The new iPad has been officially unveiled and – surprisingly enough – it’s not called the iPad 3 or iPad HD. It provides plenty of benefits over the old iPad 2 model, though, including a better-than-1080p screen and a quad-core processor. If you thought Android tablets would claim victory in 2012, you’d better think twice.
iPad 2 – Aluminium and glass, 602g for Wi-Fi model
New iPad – Aluminium and glass 652g for Wi-Fi model
The overall look of the iPad has not changed. A bad thing? Not in our book. The iPad looks and feels great, and is fairly lightweight. It is a little bit heavier, thanks to the larger battery needed to power the higher-res screen and more powerful processor, but it is still one of the lightest and slimmest tablets around. The new iPad is also a little thicker than the previous model for the same reason – 9.4mm rather than 8.8mm
iPad 2 – 9.7in 1,024 x 768 pixel IPS screen
New iPad – 9.7in 2,048 x 1536 IPS screen
The biggest change in the new iPad generation is its screen. Although the same size, it now boasts much higher pixel density. The first iPad and IPad 2 used great-quality IPS displays, but their pixel density was not particularly high. Doubling the both horizontal and vertical resolution, the new iPad now has four times new number of pixels as the last version.
What will this actually mean in everyday use? Small text will appear much sharper and – once developers have gotten to grips with it – you can expect games with jaggy-free graphics and much more detail. Apple also claims that the new iPad offers 44 percent better colour saturation. Let’s hope it’s not oversaturated like some AMOLED displays.
iPad 2 – 1GHz dual-core A5 Apple processor
iPad HD – quad-core (GPU) A5x Apple processor, GHz TBC
The Pad 2 used a dual-core 1GHz processor with an Apple-designed A5 chip. The new iPad has a quad-core GPU A5x model. It’s a lot more power, but a significant chunk of this will go towards mitigating for the higher resolution screen. In games particularly, a higher resolution demands power power. Those pixels don’t render themselves, after all.
Apple claims that the chip is twice as powerful as the Tegra 3 chip being used in several quad-core Android tablets coming later in the year. As the previous Tegra 2 was famously not all that hot compared to some similarly-specced rivals, we imagine the A5x may well outpace it, but we’ll find out the full truth in our benchmarking tests.
iPad 2 – iOS 5.1
New iPad – iOS 5.1
We weren’t expecting huge software changes alongside the new iPad, but we were somewhat that there were very few updates to boast about. Perhaps the most important of them all is the new dictation function. A little microphone button sits within the standard virtual keyboard, letting you easily dictate notes using the inbuilt microphone. Handy – as long as it works. The iPad 2 will benefit from the new version of iOS, which is available now.
iPad 2 – 16/32/64GB
New iPad – 16/32/64GB
No news here. The storage options of the last iPad are the same with the new model. Some guessed that Apple might bump the ceiling to 128GB – which would have been neat but, most likely, horribly expensive – or introduce an 8GB model. Neither rumour came true. Internal memory is non-expandable, unless you buy the camera connection kit. This lets you plug a memory card into the tablet, although it’s not the neatest solution.
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iPad 2 – Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n and 3G HSPA
New iPad – Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n and 3G HSPA, 4G LTE
The big new addition of the iPad in connectivity terms is 4G LTE. However, this is not much use in the UK yet, as none of the big providers use this type of network yet. Within 12 months or so, they should start becoming fairly common, but we’re way behind the US in this tech respect. The HSPA 3G connectivity has improved, though, with “ordinary” HSPA capable of supplying 21Mbps instead of 7.2Mbps, as in the iPad 2. The new tablet still has the standard iPhone-style dock port, of course, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
iPad 2 – 0.7MP main camera, 0.3MP video chat, VGA video
New iPad – 5MP main camera, 0.3MP video chat, 1080p video
The new iPad camera is a massive upgrade, but largely because the previous-generation tab had a truly awful snapper. This new one has plenty of features, including face detection and autofocus, and should be able to produce shots on-par with an iPhone 4.
It uses an IR filter and stabilisation to provide you with better results. Other than 5-megapixel photos, the new iPad can capture 1080p video. Of course, there’s no simple video output socket, so you’ll need to invest in a video adapter accessory if you’re not going to pipe-out video wirelessly.
iPad 2 – 42.5 watt-hr battery, 10hrs use
New iPad – 42.5 watt-hr battery, 10hrs use
The new iPad features a slightly chunkier casing, and 50g of extra weight in order to house a larger battery. The trade-off is worth it, though, because battery life is as impressive as ever. Just like the iPad 2, the new iPad will last for a solid 10 hours of use as long as you’re not using 3G. Also like the iPad 2, you can’t remove the battery yourself without seriously risking injury and/or iPad death.
iPad 2 – £399 and up (at launch)
New iPad – £399 and up
Apple has maintained iPad pricing, which seems both sensible and impressive. The low-end model gets you 16GB of internal memory and basic Wi-Fi connectivity. Willing to splash a little more cash? The top-end model gets you 64GB and 3G connectivity. There are 4G models, but without a working LTE 4G network in the UK to rely on, having such advanced connectivity is a bit pointless.