Apple has unveiled the iPad 3, its latest tablet. Tim Cook and Phil Schiller announced the device on-stage during a press conference in San Francisco.
The third-generation tablet adds a variety of new features to the iPad roster – near the top of the list is a higher-resolution screen. Taking its cues from the iPhone 4, the iPad 3 has a “Retina Display” style screen, with a 2,048 x 1536 pixel resolution. That’s more than three million pixels on-screen in total, and 264dpi pixel density – not quite matching the iPhone 4S’s 326dpi, but superb for a tablet. The iPad 2’s pixel density is a mere 131dpi. Apple also claims that image quality has been improved in other aspects too, with 44 percent better colour saturation. It’s the same size as the iPad 2’s – 9.7in.
Another big upgrade is the Apple A5x processor. This is a quad-core chip (GPU is quad-core) that Apple claims is twice as fast as the Tegra 3 CPU heading to many quad-core Android tablets this year – we’ll wait until we get the chance to benchmark before sealing the case, of course.
Up from the dismal cameras of the iPad 2, the iPad 3 features a 5-megapixel back sensor using similar technology to the iPhone 4S – albeit at lower resolution. It offers autofocus and face detection, and uses a 5-element lens and an IR filter. It’s also capable of capturing 1080p video as well as stills, with image stabilisation to boot.
US versions of the iPad offer 4G LTE connectivity, but as none of the big networks offer 4G in the UK yet, it’s a bit useless for us UK folk. One day, perhaps. The 3G edition does boast improved HSPA connectivity, with 21Mbps HSPA and 42Mbps DC-HSDPA. There will still be Wi-Fi only editions, if you want to save a little cash.
Apple says that the iPad 3 battery will match its predecessor, with 10 hours of normal use in spite of the much higher-res display and quad-core processor.
The lowest-end model has 16GB of internal storage and, like the iPad 2, 32GB and 64GB flavours will also be available. The range starts at $499 for the Wi-Fi only model, topping out at $829 for the 64GB 4G edition. This is the same price as current iPad 2 models, so you can expect a £399 iPad 3 16GB in the UK. There are no 128GB options.
Pre-orders start today, and the iPad 3 will be available from 16 March in the UK and US, as well as some other key markets. Although not a ground-shakingly innovative product, it seems a thoroughly worthwhile upgrade.