Apple's iPad 3, Part 1: The Complete Retina Display And A5X Review

The New iPad: The Best-Looking, With Caveats

Without question, the iPad 3’s Retina display is impressive. Improvements made to its subpixel structure produce better display detail and higher color fidelity, resulting in the first consumer tablet display able to satisfy most demanding technologists. In fact, the iPad 3’s image quality is so much better that it usurps our previous favorite, the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Even if you just go by the numbers (our color gamut benchmarks), the iPad 3 is the winner.

Apple effectively doubled iPad 3's graphics horsepower, a move that was necessary in order to handle a higher native resolution. In our initial assessment, playing games like Infinity Blade, Real Racing HD, and RipTide feel roughly similar on the iPad 3 as they did on the iPad 2, though.

Our one complaint, right off the bat, is that iOS' Web browser, Safari, does not display high-resolution pictures in their native format. There appears to be no way to disable forced downsampling, and this will disappoint—nay, infuriate—many serious photographers and graphic artists when they discover the iPad 3’s awesome screen is not so awesome when it comes to viewing online HD content. Fortunately, it's possible to view pictures in their native resolution by saving from Safari to iPhoto. Hopefully, this situation improves with Apple's next iOS upgrade.

Infinity Blade on iPad 3Infinity Blade on iPad 3

As you might expect, playing games that were designed to run on an iPad 2 happens smoothly on an iPad 3. What you shouldn't expect, however, is that existing titles will hit you with significantly more fidelity, aside from the increased pixel density attributable to the display itself. We need titles with higher-quality textures and more optimizations for the iPad 3's upgraded graphics capability. It'll likely take developers some time to figure out how to best balance the more powerful hardware, higher resolution, and detail settings on games written for Apple's latest and greatest.

In the meantime, the iPad 3 is your best (and only) choice if you want a tablet with an awesome high-resolution display. Tests continue in our lab, and our next story will cover battery life, 4G LTE mobile broadband performance, and a more comprehensive analysis of the iPad 3's gaming experience.

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    Top Comments
  • acerace
    Quote:
    love apple ..................... crap android *** copy tabs and phones


    Fail troll.
    27
  • tomfreak
    the requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.
    23
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Tomfreakthe requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.


    My thoughts exactly. I don't care that it outputs 3x FPS over Transformer Prime; the latter can actually integrate into my devices' ecosystem and that's what matters. I'm not buying any tablet or phone without inbuilt memory card reader.
    22
  • Other Comments
  • Anonymous
    Would an alternate browser affect image display at all?
    14
  • tomfreak
    the requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.
    23
  • joytech22
    On the CPU and GPU performance page, there's a typo.

    When comparing the three iPads, the iPad 2 and iPad 3 are both said to be using PowerVR SGX545 GPUs (core-count is correct) while the table below it comparing SoCs the models are completely different and listed as SGX543.

    I smell something fishy, dinner must almost be ready! :D
    1
  • acerace
    Quote:
    love apple ..................... crap android *** copy tabs and phones


    Fail troll.
    27
  • Tc17
    I have a bridge to sell you if you believe this retina nonsense, on a tiny 10" screen.
    -9
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Tomfreakthe requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.


    My thoughts exactly. I don't care that it outputs 3x FPS over Transformer Prime; the latter can actually integrate into my devices' ecosystem and that's what matters. I'm not buying any tablet or phone without inbuilt memory card reader.
    22
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Though, of course, it's really sad that Apple is beating Asus on the graphics front. Really, really sad.
    7
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    tc17I have a bridge to sell you if you believe this retina nonsense, on a tiny 10" screen.


    After playing around with most hi-end Android devices AND iPhone 4S/iPad 2, I happen to believe this "nonsense". Everything looks so much more hi-res... but that's only Android's fault. When are they going to fix the menu animation lag and make everything more hi-res? ICS kind of did a good job on it, though, and now it actually looks NOTHING like iOS and is beautiful.

    Of course, the menu animation lag and low-res icons can't make me shift to Apple, especially now that I run ICS on my netbook (try that, Apple... oh wait, your toy MacOS IS already like a tablet OS, lol) - same way that MacOS's ability to take screenshots of a selected area of the screen can't make me shift from Windows/Ubuntu. It's just not nearly enough to compensate for the important features I'll lose. Sure enough, there're tons of people to whom all of them don't matter and they'll just go with the most hyped thing out there, but I prefer to know what I'm paying for. It's a habit that pays off on the long run.
    20
  • killerchickens
    I wish toms would stop using the bs retina display term considering the ipad 3's display isn't even close to the original standard.
    -2
  • bernardv
    2048x1536 on a 10" screen? This is a joke, 0 value to 99.9% of end users. A fanboy excuse for throwing money away.

