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Apple iPad 3 review

 Review: March 2012  

Last updated October 2012

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The new iPad is the tablet to buy unless you can't afford it or you're an Android nerd. With a large HD Retina display, a lightning-fast dual-core processor and the intuitive iOS 5, this is the tablet that's let you work, play and anything else you care to mention. With over 200,000 apps, many free and pre-installed, and an enormous library of digital content, there are few limits to what this device is capable of.

Today's best buy: Apple iPad Pro (2017) 12.9" ... from Best Bargain (£942.28)



You can call it the new Apple iPad. You can call it the Apple new iPad. You can call it the third-generation iPad. You can call it the Apple iPad 3 (although you risk the Apple Thought Police knocking on your door at 4am to re-educate you). But whatever you call it, it's the best tablet in the world.

To be precise, the best tablet in the world (the iPad 2) just got better. But only by a little. What changed? The display, the camera, the battery. Oh, and it's got 4G, which we don't have in the UK yet, although it's coming at the end of 2012. So, not huge changes, but they make the new iPad even better for viewing photos and video, listening to music, playing games, communicating with friends and colleagues and working those apps.

So, let's put the new iPad next to the old iPad 2. They're the same size and they look exactly the same. No, look closer! The new iPad is ever so slightly thicker (but still skinny) and the display is HD. Yes, it is! You won't notice if you're a casual observer, but start using the tablet in earnest and you'll soon appreciate the benefits of HD - sharper text, better graphics, less eye strain when using it for a long time. It's particularly welcome when working with text or reading ebooks. It's the new Retina display, and we love it!

The new iPad comes with a new version of the operating system, iOS 5. This is the touch-based experience that makes the iPad, well, the iPad. It's the platform that lets you access over 200,000 apps. Popular apps include the Safari web browser, iPhoto (photo viewing & editing), iMovie (video editing), GarageBand (music making), Pages (desktop publishing), Keynote (presentation creating), Numbers (a spreadsheet), facebook, twitter, Newsstand (magazine subscriptions), BBC News and, of course, games. Lots of them. 3D, motion-controlled, touch-sensitive and a whole lot of fun.

iOS 5 supports iCloud, which lets you store your music, photos, apps, mail, contacts, calendars, documents and more on Apple's servers where they will be backed up, protected and generally pampered, and available to your iPad, iPhone, iPod or anything else you own that starts with "i". We're disappointed to find that Siri (the voice-activated personal assistant) isn't present on the new iPad. There is a dictation feature, but it's not reliable enough to replace the virtual keyboard.

One of the features that we like is the "instant on" powering-up. Arguably it's an essential requirement for a mobile device, and to be able to just pick up the iPad and - almost - instantly be accessing an app makes the iPad so much more usable.

The camera has been upgraded substantially - from a toy camera on the iPad 2 to a proper 5 megapixel camera. The camera has autofocus as well as tap to focus and face detection, and can record video at full 1080p HD resolution. But to be honest, we're not bothered, as a tablet is in no way close to the ideal shape and size for a camera. We're more likely to use the secondary VGA video camera far making FaceTime video calls.

Inside is a new A5X processor. It's dual-core like the processor in the iPad 2, but it has quad-core graphics, which is needed to drive all those extra pixels.

The new iPad is available in two versions - a Wi-Fi version and a Wi-Fi plus 4G version. Although this supports 4G, it isn't compatible with the version of 4G operated by EE in the UK, but you can run it on the 3G HSPA network. You'll need a contract with a mobile network operator for this. Generally speaking, data access via Wi-Fi is faster when you can get it, but there are plenty of times when you can't, and 3G will fill those gaps.

Connectivity is a bit of a curiosity. Apple products generally don't like to talk to products from other manufacturers, so for example you won't find a USB port anywhere on the iPad. There is a 30-pin docking port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Bluetooth 4.0 is here. A HDMI cable can be purchased as an optional extra, but Apple really want you to go wireless with your iPad, streaming video to your HDTV or music to your wireless speakers via Wi-Fi.

The battery has been upgraded substantially from the iPad 2's battery. It's nearly twice the size. We're guessing that the new quad-core GPU eats more power than the old one, but even so most users should see an improvement in battery life, which is very welcome. Official figures state 10 hours of constant use between charges

A couple of other features worth mentioning are parental controls of web content, password protection and encryption of data, and accessibility features such as dynamic screen magnification, VoiceOver screen-reading technology and support for over 30 wireless braille displays.

