Apple iPad (4th gen) review

23 Nov 2012

Incredibly quick in all departments, but battery life suffers considerably

Price when reviewed: 
399(£399 inc VAT), 16GBmore
Buy it now for 
5

Apple sprung a surprise on the world when, at the same launch event as the iPad mini, it announced a newer version of its larger tablet. The fourth-generation iPad features a faster processor and graphics chip, plus the new Lightning connector and an upgraded front-facing camera. It’s effectively a straight replacement for the third-generation iPad, which is no longer on sale.

The new processor is Apple’s new dual-core 1.4GHz A6X chip, a variant of the 1.3GHz part found in the iPhone 5. Apple claims it doubles performance and makes the iPad feel “even more responsive” than before, while limiting the impact on battery life to “almost none”.

We partially agree. The iPad is indeed much quicker. It scored an astonishingly fast 868ms in the SunSpider compared to the previous iPad’s 1,803 and the Nexus 10’s 1,362ms. In Geekbench it scored 1,774 to the previous model’s 759, and in the 3D-gaming GLBenchmark run at native Retina resolution, it returned an average frame rate of 42fps, 91% faster than the older iPad’s 22fps.

What does this mean in a practical sense? Apps and games consistently launch quicker: Real Racing 2 HD loads a huge 8.4 seconds faster on the new iPad, for instance, although for most apps it’s a matter of a second or two.

Apple iPad (4th gen)

The extra grunt makes a difference in games, too. Once loaded, Real Racing 2 HD exhibited a smoother frame rate, although it’s worth pointing out that it was perfectly playable before. We suspect the biggest benefit will come over time as developers take full advantage of the new hardware with more sumptuous graphics.

That new front camera, upgraded from VGA to 1.2 megapixels, provides dramatically better results, though, with images and video that are far crisper and much less smeary than before.

However, it isn’t all good news for the latest iPad. With all that extra grunt under the hood, battery life has taken a significant hit. In our low-resolution looping video test it lasted 9hrs 45mins – over two hours shorter than its predecessor – the lowest score in this test we’ve yet seen from an iPad.

We can’t say that the fourth-generation iPad is an entirely positive upgrade, then. It’s massively quick, and remains our A-List tablet due to its sumptuous screen, the general quality of its hardware and the fantastic selection of tablet-specific apps and games in the App Store. However, that reduced battery life does put a dent in its overall appeal.

Detail

Price ex VAT £333
Price inc VAT £399
Warranty 1 yr return to base
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4

Physical

Dimensions 186 x 9.1 x 241mm (WDH)

Display

Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 9.7in
Resolution screen horizontal 2,048
Resolution screen vertical 1,536
Display type Multitouch, capacitive
Panel technology IPS

Battery

Battery capacity 11,600mAh

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1.4GHz
Integrated memory 16.0GB
RAM capacity 1,000MB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Focus type Autofocus
Built-in flash? no
Built-in flash type N/A
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Other

WiFi standard 802.11n
Bluetooth support yes
Upstream USB ports 0
HDMI output? yes
Video/TV output? no

Software

Mobile operating system iOS 6

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