Apple New iPad review

If youâ??ve never seen or used an iPad before, be prepared for something amazing.

by Greg Hook
Home AV Review


Highly Recommended
Apple New iPad review
SRP: £399.00


Apple, oh how I wish for my 6th birthday in 1984 that some crazy, tech-savvy and perhaps time-travelling Uncle had bought me 10 of your shares for just $28.50. I was probably more interested at the time in the latest Transformers toy, but if that had actually happened, that $28.50 would now be worth $5,720 today! Apple’s rise to become one of the most powerful companies in the world has been nothing short of outstanding. They have been very clever in creating devices that nobody really needs but the second you lay your hands on them and start using them, you wonder how you ever managed to live your life without one. How did you manage the day to day drudgery without that lovely shiny new iPad?

They have created products that people actually spend hours (and days!) queuing up for when a new one is released. I can think of no other product that people will happily queue for days in all weathers just to be one of the first to lay their hands on it. A new games console perhaps will draw the crowds, but that is an event that comes round once every few years, whereas the iPhone and iPad even with their annual updates still draw in the masses.

Apple has only really exploded in the last few years after the release of the original iPhone in 2007 which has now sold over 200 Million units. A few short years ago, a tablet used to be something that you swallowed but now that word is synonymous with a handheld touch screen device that opens up a whole world of possibilities, the major seller of these new fangled devices being Apple’s iPad. The release of the original iPad in April 2010 was also another major leap forward for Apple. It has now sold well over 100 million units and taken the world by storm and it accounted for approximately 75% of all tablet computing sales in 2011.

In its third incarnation, this new iPad promises a much higher resolution screen, similar to that of the iPhone 4 and 4S along with a beefier processor, the latest iOS 5.1 and several other improvements. I’ll be checking these out in this review along with a comparison to the two previous iPad releases.
Apple New iPad
Apple New iPad
Apple New iPad

A thing of beauty?

If you are upgrading from the iPad1 to this new iPad, you will immediately notice the reduced thickness and weight, thinner, sleeker curved frame and almost nonexistent bezel. Compared to the iPad2 it is heavier, mostly due to its much increased 42.5 watt battery. The 16GB Wi-Fi version weighs in at 649g compared to the original iPad at 689g and the iPad 2 of 601g. The technical specifications for the screen say it has a ‘fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating’. Now I’m not sure if my fingers are especially greasy and dirty (I washed them before dinner, honest!), but my new iPad was covered in finger marks after a very short period of use. Although to be fair this was the case with the original iPad too. They wipe off easily enough though.

Retina Display

One of the main reasons for an upgrade from a previous iPad, the high resolution 2048x1536 ‘retina’ display with 264 pixels per inch is a joy to look at. iPhone 4 and 4S owners will be familiar with this already (albeit on the small screen) but reading a webpage, particularly a forum with a lot of small text, you will find yourself not zooming in anymore to make out the words. The text is clear and easy to read. The icons on the main screen appear clearer and brighter and the colours are a lot more vibrant.

A minority of users have reported a yellowish tint to their new iPad screens which has been reported as the due to the glue used in the manufacturing process and will dissipate over time. If you are unfortunate enough to get one that doesn't improve, Apple will replace it for you without any issue. The photo below shows a comparison of a webpage on AVForums on both the New iPad and the iPad1 and iPad2. See if you can work out which is the new one?

Apple New iPad
Apple New iPad
Apple New iPad

Did you get it? It should be immediately obvious that the top photo is the new iPad as the text appears clearer and much easier to read. For an easy comparison pick out the smaller text such as the page numbers or the text on the top bar, on the bottom two photos it is hard to make out the words but on the new iPad screen it is very clear. All three iPads were set to maximum brightness, laid side by side and photographed in one shot, so you can easily see the different colour of the new display which in my opinion is a lot more natural than the iPad1 and 2.


Apple New iPad

The user interface follows the same lines as the previous iPads. You have a row of quick access (up to 6 of your choosing) apps along the bottom, then all the other apps laid out in a 4 x 4 system across as many pages as you have apps for. Swiping left to right will bring up the search screen allowing you to search for that elusive app if you have many pages of them, or even to search an email, contact or note. Swiping down from the top of the screen will bring up a list of notifications from apps such as another players move on Words with Friends and unread emails. Touching one of these will take you directly to the app or email.

