Hong Kong networks to hook up new ipad air to 4G

SmarTone and Three HK will offer 4G access to Apple's new tablet when it is released next month, but mainland and Macau users will miss out

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 3:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 3:46am

SmarTone Telecommunications and Three Hong Kong will be the first carrier-partners in the city for Apple's newly launched iPad Air, when the media tablet's 4G-capable model is rolled out to about 40 markets on November 1.

Apple will release the Wi-fi model of the iPad Air in two other markets, the mainland and Macau, where commercial, high-speed 4G mobile networks are yet to be introduced.

This is the first time that the mainland has been included in the first batch of markets for a new iPad release. The mainland was also among the first markets to get Apple's latest smartphones last month, when the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were released.

A SmarTone spokesman said yesterday: "We will offer 4G connectivity for iPad Air on our 4G network on the 1.8-gigahertz band, which we have been using to provide customers with territory-wide coverage and superior in-building penetration."

For Three Hong Kong, the iPad Air is expected to "help draw more customers' interest to 4G". A spokesman said the iPad Air and the new iPad mini, which will be released by Apple next month, would be able to connect to Three Hong Kong's 4G networks on the 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz bands.

The iPad Air is lighter and thinner than its predecessors, weighing just 469 grams and measuring 7.5mm thick. Both the iPad Air and new iPad mini, which will feature Apple's high-definition "Retina" display, feature a desktop computing-class A7 chip and M7 motion processor, with a five-megapixel camera in the front and a high-resolution back camera.

Tim Bajarin, the president of independent consultancy Creative Strategies, said he expected the iPad Air would help Apple "grow the iPad business in the enterprise" given the new product's "faster speeds and overall upgraded performance".

In a blog post, Forrester Research vice-president Thomas Husson said Apple had tweaked its tablet portfolio, as it had done with the new iPhones, "to maintain premium positioning in an increasingly competitive tablet market".

Technology research firm IDC said the iPad remained the leading tablet sold in Hong Kong and on the mainland in the second quarter, despite stiff competition from various rival tablets that run Google's Android operating system.