Is Apple’s third iPad still the best tablet you can buy
The Apple iPad 3 (or the 'new iPad', as Apple insists on callingit) is hard to tell the new iPad apart from the older iPad 2 since it looks almost identical, but the difference is immediately obvious once you turn the new iPad on.
Although the iPad 3 has the same 9.7in screen size as its predecessors, the resolution has been doubled from 1,024x768 pixels to 2,048x1,536 pixels. However, unlike laptop or desktop screens the iPad doesn't use the extra resolution to display more information. Instead, the extra pixels are used to make text look incredibly smooth, almost as if it was a printed page.
This makes reading easier on the eyes – text on other tablets looks fuzzy in comparison. Graphics such as photos look great with accurate colours, unlike the exaggerated and oversaturated colours we've seen on some other tablets. The high resolution means we were able to zoom into photos and spot individual details, such as strands of hair and fur, which are displayed with remarkable precision.
One downside to the huge resolution screen is that apps upgraded to take advantage of it will almost certainly be significantly larger since their internal graphics will have to be larger. This means that the cheapest 16GB model will be impractical if you want to store lots of apps as well as music, photos and videos on your iPad. The 32GB or 64GB models are better, but more expensive choices.
All models have Wifi, but models with built-in support for 3G and 4G mobile broadband cost £100 more than the Wifi-only versions. 4G mobile broadband networks aren't currently available in the UK, but it's likely the iPad won't be able to connect to them when they are since it uses a different, incompatible version of the technology. The new iPad will still work with UK 3G networks, though, such as Vodafone's.
The rear facing camera has been dramatically improved – it's now five megapixels rather than the iPad 2's measly 0.7 megapixels. Photos taken using the new iPad look much sharper and more detailed so it's now on par with a good smartphone camera. Using a relatively unwieldy tablet as a camera still feels silly but it's a useful thing to have in a pinch.
Android tablets are moving to quad-core processors, but the iPad is sticking with dual core. Despite this apparent performance disadvantage, Apple claims the A5X chip is much faster at displaying complex 3D graphics in apps such as games, although games taking advantage of this are currently few and far in between.
Although the new iPad and the iPad 2 look identical, the new model is actually 50g heavier weighing in at around 650g. This doesn't sound like a lot, but it is noticeable when holding the tablet for extended periods. The extra weight is disappointing, but it has been put to good use – the battery lasted over 17 hours when playing videos which is extraordinary. In regular usage, this means the battery is less likely to run out when you need it most.
Just as important is what hasn't changed in the new iPad. Apple still strictly controls what apps are available in its App Store. Hardware features present in Android tablets, such as a USB port or a physical keyboard, are either still absent or only available as add-ons for the iPad.
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Aside from the extra weight, the new iPad is better than ever. Apple's design choices won't suit everyone, but for most the new iPad's quality screen, battery life and app selection make it the best general purpose tablet available
Great quality, high-resolution screen; long battery life
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