Apple's New iPad: 6 Key Features

No, it's not called iPad 3 or iPad HD, just "iPad," or "new iPad," if you must. We break down Apple's big changes.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

March 7, 2012

4 Min Read

Apple introduced a new model iPad, called "iPad," and an improved Apple TV set-top box at a media event in San Francisco on Wednesday, along with an update to its mobile operating system, iOS 5.1.

In addition, the company has updated the iPad versions of several of its apps, including the iWork apps Keynote, Pages and Numbers, and iLife apps iMovie and Garageband.

Apple presumably wants to revert to calling its tablets simply "iPad," but having already released "iPad 2," it might have seemed odd to go back to just "iPad," the name of its first-generation device.

Hence, Apple is stuck with unwanted adjectival baggage: It has to pair "new" with "iPad" so people know which iPad it means. The purchasing buttons on Apple's website offer this choice: "Select an iPad 2" and "Select a new iPad." Apple wouldn't want customers avoiding its new iPad for fear of ordering an old iPad.

[ Read iPad 3: 9 Things We Really Want. ]

Normally, using "new" on a retail website would be a way to distinguish between new and used (or "pre-owned") devices. But Apple isn't using the word to describe the device's condition; it's co-opting the term for its product name, at least until we forget the first iPad. With any luck, Apple will drop "new" as an adjective before people start selling their new iPads and secondary markets like are forced to list "used new iPads."

Presiding over the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that the company sold more iPads last year than the number of PCs sold by any single competing computer maker. Apple, he said, is at the forefront of the post-PC revolution.

The new iPad doesn't quite live up to the unrealistic hype that preceded its launch. It does not support Siri, as many expected. Its battery life and form factor remain the same (count this as an improvement given the increased CPU horsepower and cellular networking). There's no sign of NFC, wireless charging, or hardware-based anti-theft technology. But wishing for something doesn't mean the technology is ready or the engineering is realistic. There's always next year.

What Apple delivered is a solid upgrade. The new screen is stunning and should make graphics-oriented apps more appealing. The improved cellular networking capabilities and faster processor will make the device more responsive.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg summed up Apple's offering in less than a third of his allotted 140 characters. "Many Android tablet vendors weeping right about now," he said in a Twitter post.

Here's how the new iPad shapes up:

Retina Display
As predicted, the (new) iPad features a high-definition screen with 2048 x 1536 resolution. Do the math and you get more than 3.1 million pixels. That's most ever in a mobile device, said Apple SVP of marketing Phil Schiller.

A5X processor
This chip runs four times faster than NVIDIA's Tegra 3, according to Schiller. That's great news for gaming and processor-intensive apps like iMovie. Still, some Apple-watchers had hoped for a quad-core A6 processor. This is a dual-core processor with a quad-core graphics processing unit.

iSight Camera
The third-generation iPad includes a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera that utilizes the same optics system that debuted in the iPhone 4S. The front-facing camera remains an unimpressive 0.3 megapixel camera capable of VGA quality images.

1080p video recording Full HD video recording has come to the iPad, with video stabilization and noise reduction. No more 720p for you.

4G LTE will be available in the US from both AT&T and Verizon. Your coverage may vary. Apple's software now supports hotspots that can accommodate up to five other devices, provided the user's cellular plan does too.

Voice Dictation It's not quite Siri, but it will recognize English, French, German, and Japanese.

Pricing remains the same, at $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB for WiFi-only models. iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for either AT&T or Verizon will be available $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB, and $829 for 64GB.

iPad (the new one) will be available on March 16 in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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