Apple iPad 4 Review

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Posted: December 12, 2012

Since its first entry into the tablet market, Apple has excelled thanks to a focus on a few core principles. The display should be of extremely high quality, the product should be intuitive and powerful, and the whole package has got to look really, really good. They've hit their mark with every release of the iPad, but the new iPad 4 may be the best execution of these principles that the tech giant has ever accomplished. It's beautiful, it's easy to use, and the Retina display is every bit as impressive as you'd expect.

iPad 4th generation Look and Feel

On first blush, not much seems to have changed from the iPad 3. The 9.5-inch by 7.3-inch by 0.37-inch dimensions are all the same. The weight holds steady at 1.44 pounds (0.65 kg). As with its predecessors, the iPad 4 is both striking and comfortable to use. While it may not be the lightest on the market, it certainly isn't to heavy to use for an extended period. The gracefully curved design only enhances the comfort, and the whole package feels as sturdy and well-built as you'd expect from Apple.

Exterior

The layout, too, is scarcely changed from previous iPad iterations. The power and lock button sits atop the tablet on the right side. The volume rocker and rotation lock switch are just around the corner at the top of the right edge. The bottom bears one of the more noteworthy changes, sporting a Lightning connector where the bulky 30-pin connector used to reside. The switch-over may be frustrating and potentially costly, but the vast improvement over the previous connector is certainly worth it. The front features a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera up top and the familiar concave home button at bottom. On the back is the 5-megapixel HD camera.

Display

At the moment, the Retina display found on the new iPad is the second best display found on a tablet. In terms of screen resolution, only Nexus 10 (2560 x 1600 px - 299 ppi) beats Apple 4 (2048 x 1536 px - 264 ppi). On such high resolution displays, text and other small features are ultra-crisp and easily readable, games and apps look great, and high-definition video looks exactly as it's supposed to. It's not just the resolution, however. Colors on Retina display are bright and vivid, the contrast strikes a very nice balance and the display remains quite readable even during daytime or under bright lighting.

Under the Hood

As impressive as the iPad 4's display is, the star of the show is the new A6X processor. The A6X is a modified version of the A6 processor originally featured in the iPhone 5, and it's blistering fast. The iPhone's 1.05-gigahertz processor is beefed up to 1.39GHz for the new iPad, and it's paired with a gigabyte of RAM. The iPad 3 was already Apple's fastest mobile device, and the new iPad exceeds its performance in every possible way. Unexpectedly, this huge performance boost also comes with an increase in battery life. The new iPad weighs in at a shade over 11 hours on average. As always, storage options include 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes.

Comparison

On the surface, the differences between the iPad 3 and 4 seem minimal. In reality, the iPad 4 makes some very substantial improvements. The two devices are all but identical physically, but the iPad 4's performance offers such an exceptional boost in performance that it's very difficult to ignore. The new Lightning plug offers a range of benefits as well, and after the initial period of frustration and adapter-buying it's clear that the change was needed.

The iPad Mini invites a more interesting comparison between two tablets. While iPad 4 once again spanks the competition in terms of display resolution, iPad Mini bets on form factor that offers great appeal for those who desire a truly portable, comfortable, easy to use tablet. Both are easily at the top of their class, but the choice largely comes down to performance and resolution versus form factor.

See also Apple tablets compared side by side, iPad Mini and iPad 3 review.

 

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Technical Specifications Comparison

 Tablet  Apple iPad 4  Apple iPad 3  Apple iPad Mini
 Rating  Ratings  Ratings  Ratings
 OS  iOS6  iOS5  iOS6
 CPU  Apple A6X  Apple A5X  Apple A5
 CPU speed  1.39 GHz  1.00 GHz  1.00 GHz
 Storage  16,32,64 GB  16,32,64 GB  16,32,64 GB
 Display  IPS LCD - 9.7 inch  IPS LCD - 9.7 inch  IPS LCD - 7.9 inch
 Resolution  2048 x 1536 px - 264 ppi  2048 x 1536 px - 264 ppi  1024 x 768 px - 163 ppi
 Weight  0.65 kg / 1.44 lbs  0.65 kg / 1.44 lbs  0.31 kg / 0.68 lbs
 Battery life  11.0 hours  10.0 hours  12.5 hours

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Battery life comparison

Battery life of selected tablet

 Tablet   (h)   Battery life 
Apple iPad 411.0Apple iPad 4 tablet autonomy comparison

Compared to 5 tablets with largest battery life

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 1018.0Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10 tablet autonomy comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.115.0Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 tablet autonomy comparison
Sony Xperia Z415.0Sony Xperia Z4 tablet autonomy comparison
Microsoft Surface 214.0Microsoft Surface 2 tablet autonomy comparison
Apple iPad Air13.5Apple iPad Air tablet autonomy comparison

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Weight comparison

Weight of selected tablet

 Tablet   kg   lbs   Weight 
Apple iPad 40.651.44Apple iPad 4 weight comparison

Compared to 5 lightest tablets - 8 and 9 inch

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.00.260.58Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 weight comparison
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact0.270.59Sony Xperia Z3 Compact weight comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.40.290.65Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 weight comparison
Dell Venue 80.290.64Dell Venue 8 weight comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab3 8.00.300.66Samsung Galaxy Tab3 8.0 weight comparison