Apple iPad 3G’s Opening Weekend: Video Restrictions, Jailbreaking, and Shortages

Notes from the iPad 3G’s opening weekend: shortages, an inability to stream Modern Family, superfast jailbreaking, and 1.5 e-books sold from the iBookstore.

iPad 3G


Apple‘s iPad 3G’s launch isn’t nearly as big as that of the Wi-Fi-only iPad, a few weeks back. But that didn’t stop Apple from crowing that the 1 millionth iPad was sold on Friday. That’s half the time it took to achieve the same milestone with the iPhone, CEO Steve Jobs said in a press release. At the same time, iPad owners have downloaded 12 million apps from the store and over 1.5 million e-books. But not everything is rosy after the launch of the 3G version of the device.

The 3G is the same in all respects, except it’s $130 more expensive for each model, and it packs a 3G antenna so you can use AT&T’s fast-when-it-works-but-usually-it-doesn’t 3G network on the go. Here’s what we’ve learned.

Some features are Wi-Fi only. Users discovered that the iPad 3G won’t stream just any video–and we’re not talking about the legions of Flash video that no iPhone OS gadget can use. Example: YouTube and Netflix both work, but while you can eke out some pretty high-quality streaming over Wi-Fi, you’re stuck with low-quality video over 3G. Fairly expected, really–less bandwidth equals less data equals lesser quality. But some video, like everything from ABC, is Wi-Fi-only on the iPad. Lame, right? And lamer for fans of Modern Family or Lost who wanted to take advantage of the bigger screen and always-on connection.

Speeds are…fine. The iPad’s superior innards give it really impressive performance when compared to the iPhone, but 3G is 3G–Gizmodo tested out the iPad 3G’s speed and found it just about exactly equal to the iPhone’s, meaning they’re okay. iLounge conducted an exhaustive (seriously) examination of the iPad 3G, and found that battery life is less by about 90 minutes, compared to the Wi-Fi version–totally negligible, considering we’re talking about double digit battery life.

iFixit Tore It Apart. Not really any surprises here. It’s got five separate antennae, which is impressive, I suppose, and actually seems to be using the tablet’s frame itself as an antenna for better reception (and saved space). If you like seeing what gadgets look like on the inside, check it out.

Jailbroken Already. The iPad was technically jailbroken (meaning, its security software was disabled so users can do unapproved things, like run porn apps or overclock) on launch day, but it was only yesterday that the hack was released to the general public. It’s called “Spirit” and you can grab it here.


Sales Were Excellent. I did some accidental reporting on Friday, wandering past the downtown San Francisco Apple Store on my way to the Embarcadero to buy some cheese and sneer at tourists, and the line was a full three blocks long. No surprise, then, that there’ve been actual reports of shortages of the iPad 3G, unlike the Wi-Fi iPad launch. Gene Munster estimates 300,000 iPads sold, though after the last round of crazy estimates, we won’t believe any numbers until Apple releases them. But apparently Best Buy had a limited stock, and many Apple Stores actually sold out, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.