Cautionary Advice For Would-Be 3G Tablet Buyers


Jan 4, 2011
A number of tablet manufacturers are now offering 3G capable tablets. However, trying to get the tablet to work in 3G mode can be a frustrating experience to say the least.

Here in the USA there are four primary players in the mobile networks arena, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint. AT&T and T-Mobile operate WCDMA Band Networks, while Sprint and Verizon operate CDMA Band Networks.

From what I have seen thus far here in the USA the typical tablet with an internal 3G radio operates using the WCDMA band frequencies. If I use a PiPo 3G tablet as an example only, the printed M8 User Manual specifications are outlined as follows:

HSPA/WCDMA: 2100/900MHz
GSM/GPRS/EDGE Quad band: 850/900/1800/1900
Download maximum 7.2Mbit/s
Upload maximum: 5.76Mbit/s

All this simply means that the tablets are supposed to be totally suitable for use on an international basis. However, as they say, "There is a fly in the ointment".

First, in the USA the choice of carrier is limited to either AT&T or T-Mobile because only they support the WCDMA (HSPA & EDGE) 850/1900 frequency bands.

Second, note that the tablet only supports the Edge (2G) 850/1900MHz frequency bands, but does not support the WCDMA (HSPA) 3G 850/1900 frequency bands. And, in the case of my PiPo M8pro 3G tablet, based on its IMEI number, the AT&T provisioning system identifies it as a 2G device of "Unknown Manufacturer" and "Unknown GSM".:(

For the most part, to be able to utilize other than the very slow EDGE (2G) networks, you will now need to have a tablet that supports the 4G T-Mobile 1700MHz band or AT&T 2100MHz band. It is my opinion, that at this time there is no 3G advertised Chinese tablets that will work satisfactorily in the USA.
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Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2011
Good points. The US is very fragmented in this regard and it is difficult to have an openly connected device as would be able to have in other parts of the world. These days tethering and personal hotspots like mifi are generally the way to go.


Junior Member
May 23, 2014
I have been using an HP Slate 10 3G tablet for the last few month in Germany, Austria, Singapore, in the jungle in Malaysia, and here in Bali/Indonesia, where I live. Overall it's a good experience, and an option when you know that you'll be in areas which don't have wifi. I bought another tablet about a year ago, which is not 3G capable, and I don't use it at all now. Yes free wifi is available in all/most urban centres around the world, but when you are off the beaten track, you really depend on 3G.

Dan Kruger

Junior Member
Sep 15, 2014
That's a very good review regarding USA, thank you, geofferyh. Could anybody proceed and make the same review for Europe, guys? I have a kind of a rush at work so can't do it myself. Thank you.