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The Complete iPad 3 Review: Retina Display, A5X, 4G LTE, And Camera

The Complete iPad 3 Review: Retina Display, A5X, 4G LTE, And Camera
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We're back with a more comprehensive review of Apple's new iPad 3, including new gamut benchmarks pitting the iPad 3 against an array of recent Android-based tablets. Is Apple's latest offering a disappointment to those expecting more—or a game-changer?

Every new product launch from Apple is enveloped in hype and hoopla. Some folks look for reasons to love the new hardware, while others spend hours looking for that one flaw that'll get everyone's attention. Not surprisingly, the iPad 3 launched to a full media circus.

But not everyone's expectations were satisfied by Apple’s third-generation tablet. Looking back at how this product family has evolved, the iPad 2 advanced in a pretty clear way. It was smaller, thinner, lighter, and delivered better performance. The iPad 2 was expensive, yes. However, its improvements over the company's first-generation effort made the price tag worthwhile for a great many.

The third-generation iPad is a different beast. Rather than tackle "smaller, thinner, lighter, and faster" again, Apple bolsters this device's image quality with a significantly higher-resolution display. The HD resolution is accompanied by a more powerful graphics processor able to maintain performance, even under the load of greater pixel density.

Our LCD benchmarks allow us to accurately quantify the image quality improvements, which you may have already seen in our first look at the iPad 3. To briefly recap, we found substantially better color performance and saturation. 

To focus exclusively on the iPad's new screen is to overlook a multitude of other small changes that Apple made, though. Today, we're going back to explore all of that in a more comprehensive review of Apple's newest tablet.

Compared to the iPad 2, The New iPad, as Apple calls it, feels very familiar. It's virtually the same size as its predecessor, and there are almost no changes to where notable components appear. The camera, microSIM card (4G model), speakers, buttons, and docking connector are all right where someone with an iPad 2 would expect to find them.

Last year, we noted that the iPad 2's docking connector was a bit of a bother, and even this point carries over. The curved casing makes it difficult to easily dock, often resulting in the connector scratching the tablet's chassis near the port. From a usability standpoint, the curved design also makes it harder to get tactile feedback from the power, volume, and mute buttons.

Although the design isn't any different, some folks can easily distinguish between the iPad 2 and 3. If you set one down next to the other, you'll notice that The New iPad is slightly thicker (though not by much; it's just a .03-inch difference).

More notable is that the newest iPad is about 10% heavier. Even that's pretty minor, though. About 18 g separates the third-gen 4G model and the first-gen Wi-Fi model.

Specifications
iPad
iPad 3G
iPad 2
iPad 2 3G
iPad 3
iPad 3 4G LTE
Length
9.56"
9.50"
Height
7.47"
7.31"
Width
.5"
0.34"
0.37"
Weight
1.5 lb (680 g)
1.6 lb (730 g)
1.33 lb (601 g)
GSM: 1.35 lb (613 g)
CDMA: 1.34 lb (607 g)
1.44 lb (652 g)
1.46 lb (662 g)
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