Review Index:

The New iPad (2012) Review: Pixel Power

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple
Tagged: tablet, ipad 3, ios, apple

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

Editor's note: You will find us calling this unit the "iPad 3" even though Apple doesn't really call it that. The confusion involved in calling it "the new iPad" over and over would just get slightly tedious.  Enjoy the review!!

View Full Size

Apple’s iPad has been a roaring success. More than a few people had doubts that tablets could find a market, but the sneers shot in its direction at the launch of the original are now only memories. iPad has become a household name.

But it’s not easy being popular. Everyone is watching your next move. The iPhone 4S is a perfect example. Though it improved on the iPhone 4 it was still considered by some to be a disappointment. The bar had been set too high. 

That’s certainly a possibility with the iPad 3. Rumor-mongering went out of control prior to the release. Many were expecting a quad-core processor, while others suggested that the display would offer haptic feedback. Let’s have a look at what was actually shipped.

View Full Size

Only some of the hardware has been changed. The new iPad is still running a dual-core A5 at 1 GHz, but the graphics have been upgraded to the “quad-core” PowerVR SFX 543MP4, which is essentially a doubling of the iPad 2’s PowerVR SFX 543MP2. RAM has increased to 1GB, a necessary upgrade that Apple doesn’t speak of in press releases.

Continue reading our review of the new iPad (2012)!!

The display is the big news, of course. Its somewhat unusual 2048x1536 resolution packs four times the pixels of the iPad 2. Yet the larger display requires nearly twice as much battery to power it, resulting in an increase to 42.5 Wh from 25 Wh in the previous model. 

Like the iPhone 4S, the iPad 3 is a lot like the old version on steroids. But the upgrades to the tablet are more significant and have forced Apple to redesign the exterior. Let’s see if this new tablet is up to the company’s reputation for sexy hardware.

Design and Ergonomics

View Full Size

If you’ve messed with any of the newly released Android tablets - or an iPad 2 - you’ll notice that the new model feels a bit chunky the instant you pick it up. This is not your imagination. While most devices become slimmer and thinner as they’re upgraded the iPad has put on weight. Wi-Fi models are 50 grams more than the previous generation and the chassis has gained an additional .6 mm around the waist. This puts total weight at 1.44 pounds and total thickness at .37 inches. 

The difference between the iPad 3 and some new Android tablets, like the Transformer Prime or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, is readily apparent. There’s no practical short-term impact, but holding the new iPad for long periods of time is a bit more tiring than some competitors.

View Full Size

The 4:3 display ratio results in a tablet that’s more square than the competition. That’s a good thing. Getting your hands around the iPad is easy, particularly when holding it width-wise. My attempts to use the 16:9 tablets in the same manner have always resulted in failure because my fingers simply aren’t long enough to hold the tablet in that position and comfortably reach the center of the touch screen.

Aesthetically, it’s an iPad. I purchased the white model, but I’ve handled the black model as well. Both are beautiful. The build quality of the tablet is precise and there is no surface that looks as if it was forgotten at some point during design. Some Android tablets on the market aren’t hard on the eyes, but the iPad is still the king of quality. There’s nothing on the market that’s as attractive, nor is there anything that feels as nice in-hand.

Normally I’d talk about ports, but this is an Apple product, so there are none besides the charging connector. I could have a lively argument about this, but there’s no point. I’m sure that most people reading this review are aware that connectivity is a weak spot of Apple products in general and that the lack of ports is by design. That’s just the way it is. 

March 31, 2012 | 01:07 AM - Posted by DisasterArea (not verified)

Although the ipad 3 may be the best at what it has chosen to be it's strengths, it seems a stretch to me to say it's the best tablet money can buy...

I use a last generation Acer Iconia A500 and an ipad2, and despite the fact that the ipad outclasses the iconia in almost every department, it is hard to classify a toy against a productive tool.

It's important not to brush connectivity options under the rug as "that's just how it is" - more options equals more uses, and that means something with more options is more useFUL.

I don't doubt the ipad3 runs an app better in most cases, but you have to take into account that the things you can do are limited. If that's all you want, go to it, if you want more then you are going to sacrifice some design and polish and get rewarded for it.

ipad3 the best tablet? by a canyon? It really depends not on what it CAN do, but what you NEED it to do, and the ipad 3 doesn't cut it as a workplace tool, it's a sofa-surfer toy.

March 31, 2012 | 01:54 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

Yes, you can do some interesting things with Android tablets. Some have keyboard docks, many can work with game controllers, and etc.

But the situations in which you'd use those capabilities are small, and in addition to that, I haven't found that those capabilities work well.

I am curious, how are you using the Iconia A500 as a productive tool?

March 31, 2012 | 03:13 PM - Posted by Pipzchoice (not verified)

The intensity of emotions of Apple zealots and their opponents never cease to amaze and amuse. It is a testament to Steve Jobs marketing genius. However "You can have your own opinion, but you cannot have your own facts", and I suggest to look at the analysis of 7,583 customer testimonies about their experience with iPad 2, "new" iPad, and Kindle Fire.

General satisfaction is a virtual tie between Kindle Fire (1.35 out of 2) and "new" iPad (1.36), while iPad 2 is substantially below at 1.2.