Double tapping the home button (or swiping up with four fingers) will bring up a list of all the running apps (holding one for a few seconds will allow you to close it, should it be causing trouble) and swiping to the right will show more of the ones that are currently open or recently opened. Touching one will take you directly to it, regardless of what you are currently doing. Swiping to the left will bring a quick access menu to change the brightness, volume, play the last song, lock the orientation of the screen and go to your music collection. Compared to other tablets running Android and Windows the OS of the iPad is basic with very little options for customisation. This to some is a major reason why they don’t have one, but perhaps to a whole load of other people it is the very reason why they are drawn to it.

Battery Life

Despite the new retina display and ‘quad core’ processor, the battery life is still quoted at 10 hours, which probably explains why it is slightly heavier and thicker when compared to the iPad2. Recharging it you definitely notice it takes a lot longer. The iPad1 would comfortably charge overnight, with a couple of hours to spare, but the new iPad from completely flat after 8 hours of charging would only get to 90% recharge, so don’t expect to put it on for a few minutes charging and get any more than the odd 1% or so.

I’d take issue with the battery life quoted on all the iPads but particularly the iPad3. Presumably to get 10 hours out of it, everything has to be disabled, screen set to low brightness and you are just supposed to do a bit of web browsing on a basic website. In reality I got nothing like 10 hours. For example, with the battery at 17% I got only 45 minutes before it went flat just by doing a bit of web browsing, playing Angry Birds and watching a few minutes of SkyGo. In general use I would say 5-7 hours is probably what you may be looking at. Be prepared to charge it nightly if you are a regular user.

One issue that arose on the AVForums stand at the 2012 Gadget Show Live was that the new iPad doesn’t like being left on constant charge. If you have it setup somewhere with it always plugged into the charger, on a few of the new iPads it will just stop charging completely and then go flat on you, forcing you to do a shutdown and restart to get it to charge again. But this probably isn’t a major issue for the majority of users as they don’t leave it on charge all the time.


The single speaker on the new iPad is much improved over the iPad1. It’s now not something you use to get a quick bit of audio whilst you chase around trying to find your headphones, but you can actually watch a movie or listen to music through the internal speaker without feeling that your ear drums are about to pack their bags and depart never to be seen again. It’s still not amazing and headphones or a speaker dock will always beat it, but for those times when you don’t want to use those, the internal speaker is decent enough. Compared to the iPad2 I couldn’t detect any noticeable improvement in quality.

iOS 5.1

Apple’s custom operating system, initially released in 2007 for the original iPhone, has been gradually updated and refined with each new release. A new iOS version is often as eagerly awaited as a new iPhone. Especially a full update, rather than a .1 (usually bug fixing!) incremental update. iOS 5brought in over 200 features such as multi-tasking gestures by using several fingers at once on the screen, Game Center (which you can share your gaming scores with friends), Wi-Fi sync to iTunes and the much improved notification system (swiping down from the top of the screen will list all the notifications from any apps).

The latest iOS 5.1 release also seen on the iPhone, fixes many bugs found in 5.0 and previous, including the annoying Safari browser crash when a webpage would try to load a lot of information. It also brings in the improved camera app seen on the iPhone in iOS 5 allowing you to edit to a basic level such as cropping and red eye removal. Compared to the versatile and highly customisable popular operating system Android, as used on most of the iPads competition, iOS can be accused of being very rigid and restrictive, with very little options to change the layout or configure it to your exact liking. Although it is most likely the standard layout and overall ease of use that attracts so many people to the iPad and iPhone over the competition, but if you are wanting an operating system that you can customise to your heart's content, then unfortunately you will be disappointed here.

