Apple iPad 4 Review

Introduction and Design
Update: You can now read our Apple iPad Air review!


Breaking its very own sacred routine of releasing a new iPad model every year, Apple undeniably took everyone by surprise as they not only announced one new iPad, but two at its most recent San Francisco event. Just a little over six months ago, the third-generation iPad became the Cupertino-based company’s flagship tablet, as it moved the industry along its normal course by introducing us to a Retina Display ready iPad. Now in the present, it has seemingly given up its seat on the throne to the latest entrant to the market – the aptly named Apple iPad 4, which isn’t necessarily a true successor. Instead, it’s sporting some minor hardware upgrades, while opting to employ Apple’s new Lightning dock port. Knowing all of that, will it still be something you’ll want to consider when there’s a new and lower priced iPad lurking about?

The package contains:

  • Lightning USB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Start Guide
  • Apple decals


Even though this is billed as the iPad 4, there’s nothing new whatsoever with its design, build quality, and construction. In fact, it’s an exact facsimile to the previous third-generation iPad, which isn’t a terribly bad thing to expect per se – especially when it exudes a finish that’s more premium than some of its direct competitors. As always, we adore the iPad 4’s overall sturdy feel that’s aided by its brushed aluminum casing, plus, it helps that it’s still one svelte looking thing. After playing around with the iPad mini, though, it’s quite evident that the iPad 4 is handled better with two hands – as opposed to one handed operation.

It wouldn’t be an Apple device if we didn’t see a recessed home button beneath the display, right? Well, that’s carried over by this one, so there’s still no worries about accidental presses. Above the display, we see the tablet’s first upgrade over its predecessor. Specifically, it’s now packing along a higher count 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, which has the ability to shoot videos in 720 and ready to offer us high-definition quality with FaceTime.

Around the iPad 4’s trim, the only noticeable change here is the new Lightning docking port that replaced the former’s long withstanding 30-pin connection. Aside from that, everything is found in their usual locations – like the 3.5mm headset jack, microphone, power button, mute switch, and volume control. Lastly, the rear looks mightily familiar since it’s featuring the tablet’s 5-megapixel auto-focus camera and speaker grill.


Already a benchmark thing on its own, it was unlikely for us to see Apple push forward with even a higher resolution display for the iPad 4. Rather, it’s the same lovable one from before, so there’s nothing much else to say about it. Even now, the 9.7-inch Retina display on the iPad 4 is a marvelous thing to behold – mainly because it’s super detailed thanks to its 2048 x 1536 resolution, which puts up an admirable pixel density of 264 ppi. Additionally, it stands out for its very accurate colors, wide viewing angles, and high brightness output – all of which combine together to keep it visible under the view of the sun.

Interface and Functionality:

Since this latest iPad is running iOS 6, there’s nothing new that we haven’t seen before in the software side, but if you’d like to learn more about it, you catch up on it in our iOS 6 review. However, we’ll quickly point out that the platform is fashionably simple, intuitive, and straightforward – enabling newbies to quickly figure out how to navigate across the platform in no time at all. At the same time, however, iOS 6 is lacking the dynamic look and rich personalization aspects of other rival tablet platforms. Nevertheless, it has a rich ecosystem of tablet friendly apps to showcase its functionality and power.

Of course, one of the more recent additions to the iPad’s experience is the availability of Siri’s omniscious presence. Being our personal digital assistant and all, we’re grateful that she’s there to keep up organized, and every once in a while, give us a good laugh too with her many puzzling responses. As for the rest of the core organizer apps, they’re the same ones we’ve been seeing of late, so there’s nothing new to be found with them.

As always, we find ourselves capable of typing long passages of text with the landscape keyboard – primarily thanks to its spacious layout, large sized buttons, and responsiveness. Although there’s some difficulty in getting our thumbs to encompass the entire layout of the portrait option, we can actually utilize the split-screen layout so there’s less stretching required by our digits. And finally, the email app proves it usefulness in keeping us productive on the go.

