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 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.

  • Would an alternate browser affect image display at all?
  • tomfreak
    the requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.
  • 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
  • acerace
    love apple ..................... crap android *** copy tabs and phones

    Fail troll.
  • Tc17
    I have a bridge to sell you if you believe this retina nonsense, on a tiny 10" screen.
  • 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.
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Though, of course, it's really sad that Apple is beating Asus on the graphics front. Really, really sad.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.