So, yesterday we finally got to hear what Apple's latest tablet offering is all about. The "New iPad", which worringly seems to be the actual name for the device, boasts an impressive display resolution, new processor, LTE, 5MP camera, 1GB of RAM and iOS 5, but how does it measure up to some other lower-profile announcements from the competition?
The iPad 3, as I'm going to call it (if Apple doesn't give it a proper name then people are going to come up with names of their own), is powered by an Apple "A5X" processor with a dual-core CPU and a quad-core GPU. This is in contrast to several other tablets that have been announced recently based on NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 3.
The resolution of the iPad 3's display (2048 x 1536 pixels) has doubled along each axis from the iPad 2, resulting in 4 times as many pixels and a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch (ppi). Apple is reffering to the iPad 3 as having a "Retina Display", a term it coined when it announced the 326ppi on the iPhone 4. I agree that the iPhone 4 and 4S can be referred to as Retina Displays because the pixel density is so high that the human eye cannot distinguish individual pixels. Research from various institutions has shown that level to be at about 300ppi and above. So, although the display resolution of the iPad 3 is excellent, I have a problem with Apple calling it a Retina Display. It is stretching the definition to meet their marketing needs, in the same way that several US carriers have called their HSPA+ networks 4G.
As far as the other hardware specs are concerned, 4G network connectivity is the key one for me. The iPad 3 comes in several versions, some with Wi-fi only and some with Wi-fi plus 4G. The 4G speed is reported to be an impressive 73Mbps on AT&T and Verizon networks. While the A5X apps processor is Apple's own technology, the 4G modem chip is likely to be from Qualcomm as it also supports CDMA.
For more analysis from Strategy Analytics on the iPad 3 launch , check Peter King's report and Jia Wu's interview with New England Cable News.
One final thought: our SpecTRAX database reveals that the iPad 3 is the 508th tablet model to have been announced in the last two years. I wonder how many of the 507 other models have been profitable!
And now the spec comparison...