Processor and Memory:

Above all, the biggest upgrade that’s found on the iPad 4 is the newer dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A6X processor inside of its body. According to Apple, it’s mentioned to be twice as fast as the previous generation A5X – while also doubling its graphics performance without compromising battery life. Honestly, we’re hard pressed to see any noticeable improvements in performance with basic tasks, since the platform has always been extremely responsive to begin with. Furthermore, it manages to maintain a silky smooth performance with other processor intensive operations, like playing games, without showing a single instance of any slowdown or lag. Simply put it folks, it’s a speed demon!

Firmly sticking with the same routine, the iPad 4 is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. And just like before, there’s no expandable storage with this one either.

Internet and Connectivity:

Has there been a time when Safari on the iPad didn’t live up to our expectations? Of course not! Even with this latest addition to the iPad family, it delivers the goods in the web browsing experience thanks to its detailed display, fast page loads, proper rendering, and buttery smooth navigational controls. To tell you the truth, we can’t complain much now that iOS 6 has finally introduced some very useful sharing features with Safari.

Interestingly enough, the iPad 4 is now available in LTE form to work with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint – the latter of which is something new that we haven’t seen before. Along for the ride as well, the iPad 4 packs other connectivity features such as aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi .


Although we’re still hesitant about snapping photos with tablets, we’re increasingly seeing more people relying on their tablets to take some snapshots. Armed with a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera, we have to admit, the iPad 4 produces some pleasant photos that are worth saving for the memories. Handling most lighting situations with relative ease, it maintains a favorable level with its average details, neutral colors, and proper exposure. However, when it comes to low lighting conditions, it’s still exhibiting a fair amount of noise and dull details. Regardless, we’re certain more people aren’t going to be afraid to use this one now that its quality continues to be tolerable.

In addition, its 1080p high definition video recording quality is superb, for a tablet that is. Exhibiting plenty of visual flare with its quality, like its smooth 29 frames per second capture, sharp details, and minimal artifacting, it’s more than acceptable to please our eyes. Still, the only downer is the fact that it doesn’t have a noise-cancellation feature, which results in it picking up heavy wind.

Apple iPad 4 Samplle Video:


Well, there’s nothing out of character with the iPad 4’s music player, seeing that it’s donning the same layout and presentation as before. Aside from that, the audio quality of its internal speaker doesn’t seem to any better than before, but nonetheless, it’s powerful without exhibiting any distortion at the loudest volume setting.

Besides having to do convert high-definition videos to enable them for play on the iPad 4, there’s nothing we don’t like about the video watching experience – partly because of its brilliant looking Retina Display. Not only does is play high-def videos with relative ease, we’re enchanted by its warmer color tones and iridescent glow.


Testing out the Wi-Fi only version of the iPad 4 and setting it for automatic brightness, we’re glad to report that its battery is above average to other tablets in the same category. Ample enough to get us by through a single day of normal usage, there’s no arguing the kind of longevity it has to offer.


As much as we’d love to believe that this is the successor to the iPad 3, partly due to the fact that there’s a “4” attached to its name, we figure that it’s more indicative of being an iPad 3S – since you know, it’s employing the same design as before, but with subtle hardware improvements. Sure, there are going to be some “new” iPad owners steaming with the realization that their model is outdated after 6 months, but regardless of that, it made sense for Apple to announce it now so that its product lineup is unified by offering its new Lightning docking port.

Ultimately, the iPad 4 delivers on all the fronts you’d want a top-notch tablet to succeed in – thus, easily making it one of the elites in the tablet world in the moment. Heck, it even manages to take some good looking photos and videos, which are much better than most of the competition. So if you’re in the market for a premier tablet, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put the $500 Apple iPad 4 on your list.

Software version of the review unit: 6.0.1

Apple iPad 4 Video Review:

Video Thumbnail

Update: You can now read our Apple iPad Air review!


  • Premium construction
  • Impressively detailed and accurate Retina Display
  • High caliber performance
  • Above average battery life


  • Not much of a serious upgrade to the iPad 3

PhoneArena Rating:


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