. (Tapbot's Paul Haddad even got the swap to work with a Verizon iPad mini current gen, but it's not clear he's getting full-speed T-Mobile service.) T-Mobile's plan information page suggests that you may need to become a post-paid customer to get the SIM, but you shouldn't need to put any money into the account to get the free data. You can even buy the nano SIM online for 99 cents.
As Coldewey points out, plenty of iPad Air buyers may have gone with their primary carrier of choice for their new purchase, but may not intend to spin up data service soon or have it running most of the time. By picking up a T-Mobile SIM card -- you might get one for free, bring your iPad to your local T-Mobile outlet and see what they say -- it's simple to maintain a free account that credits you 200 MB of service for emergency or extremely light data use. Then, for those times when you want the primary network engaged, pop the old SIM back in and roll on.
Have you tried this maneuver? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.