Apple iPad 3 vs iPad 2 head-to-head review

Reviews 26 Mar, 2012

The new iPad comes with a raft of enhancements including a Retina display and LTE technology. Khidr Suleman compares the latest iOS tablet to the iPad 2 to see if it really is worth the upgrade.

Verdict: 
The iPad 3 is a solid device that outperforms it predecessor in almost all areas except battery life. We were particularly impressed with the Retina display and high-speed mobile internet as well as the improved camera. Users wanting the best iOS tablet need not look any further.

The new iPad has been out for well over a week now and has generated mass hysteria. Apple shifted three million devices in the opening weekend, maintaining the firm's grip on the tablet market.

We put the new iPad up against the iPad 2 to see if it is worth investing in the latest model or better to snap up the second generation device at a cut-price.

For the purposes of this review and to help avoid confusion we will refer to the new iPad as the iPad 3.

Design – Double vision

There is little to separate the two tablets when it comes to looks, something that was a little bit surprising considering that Apple usually revamps the design after a couple of generations.

Apple has retained the 9.7” screen size, solitary home button and 30 pin connector. The colour scheme also remains unchanged with users able to opt for a black or white bezel. The Wi-Fi only iPad 3 is 51g heavier than its predecessor whereas the 4G edition weighs 55g more than the 3G iPad 2.

Can you tell the difference? The iPad 2 is on the left and iPad 3 on the right.

The main reason for the weight gain is the inclusion of a 42.5Wh rechargeable battery in the iPad 3, which is near enough double the size of the battery in the iPad 2. This is needed as the Retina display, quad-core GPU and 4G technology are very resource hungry and Apple would not have been able to provide anywhere near the 10 hour battery life that iPad users have become accustom too.

To accommodate the larger battery and 4G technology, the iPad 3 is 0.6mm thicker than its predecessor, which is pretty much negligible to the naked eye.

Winner - Draw - Despite the iPad 2 being a tad thinner and lighter, the third generation model packs in some very impressive technology to justify the slightly bulkier frame and looks equally as appealing.

Display – Retina is stunning

The Retina display has been touted by Apple as the headline feature of the iPad 3.

The 2048 x 1536 resolution on the iPad 3 is double that of the iPad 2 (1024 x 768) and it shows. The Retina display is extremely vibrant and is superior to the iPad 2 when displaying high-definition pictures and videos. One of the most noticeable features is the clarity of text – the lack of pixilation when reading e-books, web pages or zooming in on stocks is very impressive. Business users are also likely to find it far easier to read PDFs and edit documents on the iPad 3.

Text on the iPad 3 is visibly sharper than on its predecessor.

At present there are 48 apps out of the hundreds of thousands in the App Store, which have been upgraded to make full use of the Retina display. These include apps such as Twitter, Readability, Flipboard, Infinity Blade II and SketchBook Pro. This is expected to increase very quickly, but it should be noted that the size of apps will also increase.

Many of the gaming apps that take advantage of the Retina display are at least 500MB in size, with some well over 1GB. This is something to bear in mind when you are purchasing the device. If you plan to be a heavy app user if may be worth getting at least the 32GB model.

Realistically, the iPad 2 still has a more than adequate display. However, the large apps that have been designed for the Retina display will not provide material benefit to the iPad 2.

Winner – iPad 3 – It is difficult to go back to using the second-generation tablet once your eyes have become accustom to the Retina display.

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