The iPad 3 is not a revolutionary product rather it is an evolutionary product. In fact, according to Apple it is a “resolutionary” product; whatever that is supposed to mean. Much like the bump Apple had with the iPhone 4S, the much-anticipated launch of the new iPad is very much about upgrades to the hardware.
The new iPad 3 was launched along with the all-new Apple TV and the device looks almost exactly like the iPad 2. The home button is still on the device, in spite of the launch’s tease imagery. However, where Apple’s products in the past have been lighter and thinner, the new tablet is actually thicker by about 0.6 mm and heavier by almost 50g. The device also has no letters or numbers that identify it.
However, the latest generation iPad is more powerful and faster than previous ones. It also has the best screen a tablet has ever had and will allow developers to create apps that will use the power mentioned above. So, should you put out the money for one? Below you will find a comprehensive review that will give you an answer to that question.
Android enthusiasts will find 2048 x 1536 reasons why they don’t want to buy one, but the screen is not going to be one of the reasons. The 9.7-inch display of the iPad 3 contains nearly 3.1 million pixels at a 264ppi. In comparison, the best Android tablets (the Asus Transformer Prime and the Galaxy 10.1 Tab by Samsung) only have 1280 x 800 at best.
If you compare the iPad 2 and 3 next to each other, the improvement of the third generation is immediately clear. On older models of the iPad, the applications in the folders look like simple spots of pixilated color where you can nearly read the text on the new screen.
Apple’s Retina Display creates smooth edges and rendered text that is sharp as a pin to make documents, eBooks, and websites easier on your eyes. The device’s screen also has a greater definition and contrast for both moving and still images, in combination with improved color saturation that is actually a 44% increase over the iPad 2, according to Apple.
Another improvement is apparent with the HD video that is now at 1080p. Yes, that’s right – 1080p! The company is updating the iTunes catalogue of movies to full HD while stills will increase up to 19mp; although, you will have to import the latter because the onboard camera only features 5mp. Both are striking in terms of reproduction clarity.
Developers well need to optimize digital nuggets in order to take full advantage of the display increase; if you don’t do so you will see a slight blur. We don’t even need to say this, but T3 is hard at work to make their iPad edition Retina-ready.
The new iPad needed more power to back the increased display, so the device was presented with the A5X which is an improved dual-core chip with a GPU that is quad-core. You will notice that menu swiping and HD video features do not seem to run any smoother than before. However, they were already smooth enough, although as you’d guess, gaming was really benefited from this.
We played the upcoming game Infinity Blade: Dungeons and the gaming experience was outstanding. In fact, its quality was not too far off from what we saw with the Sony PS Vita. There is complex shading, multiple layers, minimum slow down, and hectic action.
On the other hand, games that are not optimized will look identical to those on the iPad 2. We will have to wait to see if developers will tweak older games to bring them to the new Retina standards.
Toshiba and Asus are probably clapping their hands with happiness with both companies announcing “proper” tabs that will have quad-core in the coming months. However, the A5X dual-core chip that is dedicated to handling tasks that are graphic intensive seems to be more than good enough while helping keep the iPad slick and quick; even when the system is processing files associated with GarageBand or iPhoto.
A smaller upgrade involves the rear-facing camera called iSight. The f/2.4 opening optics are taken from the iPhone 4S, but it only has a 5mp resolution not an 8mp. Although the images are better than those from the iPad 2, however the tablet cameras are still not that convenient. In other words, the one-handed tap that is supposed to focus is impossible to use. The camera is just not good for overcast conditions or indoors.
The 30fps video, 1080p, and photos are rather good. If you have a steady hand, stills will look good, even when being beamed through an Apple TV. Video stabilization works, but the automatic focus has a tendency to begin working at the wrong times. It has been said that the VGA camera that is front-facing for video chats are more useful, but could have benefited from a remix to its resolution.
The upgrade with this is not hardware, but it is the iPhoto app for the iOS. Apple did not only adapt the desktop version, they actually rebuilt it from scratch and took full advantage of the system’s multi-touch screen capabilities. Typically, Apple makes their interfaces simple yet powerful enough to make even the most basic content look ultra-professional. Here you can slide your finger to adjust white balance, skin tones, sky saturation, and more.
If you dig a little deeper into the program, you will find more powerful options. For example, using only two fingers will allow you to bring up a tool to check the focus. While viewing photos that were taken with high-quality cameras, the results are area really outstanding.