5 Megapixel Rear Camera

The rear camera on the new iPad now offers 5 megapixels with optics of f/2.4. These are taken from the iPhone 4S but the iPad does not have the 8 megapixels that the 4S users get. Whilst this camera is not going to set the world on fire, the comparatively modest specification still produces good results. Although in low light conditions it will suffer due to the lack of any flash. Personally, already owning a digital camera and an iPhone, I can’t see that I’d ever use this camera for anything other than playing about as it isn’t that practical for general photography, so it’s not a feature that ranks highly on my list. Although it’s perfectly good to use in place of a proper camera if one is not available at the time. No cameras were present on the iPad1. At 0.7 megapixels and taken from the 4th generation iPod Touch, the iPad2’s rear camera was such a pitifully low resolution, there was barely any point in bothering with it at all, it essentially took video stills. So the 5 megapixel rear camera on the new iPad is a welcome addition and a much needed upgrade.

Voice Dictation

Whilst not the fantastic, wise and all knowing, voice assistant Siri that is found on the iPhone 4S, the voice dictation is still a great feature to have and after a few test emails, the text was reasonably accurate although it appears to struggle with the small words and also does some rather amusing errors, particularly if you have a rather nasty sore throat and your voice sounds like a cross between Barry White and Joe Pasquale.

But it is useful, for example, for browsing AVForums on the iPad and you want to reply to a post. I’ve tested a few now and using the dictation it is considerably quicker, even factoring in a few minor corrections. It works in any app where you enter text. Once the keyboard comes up, just press the little microphone icon next to the space bar and start talking, press it once you have finished and hold your breath to see if it has got it correct! As long as you speak clearly it should be pretty much spot on. If you are looking for heavy use and more reliably accurate dictation, I would suggest a specific app such as the Dragon apps that will do a far better job. Neither of the previous iPads have this feature.


iCloud is another of these Apple creations that before it came out you didn’t need it, but now you can’t imagine not having it! It was introduced in October 2011 at the same time as the iOS5 update and is a great feature for those who have several Apple devices such as an iPhone to go along with your shiny new iPad. Once setup it will sync apps, calendars, mail, contacts and documents. All these settings can be configured to your liking.

One of the best features of iCloud is the syncing of photos between devices. This is a very easy way of showing off your iPhone photos on the iPad without having to sync to iTunes. If you have been out for the day or on holiday, it’s an excellent quick way to show off the days photos on a bigger screen. For example on a recent holiday to Florida, I took photos with my iPhone all day, then when I returned home in the evening they were ready to have a look through on my new iPad, without me having to do anything. This feature is not device specific and is available across all versions of iPad.


Let’s have a look now at Apple’s A5X custom processor. Initial rumours spread that a new Quad core processor was making its debut in the new iPad but instead a new version of the dual-core A5 processor was announced. The A5X is still dual core, but does offer Quad-core graphics. Running at the same clock speed of 1Ghz as the A5, Apple claim the new processor is a ‘graphics powerhouse’. This should make everything fly along compared to previous versions.

A few comparisons to the iPad1 and iPad2 below:
Angry Birds HD – Time to load New iPad - 9.8 seconds iPad 1 - 11.5 seconds
Hector Episode 1 – Time to load New iPad – 16 secondsiPad 1 -21.1 seconds
Fully loading the AVForums homepage New iPad – 6.2 secondsiPad 2 – 6.2 secondsiPad 1 – 10.8 seconds
Zeebox – Time to load New iPad – 5.5 seconds iPad 2 – 4.4 secondsiPad 1 – 8.0 seconds
Google Earth – Time to load including data New iPad – 20.8 seconds iPad 2 – 20.1 secondsiPad 1 – 25.1 seconds

Along with these basic tests everything feels that bit smoother and faster than the iPad 1. Deleting a batch of emails is much faster without the annoying pause whilst it opens each email that was very noticeable on the iPad1. Opening YouTube and starting a video is much quicker too. Although less can be said about the differences between the iPad 2 and the New iPad. Compared to each other there is no noticeable difference on operation. Opening apps at the same time such as YouTube were similar, if not a fraction quicker on the iPad 2 along with the similar results seen in the app tests above.

