Apple iPad 3 specs review

Apple iPad 3 specs review
It's time to leave aside the educated guesses and round up what Apple actually revealed today. Well, a 9.7" tablet with 2048x1356 pixels on the display, a 5 MP rear camera and a combo radio that has 4G LTE and HSPA+ connectivity, among numerous other bands.

The big deal here is undoubtedly the display. While some may argue it is not truly a Retina Display, since it sports a 264ppi pixel density, as opposed to the 326ppi on the last two iPhones, let's not forget that one variable to call it Retina is set to be the distance from your eyes, and your tablet is usually further away than your phone.

Anyway, with the new distance measurement it likely fits the name, but semantics walk when the resolution talks. It is no coincidence that Apple is calling the new iPad's display "Resolutionary". It is a nice wordplay which highlights that we have the highest screen resolution we've ever seen on a tablet, including the new Full HD slates that were just announced last week, like the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 Series or the Huawei Media Pad 10 FHD.

Not only will text and images definition look much better than on the iPad 2 with 4x more pixels, but the display also has 40% better color saturation, which will make everything pop and look gorgeous. Now it will be interesting to see after the first disassembly operation on the iPad 3 which of the usual suspects LG, Samsung and Sharp has made the screen for the particular unit, but the uniform saturation also hints at a pretty coordinated effort between those companies and Apple for achieving the same quality across the board.

The screen makers introduced a new production technology for the tablet's Retina Display - with 3.1 million pixels crammed into the new iPad, a million more than in an HDTV, the signal wiring that tells the pixels when to light up or go down can get interference and deteriorate image quality. 

That's why the LCD screen engineers elevated only the pixels on a different plane, leaving the wiring below them, for the crispest image possible, which is apparently a major breakthrough in display making. Oh, and let's not forget that we have a regular RGB matrix here, no PenTile shenanigans, which makes the 2048x1536 resolution even more stunning.


Now comes the A5X chip. The A5 silicon in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S is plenty powerful for any app you throw at it, with its dual-core CPU based on ARM's Cortex-A9 architecture. Cortex-A15 gadgets are yet to arrive at some point this year, but the "X" mark after A5 still must denote some sort of an improvement, right? The move from the A4 system-on-a-chip (SoC) in the iPhone 4 to the A5 SOC was denoted by a bump in the processor codes used by Apple. The A4 is S5L8930X, while the A5 is S5L8940X. Now the A5X label goes 5 digits further to S5L8945X, indicating only a partial upgrade over the A5.

Well, those 3 million pixels are not going to light themselves if we don't have more graphics prowess in the chipset, so Apple has bumped the GPU to a quad-core one now. Before you smile condescendingly knowing that Tegra 3 has a 12-core GPU, and even Tegra 2 has an 8-core one, let's remember that we are talking PowerVR when it comes to the iPad.

The A5 has a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics subsystem, which wipes the floor with the Tegras, so a quad-core in the A5X probably means a PowerVR SGX543/544 MP4 GPU, coming at about four times the Tegra 3 performance when graphics are concerned, if we look at the synthetic measurements. This will make gaming, image and video editing, drawing or any other graphics intensive task on the new iPad go with the PowerVR flow.

Next in line we have the new 5MP iSight rear camera module, just the resolution on the iPhone 4. It features a 5-elements lens, like the camera on the iPhone 4S, back-side illumination (BSI) for better low-light performance, and image stabilization. The jury is still out on the camera quality, but it should be on par with the iPhone 4 at least.

This time Apple is in possession of a dual-core chip to process all the 30 frames per second coming through the iSight's optics, so the new iPad is capable of capturing Full HD 1080p video, whether you need it on a tablet or not. 

It's nice to know the ability is there, though, and Apple has updated its iPhoto and iMovie apps with numerous editing capabilities made possible by the powerful graphics subsystem and the hi-res display.

And here comes the last hardware achievement of Apple's new iPad - the baseband radio. Considering we have both AT&T and Verizon's 4G LTE frequencies supported, the connectivity chip in the iPad 3 is probably of Qualcomm's newest Gobi variety. Apple claims no mobile device is supporting so many basebands as the new iPad, and it has a reason to do so. 

The fifth generation chip supports TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE, LTE on FDD and TDD networks worldwide and embedded GPS capability, plus 42Mbps DC-HSDPA, 21Mbps HSPA+ and EV-DO, thus providing the widest baseband radio support in the market yet

The new iPad is guaranteed to work on networks from Vancouver to Vladivostok, and Qualcomm has apparently managed to slim down its LTE radios significantly compared to the first generation, allowing Apple to still achieve a very thin, 9.4mm tablet. This connectivity radio we are probably going to see in this year's iPhone as well. 

The Wi-Fi + 4G model will come with different shell featuring a plastic strip at the top that helps signal penetration. Moreover, while you have to pick a version configured specifically for AT&T or Verizon's LTE networks, you can also sign up for service straight from the iPad, and buy data usage as you go, without the need for long-term commitments with a carrier.

Last but not least, a quick word about the battery - Apple equipped the iPad 3 with a 45 watt-hour battery, while we have a 25 watt-hour one in the iPad 2. The new iPad's Retina Display and the LTE connectivity apparently are a huge drain on the juicer, since they are quoted to provide around 10 hours of work and play with both iPads.


Now that you know more about the new hardware features in Apple's third generation iPad, what are your thoughts on them? Did they match all your expectations, or did you want to be "wowed" by even more breakthrough tech? You can also vote for your favorite iPad 3 feature in our ongoing poll here.

