Apple quietly updated the iPad just six months after the third gen ‘New iPad’ was revealed. Officially calling the new tablet ‘iPad with Retina display,’ is it worth upgrading from the iPad 3? And is Apple’s iPad still the best big-screen tablet? Let’s take a closer look.
Apple iPad 4: Design and Screen
Aesthetically the iPad 4 is near-identical to the previous iPad, with a slim aluminium unibody measuring 9.4 mm deep and weighing 652g for the WiFi version and 10g more for the cellular version. Choose between black or white bezels, each with the central control button and edge-mounted volume and screen lock buttons. At the bottom you’ll find one of the most significant changes. Replacing the larger 30-pin connector, is Apple’s new Lightning connector, which is 80 per cent smaller and means the iPad will be compatible with future generations of Apple accessories.
The iPad 4 comes in a choice of three storage options – 16, 32 and 64GB, as with previous iterations there’s no removable memory, but you get 5GB free iCloud storage.
The highlight of the iPad is the 9.7-inch 2048×1536 LED-backlit Retina display, which is unchanged since the iPad 3rd generation and still one of the best on a tablet. Text is exceptionally sharp, whites are pure and off-angle viewing is fantastic.
Apple iPad 4: Connectivity
When it comes to connectivity, the iPad comes in two versions WiFi and WiFi + Cellular, but unlike the iPad 3, which was only compatible with 4G in the US, the new iPad willl work on 4G networks in the UK, providing access to superfast broadband. While it’s great news that the iPad 4 will finally be able to access ultra-fast download and upload speeds, it is only compatible with the 1800MHz frequency used by EE (and soon Three), not future 4G networks using the 800MHz and 2600MHz frequencies launching in 2013 – potentially run by Vodafone and O2, or the five other organisations bidding.
Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0 and N WiFi. The iPad 4 supports dual-band WiFi, which means if your WiFi router is dual band you can use the less-crowded 5GHz frequency, as well as the older 2.4GHz frequency, which is more reliable.
Apple iPad 4: Operating system and Performance
Launching with the latest version of Apple’s operating system iOS 6, the iPad 4’s user interface is virtually identical to the iPad 3. So you get Siri, enhanced Facebook integration, Facetime over 3G, Maps and of course iCloud for backing up and syncing content between Apple devices. There’s no Passbook.
We love the way iOS is so user-friendly, but it’s looking a little dated now next to Android 4.2 and we’d like to see resizable widgets, more features accesible via lock screen and enhanced notifications.
Apple has upgraded the processor since the third-generation iteration and it now has the more powerful dual-core A6X chip, with 1GB RAM. In day to day use it’s quick and doesn’t feel dramatically different to the iPad 3, but will be able to handle more intensive games and editing apps and more closely matches Android rivals.
Apple iPad 4: Camera
Apple has upgraded the front-facing camera or FaceTime HD Camera from 0.3-megapixels to 1.2-megapixel stills, which means it captures 720p HD video, so Facetime and Skype video calls are crisp and clear.
The primary backside illuminated 5-megapixel iSight camera is unchanged and as good as ever – photos exhibit plenty of detail, with good dynamic range, there’s no flash, so it’s best for shooting photos in good conditions. Apple’s on-board camera features are scant at best, but the iPad 4 offers even less than the iPhone, lacking Panorama and HDR.
Apple has introduced a Lightening to SD adaptor cable(£25), so photographers can import photos and videos for editing, email or simply showing off, without without having to use a computer
Apple iPad 4: Verdict
The fourth generation iPad feels more of a refinement. If you invested in the third-generation tablet don’t feel too hard done by. 4G is still at early adopter level in the UK and will be until there are more compatible phones and greater network choice. The processor boost will appeal to 3D gamers and although the iPad 4 is faster, in day to day use for email, apps and browsing, it’s not dramatically different and the new connector and front-facing camera boost aren’t gamechangers.
Overall we wish the UI was a little more flexible and the starting price of £399 seems expensive, but the iPad 4 is still one of the best tablets money can buy.
Check out the video below to find out more about the differences between the iPad 3 and iPad 4.