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iPad Reviews
15,670 Reviews PC Advisor Gold Award

iPad 3 review

From £399 inc VAT (16GB with Wi-Fi) -

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

The new iPad has an HD screen, as well as a camera that can capture 1080p footage, an improved processor and a bigger battery. Read our new iPad review to find out more. Updated, March 21 2012

Our new iPad review has shown that Apple's third-generation iPad has an incredible screen, but what about the much-vaunted 4G connectivity? Continue reading our new iPad review to find out.

New iPad review: 4G connectivity

Another new feature for new iPad is 4G mobile broadband connectivity. Like other fledgling technologies, we hear reports that 4G mobile data will also hammer batteries. That's not an issue here in the UK of course for the simple reason that there is no commercial 4G service available, nor will there be for years.

While Orange/T-Mobile has promised to reassign some of its bountiful radio spectrum to ‘4G' this summer, this looks to be through 21Mbps HSPA+ technology – a capability available to the 4G version of the iPad, if not actually the 4G LTE breakthrough that will let mobile devices soar with 100Mbps downloads.

When OFCOM finally auctions off more radio airspace this year, we should be in a better position to know when, and what manner of, 4G will truly be available in the UK in the following years. If you're thinking should I get the 4G model? then bear this in mind: by the time 4G is something to take heed of in this country, the following generation of iPad will inevitably have landed.

Looking beyond the State-side excitement about 4G, it's worth remembering that parts of the UK already have very good 3G service. We tested the new iPad around London, where we saw furiously fast double-digit download speeds. Without diagnostic software, it's hard to see which particular technology was in use. But on the Three network we measured in excess of 11Mbps download and 4Mbps upload performance, well beyond the limits of many a home's fixed-line connection.

New iPad download speeds

4G? Who needs 4G when 3G can today outpace many homes' fixed-line speed

(Measurement made on 21/3/2012 at Kent House train station on Three network)

New iPad review: the camera

The third and final material difference in the new iPad is the revised rear-facing camera. For us, this camera is only really called upon for occasional webchat use, in order to show our caller what we're seeing, switching cameras from the FaceTime or Skype interface. But Apple at least is touting the new iPad's 5Mp iSight camera as something to film and snap the family with.

The new iPad's camera mechanism looks to be the same as fitted to previous-gen iPhone 4, only this time with full-HD video capability, and video stabilisation too. An infrared filter in the lens is said to help optimise images by removing degrading long-wavelength light.

In our tests, video from this camera was somewhat grainy in challenging low-light indoor night-time scenes, but clear and sharp under decent lighting. Holding up a magazine-sized slate to film or photograph still feels somehow wrong, yet there's no missing the through-the-window effect of seeing the world rendered by an HD camera on a Hi-DPI panel. It really is like peering through a pane of clean glass framed by the iPad's black or white bezel.

For regular webcam chats, the iPad 2's front-facing camera in the iPad 3 gives the same quality as iPad 2 – which is to say, superb, its VGA-res camera well at home with low-light night chats.

New iPad camera

Next page: the new iPad's components, and our final thoughts >>

Apple iPad Expert Verdict »

Apple iPad 3 (WiFi, 16GB) Scores 9.0 out of 10 based on 525 reviews
1GHz Apple A5X dual-core processor (ARM Cortex A9 dual-core with SGX543MP4 quad-core graphics)
9.7in (2048 x 1536 pixel) IPS display with capacitive multi-touch
264dpi
16GB, 32GB or 64GB NAND flash storage
dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
option for 3G/4G LTE modem: LTE 700MHz and 200MHz, UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA 850MHz,900MHz, 1800MHz and 1900MHz, microSIM card tray, assisted GPS
5Mp iSight camera (rear-facing), capable of 1920 x 1080p video
0.3Mp FaceTime camera (front-facing)
3.5mm headset jack
30-pin dock connector
mono speaker
10W USB power adaptor
42.5Wh lithium-polymer battery
241 x 186 x 9.5mm
652g (667g inc 4G)
  • Build Quality: We give this item 10 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 9 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 9 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Extra horsepower from the revised quad-core graphics processor has been funnelled into maintaining the iPad 2’s top-notch graphics performance when tasked with driving four times as many pixels. An improved rear camera is not universally essential, and nor is an uprated modem for next-gen cellular services that are unavailable in most parts of the world. But just a short time using the iPad with its entrancing Retina display gives ample reason alone to consider an upgrade, even if you have an iPad 2. Once you’ve tried a third-gen iPad, iPad 2’s text looks plain blurry. For a newcoming tablet buyer, Apple has just handed you, at an unassailable price, the device that unequivocally retains the iPad at the zenith of tablet computing.

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