iPad 2 vs iPad 3

iPad 3 (yes, the ‘new iPad’) is finally here and here I am, sitting with my iPad 2 still contemplating whether I should get the iPad 3 or not. Sound familiar?

I’m currently writing from Seoul, South Korea and Apple has yet to announce a launch date for the folks here in “The Land of the Morning Calm“. In the midst of early reports of users experiencing a number of problems with the new iPad, I figured I had some time to mull over the dilemma of whether I should pick up an iPad 3 or not…or did I.

I just found out that I will be flying to Fukuoka, Japan on Saturday (tomorrow) and Fukuoka just conveniently happens to have an Apple Store in Tenjin. It will be a day trip but enough time for me to waltz into the Apple Store to grab an iPad 3 if I wanted to.

So…do I want the iPad 3?

If I was in the States, the answer would most likely have been “Absolutely“. However circumstances have changed, especially being that I have not been able to sell my iPad 2 in time for the iPad 3 launch – cashflow is a (greater) concern this time around (but really, when is it not?).

So here’s the dilemma.

I currently own a 64GB WiFi-3G iPad 2 and I’m not convinced (enough) to buy the new iPad 3. (I’d love to hear your input on this by the way via comments!)


Let’s compare the basic specs

The basic specs of the iPad 2:

  • 1024×768 display
  • 512MB RAM
  • dual-core A5 chip at 1GHz
  • 2G & 3G connectivity

The basic specs of the iPad 3: (‘new iPad’)

  • 2048×1536 display
  • 1GB RAM
  • dual-core A5X chip at 1GHz (quad-core graphics)
  • 2G, 3G and 4G LTE connectivity
Verdict: iPad 3 wins in all departments


Size, Dimensions and Battery

Generally speaking with respect to the exterior, I’d say that both tablets are the ‘same’. Both tablets are the same height and width; however the iPad 3 is both 10% heavier (660 vs. 600g) and 10% thicker (9.5 vs. 8.6mm). The ‘larger’ dimensions is due to the larger batteries Apple decided to install with the new iPad – 60% more battery capacity than the iPad 2 (42.5 vs. 25 watt-hours).

Despite having nearly double the battery juice than the iPad 2, the new iPad’s battery life is exactly the same as the iPad 2: 10 hours on Wi-Fi and 9 hours on 3G/4G LTE.

Verdict: iPad 3 is marginally heavier, thicker and has same battery life


In short…

To sum things up, the new iPad is heavier, thicker and has the same battery life; however has a MUCH better display, more RAM, better graphics (2 more cores), and 4G LTE connectivity.


Retina Display

iPad 2 vs iPad 3 Retina display comparison - Ars Technica

iPad 3’s biggest achievement, the Retina display is ‘huge’. Notice the display comparison image, courtesy of Ars Technica.

Prior to the launch, we noted that the iPad 3 will have more pixels than your 1080p flatscreen in your living room and here’s the image to prove it.

The images and text on the iPad look much sharper and crisper for obvious reasons. Backed with its quad-core graphics, Retina-display supported apps, games, and movies look absolutely brilliant.

Dewey: So…do I want one? Absolutely. The images look stunning. However here’s the thing. If the Retina display came with a number of other improvements (okay, iPad 2 is quite perfect as is and doesn’t deserve a huge makeover but we always want ‘more’, right?), it would justify the purchasing the new iPad over my current iPad 2…but for just the Retina display…? I don’t know.


More RAM and Quad-Core Graphics

More RAM is always good. The iPad 3 sports 1GB of RAM, which is 4 times larger than the original iPad and 2 times larger than  its predecessor, the iPad 2. I noticed a significant difference when I upgraded from the original iPad to iPad 2 – graphics were smoother and apps stopped crashing for once (thank God!).

Crashing apps hasn’t been an issue for me with the iPad2, although I wonder as more apps start to be developed to support the Retina display , I would notice the lack of ‘juice’ as time goes.

Quad-Core graphics on the new A5X is pretty significant. More RAM and better GPU simply means ‘better graphics’ overall…but by how much?

PCWorld carried out a preliminary benchmark of the GPU and contrary to what we would expect from doubled RAM and graphics core, the iPad 3’s GPU did not perform nearly as well against the iPad 2 – they noted a (meager) 20% upgrade in performance.

GL Benchmark iPad 3 - PCWorld

Dewey: No more crashing apps and more RAM is great. Better graphics? Awesome, but 20% increase…? Hmph…


4G LTE connectivity

new iPad 4G LTE USA Only?4G LTE is great, it really is. I love that we’re getting faster wireless connection speeds nearly matching that of a Wi-Fi connection. However here’s the thing…the new iPad’s 4G LTE connectivity is available only in the U.S. This is due to the Qualcomm MDM9600 3G/4G modem not being set at the right frequencies for use in Europe or Asia.

Here’s what MacWorld UK saw at Apple Store UK on March 8 with regards to 4G LTE connectivity in ‘other’ countries:

The iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on GSM/UMTS networks. When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. In countries without compatible 4G LTE networks, the new iPad will operate on GSM worldwide network technologies such as HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA.

Dewey: 4G LTE. I have an iPhone 4S (and a Galaxy Note) that are both capable of Personal Hotspots and while in Korea, I use the ‘EGG‘ 4G mobile hotspot (similar to the 4G offerings by Verizon, Clear Spot, etc). Especially being that the 4G LTE will not be compatible in Korea, 4G LTE connectivity isn’t as appealing to me as it would for others.



new iPad camera is the same as iPhone 4The new iPad sports a 5-megapixel rear camera, the same CMOS Image Sensor used on the iPhone 4. It’s certainly several levels up from the iPad 2 that came with a megapixel figure just around 0.92-megapixels.

Unfortunately the front-facing camera remains the same at just 0.3-megapixels.


Dewey: 5-megapixel rear camera…I guess I’m spoiled with my 8-megapixels camera on the iPhone 4S. 5-megapixels is great but it would’ve been great if Apple upgraded the front-facing camera as well…needy much?


Anything else?

Well I can’t think of any more significant factors that differs between the iPad 2 and the iPad 3. Oh sure the size… As much as I’d like to say that the iPad 3 is ‘much’ heavier than thicker, in reality it isn’t. I carry around my NewTrent battery pack for my gadgets anyway so the added weight isn’t much of a concern really.

Let’s wrap things up.

Shoppers brandishing their newly purchased iPa...

Shoppers brandishing their newly purchased iPad 2's outside the Chicago Apple Store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do I still want the iPad 3? Sure. Do I feel that I need to spend another $699 (I’d be getting the 64GB) for the upgrades listed above? Not quite.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that the upgrades are laughable and simply a marketing gimmick. Apple clearly went through a lot of trouble in getting the Retina display to work within the 9.7-in. frame of the new iPad.

There is clearly a lot to appreciate about the iPad 3 (‘new iPad’, ‘iPad HD’); however reflecting on my personal needs at this point, mainly because I currently own a beautiful iPad 2, I’m leaning towards waiting out until a more ‘worthy’ successor to the ‘new iPad’ is released.

For folks that currently do not have an iPad or have been carrying around the original iPad, you’ll absolutely adore the new iPad. For folks like me that already has an iPad 2…well I’ll leave the decision up to you. The new iPad’s display is stunning, but I’m not sure if the display (and the relatively minor upgrades to the iPad 2) is honestly worth picking up a new iPad.

I had the same dilemma with upgrading from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 4S, and ended up upgrading (I couldn’t resist Siri…). Think you could change my mind to upgrade to the new iPad? Convince me/us in comments!


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Image Credit: DailyTut, Ars Technica


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