Apple iPad (Third Generation) full review

What else is new?

There’s notably a faster A5X processor with two CPU cores and four GPU cores (twice as many GPU cores as before). This means that the iPad can run the higher resolution display with roughly the same amount of performance.

A teardown of the device has revealed that the battery is far larger than before (with most of the other innards shrunk down to fit accordingly). As a result it Apple can still comfortably claim a good 10 hours of battery life, which our tests have borne out. What should be mentioned is that the battery takes significantly longer to recharge than before, up to six hours from the mains versus approximately two to three hours before. It also displays ‘not charging’ sometimes during use when connected to a USB port on your computer, so it takes all the power to stay level rather than charge up (it does, however, charge when connected but switched off). Again, it's something to consider but not really a major issue for us (no matter how hard some people try to make it out as one).

The new A5X processor. Image courtesy of iFixIt.com

On the whole we think Apple is still striking the right balance between power, speed, usability, long-term performance. Putting a quad-core CPU might have boosted power at the expense of battery performance, for example. Although it takes longer to charge, it retains the power long enough for it not to be a major problem.

The one clear difference is that the device runs slightly warmer (note: that’s warm, not hot). Don’t pay much attention to heatgate-style stories about the device failing in hot environments. The same stories existed for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and iPad 2. Fundamentally it boils down to: if you live somwhere hot (say… Death Valley) the device might shut down for half an hour if it detects itself overheating because it wants to save the processor from malfunction. We have only once seen this happen in the UK and not at all with the new iPad. It's not a defect, it's a safety feature. If it didn't have it you'd have to return the iPad for repair.

Should you get a new iPad, and if so which one?

The new iPad is a remarkable device and the screen is gorgeous. As with the iPad 2, and original iPad, we have no hesitation in advising you to buy one. If you had an original iPad then you’ll find the jump to the new iPad worth the investment; if you have an iPad 2 then the difference is slighter, but the higher resolution display is definitely a noticable improvement. Having said that you could always wait until the next new iPad comes along.

The price is still a key feature, and with the iPad starting at £399 (and it offers a lot of bang for that cash) we really don’t see any reason not to get one. And, if you think that’s too steep you can now pick up an iPad 2 for just £329. We’ve even seen iPad 2 units going on the Apple refurb store for just £289, which is an incredible bargain. There's never been a better time to get an iPad than right now.

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