The new iPad sold about three million units in its first three days of release so not only do we have a vast number of end-users (including many in the UAE) that have already gotten the tablet but there has been so much written about the device that I was left wondering what I could say in my review that hasn’t already been said. Nevertheless, there is still a large number of buyers that will be waiting for the official launch in the UAE and thus, I figured that this article may be something they would get back to.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the new iPad is how incredibly alike it is to the iPad 2. Everything- from the packaging to the looks, feel, size and weight is almost identical to the iPad 2. With the unit turned-off, an average person would probably not be able to tell the difference between the new iPad and iPad 2. Interestingly, my review for the iPhone 4S had a similar start but that didn’t stop the 4S from becoming Apple’s most successful Smartphone to date because very much like the iPhone 4S, it’s what’s inside the new iPad that counts.
The most important component of a tablet is the screen and what a display it is that the new iPad rocks. With four times as many pixels than the original iPad and iPad 2, and a lot more than any Android tablet out there, the screen on the new iPad is breathtaking. It does have a slightly more yellow-ish tint to it than the iPad 2 which makes some things look better and some worse. However, that becomes secondary once you start getting used to the retina display and see how crisp fonts look and how detailed images look- it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. I passed the unit to four team members and all of them were salivating. But then when I got back home, I showed it to my wife and she was not the least bit excited and said that to her, it looked like her iPad 2.
To power this incredibly gorgeous screen, Apple has upgraded the GPU to a quad core unit on the new iPad while keeping the same CPU. What this means is that you won’t see much difference in day-to-day activities such as flipping through screens, browsing the web, checking your email or playing Word with Friends, however, the doubling of RAM will certainly help in certain scenarios such as having multiple tabs open in your browser and having more applications running in the background. Where the GPU will really help is when it is taken advantage of which will be in things like video games or apps that render effects on pictures etc. I compared Infinitiy Blade II on the new iPad vs iPad 2 and you could instantly see much sharper it looked on the new iPad. Reading books is also a much better experience on the new iPad however watching movies wasn't as much of an improvement as I was hoping for.
Besides the screen, the other big difference in the new iPad is the inclusion of LTE or 4G. Now don’t go running to your local Etisalat shop and buy a new 4G SIM card because sadly, 4G capabilities of the new iPad are restricted to North America for the moment. This is because 4G has a lot of different frequencies/bands that it operates under and it might be a while until a chipset is released that makes it work across the world. However, I can report that Etisalat 3G works and my micro SIM card that I was using on my iPad 2 connected to the Etisalat network just fine- although it did take a while to connect. While I haven’t tested it out, I have no reason to believe that du won’t work.
The new GPU and screen as well as LTE are ingredients to shorten your battery life considerably so Apple does well by almost doubling the battery capacity on the new iPad from 25-watt-hour to 42.5-watt-hour. This makes sure that you still end up with a battery life of 10 hours and standby time of days with the new iPad. During my few days with it, I can say that Apple’s claims are valid and the new iPad lasts as long as it’s predecessor. What I did notice is that the battery takes an incredibly long time to recharge- I recommend letting it charge overnight while you sleep. I’ve also read about how these new units get hotter which is probably true but honestly, I did not notice anything that was discomforting.
The last thing that is noticeably different on the new iPad is the camera on the back which has been upgraded from the abysmal 2MP shooter on the iPad 2 to a 5MP one with auto-focus and face detection. This is the same camera found on the iPhone 4 so expect similar quality photos. I’m not necessarily a big user of the camera on such a large sized tablet but I have seen people take pictures from their iPad 2 and it’s a great upgrade for them. Sadly, the front camera remains the same with VGA resolution- just about good enough for Facetime but not much else. There has also been some positive talk on Apple's inclusion of Bluetooth 4.0 on the new iPad which basically reduces the power requirements for Bluetooth devices based on the new standard.
Priced identical to the iPad 2, the new iPad continues to provide the best experience in a tablet form factor. If you are looking to jump on the tablet-bandwagon, the new iPad should certainly be on top of your list. For those of you who want to upgrade, the new iPad is better than any Android tablet that I have reviewed in the last year as well as a substantial improvement over the original iPad. About the only segment of people that I might not recommend the new iPad to is one that owns the iPad 2. Amongst them, it will mostly be the tech savvy that would want the new display and GPU and I say that because I belong to this exact group. However, my wife is fairly happy with her iPad 2 and not the least bit interested in getting the new one.