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The Complete iPad 3 Review: Retina Display, A5X, 4G LTE, And Camera

The Complete iPad 3 Review: Retina Display, A5X, 4G LTE, And Camera
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We're back with a more comprehensive review of Apple's new iPad 3, including new gamut benchmarks pitting the iPad 3 against an array of recent Android-based tablets. Is Apple's latest offering a disappointment to those expecting more—or a game-changer?

Every new product launch from Apple is enveloped in hype and hoopla. Some folks look for reasons to love the new hardware, while others spend hours looking for that one flaw that'll get everyone's attention. Not surprisingly, the iPad 3 launched to a full media circus.

But not everyone's expectations were satisfied by Apple’s third-generation tablet. Looking back at how this product family has evolved, the iPad 2 advanced in a pretty clear way. It was smaller, thinner, lighter, and delivered better performance. The iPad 2 was expensive, yes. However, its improvements over the company's first-generation effort made the price tag worthwhile for a great many.

The third-generation iPad is a different beast. Rather than tackle "smaller, thinner, lighter, and faster" again, Apple bolsters this device's image quality with a significantly higher-resolution display. The HD resolution is accompanied by a more powerful graphics processor able to maintain performance, even under the load of greater pixel density.

Our LCD benchmarks allow us to accurately quantify the image quality improvements, which you may have already seen in our first look at the iPad 3. To briefly recap, we found substantially better color performance and saturation. 

To focus exclusively on the iPad's new screen is to overlook a multitude of other small changes that Apple made, though. Today, we're going back to explore all of that in a more comprehensive review of Apple's newest tablet.

ButtonsButtonsSIM Holder, Same SizeSIM Holder, Same SizeSIM CardsSIM Cards

Compared to the iPad 2, The New iPad, as Apple calls it, feels very familiar. It's virtually the same size as its predecessor, and there are almost no changes to where notable components appear. The camera, microSIM card (4G model), speakers, buttons, and docking connector are all right where someone with an iPad 2 would expect to find them.

Last year, we noted that the iPad 2's docking connector was a bit of a bother, and even this point carries over. The curved casing makes it difficult to easily dock, often resulting in the connector scratching the tablet's chassis near the port. From a usability standpoint, the curved design also makes it harder to get tactile feedback from the power, volume, and mute buttons.

BackBackThicknessThickness

Although the design isn't any different, some folks can easily distinguish between the iPad 2 and 3. If you set one down next to the other, you'll notice that The New iPad is slightly thicker (though not by much; it's just a .03-inch difference).

More notable is that the newest iPad is about 10% heavier. Even that's pretty minor, though. About 18 g separates the third-gen 4G model and the first-gen Wi-Fi model.

Specifications
iPad
iPad 3G
iPad 2
iPad 2 3G
iPad 3
iPad 3 4G LTE
Length
9.56"
9.50"
Height
7.47"
7.31"
Width
.5"
0.34"
0.37"
Weight
1.5 lb (680 g)
1.6 lb (730 g)
1.33 lb (601 g)
GSM: 1.35 lb (613 g)
CDMA: 1.34 lb (607 g)
1.44 lb (652 g)
1.46 lb (662 g)
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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    aicom , April 16, 2012 6:46 AM
    Tomfreaklol FAIL hard when I see keyboard are displayed on TV as well despite being docked and to make thigns worst one still need to carry the adapter around to plug HDMI......

    +1 to the keyboard thing. But remember that most tablets (all?) don't have full size HDMI so you probably need a dongle 99% of the time anyway.
  • 11 Hide
    alchemy69 , April 16, 2012 11:05 AM
    "Typically, you're looking at a tablet from less than a foot away"

    Really?
  • 11 Hide
    confish21 , April 16, 2012 5:46 AM
    its cool if I lick my finger for page turning right?
Other Comments
  • -6 Hide
    tomfreak , April 16, 2012 5:24 AM
    lol FAIL hard when I see keyboard are displayed on TV as well despite being docked and to make thigns worst one still need to carry the adapter around to plug HDMI......
  • 4 Hide
    confish21 , April 16, 2012 5:38 AM
    Really a solid tablet. Just wish the adapter and outrageous bills could disappear... Great Review!

    100 degrees is damn hot but I think the results are justified.
  • 11 Hide
    confish21 , April 16, 2012 5:46 AM
    its cool if I lick my finger for page turning right?
  • 6 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , April 16, 2012 6:08 AM
    I'm waiting for an x86- Windows 8 tablet.
  • 13 Hide
    aicom , April 16, 2012 6:46 AM
    Tomfreaklol FAIL hard when I see keyboard are displayed on TV as well despite being docked and to make thigns worst one still need to carry the adapter around to plug HDMI......

