Do you Need a Cellular iPad for Foreflight?
12 January 2023 | Updated on September 22, 2023
Foreflight is generally considered the leading software for iPad flight planning and in-flight navigation. While it is available on many different devices, such as laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet, many pilots will tell you that the best way to go is an iPad.
When shopping for an Ipad to use with Foreflight, the question often arises: can I use Foreflight without cellular? The short answer is that you do not necessarily need to have a cellular iPad, Foreflight will work just fine on any recent iPad. However, only cellular iPads have a built-in GPS receiver, so if you have a WiFi-only model, you will need to get a separate GPS receiver.
Getting a cellular Ipad makes sense, as it provides more flexibility in terms of usage and allows you to take Foreflight with you on the go. Additionally, if you are using Foreflight frequently at unfamiliar airports and airspace, having an internet connection regardless of where you are is extremely convenient for checking NOTAMS and downloading airport charts.
Relying on just WiFi could leave you with outdated weather or NOTAM data or unavailable airport charts, which is certainly not ideal while flying.
Of course, a cellular iPad will only work with a sim card installed – we recommend getting a sim card with a basic data-only subscription (we don’t need to make calls or text with our iPad). You usually also won’t need 10GB of data each month, a few GB will be plenty for checking weather, reading NOTAMS, downloading airport charts or looking up other information. If you’re getting a prepaid sim card, make sure to check regularly how much data you have left, so you don’t run out at a critical moment.
So overall, if you are looking to get the most out of your Foreflight experience, then getting an iPad with a cellular connection is definitely the way to go. No, you don’t need a GPS-equipped iPad for Foreflight, but there are very few reasons why you shouldn’t. In many cases, the price difference is not that big – especially if you consider the price of an external GPS receiver – and the added convenience, safety, reliability, flexibility and piece-of-mind are well worth it.
After all – safety should always be your top priority!
If for some reason you do only have a WiFi-equipped iPad, there are a few options available when it comes to third-party GPS receivers.
The Garmin GLO is a popular Bluetooth GPS receiver that many Foreflight users use on iOS devices. It is reliable, sturdy and easy to use. Other options include the Bad Elf 2200 and Dual XGPS150 or XPS150, all in the price range of $120-$200.
Not entirely sure which iPad you should get for flying? Check out our detailed guide on the best iPad models, mounts, kneeboards and accessories for use in flight!