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Monday, March 19, 2012

A Full Breakdown Of The Newly Introduced iPad

MakeUseOf Newsletter

In case you’ve been out of the country, living in a cave, or captured by a super villain with an underground lair and no TV for the past week, you may have heard there’s a new iPad about town. Here’s a full rundown of the new device that will hopefully answer any questions you have.

In short, it’s very much an iterative upgrade, with a better screen, faster Internet, better graphics chip, better camera. No Siri, no Haptic feedback, and nothing drastically altered. Read on if you want to know the specifics.

It’s Called The “iPad”

The naming of the iPad 3 vs iPad HD was a hot topic for a few weeks, but it turns out everyone was wrong. They’re just calling it the new iPad. A lot of tech commentators seem to find this confusing because they may be misinterpreted to mean the original iPad, but I suggest ignoring folks who worry about things like that. Expect other products to be named as such in future (i.e., the next iPhone will be iPhone. Not iPhone 5).

Retina Screen

Though not quite as high pixel density as the iPhone screens that began with the iPhone 4, the new iPad has a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536, resulting in a pixel density of exactly 264 pixels-per-inch (compared to 326 on the iPhone 4, and 132 on the original iPad). Basically, it’s double the resolution of previous generations, which means apps can be scaled easily without visual artefacts.

new apple ipad

Third party apps will need to be updated to take advantage of this for graphical elements, but as always, text in any app will be automatically rendered at the new resolution. This is certainly going to make the iPad a much more pleasurable eReader, especially for character-based languages such Chinese and Japanese. Colours are also more saturated.

new ipad


The front camera hasn’t been updated – it’s still a “FaceTime”, VGA resolution, expected to be used for video calling only.

The rear camera has been basically pulled over from the iPhone 4S, with all the fancy lenses and a backlighting element, at a resolution of 5-megapixels.

new ipad

Used as an HD 1080p video camera, it captures 30 frames per second and does video stabilisation automatically.

It’s a seriously high quality camera, especially when you combine it with the new iPhoto app that Bakari will be reviewing soon. This example photo was taken on the new iPad.

new ipad


LTE is included this time, only functional for US owners for now but we may get it here in the UK in 2013. The model with mobile data capabilities (referred to as 4G) also offers a fair number of other mobile access options as follows:

  • EV-DO = 3.1Mbit/s
  • HSPA 7.2 = 7.2Mbit/s
  • HSPA+ = 21Mbit/s
  • DC-HSDPA = 42Mbp/s
  • LTE 4G = 73Mbp/s

Note that US-residents considering LTE, you must choose your carrier beforehand as there are two different models for either Verizon or AT&T (though both models can be used internationally with a local SIM or roaming).

new ipad release

As before, a wifi-only model is available for $130 less than the 4G model.

Voice Dictation

It’s certainly a little disappointing not to see a full Siri implementation on the iPad when the hardware can clearly handle it, but for now Apple has given us voice dictation.

Pundits suggest this is either because Apple’s Siri servers aren’t quite ready to handle more Siri requests, or because Apple wishes to keep it as the iPhone 4S’s primary selling feature.


A new A5X chip powers the iPad – it’s quad core, and up to twice as fast as the A5. This is of course required to handle the 4 times more pixels in the screen, so expect actual performance to feel as fast as the iPad 2 (only, looking better).

new ipad release

Battery Life

This remains the same – 10 hours regular use, 9 hours on 4G.

Size and Weight

Oddly, the new iPad is a tiny bit thicker and a tiny bit heavier than the iPad 2 – 9.4mm compared to 8.8mm; and 652g vs 600g. You may notice the slight weight increase if you’re coming from an iPad 2. While most cases will fit, expect issues with any hard-shell types.


The existing established pricing structure remains, starting at $499 for the 16GB wifi-only model. The full pricing table is below:

new apple ipad

Pre-orders have already begun and will be shipping on 16th March, though by the time you read this, pre-order stocks may already have gone.

iPad 2 Stays On Sale

Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 at $100 cheaper than the new iPad, starting at $399. It’s still an amazing device, and this will help Apple to combat the spate of lower cost Android devices. Unless you’re set on getting the Retina screen and use the camera a lot, the iPad 2 might be more suitable.


There’s nothing particularly innovative or drastically different about the new iPad, if you consider the fact that the iPad has always been a fairly amazing device and the screen resolution upgrade was inevitable. However, this is the best iPad yet – a gorgeous screen, a fantastic camera, and certainly the most powerful processor in any tablet to date. It’s an iterative upgrade, and it keeps the iPad on top of the game as still the best tablet around, bar none.

Personally I would say it isn’t worth upgrading from an iPad 2 unless you really do a lot of reading on the device – and bear in mind your iPad 2 is still worth a lot in the second hand market to soften the financial blow of the upgrade. I have already pre-ordered mine though, to take the place of my beloved iPad original.

If you’ve yet to purchase an iPad and aren’t ethically against the entire Apple ethos in principle, then now is certainly the best time to buy. Let us know in the comments what you think of the new iPad and whether or not you’ll be ordering yours.

James Bruce

James is a keen grow-your-own gardener and records the Technophilia Podcast weekly with Dave and Justin.