Related phones

iPad 3
  • Display 9.7" 2048 x 1536 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Apple A5X, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 11560 mAh

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25 Comments

1. Schuler28

Posts: 26; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Android is still gonna win look at it this way. The first Android phone was made in 2008 and was the HTC Dream, the first iPhone was unvieled 2007. and Android already own more market, if Apple doesn't fix it Android's software is gonna get less and less bugs which means it will be better. That's the only reason Apple is winning Design and Software. In my opinion iPhone 4S is greata esspecially with few bugs but Software isn't alll people care about. Just like Android when it first camme out on the phone it had tons of buggs but in the next 1-2 Years it will catch up with Apple. Just wait.

4. Striker

Posts: 92; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

Good God, man! This is news for Apple, stop talking about some rubbish software on even more rubbish yellow hardware.

3. jamrockjones

Posts: 345; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Haha, breakthrough technology.... no made by Apple. Nice job LG, Sharp, Samsung, or whoever else (and not Apple) made it.

5. Striker

Posts: 92; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

Kiddy! It maybe made by Huanghuang, Shamshung or whatever yellow factory. It is where it was invented what it matters! Grow up, children! :)

8. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Striker not only are you an ifan idiot but a racist one also and uour comments have no place on PA

9. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

why not.. there is room for your igonorant comments

25. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Well well guess who supports racists........gallitoking

16. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

not only are you an ignorant racist and probably under 16, your an idiot. if what matters is where it was invented, then Jam is dead on. The chip was invented in a Samsung factory, the IPS screens were invented in a korean LG factory, Qualcom (the only american parts supplier in the group) made the radios, and it was all put together by slaves in china. Apple is a software vendor. They dont make a darn physical thing inside of their devices, they just make the programs they run on.

7. matrix_neo

Posts: 334; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

I agree but sad to say that apple don't like healthy competition. What will happen to apple if one day these manufacturers refuse to manufacture?? I will ask Siri...

19. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

um apple designs it… im pretty sure samsung and lg and sharp just product it… similar to how foxconn doesnt design apple products.. just produces them… and i think this is a nice healthy upgrade… there isnt really anything more to ask for

24. Dark4o90

Posts: 205; Member since: Feb 20, 2011

so what apple invented the high res display hahahhahahahhahaahaha

27. xvengence42

Posts: 20; Member since: Dec 12, 2011

Apple designs it. Other people build it. Basically Samsung and LG are Apples b*tches.

6. galaxyisking

Posts: 63; Member since: Nov 18, 2011

weak!

10. Dechine

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

I have to laugh at apple fanboys. Very rabid in their defense of apple. I personally cannot stand apple products, nor could I stand Steve Jobs. That being said, the products are brilliant, and so was Jobs in a dictator sorta way. The Ipad 3 is an impressive piece of hardware, but the next android tablet will probably be as well, then the next ipad will trump it then the next android, and so on. I won't buy and ipad but I am still interested in the tech that is coming out.

11. corrifa

Posts: 34; Member since: Sep 28, 2011

Now I am even more anxious for Samsung to finally announce their 11.6in tab with 2560x1600.. Hopefully they go PowerVR too.. Apple usually does graphics right (except for the iPhone 4)

15. naveenstuns

Posts: 184; Member since: Feb 19, 2012

samsung will not do it since it accepted that tablet is not its strength so, its the asus and acer's job to make powerful tablets.

14. gragonHDfones unregistered

it looks weird with its smaller screen size. u can see it even though its not really much a difference

21. Deicide

Posts: 82; Member since: Jul 02, 2011

iPad has always been a 9.7in screen... What are you talking about?

17. rsiders

Posts: 1998; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

The iPad 3: its just like the one you spent your hard earned money for BUT NEW! See? Lol. This is funny to me and I'm actually a fan of Apple products.

18. gaby1451

Posts: 120; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Question: What is DC-HSDPA? How does it differ from HSDPA aside from speeds?

20. darkvadervip

Posts: 366; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

I think it's great and let's not forget iPads don't freeze up like android tabs. I have an ipad2 and the new Samsung tab. Samsung tab freezes up at times and if you own one android tab all of the rest is the same. The iPad stands out. So the result for me is to sell my ipad2 and get the new one and sell my Samsung tab and wait for the mighty windows 8 tab.

22. Deicide

Posts: 82; Member since: Jul 02, 2011

I like the screen resolution, but wish it had some form of new screen technology like LG's AH-IPS screens or a SAMOLED.

23. pjasinow

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Apple are the king of user experience, there new hardware enforces that philosophy. Anyone person wanting a tablet that is easy to use and answers there questions elegantly would be crazy to buy something else. Android will always be the other cheap alternative and will keep the lines blurry to the customer. When I say cheap I mean user experience. When I go to a electronics store which Android tablet should I buy, friggin confusing. Or I could just buy a ipad and get it all. I'm not a fan boy but I'm not stupid either.

26. babyk

Posts: 379; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

HTC Samsung Sony ETC....Please release another android device so could get rid of all those ipad and apple stories on front / index page of phone arena.

28. ryan5609

Posts: 107; Member since: Nov 01, 2011

Since Apple is making so much damn money on these things, I thought I would join in on the fun. I pre-ordered the iPad the first day. With full intent of selling it when they sell out. I am an Android and Windows user 100% of the time. I am impressed by all of the specs of the New iPad and I do think that it is a great value, you get more for $499 than in any other device before it (Android, windows, etc.) As much as I would like to keep the new iPad, I will enjoy the profit much more.

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