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New iPad 4 review

The iPad 4th generation has landed - and it's a bit faster

Our Verdict

We do feel there should be a touch more "awesome" at this price, but once you've gazed adoringly into the Retina Display, you'll struggle to not hate any tablet that isn't this good.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 2048 x 1536
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel

View full specification

For

  • Great display
  • Easier connector
  • Faster innards

Against

  • Not much of an update
  • Still slightly weighty
  • Price is too high

It's now been a few months since the iPad 3 was unveiled, and now we already have a new version in the new iPad 4. So is there really that much there to talk about, or is it just a covert change that Apple decided to highlight as it's not got a much faster processor?

Even after all this time the Retina Display still wows. With the SD card add-on it becomes a wonderful device to take on holiday (especially if you've invested in a decent camera). Checking out your photos on a beautiful screen with such a higher resolution makes everyday browsing a real pleasure.

Sure, we became a bit blasé about the internet browsing experience after a few weeks, in the same way many people stop noticing HD resolution on their new TV. However, as soon as we saw another tablet or an older smartphone, we were pining for the pin-sharp viewing experience the iPad brings - we suggest you don't go and look at an iPad mini for fear of that making you sad.

iPad 4 review

It will be interesting to see how many iPad owners cast an eye over the significantly less premium, but cheaper and smaller Apple iPad mini or Google Nexus 7 by Asus and wonder if that might be a little less worrying to cart around.

It's almost impossible to give a verdict on an Apple product that everyone will agree with, as there's so much about its devices that's entirely subjective, bringing responses no other product could manage.

The new iPad 4, like many of Apple's products, is a little overpriced for what it delivers, and still lacks some key features, although these are becoming fewer and further between with each iteration.

We liked

Well, the first and most obvious highlight on the new iPad 4 is the Retina Display. We've talked about it at great length throughout this whopping review and it's the one element that never failed to impress us no matter what application was running on the screen.

It's clear, it's bright, it's crisp; essentially it properly expands the smartphone experience onto a larger tablet and takes us into a new generation of displays.

We're also fans of the design of the new iPad - and yes, we know it's the same as before. We're not happy about the fact it's heavier than the iPad 2, but the build quality is something most other manufacturers long for, and are constantly trying to ape.

And then there's the user interface - another element that polarises opinion. We're pretty agnostic here at TechRadar, and while we appreciate the power that can be had from widgets, there's something about the simplicity of the iOS UI that we just love - and simplicity counts for a huge amount in the burgeoning tablet market. Sure, it's ageing, but it works better on a tablet than on a smartphone.

There will always be those that hate the lack of widgets, customisable home screens and more intuitive notification bars (and we salute you for that) but if you're in that camp, you're probably not even bothering to read this review as you know what you're getting with an Apple device.

We disliked

For all its power, there are still some elements of the new iPad 4 that could be improved in our opinion. The first is the fact the device will still heat up under medium-term use (depending on the apps you're running), which could really disconcert some users; despite the fact it didn't seem to have a huge impact on battery life. However, this is much less of a worry compared to the older version, with the heat not reaching the same worrying levels as before.

Then there's the things that make it feel like a second class citizen to the iPhone 5: no location-based fun in the Reminders and no HDR mode on the camera either.

We're not going to criticise it for not being quad-core considering there's no valid reason for such a chipset as yet in a tablet - but if the market shows there's a need for such power over the next 12 months then the iPad 4 will look a little behind the curve.

And there's the issue of storage too: we suggest you steer clear of the 16GB model if you're going to be using a lot of apps or downloading HD films, as you'll find the space is used up pretty darn quick and you'll have to start deciding between different types of content.

For the price, you would expect the iPad to be nigh-on perfect; and although it's a mighty fine piece of kit, there are some niggles that are tricky to overlook.

The SmartCover is fine in terms of protection, but we couldn't help but feel it just doesn't offer enough protection out and about. However, with the new SmartCase, that issue has been solved, although it's freakin' expensive to buy. It does save the aluminium though, so that's worth thinking about.

Verdict

Despite the above negative points, there's no doubt we're once again looking at a top tablet once again. Apple's greatest strength has always been fusing together some headline features with an OS that just works, and will appeal to the largest amount of people.

Sure, the price is a little high, and in a vacuum would be a real stick with which to beat the new iPad 4. But given many tablets are coming in at well over £500 / $AU600 these days (plus the fact so many people are willing to pay it) we can't criticise Apple's pricing too much here.

We do feel there should be a touch more 'awesome' for a 64GB device at a near £700 / $AU760 price tag, and beyond the screen there isn't too much more of an upgrade on show - at least until we get some titles that really show off the prowess of the new iPad's internals.

In short: if you've got an iPad 2, or don't really care about visuals, then you should stick with / purchase the now much cheaper pad, which starts at £329 / $AU429 - or there's the superb iPad mini to think about.

But we recommend you probably don't look at the upgraded model – once you've gazed adoringly into the Retina Display, played any of the high-power games or watched a Full HD movie in your hands, you'll struggle to not hate any tablet that isn't the new iPad 4, and for that and myriad other reasons, we've decided to make it a thoroughly Recommended tablet.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity16 GB
Processor ManufacturerApple
Graphics Controller ManufacturerApple
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time10 Hour
Backlight TechnologyLED
WimaxNo
Product FamilyiPad (3rd Generation)
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformiOS
ColourBlack
Operating SystemiOS 5
Brand NameApple
Form FactorSlate
Processor TypeA5X
Screen Size24.6 cm (9.7")
Screen Resolution2048 x 1536
Weight (Approximate)653.2 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyIn-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
WWAN SupportedNo
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Country of OriginChina
Height241.3 mm
Width185.7 mm
Depth9.4 mm
Screen ModeQXGA
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMC705B/R
Product NameThe new iPad Tablet Computer
Product LineiPad (3rd Generation)
Aspect Ratio4:3
Manufacturer Part NumberMC705B/R
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing InformationIt's brilliant. In every sense of the word.

Pick up the new iPad and suddenly, it's clear. You're actually touching your photos, reading a book, playing the piano. Nothing comes between you and what you love. To make that hands-on experience even better, we made the fundamental elements of iPad better - the display, the camera, the wireless connection. All of which makes the new, third-generation iPad capable of so much more than you ever imagined.

Retina display. See everything like never before.

Four times more pixels than iPad 2. Razor-sharp text. Richer colors. The Retina display transforms the entire iPad experience. So everything looks and feels incredibly lifelike and perfectly detailed.

Package Contents
  • The new iPad Tablet Computer
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Dock Connector to USB Cable
  • Documentation
Limited Warranty1 Year