Apple iPad (3rd gen) review

Price when reviewed

Flat battery?

The screen and GPU will certainly put much more strain on the battery, yet Apple claims the new iPad will last about the same as before: ten hours of Wi-Fi web surfing. How? The battery already took up a large proportion of the case – picture a thin, flat pack stretched across the rest of the components inside the rear of the case – but the cells are now physically 70% larger than before, and the total capacity is up the same amount, from 25Wh to 42.5Wh.

We ran our tablet battery test – enabling flight mode, reducing the brightness to a low but usable level, and leaving a video podcast looping – and the new iPad lasted 12hrs 32mins. That’s down from the iPad 2’s 16hrs 49mins, but it’s streets ahead of most tablets on the market.

Better snaps

The iPad’s camera has long been an area of complaint, even though the very idea of using a bulky tablet as a camera is faintly ridiculous. While the front-facing VGA camera remains unchanged, the rear camera has finally been upgraded to use the same lens as the iPhone 4S, albeit with a lesser 5-megapixel sensor.

Apple iPad (3rd gen)

The picture quality is high, with improved clarity and sharpness, and decent if not particularly vibrant colours. And the iPad will now finally shoot solid, detailed 1080p video, with the screen doing a wonderful job of showing off the resulting clips. Image stabilisation is quite apparent, along with a rolling shutter effect, but it’s not a bad camera at all as tablets go.

New issues

If this all sounds like a glowing endorsement of Apple’s latest hardware so far, it is, but there’s one new concern that needs addressing. We’ve already seen the rising download footprint of some Retina-optimised apps, with Pages up from 95MB to 269MB and iMovie rocketing from 70MB to a huge 404MB. Some of that is admittedly down to additional features, but higher resolutions mean bigger apps, not to mention bigger downloaded newspaper and magazine issues in Newsstand.

This would be fine if the iPad’s capacity had risen with its pixel count, but it hasn’t. The new iPad still comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavours, at the same prices as last year’s model, which means the £399 entry model is starting to look risky. If you like music and movies, and do a bit of tinkering with iWork or other larger apps such as GarageBand (which is 1.1GB on its own), it’s easy to imagine that 16GB being quickly swallowed up. Clearly, it depends on your usage and for some that may not sound like an issue, but we’d strongly suggest you consider the 32GB model even if it means paying £80 more.

Apple iPad (3rd gen)

Your new iPad?

Beyond that, there’s not much else that puts us off the new iPad. Android owners may sneer at the lack of a quad-core processor, but it’s more powerful where it needed to be on the graphics side, with a larger battery to match, and there’s no need to physically redesign a tablet that remains so popular.

And then there’s the incredible screen. The phrase game-changer is overused, but it’s hard to think of any better expression; after all, the way things are done both on the web and in the App Store will have to be updated. Sites and apps that don’t optimise for its higher dpi are simply going to look out of date.

If you already own an iPad 2 – or to a certain extent the original iPad – the core tablet experience remains similar, so if you avoid looking at any new iPads you could carry on as before. But when you’ve seen that new screen, it will be hard to resist the temptation to stick your old iPad on eBay and pay the difference for the upgrade.

If, on the other hand, you’re on the hunt for your first tablet, it’s very difficult to recommend anything else. The new iPad’s screen isn’t only a joy to use, it makes other tablets feel dated by comparison.



Dimensions186 x 241 x 9.7mm (WDH)


Primary keyboardOn-screen
Screen size9.7in
Resolution screen horizontal2,560
Resolution screen vertical1,536
Display typeColour touchscreen LCD
Panel technologyIPS

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz1,000MHz
Integrated memory16.0GB
RAM capacity1.00GB


Camera megapixel rating5.0mp
Focus typeAutofocus
Built-in flash?no
Built-in flash typeN/A
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes


WiFi standard802.11n
Bluetooth supportyes
HDMI output?no
Video/TV output?no


Mobile operating systemiOS 5.1

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