T-Mobile iPad Air 2 pre-order availability limited to 16GB models, integrated Apple SIM locked [Update]

iPad Air 2

An internal memo doing the rounds at T-Mobile reveals a couple of interesting tidbits regarding the upcoming pre-orders for Apple’s next generation iPad Air. As revealed earlier today, the pre-orders will launch tomorrow, with an expected shipping date of October 29th. But, unless you’re planning on pre-ordering a 16GB you could be in for a wait.

Staff are being informed that only select iPad Air 2 variants are available to pre-order. Simply put, T-Mobile currently has no way of knowing when it will get shipments of the larger capacity models from Apple, and so it can’t offer them to customers yet. On a more positive note, iPad mini 3 is going to be available in every color and capacity.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 01.15.52

Another discussion-worthy point within the internal communication is on the subject of Apple’s supposedly carrier-free SIM card.

After the hype and craziness surrounding Apple’s iPad launch died down a little, people started to realize that the cellular iPads sold by Apple would feature an interesting new SIM card. Unlock most traditional SIMs, the Apple SIM would be carrier-free and give the user flexibility and choice by allowing them to select a carrier and a short-term data plan whenever they felt like it.

A big part of the appeal here is the freedom. There’s no benefit in having an Apple SIM if it’s locked to a carrier, and will only let you select that carrier’s services. Sadly, but understandably, the iPads being sold through T-Mobile’s own retail channels will have the Apple SIM locked to its own services/network.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 01.20.00

From the wording in the pre-order announcement, T-Mobile made it pretty clear that it wants to sell tablets to its existing Simple Choice customers. Only those well-qualified, and with Simple Choice plans can get the tablet $0 down on EIP. They also get their data allowance matched on their new iPad (up to 5GB).

Let us know if you’re planning on pre-ordering through T-Mobile, or if Apple’s a safer (and more flexible) bet.

Update: John Legere has stated on Twitter that the Apple SIM won’t be locked to T-Mobile’s service. Which begs the question: Why does the Field Sales news memo say that it is? There’s a possibility that the leak isn’t genuine. But given the previous 100% reliability of this source, and the rest of the content in the memo, I’d be incredibly surprised. It could be that the communications team has added information that’s not true. Or got it wrong. Either way, I’m sure we’ll find out what the truth is by next week. 

Be sure to keep us informed if you buy a T-Mobile iPad and are able to choose another carrier’s service with the Apple SIM provided. 

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  • Ryanide

    I wonder if Apple is agreeing with T-Mobile or if they are violating some agreement by doing this practice.

    You’d hope that once you’ve paid off half of the iPad that they’d allow it to be unblocked and unlocked just like the iPhone counterpart.

    If not, then I’m going to pass and just get the univeral Nexus 9.

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      Or just go to Apple and get a new Apple SIM… Its a removable card still, I’m personally going to toss it aside and put my old T-Mobile SIM from my Air into my Air 2 when I get it

  • beyondthetech

    I’m sure it can be unlocked after three payments like they allow with the iPhone. Not a big deal. It is a disturbing trend, though, as it’s the first time I’ve heard of an iPad being carrier-locked.

    • Adrayven

      Hardly.. they have always locked tablets (iOS and Android) on EIP.. why would this be a ‘new’ trend?

      • msohail

        My last iPad Air from T-Mobile was not locked. I got it from T-Mobile on the EIP plan.

      • Nurdface Gamerhandz

        my Air is not locked, nor is any other iPad product other than the Verizon iPad 2 since it was 3G only and did not come with a SIM tray.

  • FILA

    very “Un-Carrier” of T-Mobile. haha, Although I could care a less about Apple

  • KevinYeaux

    So Legere is on Twitter denying the Apple SIM is locked to T-Mobile…

  • MyPadAir2

    This turns out to be true… Me gonna be angry

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      Why? Because T-Mobile locks a device you haven’t paid for yet?

      • trife

        Or maybe he wanted a 64 or 128 GB model?

        Just a thought.

        • MyPadAir2

          Exactly! Me want 64 and 128 16 is lame.

        • Nurdface Gamerhandz

          Buy it from Apple or wait 2 weeks?

        • MyPadAir2

          Unfortunately, here in America patience is not a virtue my friend.

          Its called supply and demand… They need to supply it. Because I am demanding it!…

      • Du Mas

        FYI. John Legere confirmed that it has been determined this is a lie.

  • trife

    Only 16 GB versions available? Yikes.

    Late to the pre-order game, delayed launch date, only base models available at launch AND the iPads are locked. Couple all of this with the questionable 6/6+ launch, and if I was a free agent, I’d probably have second guesses about jumping ship to TMO.

    Say what you want about Apple products, but they’re important launches for each carrier. So far TMO has failed with the launches of this newest gen of Apple devices.

  • Willie D

    So what if someone wants to swap out the Apple SIM for a T-Mobile existing tablet SIM?

    • msohail

      I don’t think that’s possible .. the apple sim is embedded in the iPad. I maybe wrong..
      I dont like the idea of Apple SIM.. i would like to have the choice to use any sim card i want anytime anywhere.

