In announcing the fourth-generation iPad and breaking a three-year tradition of selling only one new tablet a year, Apple has caused some outrage among iPad 3 owners. But Apple needed to shorten the product cycle to add tweaks and improvements to the iPad amid a flurry of Windows 8 and Android tablets offered by other device-makers.
Marketed as "iPad with Retina display", this latest model features a faster A6X chip, an improved front facing camera, and the more compact and durable connector called Lightning which was introduced with the iPhone 5.
Benchmarks have confirmed that the iPad 4's A6X dual-core 1.4GHz processor alongside 1GB of RAM offers over two times the performance of the previous model. The new chip doesn't worsen battery life, giving users up to 10 hours of video. Although the rear iSight 5-megapixel camera remains the same, this model also features a front-facing FaceTime camera that has been upgraded to HD status to offer 720p video recording and sharper self-portraits.
Beyond that, the improvements are undoubtedly marginal over the seven month old iPad 3. It has the same 2,048 x 1,536 pixel Retina display on its 9.7-inch screen and other than its new 9-pin dock connector, is the same design, size (including 9.4 mm thickness), and weight (650 grams).
At release, the $499 iPad 4 will ship with iOS 6.0, which includes the Siri digital assistant and 200 new features. iPad 3 launched with iOS 5.1, which had YouTube and Google Maps among the pre-installed apps. iOS 6 kicked out Google Maps and replaced it with Apple's own map service which has had numerous issues. Despite this, iOS is still second to none in terms of functionality and app selection, of which there are now over 275,000 specifically designed for a tablet.
While the latest iPad doesn't offer dramatic changes, it does improve on an already amazing device. Those of you in the market for a new tablet or using an iPad 2 - this is the best 10" tablet on the market and you are sure to be enchanted. iPad 3 owners - you should probably sit this one out.
Need to know: Apple iPad 4
1. Faster A6X processor adds extra system speed and graphics power. (The Good)
2. The widest selection of tablet-optimized apps. (The Good)
3. Offers few improvements over its predecessor. (The Bad)
4. Expensive, especially if adding the LTE feature. (The Bad)