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.
(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.