Hey, did we not mention the huge ecosystem of music, video, books and stuff that you can download via iTunes? We guessed you'd already heard about that. It's possibly the real reason why most people choose an iPad over an Android tablet.

Anyway, there it is. The new iPad. The best just got better, etc. Unless you're a big Android fan, this is clearly the tablet to choose. Unless it's too expensive, in which case you should choose the iPad 2. The key benefit of the new iPad is the HD screen. Is that worth an extra £100 or so? It depends on how much you use your iPad, how much disposable income you have, and whether you're on some kind of contract with a mobile network. Only you can decide.

Update (October 2012): the iPad 3 has now been replaced by the 4th-generation iPad.

Apple iPad 3 features include:

Best buys
Apple iPad Pro (2017) 12.9" ...
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Apple iPad Pro (2017) 12.9" ...
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Apple iPad Pro (2017) 12.9" ...
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Apple iPad 3 user reviews

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Average rating from 7 reviews:

Reviewed by Phil from Yorkshire, UK on 10th Nov 2014
Love this, never a big Apple fan, but this is something special. Had Z1, Nexus, et al, this is just a piece of work!
if I had the wonga I'd get the Air 2, but I'm skint so someone else can buy it for me. Until then, this is excellent.

Reviewed by John from Ireland on 17th Aug 2012
Yes there are little changes on the new iPad but let me say those little changes such as Retina display are very powerful changes. The screen is amazing, the colors are rich and vibrant and truly gorgeous. I was buying the MBA 11inch and while in the store I viewed the iPad 3 and fell in love with it and decided to buy that instead. As great as the MBA is, the screen seemed dull and lifeless compared to the iPad 3.

I felt that paying 1100 for the MBA that had an inferior screen to a 479 iPad 3 was crazy. If the MBA had a retina screen I would have bought it. Anyway I totally recommend this amazing device which is the best tablet on the planet and I would be even confident to say the best Tablet in the universe! I challenge you to prove me wrong :-)

Reviewed by ravi pearlman from Jisrael on 9th Aug 2012
Love it.

Reviewed by Ryan from Wales on 10th May 2012
Simply awesome- I was lucky enough to get one on a very cheap upgrade - but don't look to much into the negative comments this certainly beats the 2 in all departments esp the camera and being slightly smaller is also easier to live with

Reviewed by Trev from UK on 14th Apr 2012
I wanted to avoid the Apple hype but got snared by this and boy was I wrong. This is the best bar none. Nothing even comes close. The Windows 8 may be competition in the future but right here and now IPad is king, queen, pope, prime minister, chancellor and top dog. Battery life is also great stuff.

Reviewed by anand from uk on 20th Mar 2012
the screen although on paper sounds a lot better but in reality is not a big difference, i dont own the new ipad but i work in an electronic store so have had a lot of time to play with it, there are not huge additions in this one compared to the ipad 2, the screen was to be the biggest upgrade but is not a huge upgrade as you need to put your face against the screen to see a difference (literally). also many of the apps havnt updated to use the new screen so there is little point of buying the new ipad. i say just get the ipad 2 as it has all the functionality of the new one and it has had a price drop, if you are a first time buyer just get the ipad 2 and save your money, if you are looking to upgrade, dont, you will waste your money. or you can wait for the ipad 4 in october....yes there is one coming in october meaning a 7 month gap until the new ipad is redundant. its not a bad product but the fact that there is nothing new is very bad and so i say just get the ipad 2.

Reply by David Scanlon from Uk on 27th May 2012
There will not be a new Ipad in october. There will be a new iphone not a new ipad. The ipad has a yearly update cycle. Secondly the apps will be updated. The app market with apple update rather swiftly and soon all your favourite apps will be in the HD detail.

Reply by Ben from UK on 24th Oct 2012
Hmm David, I guess someone owes someone an apology....

Reply by ian from ireland on 22nd Nov 2012
if you dont like it, then why play with it. "a lot "

Reviewed by Naveen Chamala from UK on 16th Mar 2012
Wow....is the only word..great screen..very clear edged text. Not completely gone through all the features. Even though I am a big fan of android, if you are looking for a tablet then go for ipad.

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