Should iPad Owners Upgrade To The iPad 4?

Surprise! There's a new iPad out. Again. Already. But should you ditch the one you've got for the new guy? Our guess is probably not.

What's New Here?

Where to start! There's that speedy new A6X chip, for one thing. That's a genuine improvement over the new iPad of this past March. The A6 that it's based on improved the iPhone's performance and power consumption. That's a pretty rare trick, although the new iPad's 10 hour battery life doesn't reflect that same kind of improvement. In fact, it's the same as iPad 3.

But how does the A6X chip compare in terms of performance with the iPad 2's A5 processor and the iPad 3's (shut up, we're using 3 and 4, it's just easier to keep track that way) A5X? While the A6X is apparently a big improvement (twice as fast!), remember that Apple still considers the A5 is good enough to use day-to-day, because it's using the die-shrunk version of the A5 (which has slightly better battery life) in the new iPad Mini. But the Mini is smaller -- doesn't that matter? Nope! Both tablets are the same resolution -- 1024x768 -- and have the same 786,432 pixels to push. (Both also, probably, have 512MB of RAM.) It's the same workload.

The other addition is the Lightning connector, which is a big deal for future-proofing yourself, obviously, but iPad accessories aren't quite at the same level as iPod and iPhone accessories. And most of your interaction with peripherals on an iPad are going to be wireless, anyway. Think about it: what accessories for an iPad actually use the dock connector? There's nothing out there that's going to force you into Lightning any time soon.

So an iPad 2 is still more than capable. An original iPad lags a little further behind, since it's missing some key AirPlay functionality and a camera, and was considered sluggish even by the time the iPad 2 came out. But if you've held out this long, there's good reason to hold out just one more generation.

Why Wait?

Here's the thing: The iPad is in a weird cycle right now, especially compared to every other Apple product. Starting with the retina MacBook Pro at WWDC, Apple's spent the past five months in a relentless drive toward impossibly thin and light gadgets. Those MacBooks, the iPhone 5, the new iMacs, and especially the new iPad Mini -- all of them represent a massive reduction in size from their previous iterations.

And then there's the iPad. Unlike the rest of Apple's stuff, March's upgrade made the iPad 3 thicker, heavier, and hotter than the iPad 2. It was a totally un-Apple progression, made even sillier by the cavalcade of coke-habit-thin gadgets that came after it. This new iPad is just as big (same dimensions), and actually ever so slightly heavier (by 4.5 grams, according to Apple's official specs). But if the assembly of those products is anything to go by, there's zero reason to think this trend of fat iPads is going to continue.

Watch this iPad Mini assembly video, starting around 3:10. Does that engineering process and display assembly look familiar? It should. It's dead-on similar to how Apple put together the iPhone 5, which was thin and light enough to make people actually complain about those objectively wonderful traits.

Compile that with the inclusion of thinner, lighter Igzo (and similar) screens, and reason stands that a similar process has to be coming to the iPad next go-round, and it's going to be a hell of a lot more impressive than a new processor and a Lightning connector.

In other words: there's nothing here that you can't live without for 12 months.

So Don't Buy This at All?

Obviously, if you're buying someone a present, it makes the most sense to get this newest iPad. The Lightning connector alone makes getting anything else nuts, since all of yourApple accessories going forward will use that new connector. The retina display really is pretty great, too. If you're starting from scratch, iPad-wise, buy with confidence.

If not, though, remember that these past two iPads have the kind of design compromises that other current Apple stuff just don't suffer from. And the kind that are especially troubling for a gadget that's so visceral. So if you can hold on one more refresh cycle, all signs point to the payoff being a super thin spaceship of an iPad next year. You've been warned.



    This article makes alot of sense to me, but has no mention of LTE. Since moving from a 3G device to an LTE device, I want them all to be LTE as I have found is really fast!

      LTE is great if you live or work in an LTE covered area. Not so much if you don't.

      4g wireless dongle. Problem solved. :)
      And you can connect multiple devices to it.

    Had an iPad1 since launch, its all I've used at home since then too. I "still" don't consider buying this one! Might wait for version 6/7

      I completely agree! I have had the iPad 2 since launch - and it hasn't slowed, the battery hasn't faded - NOTHING! I'm going to wait a few iterations until I bother upgrading.

    So it's heavier and slightly faster with the new Apple standard connector. That's IMPOSSIBLY disappointing, but IMPOSSIBLY expected. IMPOSSIBLY.

    I find the logic here at giz hard to follow. Sometimes you promote an apple product as great and then only a short time later you demote the same product. It causes me to wonder about your veracity.

