New iPad 3 review
- Stunning screen
- Best app and AV stores
- Superb interface
- Not a huge leap from iPad 2
- Camera still awkward to use
Update: The iPad 3 and iPad 4 have now been replaced by the new, slimline iPad Air. Launched alongside the iPad Mini Retina, the new model is 20% thinner and sports Apple's new A7 processor. The 16GB iPad 2 will continue to be sold.
The new iPad 3 is not revolutionary, it’s evolutionary, and according to Apple it’s even “resolutionary”, whatever that means.
As with the Apple iPhone 4S bump, the hotly anticipated new iPad launch is largely about incremental, hardware upgrades; under-the-bonnet stuff that clearly annoys the hell out of everyone seeking a headline-grabbing design change.
New iPad 3: Build
Launched alongside the new Apple TV, the new iPad 3 looks much the same as the Apple iPad 2. The Home button remains, despite the big tease of the launch invite’s imagery, but where successive iThings of the past have been thinner, lighter and the proud owner of new monikers, Apple’s latest tablet is thicker (by 0.6mm), heavier (by 50g) and has no identifying numbers or letters to its name.
However, the third-generation iPad is also faster, more powerful, has by far the best screen ever seen on a tablet and will allow developers, including T3, to create apps of greater power than ever by exploiting all of the above. So, should you be shelling out for one?
New iPad / iPad 3 unboxing video: The coolest unboxing ever (review continues after the video)
New iPad 3: Screen
Android aficionados will find 2048x1536 reasons not to buy, but a bitch of a screen ain’t one. Some 3.1 million pixels at 264ppi are now crammed into the 9.7-inch display – the leading Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Transformer Prime, come in at 1280x800.
Put the new iPad 3 side by side with the iPad 2 and the improvement is, quite visibly, clear. On the older iPad, apps in folders are just blobs of pixelated colour; on the new one you can almost make out text.
The Apple Retina Display smooths out edges and renders text pin-sharp so ebooks, websites and documents are so much easier on the eye. There’s better contrast, greater definition with still and moving images, and better colour saturation – an improvement of 44 per cent over the iPad 2, Apple reckons.
New iPad / iPad 3 video: Ultimate Retina Display test (review continues after the video)
New iPad 3: 1080p HD
Another Retina reward can be seen with HD video now up to 1080p – yes, Apple is updating its iTunes movie catalogue to full HD – and stills up to 19 megapixels, though you’ll have to import the latter as the onboard camera only boasts five. Both look stunning in terms of reproduction clarity, mind.
Developers will also need to optimise their digital nuggets to take advantage of the display hike; until then, you may suffer some slight blur. Needless to say, we’re hard at work making T3: iPad Edition Retina-ready.
New iPad 3: Performance
To power this next-gen display the new iPad needs extra processing grunt, and it’s provided by an improved dualcore chip, the A5X, with a quadcore GPU. While HD video and menu swiping don’t appear any smoother than before – they were already plenty smooth – gaming, as you’d anticipate, really benefits.
Playing the upcoming Infinity Blade: Dungeons, the polygonal-pushing experience is exceptional, with quality not far off what we’ve seen so far on the Sony PS Vita. There are multiple layers, complex shading, frenetic action and minimal slow down.
Non-optimised games look pretty much identical to those on iPad 2, however. Will developers patch older games to bring them up to Retina standards? We’ll see…
Asus and Toshiba may be rubbing their hands in glee, with both having announced “proper” quadcore tabs in recent months. However, with the dedicated chip handling graphically intensive tasks, the dualcore A5X seems more than adequate, keeping the new iPad quick and slick, even when processing the likes of iPhoto and GarageBand.
Can the new iPad / iPad 3 take on the Amazon Kindle Fire? We put the two head-to-head (review continues after the video)
New iPad 3: Camera
A lesser upgrade is the rear-facing iSight cam. Its f/2.4 aperture optics are pinched from the iPhone 4S, but with a five-meg resolution rather than eight. Images are better than the iPad 2’s but tablet cams are still hardly the last word in convenience – one-handed tap-to-focus is mission impossible – and results remain a way off dedicated compacts, especially indoors or in overcast conditions.
New iPad / iPad 3 VS iPad 2 video: Should you upgrade? (review continues after the video)