iPad 3 Review

What We Think

The iPad is still its beautiful self, though with an added beautiful screen. The coming of the retina display is something of a watermark for the tablet world. However, it’s not all ups – most other changes are incremental and there’s no Siri, no quad core and no big surprise, which is always disappointing from an Apple release.


Whether you waited around the block from the Apple Store or still use a touch dial landline as your main means of communication with the outside world, the new iPad’s release won’t have escaped you. The third generation of the device that started the tablet love has arrived, so is the juice worth the squeeze, or is the iPad a disappointing update?

Of course, on paper the new retina display, improved camera and faster dual core processor, which is claimed to be quicker than the Tegra 3 equivalent in other tablets, all sounds glorious. Weight wise it is heavier than the previous machine by 51g and Apple detractors will be eager to point out the lack of Siri, Flash and a quad core. That mouthful said, it’s still the same great looking device, has had greater sales than any iPad previously and despite the rise in technology is the same price as the iPad 2 upon its release a year ago.


As we’ve established the new tablet is almost a dead-ringer for the second generation, comes in at 60g more and comes in the same choice of colours. Despite the rumours the home button is still there, and rightly so, it’s practically placed and a logical addition. What’s more astonishing is that there are only three more buttons on the whole device – a volume rocker and a power button – multitasking indeed.

There’s a lens on the back for the new 5mp camera, but still no flash and it all looks quite identical, aside from the fact it’s 0.81mm wider than the iPad2, though this is scarcely noticeable lest you really have an Apple fetish. Once again the speakers are okay, enough for a YouTube clip, but not awe inspiring and those who wish to watch video on the new, beautiful display, will find they require a pair of earphones for a great multimedia experience.


The new iPad’s 1536x2048p screen is seen as almost unanimously a revelation. Though, technically not a retina display, as it doesn’t have a pixel per inch ratio of north of the required 300PPI, like the iPhone 4 has. Apple has gotten around this, by calculating the retina screen, when held at 15 inches, not the regulatory 10inches of the 3.5inchdisplay of the iPhone 4.

This doesn’t matter significantly and the results are clear to see as the display behind the oleophobic glass is much improved. It mightn’t be as bright as an AMOLED display, but photos and text look absolutely astounding, somewhat akin to typography on a firefly. Zooming in shows its true prowess and really is a game changer for the iPad. Video looks great, and though not as inspiring as is imagined, it’s by far the best experience we’ve had on a tablet as of yet, though the real strength is in the text and photo areas.

Viewing perspectives are excellent and though it doesn’t have the darks of an AMOLED screen, it seems more natural and doesn’t have the intense colours that polarises opinion on Samsung’s displays.

The cameras on the device are better and research shows it’s the same component introduced in iPhone 4. Shutter speeds however are a lot more sluggish than the iPhone 4S and reminiscent of the iPhone 4 and the lack of a flash can be an irritation. All the same the anti-shake for video is good and those who expect the usual Apple oversight in the camera area will be satisfied. Facetime is perfectly acceptable, that’s if it’s your thing and you’ll have no problem shooting from the device, even if filming from tablets seems a little less functional than from smaller devices. All this considered, it’s a smooth, simple and impressive experience provided for by plenty of power and some great apps.


The performance of the device has improved and though Apple like to keep everything under wraps, we’ve seen a doubling of RAM to 1GB and the addition of quad core graphics on a A5 dual core chip. Apple have been more than eager to point out its Tegra 3 graphic beating ways. However, pushing 3.1mp pixels around a screen takes its toll on the iPad and means it’s essentially quite similar in pace to the previous generation of tablet.

All said and done it’s a very responsive – perhaps the smoothest tablet on the market, though probably no faster than the previous version – though the screen obviously looks a more dynamic.

Of course the addition of the new retina display really bumps up the impressiveness of IOS 5.1,  which you feel was waiting for this to come along. Add to this the amazing array of apps from productivity to gaming and you’ve a device that really puts the sword to the likes of the netbook, or handheld gaming machines like the PS Vita, which are limited in what they can do.

Apple’s added both LTE, which in the UK is known as 4G, though is currently of no use, as well as a faster 3G connection via 802.11n, which will please UK buyers. It means on some networks it’s possible to achieve speeds faster than many home broadband setups. Connectivity has also been improved further with Bluetooth 4.0, which is less of a battery drain than previous incarnations.

Consequently, power in the new iPad is almost the same as in the iPad 2, which is impressive considering the improvements in screen, processor and the LTE antenna, if you have the means. Expect between 9-10 hours of browsing, but do also anticipate longer charge times due to the larger battery pack.

Our Verdict

The iPad as taken most of the practical steps we’d have expected. From the addition of a retina display to potential 4G, alongside with modest, incremental improvements in the camera area, graphical performance.

It disappoints a little too, the lack of Siri would imply one of two things, it was a marketing ploy on the 4S, or is a unwelcome oversight as voice dictation just doesn’t seem as impressive. It’s no faster than the original, though there is now a £100 gap between both generations.

Essentially, the question is do you want to pay the difference for a retina display? Anyone who has seen the two side-by-side will say ‘yes’ wholeheartedly, we imagine.

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