One of the best new features added to the iPad 3 is 4G. However, there the UK only has 3.5G, so there is technically no 4G in the UK. Or, at least it’s that way in parts of the United Kingdom.
One thing is known, in the third generation iPad’s current state, it will not work on the UK’s true 4G networks even when they arrive this year or next. They won’t work because of the mobile frequencies that the iPad supports and the spectrums going to be auctioned by the country are not compatible.
However, the newest iPad can use HSPA+ which is not 4G, but is has an ideal peak download speed of 21Mbps.
In review, we got up to about 4-6Mbps and around 1 to 2Mbps with uploads on the 3G network. Streaming, browsing, and downloading did seem faster than on the iPad 2. It is probable that we will see an increased speed hike when the dual-channel HSPA, 42Mbps (DC-HSPA) is released in the UK over the summer.
Another welcomed feature is the iPhone-type personal hotspot function, but his feature does have to be activated by your service provider. The device’s Bluetooth has been upgraded to a low power-consuming standard of 4.0 that is also used in the Nike FuelBand.
When connecting the device to other Bluetooth ready devices it is still hit or miss. It must be stated that the Wi-Fi is still N standard however it is only single-band.
With all the new muscle upgrades, you would expect a decreased battery life. However, Apple claims the same specs as the iPad 2 with a standard of 9 hours of talk time, 10 hours of Wi-Fi Internet surfing, and up to 10 hours of music or video streaming. The longevity does seem to be rather good given the boost to the resolution and power increase. We did notice major differences from the last iPad.
During our review, we did notice that the battery was drained quicker when browsing, creating, or viewing content in comparison to the second generation iPad. For instance, viewing an HD movie that was two-hours in length on both devices showed that the iPad 3 used up to 10% more battery life than the iPad 2 did. Much the same, overnight energy loss increased from 0 on an iPad 2 up to 6% on the iPad 3.
Furthermore, non-intensive common use reduced the battery life by an estimated 10% per hour which is bust on the company’s claimed drainage. Our biggest gripe is that still takes a long amount of time to reach the full charge.
The charging times approach nearly six hours on a traditional wall charger and double that using a USB and a computer. Yes, the batter will last a decent amount of time, but if you are used to your mobile devices juicing-up quick, this will aggravate you, because it sure did us.
One neat feature is that the voice dictation function is supported each time you see the virtual keyboard. You will simply tap the microphone button and say what you want. Then, tap it again and the device will jot down whatever you said. It is not Siri, so it will not respond to commands or answer questions about weather, but recognition is pretty accurate; although you will need to perform some manual editing chiefly with longer messages.
You will find that single sentences or short replies are usually free from errors. We didn’t have people of other dialects in our testing lab, but the device copied a certain someone’s lilting tones perfectly well.
The third generation iPad is most certainly an improved copy of the better tabs on the market which makes this our number 1 tablet choice by default. However, we will soon see more real quad-core tabs from the company’s rivals before the year 2013, and they just might feature some more striking features, but they will not have Apple’s App Store backing them.
In our opinion, this remains the biggest reason why iPad sales are so much higher than the competitors. The App Store is Apple’s golden ticket, or trump card if you will. Microsoft and Google both will have to up their App stores before attempting to compare to this tablet. All of your iPad 2 accessories will be compatible with your iPad 3 including the camera kits, Smart Covers, docks, and AV adaptors.
One ironic twist is that large amounts of content might be an issue here. You will have 1080p video, hi-resolution photos, and retina-optimized apps that will have very large file sizes. For example, the Winding Refn HD movie drive is larger than 3 Gb for instance.
So, if you are a power user, the 16GB version will be a no go for you (starting at £399). This means that Apple will more than likely sell more of the 64 GB model that has a starting price of £559.
Should you go ahead and upgrade from the iPad 2? Yes, but only if you want slightly faster Internet browsing and a clearer picture. Other than that, you should wait for the next generation which will hopefully be compatible with the UK’s 4G.
The iPad 3 went on sale via Apple retail stores and their Online stores Friday March 16th.
The prices are as follows:
16 GB w/ Wi-Fi – £399
32 GB w/ Wi-Fi – £559
16 GB w/ Wi-Fi + 4G – £499
32 GB w/ Wi-Fi + 4G – £579
64 GB w/ Wi-Fi + 4G – £659