Should I buy a new iPad 3? Dissecting the hype behind Apple’s latest tablet

Gerald Lynch Lifestyle & Gadgets, News Leave a Comment

Launching three new versions of their swanky iPad tablet in as many years, chances are you’re already pretty familiar with the Apple gadget that’s leading the charge for a whole new era of mobile computing. You may even have one already, swiping through your iPad to read this very post. How meta!

Today, Apple unleash a brand new version of the iPad, with queues wrapping around the block outside many an Apple retail store, and the entire online pre-order stock already snapped up until April.

So what’s so special about the new iPad 3? Is it worth your money if you haven’t already got a tablet, and is it a worthy upgrade if you’ve already got an original iPad or iPad 2? Scroll down for our gut reaction on the new generation device’s key improvements, and the areas we feel it’s still lacking in.

5 things that are great about the new iPad

    1. The Retina Display: Apple’s new iPad packs in brand new screen technology, similar to the super-high resolution display found in their iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S mobile phones. Still 9.7 inches in size, the Retina Display has a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution. That adds up to 3.1 million pixels, approximately 1 million more than you’d see on an average 1080p HD TV. In other words, high-res images look as close to printed pictures as they possibly can, text is more readable than ever, and individual pixels are practically indistinguishable.
    2. Faster A5X processor: Claiming to be 4x faster than their Nvidia rivals, the new chip inside the latest iPad should allow for superior performance across all apps, and allow for more graphically intense games to feature too. If developers get their act together, it shouldn’t be too big a gap between the quality of PS3, Xbox 360 and iPad games now.
    3. Better camera: After putting a dismal camera into the iPad 2, the new iPad finally has a decent imaging system. The “iSight” camera can take 5MP stills and capture 1080p video, which should lead to some very nice results when paired with the new iPhoto image editing app and the updated iMovie video editing app.
    4. 4G mobile connectivity: If you’re a reader in the US, the new iPad is now compatible with superfast LTE mobile broadband, which will make downloading larger apps or streaming video on the go a speedy joy.
    5. Price: Despite all the new features, the new iPad retains the same pricing structure as the last generation. So for just £399, you can walk away today with the basic 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad 3. If you’ve been saving up for an iPad 2, jumping straight up to the new iPad 3 won’t cost you any extra notes.

5 reasons not to care about the new iPad

  1. 4G doesn’t work yet in the UK: With Ofcom still divvying up the new 4G spectrum in the UK, it’s going to be likely more than a year (at the very earliest) before the 4G standard is widely available in the UK. The new iPad will still be faster over mobile internet than older generations thanks to an improved antenna system, but the incredible speeds that 4G allows for will be out of reach to those in Blighty.
  2. It’s thicker and heavier than last years model: It’s only a slight difference, near invisible to the naked eye, but the new iPad is bulkier than the iPad 2. Using the Wi-Fi models as an example, the iPad 2 is 8.8 mm thick and weighs 600 grammes. The new iPad Wi-Fi only by comparison measures 9.4 mm thick and weighs 650 grammes. It’s not a massive difference, but will be noticeable to those used to the svelte lines of the iPad 2.
  3. The iPad 2 is now way cheaper: While the new iPad is reasonably priced at £399, if you’re not fussed about the new features, the iPad 2 now sits attractively at £329 for the basic model, brand new. Second hand iPad 2’s will likely be drastically cheaper again than that price too.
  4. No Siri: With the iPhone 4S Apple introduced the voice controlled personal assistant feature Siri, which can help manage your calendar, find directions, take notes and search the apps and media stored on your device, as well as a ton of other cool features, just by speaking to it. The iPad 3 gets voice dictation. Seems a bit of a let down, and perhaps even a little cheap on Apple’s behalf if they’re withholding this for a future generation of the tablet. Which leads onto our next point…
  5. Apple almost certainly have something EVEN better lined up: Just prior to the iPad 3 launch, rumours were shooting around the web that Apple were going to be squeezing in new cutting-edge touchscreen technology into the new iPad. Apparently in talks with a company called Senseg who specialise in displays that react to touch differently depending on what’s displayed onscreen, it turned out not to make the cut for the final product. But knowing Apple, it’s likely that the Senseg technology, along with a host of other improvements, are being held back for future updates to their tablet, as they drip feed new features in with each successive update to the device, encouraging existing owners to splash more cash with an upgrade.

Should I buy a new iPad?

If you’ve been waiting to jump onto the tablet bandwagon, the new iPad is easily the most advanced offering out on the market, and, backed by the superb App Store and intuitive iOS user interface, it’s the slickest and easiest to use too. The screen looks great, it’s faster than its predecessor’s and it’s no more expensive than earlier versions.

If however you have an iPad 2, it’s a little more difficult to say. Without 4G connectivity in the UK, the new iPad isn’t quite as impressive as it could be, and unless you’re really into gaming or image/video editing, the new camera and screen upgrades wont mean that much to you. Also,  if you’ve never owned a tablet before, and are strapped for cash, the iPad 2 is now available from a number of retailers and second-hand stores for a really great price.

Overall though, we’d say grab the new iPad if you can afford to. The screen really is a revelation in our opinion, and you’ll be the envy of your mates with your shiny new tech toy.