Another year, another iPad.

Last year, we somewhat berated Apple for their lack of... creativity in the second-generation iPad. (We also complained about the resolution of the screen.) Arguably this year there's even less ingenuity involved in the construction of the third-generation model. Of course, there's one thing that stands out, and you probably already know what that is, because Apple are - after all - marketing geniuses. 

So, let your uh... retinas get an eyeful, after the break. 

By now, you've all doubtless seen pictures of the new iPad. It looks much like the (mostly) outgoing model, with a few subtle differences. First, it's a tad heavier. We notice the difference here, but we're extremely nerdy. The iPad 3 weighs in at a slightly portly 1.44lbs, up from 1.33lbs in the 2011 model. This is unfortunate; a portable Apple device gained weight? Say it isn't so!

Second, it's a wee-bit thicker. 0.37 inches vs 0.34 inches on the iPad 2. We have to be honest, - we didn't really notice (though we are still extremely nerdy). You may find some of your iPad 2 cases don't fit quite as well as they should, but we had no trouble with several of ours lying around the office, including our favorite Yoobao Executive Leather Case.

So, what should you expect with the iPad 3? 

The New Kid:

As the iPad 2 before it, the new iPad is a very sleek device. Aluminum back, glass front. Nothing really new here. It's still the minimalist, industrial-looking device it has been since its inception. As we mentioned, it's a tad thicker and (slightly more than a tad) heavier, but nothing untoward. The extra weight comes from the iPad 3's significantly larger battery, a 42.5 watt-hour lithium polymer beast. If you're not sure what that means, we'll put it into perspective: The iPad 2 has only a 25 watt-hour battery, so the 2012 model's cell is 70% larger!

Battery life hasn't increased, though. If anything, it's decreased (though only very slightly). Why? Well, because of that new display type! Apple has somehow managed to fit 2048x1536 pixels into a 9.7" display. 2048x1536! You know how many pixels total that is? We'll tell you: A Lot. But with many pixels comes great responsibility, or at least a battery hit. To illuminate that many pixels is much more difficult than it was with the iPad 2, hence the increase in battery size. Still, expect around 9-10 hours with moderate use. 

But let's get back to that screen. Boy is it gorgeous. Text is beautifully sharp, and photos are wonderfully vibrant. It is, after all, a Retina Display. 

BigHugeNerd Tip: Don't go around asking the guys in the electronics department if the new laptop you're lusting after has a Retina Display. It's pure marketing. All it means, according to Apple, is that at normal viewing distance you can't distinguish the individual pixels that make up the display. This means text is nice and curvy, with none of that stair-stepping effect on characters you would experience on iPad 1 and 2. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S also have Retina Displays.

So, the screen. It's gorgeous. You knew this already, but we needed to reiterate. And if you're the type to read Kindle books on your iPad, the Kindle app has been updated to support the new iPad, and it's quite fabulous. 


The front-facing camera is still the pretty grainy, low resolution camera from the iPad 2, but since you'll likely only use it for FaceTime video calling with other people, that's mostly fine. It definitely suffices. Thankfully the rear camera has seen an upgrade. The previous iPad's rear camera was a horrible, low resolution, grainy, smeary mess of a camera. The iPad 3 actually inherits the camera from the iPhone 4 (not the 4S). This means a decent 5 megapixel camera. No flash here, but it really does take some pretty good photos. It's not as good as the 4S's 8 megapixel shooter, but it's in a different world by comparison to last generation's iPad optics. In addition, that rear camera will shoot full HD 1080p video, which looks pretty darn good! Thank you, Apple.

PS It's about time.

Operating System:

This is the same iOS you know and (hopefully) love. Do not go into the new iPad expecting anything radically different. No wait, scrap that. Do not go into the new iPad expecting pretty much anything different. There are no notable changes from the iPad 2's iOS 5.1, which is to be expected. There's not much else to be said about this, sadly.