Reliability score gives a clear advantage to Amazon (1.31) over both Apple tablets with "new" iPad customers report a score just below a base satisfaction line.

"new" iPad is not considered a good value or worth a price by its purchasers (0.83).

See these and other attributes of customer experience scores here

March 31, 2012 | 11:23 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

Your graph doesn't tell us anything because you haven't told us how the results were reached.

April 1, 2012 | 09:39 AM - Posted by ThorAxe

Nice screen but I'd rather my clunky old Xoom. The wif-fi is better and it works for all websites and media.

My next tablet will likely be one running Windows 8.

April 1, 2012 | 12:46 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

Windows 8 tablets are the wildcard right now. They could really disrupt the market. I can't wait to get my hands on one.

April 2, 2012 | 12:41 AM - Posted by Andrew McP (not verified)

I was a confirmed Apple-phobic until recently. I dislike their business model, the built-in restrictions (hardware and software), and the whole queue-for-the-latest-iFix mentality which seems part of this brand.

I still do. :-)

But then I gave up supporting my mother's struggle with technology and bought her an iPad2. It was as seductive an experience as I suspected it might be, and both myself and my mother were impressed. She now uses it far more than she ever used her PC, and I... well, I have an iPad3.

The final straw persuading me to buy something I really don't need (who does?) was the screen. As a slide photographer in the past it looked like this might be the "perfect" slide viewer substitute; compact yet powerful. And it does give me a wonderful new way of viewing my pictures. I just wish I didn't have to jump through annoying hoops to view them on my Windows network. Dropbox has become my new best friend.

I also appreciate the ability to view web pages without zooming, though I can't help wishing the screen was an inch or two bigger to get the most out of the resolution. It's almost too good for anyone with less than perfect eyesight. I could also do with slimmer fingers so that I didn't keep hitting the wrong tiny button on many pages. However zooming is effortless so you soon start to adjust your technique. And I'd rather struggle with this than see all sites redesigned for "fat finger" interfaces, rather than mouse clicks.

Overall, part of me still thinks a refurbished iPad2 might have been a more sensible purchase for me. The aspect ratio and effortlessly "transparent" touch interface remain this platform's greatest strengths, and the iP2's lighter footprint (both physically and power use) makes it a much more efficient device, not just in terms of cost effectiveness.

And the iP2 would still give me access to GarageBand which is, if I'm really honest with myself -- the thing I most enjoy using on this device.

One thing the iPad3 has confirmed for me though is that I will probably never read books in electronic form on anything other than a Kindle. The crisp fonts on the iP3 screen are gorgeous, but it's no paper substitute when it comes to comfortable reading for decent periods of time. Not for me anyway. But then I'm still buying dead tree editions even though I've been very impressed by the Kindle.

Final word (should anyone read this far ;->) the iPad3 is the best totally unjustified tech toy I've bought myself in a long time. If it was a justified purchase I probably wouldn't have felt the need to write all this. :-)

April 2, 2012 | 02:39 PM - Posted by Rauelius (not verified)

You may want to re-run your peacekeeper score as they are wrong. I've noticed my Prime consistently beating my iPad3.I'm running Peacekeeper again on my Prime and iPad3 and have a picture below. I'm running a non-rooted Prime in Performance mode and it beats the iPad3 handily. Did you have things running in the background on the Prime that would cause your score to be wrong.

iPad3: 381
Prime: 413
A100: 382

Actually this is the first time I've run Peacekeeper on my A100. It scores the same as the iPad3, which is logical as it's the same Two Cortex A9 Cores running at 1Ghz. The Prime dominates because it has four Cortex A9 cores running at 1.3Ghz. Your going to want to run that again, I've run Peacekeeper several times and the Prime consistently beats the iPad3.

April 2, 2012 | 07:07 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

I ran the test numerous times. I get this opportunity because the Peacekeeper benchmark test - simply re-runs the test numerous times. And at the end you get an average of like, 50 or 100 runs, or whatever the huge number was.

And that's a good thing, because Peacekeeper shows surprising variance between runs (on tablets - I have not noticed an issue on laptops).

It's possible that you received a great run on the Prime and an average run on the iPad 3. Try a few more and see if it keeps happening.

It's also possible that the Transformer Prime was updated in firmware, yet again. ASUS is pushing out firmware upgrades regularly (props to them!).

Unfortunately we can't run the results again. The Prime has been sent back to ASUS.

April 2, 2012 | 08:38 PM - Posted by Curious (not verified)

Why did you not compare the iPad 3 to the iPad 2 in the benchmarks and in battery life? That would have been an interesting comparison.

April 3, 2012 | 11:57 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

We never reviewed the iPad 2.

April 8, 2012 | 11:04 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Prime has replaced my laptop for business trips with a keyboard, more memory, extrernal memory port and USB port for the same price as the new iPad.

For something that looks pretty ipad is great - for functionality - and raw processing power - not so good.

I still recommend ipPad to young kids and the elderly - it is a safe experience and unlikely to confuse people with options they will never use.

February 23, 2013 | 12:07 PM - Posted by Avgustapulp (not verified)

I thank for the help in this question, now I will know.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.