    +1 to the keyboard thing. But remember that most tablets (all?) don't have full size HDMI so you probably need a dongle 99% of the time anyway.
  • 2 Hide
    tomfreak , April 16, 2012 7:13 AM
    HDMI port is not very thick, I still wonder whats keeping them from putting in on tablet.
  • -1 Hide
    Maziar , April 16, 2012 8:20 AM
    Great article! very detailed.
  • 1 Hide
    aicom , April 16, 2012 8:25 AM
    TomfreakHDMI port is not very thick, I still wonder whats keeping them from putting in on tablet.

    The port isn't all that's needed. There's also a bit of hardware around it for the socket that makes it a tad thicker and a stretch to fit in the chasis of tablets.
  • 11 Hide
    alchemy69 , April 16, 2012 11:05 AM
    "Typically, you're looking at a tablet from less than a foot away"

    Really?
  • 2 Hide
    tomfreak , April 16, 2012 11:37 AM
    aicomThe port isn't all that's needed. There's also a bit of hardware around it for the socket that makes it a tad thicker and a stretch to fit in the chasis of tablets.
    looks like we gonna wait wide adoption for mini display port for TV then.
  • 3 Hide
    bustapr , April 16, 2012 11:45 AM
    more than 5hrs to charge. thats not to my liking. the transformer prime was the only battery life vs charge time tablet I saw.
  • 1 Hide
    Augray37 , April 16, 2012 1:05 PM
    The display is 9.7", not 10.1".
  • 3 Hide
    cknobman , April 16, 2012 1:17 PM
    Alchemy69"Typically, you're looking at a tablet from less than a foot away"Really?


    Yeah I thought that comment was bunk too. Typically I use my tablet 1-2 feet away as less that 1 foot away would have the thing shoved up in my face too much and not give me any arm reach to operate the device properly.

    As for the display in the iPad3 I went to the apple store and looked at it side by side with the iPad2. The colors look great but the super high pixel density was not as big of a difference as these reviews made it out to be.

    The biggest things I noticed when comparing iPad2 and 3 side by side was the increased thickness and weight. Those 2 factors were enough for me to want to choose the iPad2, especially if I could get it a little cheaper than the iPad 3.
  • 1 Hide
    mcd023 , April 16, 2012 2:01 PM
    I am curious, was it just a reduction in pixel size that made the higher gamut? that doesn't really make sense to me. Does anyone have more info?
  • -3 Hide
    nycnut , April 16, 2012 2:10 PM
    The data plan graphic is WRONG! Verizon offers 2GB vs ATTs 3GB for the same $30. Check your facts...
  • 1 Hide
    hoofhearted , April 16, 2012 2:53 PM
    I am not a fanboy of either camp. I have a tf prime and just got the ipad 3. I just wish apple would put a friggin sd slot. Watching my dvd collection while at the gym on the eliptical machine is a must and I am not fond of jumping though hoops to swap content in and out.

    I also am curious about who will get the gaming win (more depends on where the devs go):
    android tegra3, ipad3, vita, 3ds, or maybe microsoft will pull a rabbit out of their hat with win8.

  • -5 Hide
    badtaylorx , April 16, 2012 3:00 PM
    damn....i dont come here for apple news.....
  • 0 Hide
    jamesjones_det , April 16, 2012 3:15 PM
    I'm not supporting and/or dissing the iPad or Tom's hardware but technically there is a "wireless" option with AirPlay and an Apple TV or Mac.

    I'm just saying if we are supposed to be a technology site we should be sure the facts are correct.
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , April 16, 2012 3:52 PM
    give me a 16:9 or 16:10 tablet capable running an independant 1080 or 1200 capable external display with a native miniHDMI connector for easy setup for presentations and video watching (does not need 3D support on external display). I also want removable storage for SD cards as an option, and a USB port or 2 if it is not too much to ask so I can hook up my video camera, or keyboard, or credit card swiper without dealing with a dock. Lastly, I want a minimum 128GB of internal storage on it for $300-400. I will take a slower processor, or lowered graphics for the sake of a minimum 128GB of storage. Lastly, I want full MS office to run on it, none of this web-based office365 junk, especially if I am going to be out and about and not wanting to waste my 4G plan just to run office.

    If I am going to pay $830 for a limited use tablet with 64GB storage and 4G, then I think I would rather spend that money on a notebook or ultrabook. I can still get a touch screen, I still get good graphics, I get a real keyboard/mouse, can still get a 4G option, and I get real x86 programs, removable storage, better connectivity options (USB3, thunderbolt), and (most importantly) real storage space.

    Also, I would prefer win8 over iOS, but iOS is not a deal breaker if they would come out with something that would fit my use.
  • 3 Hide
    acku , April 16, 2012 4:46 PM
    nycnutThe data plan graphic is WRONG! Verizon offers 2GB vs ATTs 3GB for the same $30. Check your facts...

    My fault. Corrected.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
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