So, because the new iPad has that spangly Retina Display, something had to change on the inside. Powering the iPad and the display is the A5X processor. This combines the exact same dual-core A5 processor from the iPad 2 with an all-new quad-core graphics processing unit (GPU). This GPU really has its work cut out for it what with all those pixels to throw around. What this means is that you won't notice any difference in speed from the iPad 2 to the iPad 3. The processor is the same, and the increase in GPU performance is simply not noticeable because it has to process 4x the resolution of the iPad 2!. That's not to say the iPad 3 is slow. It's not. You're just not going to notice anything different from iPad 2, except, of course, that everything is much prettier due to the higher resolution. And that's a big exception! It just looks so pretty...

Thankfully, Apple has seen fit to include a full 1GB RAM inside the iPad 3. This means you can have more applications open simultaneously. More importantly, though, you can keep more tabs open in the Safari web browser. Previously, with iPad 1 (256MB RAM) and to a lesser degree iPad 2 (512MB RAM),  you would open a few tabs in Safari, browse around etc. Then you'd go back to one of the tabs you hadn't viewed in a while and it would have to reload the whole page. Gah! Thankfully we're not encountering this issue with iPad 3 due to the increase in RAM. Yay! In fact, we managed a nice session of Infinity Blade 2 (optimized for the increase in iPad resolution!) and went back into Safari and found our tabs were still open, and not flushed due to any RAM deficiency. Great! 

Other Things to Note:

Sadly, the same sub-par speaker from iPad 2 still exists on the new iPad. The first-generation model still has the best sound output, for some reason. The 2nd and 3rd generation iPads need a new speaker location! Audio is reasonably loud, but it's ported to the rear, which means watching movies on YouTube or streaming Netflix results in... distant audio, leaving us feeling strangely separated from the sound. We found if we cupped a hand around the back of the iPad and used that hand as a funnel of sorts toward us, it made a huge difference to the quality of audio. Hopefully next time we'll see some stereo speakers on the front on either side of the glass. The Blackberry Playbook is a great example of speakers done right. Come on, Apple!

4G LTE is included on the... 4G LTE model, and if you really need that feature, it's well worth it. Exceptional speeds in the USA on both Verizon and AT&T means you might be disappointed when you go home to your WiFi connection. And no, we're not kidding. Just be careful not to burn through that data plan too quickly!

Bluetooth 4.0 is also here, as it is on the iPhone 4S. This, in theory, means lower power Bluetooth headsets/keyboard etc, but that remains to be seen. Hopefully manufacturers get on board soon so it no longer... remains to be seen!


It's hard to hate on the iPad 3. While it once again shows a general lack of creativity on Apple's part, it's hard to argue with the greatness that is the Retina Display. Clever marketing aside, 2048x1536 resolution is just stupendous to behold on such a small device. The screen really is the defining part of any tablet, and with this high-resolution panel, Apple eclipses all other tablets. For now, at least. Will some competitor please release something to force Apple to step up its game? Please?

Should you upgrade from an iPad 2? Quite simply, if you love high-resolution text and photos, yes. If you're happy with your iPad 2, just make sure never to use an iPad 3. You'll find it terribly hard to go back. We know we couldn't.

We award the iPad a very solid four nerds! Well done that iPad!
7/24/2013 04:57:18 pm

I think there will be hardly one who wouldn’t wish if he had one after seeing this post! I am highly impressed with ipad mini and all the features are truly awesome! I think only cost is not affordable for me!

9/25/2013 12:28:52 am

The front-facing camera is still the pretty grainy, low resolution camera from the iPad 2, but since you'll likely only use it for FaceTime video calling with other people, that's mostly fine. It definitely suffices.

7/8/2014 06:18:33 pm

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

1/6/2015 01:26:10 pm

Available with great features like a 9.7 inch Retina display and different storage options, iPad Air 2 is one of the most popular gadgets in the country so far.

7/27/2015 11:38:14 pm

I believe there will be barely one who wouldn’t desire if he had one after considering this position! I am extremely frightened with iPod mini and all the skin are truly overwhelming! I think only price is not reasonably price for me!

12/25/2015 08:37:23 pm

I had brought this i-pad, it is really use friendly to use this i-pad.

10/18/2016 02:17:26 am

The display still looks great at all angles, with plenty of contrast, great color reproduction and all the IPS goodness you've come to expect.


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