I was really surprised by this and ran the tests several times to average out the results and make sure what I was seeing was correct. I wasn’t expecting the new iPad to be miles ahead, but I was looking for some improvements, when during the testing I carried out, none were found. Obviously a lot of things are dependent on your internet speed and Wi-Fi quality but in identical conditions the New iPad really shows that it has been impressively beefed up in the processor department from the iPad1 but appears to be no different compared to the iPad2.

Wi-Fi Quality

The walls in my house are obviously built with lead, not only does this stop Superman peeking at me when I am undressing, it also stops the Wi-Fi signal when I move about 10 metres away from the router. Right next to it I get a full signal with the iPads and gradually moving away they lose signal at the same place, obviously this not a scientific test, but in my isolated conditions it does show that Wi-Fi reception on the new iPad appears identical to the previous two. I’ve always felt the Wi-Fi reception on the iPhone and iPad to be poor in comparison to other devices such as a Laptop and later incarnations of Apple’s devices don’t appear to be addressing this issue. My laptop for example will still have a full signal whilst the iPad has dropped a bar or two.

But a plus point is that the Wi-Fi is 802.11 a/b/g/n. With the 802.11a operation on the 5GHz, 802.11n on 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz and 802.11b and g on the 2.4Ghz band. What this means is that should you find your Wi-Fi signal suffering due to a large number of other Wi-Fi signals, for example if you live in a block of flats, then you can buy a dual band router and switch to the 5Ghz band which should reduce the interference quite significantly. This was extremely useful to have at the 2012 Gadget Show Live on the AVForums stand. Due to the huge amount of people using the same 2.4Ghz wireless it was almost impossible to get our iPads to lock onto our wireless signal until one of the resident experts had a brainwave and we quickly sourced a dual band router and switched our wireless to the 5Ghz band, hey presto, instant locking on and no issues for the rest of the show.


Without apps the iPad is not much more than a pretty digital photo frame with a few bells and whistles. Apps are what make or break a device such as this and this is where Apple are succeeding in providing hundreds of thousands of amazing apps (and to be fair a load of awful ones too). Apps such as the massively popular Angry Birds, Plants VS Zombies and many others, all accessed quickly via the App Store, downloaded and ready to play in a very short time (depending on connection speed and file size). Also, you buy the App once and it can be downloaded onto other iPads and your iPhone for free. With iCloud activated the next time you come to your iPhone it will probably already be installed and ready to use.

My personal current top 10 apps are:
  • AVForums (of course)
  • Words with Friends HD
  • Draw Something
  • Angry Birds HD
  • Sky News
  • Sky Sports Football Score Centre
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Sky Go
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
I could go on forever about the apps as there are literally thousands. Imagine anything you want to do with your iPad and there will probably be an app for it.

Media Integration

If we focus now on those apps of particular relevance to your home cinema and media centre, there are all kinds available. ‘Remote’ which allows you to use your iPhone or iPad to control iTunes and Apple TV. ‘Mobile Mouse’ which turns the iPad into a wireless remote and mouse for your PC. Along with mostly free Apps by all the major manufacturers, such as Samsung’s imaginatively titled ‘Samsung Remote for iPad’ which allows you to control Samsung Smart TVs with your iPad, LGs similar ‘LG TV Remote for iPad’ and several by Logitech for controlling various of their devices such as the Squeezebox. Plus if you have a recent Amplifier/Receiver there are apps such as the £2.99 ‘oRemote’ for controlling the features of an Onkyo or Integra receiver or the £5.49 ‘DeRemote’ to do the same on Denon receivers.

Integrating with something like the Apple TV really makes the iPad shine. For example you can stream BBC iPlayer from your iPad and onto your TV, mirror your iPad screen onto your TV and effortlessly stream music, movies and photos. Again, I could go on forever as there are so many available. Basically your iPad can become the control centre for your Home Cinema. You can even get apps such as the free ‘Remote Desktop – Universal App’ which allows you to connect via your iPad or iPhone to your PC. A particularly useful addition if you want to get that humongous patch downloaded and installed for Battlefield 3 before you get home.

