I picked up a ‘new iPad’ (iPad3) on release day last Friday and spent the weekend configuring it and then testing out the new features.

new ipad initial impressions

Size and Weight

The new iPad has very similar dimensions to the iPad2, but in an unusual move from Apple it does take a step backwards with a deeper design (0.6mm) and slightly heavier weight (49g for 3G models). This is explained by the much larger battery rated at 42.5-watt-hours as opposed to the already substantial battery on the iPad2 rated at 25-watt-hours. This extra battery life is needed for the Retina Display and the LTE/4G radio and Apple states this will provide comparable run ties to the iPad2 with 10 hours life, or 9 hours on 4G.

WiFi only models should see better runtime with the same battery only needed to power the display.

Holding an iPad3 and iPad2 together you can just about detect the depth and weight difference, but in practical use it won’t make much difference and you will soon adjust.

new ipad initial impressions depth

Processor

The new iPad comes with the A5X chip updated from the iPad2 A5 chip. This brings essentially the same processing power but the A5X chip has a quad-core GPU on it, giving 4x the graphics capability – needed to handle the 3 million+ pixels the new iPad has to shunt around.

There is no noticeable speed improvement in day to day use but

apple ipad a5 v a5x processor specs

Image courtesy of: differencebetween.com

Retina Display

This is just beautiful. There is no way to describe or photograph it, its simply something you need to see. The impact of the improvement varies on the use, I could notice only minor improvements playing video content and with the iPads 4:3 ratio HD video at 16:9 still has to be letterboxed reducing the overall size reducing the benefit.

However, webpages and text pages such as Kindle or iBooks is where it really does shine, with the clarity and sharpness of lettering being near perfect.

Camera

The 5MP sensor from the iPhone4 and the improved optics from the iPhone4S really give a great improvement in picture taking. Mind you compared to the iPad2 you could smear vaseline over the lens and still get about the same picture quality.

Of course the argument still rages as to how realistic is is to take photos on the new iPad. Its a large device to be holding up and taking photos on, but its still handy to have a good camera available as a backup in case your iPad is all you have to hand.

And of course, the iPad is a good device to take and edit home videos on. Shooting longer video clips directly on the device is now more worthwhile, and the new image stabilization and improved optics help a great deal. iMovie is a great simple video editing tool and since introduction with the iPad2 has seen the production of some nice video clips and even full movies!

LTE/4G

Not much to report here, no availability here in the UK. Although there is planned 4G Rollout in the UK the frequencies will be incompatible, so don’t buy the new iPad if that’s something you’re banking on. Hexus.net quotes:

In America and Canada, 4G runs on the 700Mhz and 2,100MHz spectrums, the only two supported by the iPad. In Germany, for example, with the only fully functional 4G network in Europe, the spectrums 800MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,600MHz are used. Likewise, current UK trials are for the 1,800MHz spectrum, with future bids covering the same range as Germany

iOS5.1

The new iPad runs the updated iOS5.1 which was made available to iPad2/1 and iPhone4S/4/3GS models shortly after the Apple announcement.

The main updates in iOS5.1 bring relatively minor features like Siri for Japanese 4S users, improved photo editing capabilities, ability to delete images from Photo Stream, podcast control speeds, redesigned camera app for iPad and an updated ‘swipe up’ from lock screen to access the camera.

iOS in general still needs a big overhaul, and hopefully iOS6 will bring that along. Easy ‘at-a-glance’ information is a real must, and the simple grid layout introduced back with the original iPhone in January 2007 is no longer refreshing, and 5 years on now simply boring.