SIM Cards and Data Plans for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Android Tablets

December 8th, 2010

If you want to use your Galaxy Tab on the go, you’ll need a 3G data plan. Ken’s Tech Tips finds the best deals.

If you’re buying a Samsung Galaxy Tab this Christmas (currently £341 unlocked from Amazon) or another Android-based tablet, you’ll need a 3G data plan to use it on the go.

Can I use any smartphone SIM-only tariff with the Galaxy Tab?

Yes. The Galaxy Tab is a just a big smartphone! Like any other smartphone, it makes calls and sends texts so you can just use it with any smartphone data tariff.

The top deals at the moment are:

  • £3.33/month buys you 500MB internet each month on T-Mobile PAYG. You’ll need to pay for 6 months upfront and there is no access to the high-speed HSDPA network. See our detailed review or grab a free T-Mobile SIM card to get started.
  • £5/month buys you 1GB internet each month on Three’s “SIM Only Internet”. You pay on a monthly basis and you have access to Three’s high-speed HSDPA network. 1GB should be enough data for a Galaxy Tab. See our detailed review or buy this tariff from the Three website.
  • £10/month buys you 1GB internet, 300 minutes and 3000 texts on Three. We would strong recommend this tariff as it’ll allow you to use the full functionality of the Galaxy Tab. This tariff allows you to make full use of the Tab’s calling and texting features. You’ll have access to Three’s high-speed HSDPA network and you’ll pay on a monthly basis. This tariff has a minimum term of 12 months. You can buy this tariff from the Three website.

Summary of top deals:

Network Monthly Price Data Minutes Texts HSDPA?
T-Mobile £3.33 500MB - - No More information »
Three £5.00 1GB - - Yes More information »
Three £10.00 1GB 300 3000 Yes More information »

If you’re likely to make a lot of phone calls from your Galaxy Tab (more than 300 minutes per month), see our guide to the best value smartphone SIM-only tariffs. All of these tariffs should be compatible with your Galaxy Tab.

If you’ve got a different Android tablet which also supports calling and texting (e.g. Dell Streak), the same top deals listed above apply. If you’ve got an iPad, you’ll need a special iPad tariff.

Can I just use the SIM card from my existing smartphone?

Yes, you can take the SIM card from your existing phone and use it in your Galaxy Tab providing you have an inclusive data allowance. Your phone calls and texts will be automatically routed to your Galaxy Tab. Whilst your SIM card is inside the Galaxy Tab, you won’t be able to use your existing smartphone as it requires a SIM card to function properly.

How much data am I likely to use?

I’ve noticed no significant difference in the amount of data used by my Galaxy Tab and my HTC Desire smartphone (around 250MB-300MB per month for both). This is despite the fact that my Galaxy Tab is now my primary mobile device. Generally activities such as reading newspapers, books, Facebook, web pages and e-mails use very little data. 1GB per month should more than suffice for these tasks, particularly if you have wi-fi at home or work.

However, if you plan to download/stream music and videos over 3G then 1GB might not be enough. Downloading or streaming 200 songs or 2 hours of video would use up your entire 1GB monthly allowance. You would be advised against doing this anyway: you would get much better speeds downloading content at home over wi-fi and saving it to SD card. You can then enjoy the content whilst out and about without having to worry about finding a 3G connection and without having to wait for content to buffer/download.

For more information, see our detailed guide to the meaning of 500MB/1GB and what they mean in reality.

What about iPad tariffs?

The Apple iPad doesn’t support calling or texting nor does it support standard-sized SIM cards. For this reason, you’ll need to purchase a special iPad SIM Card. These tariffs start from £7.50/month for 1GB of data. See our detailed guide to iPad tariffs for more information.

Where can I find out more about the Galaxy Tab?

We’ve got a detailed review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab and how it compares to the Apple iPad.

Where can I get a Galaxy Tab?

