No one got it right, at least when it comes to guessing the name of the new iPad. The names iPad 3 and iPad HD were floated heavily in tech sites, and both were proved incorrect. There was a new iPad announced, alright, but Apple amerely chose to refer to it as “the new iPad”, adding that it’s the third generation iPad. Third generation is technically iPad 3 in my opinion but let’s stick with Apple’s choice. So when you order one, I guess you have to refer to it as the new iPad, or third generation iPad, or iPad 2012. But does the name matter really? To most of us, it’s the specs that really matter.
So what did Apple cook up for the new iPad? Let’s take a look at the major features.
This one is a given, and I must say the rumor mills were mostly right in guessing a high resolution Retina Display for the new iPad. The new iPad’s display has 2048 x 1536 resolution with 3.1 million pixels, translating to 264ppi. That’s four times the resolution of the iPad 2 and first generation iPad. This will make the new iPad a more enticing device, and a really good gaming platform. Images, videos and games should look really sharp on the new iPad. Retina on the iPhone is already amazing; just imagine Retina on a 9.7-inch screen, which, by the way, is still the display size of the new iPad. According to Apple, the resolution on the new iPad is so dense, the individual pixels are practically indistinguishable at a normal distance. Good enough to me.
Apple not only improved the resolution, it also improved the color saturation on the new iPad. The new tablet has 44 percent increased color saturation. In Apple’s own words, the colors are now “unbelievably richer, deeper and more vivid”. If this is not enough, the new iPad is now capable of playing full-HD1080p movies. I say shut up Apple and just take my money!
Apple did not use an A6 processor on the new iPad, and chose instead the A5X, a new processor that has double the performance of the A5 chip on the iPad 2. A6 was the guess of most tech sites, but rumors of an A5X surfaced close to the launch of the new iPad. A6 is said to be faster but I’m not complaining about the A5X. After all, it still delivers double the performance of the predecessor. The A5X chip is a dual-core processor but faster, and it now has a quad-core graphics chip. This is already too good for gaming and playing movies.
In fact, according to Apple, the A5X is even faster than the quad-core Tegra 3 processor from NVidia. How many times faster you ask? Four times! If this holds true in actual performance, the other tablet makers will really have a hard time catching up with the iPad.
If there’s anything not good about the iPad 2, it’s the camera. It took almost unusable shots, but thankfully, the new iPad’s camera ahs been improve. It now rocks a 5 megapixel back camera which Apple calls iSight camera. It features advanced optics for snapping pictures and recording full HD video. The camera on the new iPad is almost similar to the one on the iPhone 4S, except of course for the lower resolution, so this can only be good. The iSight camera uses backside illumination, making low-light shots possible, and it sports a video image stabilization feature that should make the your videos smoother.
HSPA+, LTE Connectivity
Again, the rumors were right on the 4G LTE support part. The new iPad will have an LTE connectivity, but to users in the Philippines, note that this feature will only be available in the US and in Canada. We have to content ourselves with HSPA+ connectivity, and to me this is good enough. HSPA+ on my Galaxy Nexus is fast, so I should expect a fast connection from HSPA+. And it’s not like we have full LTE connectivity in the Philippines. It’s still just at the infancy stage, with only a few connected areas as of now.
The LTE version is called iPad Wi-Fi + 4G and it offers 4G LTE with support for HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA. Both CDMA and GSM iPad users now have the ability to easily roam internationally. Apple was even kind enough to include tethering options, making the new iPad a Personal Hotspot just like the iPhone 4S. It allows connection of up to 5 other devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB.
The new iPad runs iOS 5.1, the newest version from Apple. iOS 5.1 bring with it a few enhancements including the afore-mentioned redesigned Camera app with video stabilization technology; the ability to delete photos from Photo Stream; support for dictation in English, French, German and Japanese; Personal Hotspot; improved iCloud features.
The new iPad also supports dictation, Google style. Instead of typing on the keyboard, you can use a dictation app. There will be a microphone icon on the keyboard which you tap if you want voice dictation instead of typing. When you are done, the new iPad converts your words into text. Apple says dictation also works with third-party apps. This means you can use the dictation feature to update Facebook status, tweet, or to write those Instagram captions. This is not Siri, just a dictation app.
The features above are the major ones. Apart from these, Apple has also introduced the iPhoto app on the new iPad, and updated the iMovie, iWork and GarageBand apps.
Pricing and Availability
In the US the new iPad will be available starting March 16 and will be priced at $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB model. The iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for either AT&T or Verizon will be available for $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model.
The price of the new iPad has essentially not changed from the iPad 2, which will now be slashed to $399 for the 16GBWi-Fi model and just $529 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.
For other markets, including the Philippines hopefully, the new iPad will be available on March 23.