      • matt

        its removable , I’ve seen pictures of the sim tray

      • Cam Bunton

        It’s removable. It just comes pre-installed. You can take it out.

    • Razmid

      You can swap SIMs, it’s just pre-installed in the new iPads, but it’s removable.

  • Jeremy

    What time can I pre-order at?

  • Ungibbed

    I will be waiting before I jump into a new iPad. I am still nursing a 64GB iPad 2 which is getting sold and after a wait for a nice 128GB Wi-Fi model, I am going to use my iPhone 6 Plus tethering from my data plan. I would love to get an Air 2, but with only 16GB? That’s just not logical for a Tablet in any form.

    My only other Tablet being a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, has only 8GB on device storage. Thankfully it’s expandable and with a 64GB Micro SDXC card inside, it’s far more useful but oddly still behind the graphical abilities of my old iPad 2. So the iPad will always be my main choice for surfing on the couch where a laptop is too awkward. I’m going to get what I can from the sale of my iPad 2 and it’s extras and rough it for a while I guess.

    My 7″ Samsung and my iPhone will hold me over till the rush dies down. I can’t see investing so much and being limited by 16 GB of storage on a tablet.

    • Mike Palomba

      If you wait for a few weeks or so you can get the air 2 with any storage you want

      • Ungibbed

        I decided to put getting a new iPad on hold considering the amount spent for my iPhone 6 Plus.

        Still got bills to pay and the faster I pay off my phone the lower my monthly is.

        I still plan on getting a new iPad though as with the 128GB model will really show the details that my dinosaur iPad 2 did. I got that one sold so for tablet duties I’m “sleeping with the enemy” so to speak as it’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with a 64GB MicroSDXC card inside to make the most of it.

        It may be a low budget device, on the other hand, it’s a great gadget with an amazing sounding music player and has no trouble with HD video playback. The downside of it is the fixed focus 3MP camera and VGA front facing camera and it’s rather dated display resolution.

        Text is still readable but nowhere near the pixel density of the more mainstream products they sell or the full 1080p retina display on my iPhone.

  • Unlocked SIM cards are common in Europe. You choose to pay at any moment to whatever carrier or MVNO that’s more convenient at any time without having to replace the SIM card.

    • Cam Bunton

      Where in Europe? We don’t have them in the UK.

      • It started with Embedded SIM Cards (v. http://wp.me/p3moFv-1n6 ), which is supported by most large carriers in the world, but it still faced legal hurdles put in place to the detriment of consumers. Apple saw its potential first for phones (v. http://wp.me/p10LZV-R2l ) and the Netherlands was the first country to amend its laws for the benefit of mobile consumers (v. http://cnet.co/1waG7bn ). Other countries, like Italy, France and Germany, are about to lift or have lifted similar burdens from consumers.

  • Jerry Rich

    So, only 16 GB, a possible locked SIM and a new icloud security warning released by apple. Makes me want to run right out and buy me an apple.

    • Bklynman

      I read today,on MSN. At the Black Hat Hackers,meeting they force Google to admit,that the hackers came up with virus,that will be not notice by virus protection,comes in form of a picture,this new way affect every android device that is out there now. here the link for the story,hope it w it should show up.works,if not just google the story,Malicious Android Code Disguised As Images

  • BlackJu

    Just put an SD card in it.

    • NOYB

      You mean SIM card, right? Apple devices don’t take SD cards.

  • NH-SRT8

    So why T-Mo still add a SIM kit charge of $10 to your order?

  • MoDog

    Don’t care about the SIM deal, but any idea when they might carry the Air 2, 128 GB?

  • PicklesAndCheese

    I’d probably pick up one of these if I could sell my iPad 3 for even half of what I paid for it. :( Woe is me.

  • VG

    According to a CNET article published on Friday night, a new iPad Air 2 purchased at a T-Mobile store will have the Apple SIM locked to T-Mobile service and you won’t be able to use the Apple iOS configuration to enable the Apple SIM for a different carrier. However, the iPad hardware itself is unlocked and you can install any carrier SIM.

  • VG

    John Legere, on his Twitter feed, is always saying that “iPad Air 2 from Apple Store is not locked to T-Mobile”. Since he is always using the qualifier “from Apple Store” or “from Apple” on his Twitter posts, his implies that an iPad Air 2 purchased from a T-Mobile store is indeed locked to T-Mobile service.

    Pretty lame of T-Mobile to do this, especially since iPad Air 2 is hardware unlocked and will work with any carrier SIM. Oh well, this is definitely a “un-UnCarrier” move if this is all true.

    • duscrom

      It’s not really.. I mean the thing is Hardware unlocked.. so Seems pretty fair to me if they lock the sim to their carrier. Espicially if it’s a iPad that you get on their EAP program. I’m okay with the locked SIM, as long as I can swap it out of the hardware at a later date.

  • KEN

    Why they dont sell 64 or 128gb version. Any idea when it ll be release from tmobile ?