      They're not saying the new iPad isn't great. They're just saying there's no point in upgrading if you already have an iPad 2 or 3. I think that's the same with many things.
      They may be good products on their own but if you already have a similar product their may not be any need to get a new one. I think that's a stance that makes a great deal of sense. The world is already pushed to the brink because of hyper-consumerism. People really don't need to be updating their gadgets every year.

    I just bought two iPad 3s (one to replace my iPad 1 which is my 3 year olds now) and one as a gift to my wife. Little annoyed that it just got replaced but also glad I don't have the new one too for one reason. The dock connector. As a house hole of three iPads, two iPhones, two iPods we have something like 8-10 chargers and 3 connectors to TV/Amplifiers. All of these use the 30pin connector and until I upgrade the next device ALL of them will use the same 30-pin connector interchangeably.

    However, as Apple 'upgrade' iOS the older devices mysteriously slow down, and struggle. The iPhone 4 is quite sluggish on iOS6 compared to my 4s, and the iPad 1 has been neigh on unusable since iOS5. I have god reason to believe that Apple either deliberately engineer the software to run poorly on older hardware, or over do it by relying on the consumer to have the latest hardware that can handle more intensive software features.

    But seeing as typing alone on the iPad one takes up to five seconds to appear on the screen if one other thing is loading, I would say that it is a deliberate attempt at Apple to kick you off the device and upgrade (as I did).

    So in a sense I am fine with just buying an iPad 3 (one of which is still unopened), as long as the iOS upgrades in the future do not overwhelm the hardware and ruin the experience. I may simply just hold off upgrading the iOS until other confirm it runs good on older hardware.

      Why would you expect them not to? Apple never give a krap about legacy hardware and I can't see any reason for that to change whilst idiots like you are prepared to give them another go regardless of past experience. It's like Apple have diplomatic immunity with their customers to treat them like dirt. It is the strangest thing.

        every manufacturer makes their peripheral redundant over a period of time. Even other phone manufacturers. At one stage they said mini USB, then micro USB and in the future it may be nano or pico r whatever. For ppl like MM it doesn't matter coz they don't upgrade any product. But for others when connectors keep evolving. Probably apple was just the one manufacturer to hold on to one particular proprietary port for this long and are likely to hold on to the lightning port for a fair bit too. MotorMouth doesn't care abouts future. He rather prefers USB 1.1 to USB 3. And all his gadgets are configured to work with USB 1.1

          Yeah that's right. My Lumia800 and UX21 Zenbook are both years old. And while I pretend to be running Windows 8 on the Zenbook, I'm really still on XP.

          More importantly, when was the last time USB had an upgrade? It is still the same, slow, useless thing it was in the 1990's. When are they going to change the connector so that I can throw out my perfectly functional printer, external drives, mouse, keyboard and cables for my phone, Kindle and bike lights and spend thousands on new ones for no reason?

          Lastly, how are all those Thunderbolt peripherals coming along?

      Symo, I have found your comment to be quite useful as while I am happy with my iPhone 4, I have noticed that it is starting to slow down on some things, like it is pausing to consider its options first. My phone has just come off contract and I won't be upgrading any time soon as there is no way I can match my current plan and there is nothing new worth the added expense. I am considering purchasing an iPad in the new year and had been thinking about just buying a refurbished iPad to save some money as I haven't bought a new computer since I built my first PC nearly twenty years ago, but if the OS upgrades are going to slow it down enough to have a lag when typing, I think that I will pay the extra for a later model as I tend to stick with what I have until I have to replace it. I only have an old IBM T60 because my reliable T43 packed it in.

      Last edited 11/11/12 10:03 pm

    Apple make 2 year old hardware redundant what's new.

    this happened to me got the iPad 2 then they said they would be shipping iPad 2s with a better CPU lol well it's just tech but hey I'm gonna be looking at the nexus 10 next or a nexus 7 32gb

    Ipad 4 is a failure, so what if we have faster performance or better graphics, couldn't they add a 8 megapixel camera or Improved resolution at 300 pixels per inch or more. Maybe Added Nfc to their New gen of Idevices. Iphone 5 is like Iphone 4s only slightly faster and thinner, It has an 8 megapixel camera, so what how about a 12 megapixel camera Like my brother's Sony Xperia S.
    Ipad Mini has the Same A5 chip as last year.
    The only thing which might be Highly Improved Is the New Ipod touch.

      Um, megapixels don't matter after 5 MP its good enough, i'd worry more about the size of the camera sensor or kind of lens, the iPad 4 is to put a lightning connector in for when people go Christmas shopping for an iPad (which is when most people buy one) and they say they put and A6X in it so people like you dont hinge and say its a stupid upgrade. don't get me wrong i'm no apple fan-boy

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