That Other New iPad Announced Yesterday: the iPad 4th Generation

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iPad 4th Gen 2X Perfomance

The iPad Mini was announced at Apple’s special event yesterday, just as was widely expected – as were a number of new Macs. The one big surprise of the day was another new iPad – the iPad 4th generation – or the iPad 4 as it’s likely to be called by most of us.

This was surprising, and frustrating to many recent iPad buyers, in large part because the new iPad, or iPad 3, was only just released 7 months ago – and it has now been displaced and apparently dropped entirely from the iPad lineup. As Alicia talked about yesterday here, the iPad lineup now consists of the iPad Mini, the iPad 2, and the new iPad 4.

As a lead-in to the introduction of the iPad 4, Tim Cook finished off a rundown of the many impressive numbers for iPad and the reasons why it is so loved by users by telling us that Apple are ‘just getting started’ with the iPad and “We’re not taking our foot off the gas”.

Phil Schiller then unveiled the iPad 4 and emphasized that the 3rd generation iPad is the best tablet in the world and the 4th generation iPad ‘just extends that lead’. When describing the performance improvements in the iPad 4 he went even further – saying it puts the iPad so far ahead of the competition that:

I can’t even see them in the rearview mirror.

So it’s worth taking a quick look at what exactly has changed and improved in the iPad 4.

Here are the quick details on the improvements in the iPad 4, over its predecessor:

— It has Apple’s new A6X chip, which is said to be two times faster in both handling of CPU tasks and graphics performance.

— The front FaceTime camera has been improved and there’s a new ISP (Image Signal Processor) that is said to improve tasks like face recognition and image stabilization.

— It has expanded LTE coverage and two times faster WiFi with 802.11n 2.4 + 5GHz.

— The outstanding battery life stays the same – 10 hours, just like the previous generation (which I have to say feels very odd when referring to the iPad 3).

— The iPad 4 uses Apple’s new Lightning cable and has a few other new cables / accessories as well.

And that’s about it in terms of what’s new and improved in the iPad 4. I know many will say this is not a huge upgrade, and they’ve got a point. It’s not the sort of update that should make current iPad 3 owners feel like they must upgrade immediately, or even soon.

The iPad 3 is still a state-of-the-art tablet. None of its powerful features are diminished in any way by the release of the iPad 4; it still runs iOS 6 and has over 275,000 apps designed specifically for iPad available for it. It has not become any less of a great device since yesterday. So I don’t see a reason for iPad 3 owners to feel angry about this ‘early’ release of the iPad 4 – though as I mentioned above I know many are upset by this.

I own an iPad 3, purchased on launch day 7 months ago. I do want to upgrade to the iPad 4 fairly soon, but my case is quite different to a ‘typical’ iPad owner. This site is my day job, and it’s single focused on the iPad – so I have a bit more than a passing interest in keeping up with the latest models.

What are your thoughts on the iPad 4? Will you be buying one? If so, which iPad do you currently use?

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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10 thoughts on “That Other New iPad Announced Yesterday: the iPad 4th Generation

  1. I’m still very happy with my iPad 2. I think the people who are annoyed are those who have to have the most up to date Apple gear at all costs, but Apple never made any promises as to how long the iPad 3 would be top of the tree.

    I think it’s a great strategic move for them in the current market where the competition is getting much fiercer. Apple customers should be pleased that they’re upping their game as it will benefit the whole ecosystem.

    As a related aside, I only just bought a regular 13″ MBP (refurbished 2012) even though I’d heard the rumours of the retina model because I’d rather wait for the flash storage options to be cheaper and for more power behind the retina screen. I’m still very happy with that too.

  2. I have purchased each iPad as it came out and do feel burned by the early release of the iPad 4. What this upgrade says to me is that the iPad 3 was released before the chip they wanted to put in it was ready. Rather than pumping up performance they were only able to keep the same performance with the retina screen. That was fine with me at the time – the screen is a game changer. There is no going back. The problem I have is that I am an iPad gamer who has loved seeing games updated for the extra CPU in the iPad 2 when it came out and the extra pixels in the iPad 3. Now the games will be optimized for iPad 4 but I will not be able to take advantage of it. I am looking forward to Balders Gate and Infinity Blade Dungeons for iPad and they would be crazy not to make these run on the iPad 3 (and 2 for that matter – but that is the same as 3 with 25% of the pixels) so I expect to still be able to purchase them. They key is how much more the extra CPU and GPU will mean to the experience (e.g. if I get pushed back to 1024×768 in order to get decent performance that will hurt). The good news is that we should expect the 5th gen iPad to ship sooner (assuming next fall but who knows) than it would have if the model had not been updated early and it will probably be a much different device. My gut says to wait for then to upgrade.

    • Hey Greg – I kinda feel your pain given that you’re a big gamer. I have some favorite iPad games, but most of them are far from CPU intensive – stuff like a football (soccer) manager game, a military strategy game, Flick Golf Extreme and other ‘simpler’ sort of games I guess. That’s a good point about how we’re now very likely to see the iPad 5 next fall.

  3. I do feel kind of upset of not having the latest ipad on the block now and I do believe that apple has rushed it in launching the fourth gen. A lot of companies still haven’t been able to come out with apps that could fully use the power if the a5x processor. Would stick around with the current one and wait till the 5th gen comes out.

  4. I have the iPad 3 I was mad at first but if you think about it skip the 4 save some money get the iPad 5 with the A7 chip and new slimmer ipone 5/iPad mini look in like a year

    • Right on, and as Greg pointed out now we should expect a bit shorter wait for the iPad 5.

  5. I have an iPad 3, purchased on release day. It doesn’t bother me that they released a new one. However, if I just had bought it a couple months ago, I wouldn’t be happy at all.

  6. For got to ask, do you think they will release the next iPad in March, or is this a transition to end of the year releases in the future?

    • My impression thus far is that this is the transition to a new release cycle for the iPad – so we’ll have to wait until around this time next year for the iPad 5. I don’t feel like that’s a sure thing just yet though – maybe they’ll still surprise us next Spring though.

  7. I can see your point in upgrading to the ipad 4.

    I have a change in sending my ipad 3 back for a ipad 4 but in my case ipad 3 is sufficient at the moment for me since I don’t do heavy gaming or do FaceTime.