Review Index:

The New iPad (2012) Review: Pixel Power

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

Battery Life, Conclusion

Battery Life

If you open up the new iPad you’ll find the battery takes up most of the internal space available. It’s a whopping 42.5 Wh unit, which makes it almost twice as large as the battery in most other tablets and on par with some laptops. 

Despite this, Apple is not claiming any additional battery life. That’s the impact of the high-resolution display. It clearly sucks down the juice – but how badly? Let’s start with our YouTube test, in which we stream YouTube videos until the battery dies. The percentage numbers represent the display brightness the test was run at. We typically test at both 30% and 70% brightness. 

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In both benchmarks we see similar results. Apple's iPad 3 has extremely long battery life. In fact, at 30% brightness it exceeds the battery life of the Transformer Prime with the keyboard dock attached. That may seem absurd, but it's actually not that surprising. After all, the new iPad's battery has about the same capacity as the combined batteries in the Prime and the keyboard dock.

The battery life of this tablet is in a class of its own. There's nothing that comes close to touching it - even at 70% brightness it still defeats all other tablets we've tested by a large margin. You can put the iPad 3 through a day of use and still have enough battery life left over to enjoy a movie. 

There are two downsides to the large battery. One is heat. I suspect that the reports of warm iPads are mostly due to the battery, which is probably warming while it discharges and also crowds out room that might otherwise be available to help cool the display and the SoC. I recorded a maximum external temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit, and while that is warmer than any other tablet we’ve reviewed, it’s not particularly uncomfortable.

The other issue is charging time. In my testing the iPad 3 took as long as six hours to charge from 3% to 100%. It seems the large battery has over-matched the trickle of power that is available through the charger.

I think most owners will find these issues to be only minor annoyance – if they’re noticed at all. The tablet’s excellent endurance, however, is hard to miss. Apple remains the king of battery life. 


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The Apple iPad is the standard by which all other tablets are judged. The iPad 3 does nothing to change that. The iPad 2 was the best tablet you could buy, so it’s little surprise that the iPad 3 has replaced it in that role. 

I can’t say enough about the display. The impact of it is subtle at first, but the more I used it, the more it impressed me. This was reinforced when I compared the tablet to the iPad 2 and the Transformer Prime. Text is far sharper on the new display, and a direct result of that is a better web experience and easier navigation. You won’t need to spend as much time hassling with pinch-to-zoom because everything is easy to read from the moment a page is loaded.

Everything else in the new iPad is built to support the retina display’s resolution, and as a result it merely holds the line in numerous areas. It’s a slight bit thicker and heavier than the previous iPad, and while the battery is much larger, overall battery life is about the same (still better than Android competition, and sometimes by a wide margin).  Fortuantely, the iPad 2 was already excellent in these areas, so holding the line isn't a bad thing.

The new iPad is the best tablet money can buy and its release has transformed the gap between it and the competition into a canyon. Our praise can’t be much clearer than that, and the new iPad is worth every word of it. 

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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.

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