    The author comments it is suitable for watching movies. Which movie is even available in such a resolution??? For watching movies in your lap on 10", 720p is more than enough.
    11
  • acku
    joytech22On the CPU and GPU performance page, there's a typo.When comparing the three iPads, the iPad 2 and iPad 3 are both said to be using PowerVR SGX545 GPUs (core-count is correct) while the table below it comparing SoCs the models are completely different and listed as SGX543.I smell something fishy, dinner must almost be ready!


    Typo, fixed.
    4
  • robot_army
    I was wondering what the resolution used by each of the units was on the graphics tests? does the benchmark use a set resolution for each test, or the native screen res? i guess looking at the 720P results offer a set resolution, but i was wondering if the ipad 3 was runing the graphics at the full resolution of the screen given the textures and games were disigned to run on a lower res screen??
    4
  • acku
    There's an astrick in that table indicating native resolution for the nonoffscreen tests.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    5
  • acku
    Tomfreakthe requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.

    This would rule out the galaxy tab 10.1, as it also uses adapters.
    6
  • robot_army
    Thanks, but the reason i ask is the new ipad has about 50-60% gain Vs the 2, but at native resolution has 4x the number of pixels to work on, yet still managed to hit its 60 FPS target, does that mean the ipad 2 wasn't being streched in its test? ie it was just rendering at 60FPS as that was the limit of the display?
    3
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    ackuThis would rule out the galaxy tab 10.1, as it also uses adapters.


    Agreed, I was NOT happy when I noticed that Samsung decided to follow that stupid trend.
    12
  • mrpijey
    I am more than happy to not have the ports on pad. I can do just fine with the built in memory, and I don't need USB or other connectivity. And if I so happen to need it once or twice a year an adapter works just fine. All these built in slots also makes the unit thicker, adding to the weight and reducing the space for more important stuff, such as battery etc.

    But all of us have different needs so I am not saying it's bad with memory slots and USB ports, but personally I can do just fine without them, so for me iPad "3" is a win-win. I skipped iPad 2 since I felt it wasn't a good enough upgrade from iPad 1 (don't need camera, and speed was decent enough). But with this excellent screen AND better performance (compared to iPad 1) and the reduced weight and thickness (again, compared to my iPad 1) I feel I get enough good new stuff to warrant the expense.

    And personally I don't like the current messy state of Android so iOS works just fine for me. Again, my personal opinion so you trolls and haters can go back under the rock where you came from.

    And I wrote this using my Galaxy Tab.
    -6
  • rex86
    So they beefed up the GPU, added more RAM, increased the pps almost twice from the previous version, and added 4G support. But they had to increase the battery capacity almost twice, which makes their product one big green FAIL.

    I recommend them spend their $100 bil. USD for example developing more power efficient and powerful technologies, because this is going nowhere. What's next? Battery the size of a truck?
    -3
  • how2harry
    I definitely see the appeal of a hi-res screen in a portable device and this feature alone I think will make this product a success and also seriously tempting to me.
    I had the idea of setting up a local DNS and web-server. With some simple HTML5 pages I could then serve all my media library to the device (HD videos, images, music etc). This would be one way round the ipad storage and connectivity limitations.
    (Not sure if Safari can go 'full screen' on the ipad that would help with this though?)
    I was shocked then to read "Safari, does not display high-resolution pictures in their native format."
    I wonder if then if this has been done intentionally to cripple media access to the device through the browser? I wonder if this applies to hd video too? If so I really hope that apple are not that anal and do make a fix for upcoming releases. Then I could have the best of both worlds:)
    4
  • ojas
    hey i just discovered a few days ago that PassMark Performance Test is available (free) for iOS and Android. See if you guys can run it and post the benchmark's results.

    Don't use the "scores" though, they're Apple biased. Tell us the actual numbers, they seemed to be fair.

    i had fun seeing my iPod's A4 doing 66 MFLOPS...and then thinking that my Core 2 Quad does 40 GFLOPS :D
    4