It’s going to be a little while to have enough reliable and substantial information regarding the soon to be released iPad 5 for a blog post, so I’ve included the iPad 4 for this review with the other tablets I’ve recently posted. The iPad 4 is undoubtedly the best version of this famous tablet, and Apple did not disappoint although the changing of the 30-pin to Lightning connector has upset a few customers, although it truly was an improvement for a few reasons. Regardless, the changes have been positive and in keeping with generational improvements; they just keep getting better, which is the way it should be.
Physically, the iPad 4 and the iPad 3 are identical in size. The iPad 4 dimensions are 7.31”W x .37”D x 9.5”H, with a 1.44 lbs weight. The screen is a 9.7” (diagonal) inch LED backlight multitouch display with IPS technology, with a 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch. The screen has a fingerprint resistant coating which improves readability as well.
It is almost identical to the third generation iPad on the outside except for the power/data connector on the bottom. The Home button is still in the same location, with the volume rocker switch and the silent screen/rotation lock located next to it, on the right edge of the body. At the top you have the microphone on one side and the 3.5mm headphone mini-jack on the other side.
The important major changes occurred inside the device, significantly increasing the performance. Three major changes showcase the fourth generation iPad including faster performance, replacement of the 30-pin dock connector with a new Lightning connector, and improved camera performance.
Faster Overall Performance
The iPad 4 received a new A6X processor, at 1.4GHz, (along with a quad-core graphics processor) a 40% improvement over the previous model’s A5X 1GHz processor. The benchmark tests reflect a marked improvement in performance. Geekbench Benchmark results indicate an iPad 4 score of 1764 versus the iPad 3 759. The GL Benchmark Egypt Offscreen results indicate an iPad 4 score of 183 versus the iPad 3 126. Basically, the tablet performed admirably with any application used with it, including some high-performance gaming apps; overall, a good solid performance machine.
The iPad 4 supports Bluetooth version 4.0 and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n and Apple claims the WiFi has been improved with Channel Bonding, which utilizes two adjacent Wi-Fi channels simultaneously to double the bandwidth. Although sound in theory, in the real world, some interference occurs which has a negative effect and substantial reduction in bandwidth as a result. On the LTE version of the iPad 4, the LTE chip has been improved, with additional frequencies added for better worldwide support. There are two iPad models; one model is for Verizon and Sprint, and the other model is for AT&T, with each model using different LTE frequencies. The upgraded LTE chip also has improved GPS and GLONASS (Russian satellite location finding system used with GPS for improved accuracy).
Lightning Connector Replacement
The old 30-pin dock connector located on the bottom edge, which has been used for Apple products for eight years was replaced with a new, much slimmer but stronger connector that Apple calls Lightning. The new Lightning connector actually is now the standard connector on the latest version of all of Apple’s mobile devices. There were reasons for the change. First of all, the previous 30-pin connector was rather fragile and tended to break easily. The new Lightning connector is much slimmer and a much better connection is now the result with improved resiliency. You could only insert the older connector one-way, which at times would result in bent pins from users trying to force it in the wrong way. The new Lightning connector can be inserted either way with no problems. And of course, this new Lightning connector has now become the standard on all of Apple’s latest mobile devices. There is an adapter you can get which converts from 30-pin to Lightning for those using the older accessories.
Both the front and rear cameras have been improved over the previous iPad model, although the megapixel size is the same, 1.2 megapixel for the front camera and 5 megapixel for the rear camera. However, both cameras have been improved and the unit also has a new image signal processor for better image stabilization. Although the quality of the images are not at the standard of the iPhone 5, there was definitely improvement in overall quality from the previous model when comparison shots were performed. The rear 5 megapixel camera retained the same capabilities including:
- Face detection
- Backside illumination
- Five-element lens
- Hybrid IR filter
- ƒ/2.4 aperture
- Tap to focus video or still images
- Tap to control exposure for video or still images
- Photo and video geotagging
- For video recording important features were retained including:
- 1080p HD video recording
- Video stabilization
- Face detection
- Tap to focus while recording
- Backside illumination
The important thing to note about the front-facing camera is that it now supports a 720p video conference capability. Tests were performed using FaceTime and there was a substantial improvement in quality.
The iPad 4 did perform adequately on the power check test. The battery is a 42.5 watt-hour lithium type and in comparison tests, it did not do quite as well as last year’s model, registering a session life of 9 ½ hours versus the iPad 3’s 10 hour span.
Choices include colors black and white, as well as a WiFi or WiFi + Cellular. Prices start at $499 for the 16GB version, up to 64GB for $699.
My overall opinion of the iPad 4 is that it’s a great tablet with some solid performance improvements over the previous iPad 3. With the iPad 5 release pending, Apple will no doubt be cutting prices and you could get a sweet deal on the 4 with some great features to boot. It all boils down to your pocketbook: enjoy the savings reduction due to the new release or go for the new technology and its additional features with the iPad 5. That is always the dilema with choosing a cutting-edge device, features or money. For many long-time Apple customers it’s almost always the features and the newer device usually wins.