Apple iPad 3

The Good
  • Stunning Retina display
  • Superb interface
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No quad-core processor
  • Apart from display, no massive changes from iPad 2
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★★

The new iPad 3 is an improved version of the iPad 2 – the best tablet on the market, which makes the new iPad our top tablet by default.

R7,899.00
Buy Now

iPad 3 [Review]

The release of the iPad 2 firmly established Apple’s iPad as the benchmark in the tablet industry. The release of the iPad 3 – officially simple called the new iPad – was marked by high expectations and hopes of quad-core processor or displays with haptic feedback.

Let’s have a look at what was actually shipped.

Design

Compared to some of the super-thin Android releases – like the Transformer Prime – we found the iPad 3 to feel somewhat “chunky” upon first picking it up. We checked the specs and confirmed this wasn’t just our imagination – the iPad 3 put on some weight and now comes in at 1.44 pounds and total thickness of .37 inches. Whilst the impact of the additional weight is somewhat minor, it does make holding the new iPad for longer period of time more strenuous than the Transformer Prime or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. for example.

Apart from the weight issue, the iPad 3 is very much like the iPad we have come to know and love. In true Apple fashion, immaculate attention to detail and superior build quality put the new iPad amongst the top designed tablets available. Since this is an Apple product, there are no additional ports along the outer ridges of the tablet and the surfaces are smooth and the edges fit comfortably into the palm of your hand.

Features

The key new features that the iPad 3 offers compared to its predecessor are a hugely improved display (more on that later), a better camera, 4G LTE connectivity and bumped-up specs.

Whilst the camera on the Apple iPad 2 was certainly not its strongest point, the iPad 3 upgrades the stock standard 0.7 megapixel camera to a 5 megapixel camera featuring a 5-element lens and other improvements. However, upon testing the iPad 3’s camera in a variety of light situations we found that whilst it handles pics in bright light adequate, image quality rapidly declines the moment you take pictures in anything apart from broad daylight.

On the topic of cameras, it might be worth mentioning that the only the rear-facing camera has been upgraded. Much like most competitor tablets, the forward facing camera will not deliver amazing results without lots of ambient light to work with.

Whilst the new 4G LTE connectivity allows for superfast broadband connectivity of up to 100Mbps, it is unfortunately of no use in South Africa as local telecom providers do not yet offer 4G connectivity and deadlines of when – or if – this will become available are uncertain. The iPad 3 will still work in South Africa – however it will do so at 3G speeds until LTE is launched.

The battery for the iPad 3 had to be increased substantially in order to feed the new Retina display and its massively improved screen resolution. However, even after a day’s use we found that the battery still had enough juice to play a movie or two. One downside of the larger battery is increased charging time – it took almost 6 hours to charge the iPad 3 from empty to 100%.

Hardware

Only some of the hardware has been changed. The new iPad is still running a dual-core A5 at 1 GHz, but the graphics have been upgraded to the “quad-core” PowerVR SFX 543MP4, which is essentially a doubling of the iPad 2’s PowerVR SFX 543MP2. RAM has increased to 1GB, a necessary upgrade that Apple doesn’t speak of in press releases.

Software

Whilst we don’t want to go into detail here regarding the benefits of iOS compare to Android, it is important that you understand the primary differences and what you’re buying into. Most notably, iOS offers more selection and higher quality apps at the expense of customizability and portability between systems and non-Apple devices.

Whilst the iPad 3 comes with a lot of software pre-installed, we found it to mostly cover tasks that are easily found on all competing Android tablets, such as a calendar, contacts, a YouTube app, a maps app, etc.

Surprisingly, we couldn’t find Siri anywhere on the new iPad. Apparently the way people interact with tablets makes the personal assistant that debuted with the iPhone 4s obsolete. Maybe they have a point, but it wouldn’t have hurt however to let users chose for themselves.

Display

The new “Retina” display is the feature of the iPad 3, so it’s worth to have an in-depth look at how this compares to the display on the iPad 2.

The new display is a somewhat unusual 2048×1536 resolution but packs four times the pixels of the iPad 2. On the downside, we found that the larger display almost uses twice as much power as the previous model, resulting in less battery life.

Whilst doubling the pixel density sounds amazing on paper, our initial response was somewhat disappointing. Since the new Retina display is the feature of the iPad 3, it had better be good! But when we put the new iPad 3 side by side with the iPad 2, the improvement was quite amazing! The older iPad made apps in folders look like just blobs of pixelated colour; on the new one you can almost make out text.

The Retina Display smoothes out edges and renders text pin-sharp so eBooks, websites and documents are much easier on the eye. There’s better contrast, greater definition with still and moving images, and deeper, richer colour saturation.

Conclusion

The new iPad 3 is an improved version of the iPad 2 – the best tablet on the market, which makes the new iPad our top tablet by default. But does it offer enough to warrant an upgrade?

With the upgraded 4G LTE connectivity being a mute point in South Africa, the decision will primarily boil down to how much you value screen resolution and graphics capabilities. The new Retina display is without doubt the most advanced display available on any iPad or on any other tablet for that matter. But in order to achieve this, Apple had to make the iPad 3 slightly heavier and thicker with a larger battery to ensure that overall battery life remains the same at a solid 10 hours of usage.

The iPad 2 still remains an excellent tablet even after the release of the new iPad. If you’re an iPad 2 owner, we suggest you wait for the iPad 4 (which hopefully will see a quad-core upgrade). As a new buyer, the choice is up to you – both iPads are excellent devices and will remain at the head of the competition for a while. The iPad 2 is thinner, lighter and cheaper, whilst the new iPad has an industry changing Retina display, faster graphics and a slightly thicker build.

The Good
  • Stunning Retina display
  • Superb interface
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No quad-core processor
  • Apart from display, no massive changes from iPad 2
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★★

The new iPad 3 is an improved version of the iPad 2 – the best tablet on the market, which makes the new iPad our top tablet by default.

R7,899.00
Buy Now