Look and feel
Apple’s fourth-generation iPad is the spitting image of the third-generation tablet, and still packs a decent heft. It’s not as portable as many rivals or the excellent iPad Mini, but it’s still a great-looking machine.
Ease of Use
Apple’s iOS is as easy to use as ever, even if the likes of Maps are a frustrating experience. Siri has been given a much-needed boost and the square 9.7-inch screen is a joy for browsing the web.
The front-facing ‘FaceTime’ camera has been boosted to make you look less grainy, and the 5MP rear-facing lens still captures crisp photos. 4G compatibility in the cellular model is good news for web enthusiasts and media streaming fans, although that new Lightning connector means existing owners will need adapters for their accessories.
The dual-core A6X processor ‘doubles the performance’ of the iPad third generation’s A5X CPU, and certainly doesn’t struggle with any apps, games or media.
We got the advertised ten hours of use from a single charge when mixing it up between emails, apps and games. Streaming video on full brightness gives you seven hours of life.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/29/2012 4:23:48 PM
Ease of use
Impressive Retina display;
Surprisingly good battery life;
Great range of apps;
Updated FaceTime camera
Not very portable;
No memory card slot
Check out our full comparison with the iPad Mini!
Launched at the same time as the Apple iPad Mini, the fourth generation iPad came as a bit of a surprise, mostly because the third generation iPad hit our shelves just six short months ago. Twitter was immediately flooded with angry comments from owners of the third gen iPad, who had stumped up hundreds of pounds only to see their trusty tablet already ‘outdated’ in mere months.
Truth be told, this fourth generation iPad is more of a quick tweak to the existing tablet than a full-blown sequel, so existing owners need not be too aggrieved, especially as their iPad will still capably do everything they need for years to come. In fact, the iPad 4 has completely replaced the iPad 3 in the Apple store, proving that it’s more of a gentle upgrade than a new device. But what’s changed, and is it worth a punt for existing and aspiring owners?
Stick the iPad third generation and fourth generation side-by-side and, much like the HTC One X and HTC One X+, you’ll not be able to tell them apart. We checked out the white model and it looks as fantastic as always, from the glossy front to the brushed metal rear. The only real change is the Lightning port on the bottom, which is much narrower than the old charging/data port. This does mean that existing owners will need adapters to use their accessories, but new users have nothing to worry about and we prefer the new slimline cable head.
Our only issue is that the iPad is quite a chunky and hefty tablet compared to many rivals, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and if you’re looking for something to take on the daily commute we’d recommend the iPad Mini or the Google Nexus 7 instead. However, as a device for browsing the web and messing around with apps on your sofa, the iPad is a joy.
That’s mostly thanks to the supremely sharp 9.7-inch Retina display. One of the crispest tablet screens out there, the Retina display produces incredibly lifelike HD images, making it a great photo editor and media machine. Viewing angles are excellent. On its maximum brightness it’ll practically melt your eyeballs, so you don’t have to worry about glare either. The display hasn’t changed at all from the previous iPad’s, and we can’t say that upsets us.
One area that has changed is the processor, which has been boosted from an A5X to Apple’s latest A6X chip. According to Apple, this new processor has twice the computing power of the A5X, although given the third generation iPad’s sterling performance, this is kind of hard to test. We certainly never saw any stuttering in the many hours we spent playing games and messing around with apps and our media.
One concern was that the faster processor would prove more power-hungry, sapping battery life fast than the previous iPad. Thankfully this isn’t the case, as we still got the promised ten hours of use when checking emails, getting stuck into our apps and editing our photos. Our patented media test (streaming video over Wi-Fi with the screen turned up to maximum brightness) also gave seven hours of life, better than average for a modern tablet.
Another update concerns cellular connectivity (not applicable for the Wi-Fi only version), as the iPad’s now compatible with 4G LTE here in the UK. Apple fans will remember the iPad third generation had built-in 4G support for our American friends, but annoyingly it wasn’t compatible in this country (leading to some hastily corrected adverts). Thankfully this issue has been rectified, so if you plan on streaming media on the move, the iPad fourth generation is a good bet.
The 5MP camera on the rear of the iPad is the same snapper found on the last generation, still capable of taking bright, colourful shots. Wielding the iPad as a camera isn’t a very comfortable experience, but we’re seeing more and more people taking video on their tablets when out and about, so it’s always good to have the option. More useful is the front-facing FaceTime lens, which has been boosted from the grainy VGA offering of the last iPad to a sharper 1.2MP effort. If you’re video chatting with friends online, you’ll therefore appear as more than a few blocky pixels.
The fourth generation iPad is only a minor step up from the third gen tablet, so anyone who already splashed out this year should pay no heed. Owners of older iPads and newcomers will find plenty to enjoy here, however, from the brilliant Retina screen to the 4G support. Regular travellers may prefer a more portable option such as the iPad Mini or Google Nexus 7 by Asus.