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The iPad 3 delivers respectable battery life, given its high-res display and more potent internals. However, a new controversy surrounding Apple's latest tablet underscores the importance of identifying the environments where power consumption is highest. This issue was covered by our friends at Engadget, but the loudest complaints came from Consumer Reports, which claimed the iPad 3's chassis hit a very toasty 116 degrees during gaming sessions. The result was a new controversy to keep Apple in the news.
Having played the new Infinity Blade II and the recently-updated Real Racing 2 HD, there are counterpoints to the concerns about heat. First, the high temperatures occur during games. When you're surfing the Web or listening to music, the iPad 3 never reaches a point where it's uncomfortable on the lap. The average surface temperature varies, but it's close to 90-95o F.
Second, though the iPad 3 consumes more power, increased consumption is mostly attributable to the Retina display, and power consumption measurements certainly back this up. At any given brightness level, the iPad 3 consumes ~2x more power.
In comparison, the quad-core SGX543 GPU uses very a small amount of energy. While the iPad 3's Retina display consumes at most 8 W at maximum luminance, playing a game like Riptide only adds 2 or 3 more watts to the measurement. That's a huge difference.