Apple iPad 4 review
|Review: October 2012|
Last updated January 2013
In a nutshell: The iPad 4 updates the iPad 3 with a new connector, faster processor and HD video calling. It retains the amazing Retina display and build quality of the old iPad. With 4G compatibility and the wonders of iOS 6, it justifies its price as the king of tablets.
Today's best buy: Apple iPad Mini 4 128GB from Laptops Direct (£409.97)
Update (5 January 2013): Apple today announced that a 128GB version of the 4th gen iPad will be available from February.
Buried in the smallprint of the iPad Mini announcement was the news that the ten-inch iPad was to be updated too. The new 4th-gen iPad (or iPad 4 or just plain iPad) looks exactly the same as the 3rd-gen iPad (or old iPad or New iPad or whatever) but with a new-style Lightning connector. It also has a faster A6X processor instead of the older A5X and a HD FaceTime video camera.
A welcome update
Well, it's a minor upgrade, and it makes perfect sense for a tech company to update its products in order to stay competitive. Anyone buying an iPad this Christmas will benefit from the modest improvements. And yet it's caused a rumpus in tech circles, with journalists accusing Apple of betraying its loyal fan base by rendering their products "obsolete" after just 7 months.
Really? Hissy fit over now? Let's be clear. The iPad 3 is in no way obsolete. It's just as good now as when it was bought. It hasn't self-destructed or become outmoded. It works just the same (perhaps better, if using the new iOS 6). More significantly, it's time for people to wake up and get used to products being updated more often. "Just 7 months" is a long time in tech these days. Imagine if we had to wait 7 months before a new Android tab appeared. Technology is accelerating and products are going to be released ever more frequently. It isn't going to be possible to always have the very latest of everything (you don't change your car every year, do you?)
iPad 4 - faster, better, same price
Oh, what's that? You wanted a review of the iPad 4? Well, like we said, it's practically the same as the iPad 3. The connector is the new Lightning style, the processor is twice as fast and the front video camera is now HD. Oh, and the iPad 4 will work on the new Everything Everywhere 4G network. Everything we wrote in our iPad 3 review is still true. In fact the price hasn't changed either, with the Wi-Fi + 4G version available for £399.
Physically it's the same device as the iPad 3, with just the new Lightning adapter replacing the old-style 30 pin dock. The screen is the same too, which is to say that it's the best screen on any current tablet, measuring 9.7 inches and with an astonishingly detailed Retina display with 2048 x 1636 pixels.
The new A6X processor is twice as fast as the old A5X, which was no slouch. With a quad-core graphics processor, this thing melts its way through any kind of app you care to throw at it. We're thinking games. We're thinking future-proof.
The new iOS 6 brings some welcome enhancements, plus Apple Maps. Apple Maps got some bad press when it was first launched on the iPhone 5, but Apple are working on fixing the problems, and there's a lot to like about it, not least its sheer speed.
Siri's voice recognition system is now on the iPad and is better at understanding what you say and smarter at handling its response. Facebook is much more tightly integrated into the OS and in fact there are over 200 improvements, although you'll be pushed to notice all of them.
The main camera is unchanged and has a 5 megapixel sensor with autofocus. It can record video in full 1080p HD. This is a high quality camera, but we still feel ambivalent towards tablet-mounted cameras. Just how many pictures are you going to take by pointing a tablet at someone?
Far more useful is the front-facing camera that can be used for FaceTime calls or photographing yourself, and this has been given a welcome upgrade to 720p HD.
The 4G version of the iPad supports the new Everything Everywhere 4G LTE service offering speeds up to a theoretical 100Mbps, and also HSPA 3G network support. It also has fast Wi-Fi support.
A Wi-Fi only version is available too, with no cellular support.
Additional connectivity includes the Lightning connector, a stereo headphone jack and Bluetooth 4.0 support.
Conclusion - better product, same price
What's not to like? Unless you've just bought one of the old iPads. But it looks like Apple stores are replacing iPad 3s bought within the last month for a new iPad 4. For everyone else, this is a development to be welcomed.
The iPad was arguably already the best tablet on the market, and the new version is even better and costs the same.
It's true that this is right at the top of the price scale, and that you'll be locked into Apple's content system that will ruthlessly extract yet more money from you. Yet it's the content system and the operating system that are also the iPad's key selling points. Along with the Retina display, the superfast processor, 4G compatibility, strong battery life and the look and feel, there are many reasons to want to own an iPad 4.
Apple iPad 4 features include:
- Operating system: iOS 6
- Display: 9.7 inch LED backlit multi-touch screen with 2048 x 1536 pixels
- 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and touch focus
- HD 1080p video recording (30 frames per second), secondary 720p HD camera for video calling (FaceTime)
- Music player (AAC, HE-AAC, Protected AAC, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV formats)
- Media player (H.264 video, High Profile level 4.1 with AAC-LC audio, MPEG-4, AAC-LC, M-JPEG, AVI formats)
- Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through with Apple Digital AV Adapter (sold separately)
- Messaging: email with attachments
- aGPS with digital compass and Maps
- Internet: Safari web browser, YouTube
- Document viewer (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Excel and others)
- Notes, Calendar, Contacts
- Built-in mono speaker
- Wireless printing (to compatible printers)
- Processor: Dual-core Apple A6X processor with quad-core graphics
- Memory: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB models
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, Lightning connector, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
- 4G LTE (Bands 4 and 17) UMTS/HSPA 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz, GSM/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz (Wi-Fi + 4G model only)
- Size: 241 x 186 x 9.4 mm
- Weight: 652g (Wi-Fi model) or 662g (Wi-Fi + 4G model)
- Battery: 42.5 watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
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Apple iPad 4 user reviews
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Average rating from 1 review:
Reviewed by Mark from United Kingdom on 1st Dec
I originally bought the ipad mini, but thought the display was very poor compared to the retina on my iphone 5. I sold the ipad mini and I have just received my 4th generation ipad, superb is the only way to describe this product. The display is out of this world. Get one, you will not be disappointed!