Apps and Storage

One last thing I would mention about apps is to be aware of their increased size thanks to the new Retina display. A 16GB iPad will not hold as much as it used too and if you are considering a few 1080P movies and several large games, you may wish to choose the 32GB or 64GB versions. For example, my 16GB New iPad has 5.4GB of storage left. Used space is 7.9GB and this is only with 19 apps installed (no major sized games either), 1.3GB of video and 2.4GB of Music. Despite it being 16GB, my iPad seems to be keeping 2.7GB for its own use. Although as the photos found in the Photo Stream are available offline, presumably part of this 2.7GB is taken up with those, so bear this in mind if you have a large amount of photos on your iPhone and have iCloud setup to sync across devices.


Ignoring any wireless connectivity, the New iPad follows the previous models with very limited connections such as just the charger and headphones. Absent are any slots for memory cards, which given the size of micro SDHC cards, this points to Apple’s, at times, restrictive control. An SD card slot to allow transferring of photos or other media would have been a great addition. Also absent are any HDMI connections such as the micro HDMI port seen on the Blackberry Playbook. You can of course buy an adaptor from Apple to give HDMI connectivity, but out of the box this is another feature that would be a worthy addition. Another absent connection is a USB port. Again you can spend even more money and buy a camera connection kit from Apple that will provide this.

These things could have been excused when the iPad1 was released, but given that there are now micro versions of the SD cards, HDMI and USB, Apple really should think about putting these on the iPad. When you try and put forward an iPad to fans of other tablets, if these missing features were present, it would remove a few negative aspects that they will rightly bring up. But I have a feeling they have only left them off to make you spend a load more cash to buy an adaptor.


Apple New iPad

Thanks to the iOS5 update bringing in a PC-free initial setup, you can now comfortably get away with not using iTunes. It’s still handy to backup your device to your PC or Mac but is no longer essential. I use it, but I’m not a major fan. It is good for organising music and apps, but I find the photo organisation much more complicated than it needs be. Everytime I connect to download photos I have the fear that it will delete them all and replace them with photos from a folder it decides to sync with from my computer. Happily these things are not common occurrences, but my personal thoughts have always been that someone other than Apple initially designed iTunes because given how fluid and easy to use their other devices are, iTunes is occasionally the opposite.

4G or not 4G

Whilst still offering 3G connectivity with the right model, the New iPad was released with 4G LTE connectivity. Sadly this will be of no use for many years here in the UK, by which time the even newer iPad will be out. So don’t expect anything other than 3G speeds with a 4G iPad. I did not have a 3G iPad for review so cannot comment on the 3G speed and quality.

Tips and Tricks

With no proper instruction manual, it is no surprise that many of the amazing features and little tricks are unknown to a lot of people. A few of these I wasn’t aware of until I had thoroughly looked into just what the iPad could do, one I only just discovered today whilst writing this review. Some of them perhaps are obvious to all, but it is worth mentioning nonetheless.
  • Holding your finger over any app for a few seconds will cause all of them to shake slightly, you can then move them to a different page or delete an app you no longer want. You can also use this to move the apps on the quick access bar at the bottom.
  • Following the above, you can move an app on top of another and it will create a folder with those apps in it which you can rename to whatever you want.
  • Holding the home screen and pressing the power button will take a photo of whatever is on the screen at the time.
  • When typing, if you hold a particular letter such as the s for example it will offer alternatives such as ś. (I only discovered this today)
  • Swiping left to right with four fingers will immediately switch to the other apps that you have recently used.
  • When in an app, pinching the screen with four fingers will switch you to the home screen.
  • Touching the top of the screen when in a webpage or other app where you have scrolled down will cause it to go straight back to the top of that page.
  • In the settings > general, you can change the side switch to either mute or rotation lock.
  • Select, cut, copy and paste are also available. Just hold your finger over some text and the menu will appear.
  • Install iBooks and download the free ‘iPad User Guide for iOS 5'


The Good

  • High Resolution 2048 x 1536 ‘Retina’ Display
  • Much improved 5 megapixel rear camera
  • Almost unlimited number and type of apps
  • Free and easy updating of apps
  • Faster and more powerful
  • Easy to use interface

The Bad

  • Battery Life
  • No Flash support
  • No HDMI or USB connection
  • No memory card slots
  • Poor 0.3 megapixel front camera
  • No Siri

Apple New iPad review

If you’ve never seen or used an iPad before, be prepared for something amazing. If you are a previous iPad owner, still be prepared as there are a lot of improvements here that may make you still throw your cash Apple’s way.