The cheapest way of buying a Galaxy Tab is to buy it SIM-free and unlocked from Amazon for £341. This is cheaper than buying it from a network and you have the additional benefit that it isn’t locked (you can use it on any network).

    

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About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 12 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Tracey said:

    Hi Ken,

    I've just bought a Canadian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (now with ICS) and its a 4G version do you know if it will work on the 4G currently being rolled out in the UK by EE?

    Thanks,

    Tracey

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Tracey,

      In the UK we are currently rolling out LTE1800 (1800MHz, on EE – see this page for more info. I'm not sure if this matches with the frequencies used in Canada, but if your Tab 10.1 supports LTE1800 it'll work. We're set to roll out LTE800 and LTE2600 late 2013 too.

      Hope this helps,

      Ken

  2. Sarah said:

    Can an ipad sim work in a galaxy tablet?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sarah,

      An iPad SIM should work in the Galaxy Tab devices, though check the size of the SIM card. If you have a Micro-SIM, you may need a "Micro-SIM to SIM adapter" before you can use it in your Galaxy Tab. These can be purchased online e.g. from Amazon.co.uk.

      Hope this helps,

      Ken

  3. Stephen said:

    I live in the states and use a Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S) with AT&T. I'm interested in buying an unlocked "international" Tab for use when I visit Australia for a one-month trip. It would serve as a phone, GPS, Skype, and e-mail device all-in-one. From what I've read this is possible!

    I see Three is offered in Australia but the plans and terminology are confusing. Could I ask for assistance? Which plan would be best for 1 month, 1 GB of data, 300 minutes or so talking, no texts needed?

    http://www.three.com.au/cs/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=Three%2FPage%2FBusinessVideoCallingTemplate&cid=1221530713021

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Stephen,

      On the whole I can't advise on Australian tariffs – though in terms of data allowances have a look at our guide to what terms such as 500MB/1GB/1.5GB actually mean.

      With regards to everything else (minutes/texts), it depends on how you intend to use your Tab.

      Hope this helps!

      Ken

  4. Waterman said:

    You can buy the Galaxy Tab unlocked but you´ll still need a SIM card only for data, I just returned from a store (I live in Panama) and the guy told I can´t use my SIM card from my existing Blackberry Bold 9700 since these SIM cards are especially for blackberry platform.

    I´ll get my galaxy tab anyway, I am willing to pay 10-15 usd/month just for data but have the mobility I need while my navigation needs are fulfilled.

    hope this helps

    Waterman

  5. Tmob Victim said:

    You cannot purchase a Galaxy Tablet for voice use in the US. If you buy a Euro model, you would be able to do so (using a SIM card for either AT&T or T-mobile's networks), but you cannot purchase one here. The capability is disabled. It is possible to hack it for such use (basically flashing it with a Euro ROM).

  6. Dave Crowley said:

    Samsung Galaxt Tab is currently £ 359.99 at Tesco, both in store and via Tesco Direct. Offer available until 8/2/11 according to instore point of sale !!

    Grab em while you can !!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Dave,

      Great find; thanks! It's also £359.20 at Amazon.co.uk which gives you a saving of 79p compared to Tesco lol.

      Ken

  7. Dante said:

    Can the Galaxy Tabs in the U.S. be used for Cellular Service?
    So far I can't find a cell provider that offers service to the Galaxy Tab.
    Just data.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Dante,

      As far as I understand, there is no reason why it wouldn't work as a phone in the US – you'll need to choose a GSM/3G network (I think AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM/3G carriers) and get some kind of plan from them which only provides airtime (we call it a SIM-only tariff in the UK). As GSM is a common standard, the Galaxy Tab should work fine with any GSM network. That said, I don't know too much about the US mobile networks so I can't give you a definitive answer.

      Make sure you buy an unlocked Galaxy Tab with the standard firmware (e.g. don't buy an operator version which has voice calls removed, etc.)

      Hope this helps,

      Ken

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