The high resolution 2048 x 1536 ‘Retina’ display with 264 pixels per inch is stunning. Double the resolution of the previous iPad, everything is now bright, clear and crisp. Reading web pages is now a lot easier on the eyes than previous versions and you will find yourself zooming into the page a lot less as the text is now a lot clearer and the colours are vibrant and strong. With the increased pixels per inch from 132 of the previous iPad to 264 on this new one, you can’t see the individual pixels that make up the screen and this makes for one of the best tablet displays I have seen to date.

The 5 megapixel rear camera is much improved with 1080p video recording, although that seems rather poor in comparison to the Galaxy Note's 8 megapixels but it's still a vast improvement on the, frankly insulting, 0.7 megapixel camera that the iPad2 was released with. The iPad’s front camera is purely for Face Time use as it is only 0.3 megapixels.

Compared to a laptop (which if you have one, you probably won’t ever use again after getting an iPad) the instant start up, no fuss operation, fast web browsing and access to detailed looking games, not to mention the latest music and amazing apps for just about anything, will make you wonder why you waited so long to get one.

Yes, the cost is an issue. At £399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version it’s by no means the cheapest of the tablets such as the sub £200, due for release soon, Kindle Fire from Amazon and the Blackberry Playbook. Plus there's the comparable in price Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, which offers a better camera and the customisation that Android users love. When you get to the 64GB 4G version at £659 it becomes a very meaningful outlay. But what the iPad offers is a very easy to use operating system and access to over 550,000 apps to cater for anything you could think to do with it and many things you probably haven’t. Unfortunately many of these apps have been rather slow to update and haven’t yet been optimised for the new high resolution display, but hopefully this will be coming in the near future. There is a phrase that is coming into general use which is ‘there’s an app for that’, meaning that within reason, whatever you want to do, there is most likely an app that does it for you!

For the original iPad1 owners, upgrading to the New iPad would seem like a no brainer (if you have the spare cash that is). You get a slimmer, lighter, faster and more powerful iPad and the gorgeous high resolution screen. However, for iPad2 owners, the reasons are perhaps less compelling. Yes, you get the high resolution screen (which for some is reason enough for an upgrade) but it is also a tiny bit thicker and a good amount heavier (50g) along with a lower battery life, despite the increased capacity. Having spent £400 just a year ago on the iPad2, do you want to spend another £400 this year on the new version? Unless you have the cash laying around, you may say no to that one.

A few key features are still missing unfortunately. Out of the box HDMI connectivity is again absent along with Siri which debuted on the iPhone 4S. Siri is a built-in voice activated assistant that lets you use your voice to make calls, send texts, schedule meetings and even tell you what the weather is going to be tomorrow. Whilst this feature is probably more useful to iPhone users, it would still have been a welcome addition to the new iPad. What it does have instead is voice dictation (also available for French, German, and Japanese if you are so inclined). There's a particularly useful feature that, whenever you need to type any text in any app, you just press the little microphone icon on the keyboard and speak away. Don’t speak too quickly or with a strong accent though as it will give you rather laughable results.

With over 70 million tablet computers sold in 2011, they are here to stay and will quite possibly overtake and replace Laptops in the next few years. The iPad is a superb example of what you can achieve with one of these, but it has competition. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is hoping to be hot on the iPad’s heels (at least in the US) with its low entry price point and 2012 is bringing a whole range of tablets such as Asus’s amusingly named Transformer Prime with a Quad Core processor and the Toshiba Excite series of tablets. Along with the release of Windows 8 bringing tablets from the likes of Samsung, Nokia and Dell. A lot of choices will be available in 2012 and the iPad will probably face the widest range of competition to date. However, for the time being, the New iPad would definitely be one to consider, unless you own an iPad2 and then the decision is a little more difficult.
Highly Recommended






Operating System




Email, Browsing, Calendar, Contacts


Media Support


Value For Money




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