While it doesn’t create a new category in the iPad line like the mini, the new iPad does something more important, and that’s extending Apple’s dominance in the tablet market.
To no one’s surprise, Apple introduced the iPad mini (lower case m, btw) at its special event last month. It also introduced a beautifully thin, new iMac, an updated Mac mini, and a 13-in version of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. All of these announcements were expected, but the major product surprise has largely been passed over, and that was the launch of what’s being called iPad 4, or more accurately, the iPad with Retina Display.
I watched the event via live streaming on CNet and both CNet Executive Editor Molly Wood and CNet Senior Editor, Brian Tong, who covers Apple were more than surprised by the iPad 4, they were almost apoplectic. Coming just six months after the introduction of the new iPad (nee iPad 3), both Wood and Tong thought that Apple had completely screwed its customers. I beg to differ.
As anyone in technology knows, change is more than constant, it’s imperative. And in a highly competitive, high growth market like tablets it’s not surprising that Apple updated the iPad.
The iPad 3 is popular
The iPad 3 was introduced just last April to great fanfare and rave reviews from Viewpoints reviewers:
“I love this iPad! It’s portable, easy to use, and functional for every member of my family. I’m a fan of Apple products in general because I find them intuitive and user-friendly and the iPad is my favorite product so far.” –pmillies
“I recently got this for work and was pleasantly surprised- I like it much more than I thought I would! First off, I love the 4g since I can get online anywhere! This is really nice for traveling so I dont have to lug my laptop around! ” –stefanie 0409
And it was a major improvement over the iPad 2. It had the A5 processor from the iPhone 4S and, most importantly, it included Apple’s beautiful Retina display. In short, the iPad 3 was faster and more functional the iPad 2.
Jump forward to late October and the Apple faithful are waiting for the expected launch of the iPad mini. But to me, the introduction of the iPad 4 is equally as important. While it doesn’t create a new category in the iPad line, it does something more important, and that’s extending Apple’s dominance in the tablet market.
The major difference: The A6X chip
The most significant difference between the iPad 3 and iPad 4 is the addition of Apple’s new A6X chip, the same one that was introduced on the iPhone 5. Suddenly, the iPad 4 has “twice the speed and graphics performance” than the iPad 3. This is important for a number of reasons: Gaming, video, FaceTime, Siri and other application function like GPS or, yes, even Apple Maps.
In addition, performance is even more of a factor in the enterprise (business). I still believe that the iPad will prove to be a killer app for healthcare providers, giving doctors, nurses, specialists, administrators unparalleled access to patient care data. This will be especially true in the cases of X-ray viewing as well as MRIs. Here, having a strong processor combined with the ultra-high resolution of the Retina display, can make all the difference in the world.
The Lightning connector
The other reason why Apple decided to introduce the iPad 4, in my opinion, is to accelerate the adoption and footprint of its new Lightning connector. This connector made its debut last month in the iPhone 5, iPod Touch and iPod Nano. Now with the iPad mini and the iPad 4 all the major players in Apple’s portable category are standardized on this connectivity technology. The Lightning connector is 80% smaller than the ubiquitous 30-pin connector which has been around since 2003.
4G LTE Connectivity Upgrade
While the iPad 3 introduced the iPad to 4G LTE cellular connectivity, the iPad 4 improves upon this by expanding coverage to GSM/UMTS networks found in other countries. So in addition to being compatible with AT&T, Sprint and Verizon 4G networks you can take your iPad 4 to major 4G compatible networks worldwide and get a fast connection by adding a local carrier’s SIM card.
FaceTime camera now in HD
While the iPad 3 added HD video to the back camera, the iPad 4′s front camera is now improved to HD in 720p.
What if you just bought an iPad 3?
It’s one thing if you bought an iPad 3 back in the spring, it’s another if you bought one a week or day before the iPad 4′s launch. CNet is reporting that if you purchased an iPad 3 within the past 30-days Apple may (MAY) exchange your iPad 3 for an iPad 4. From my experience in the tech business, this isn’t unusual as price or product protection is usually honored within a 30-day window. I doubt, however, that Apple will make this announcement publicly, but if you have just bought an iPad 3 and want to upgrade to an iPad 4 you should go back to your retailer or Apple Store and see if they’ll offer the exchange.
Bottom line on the new iPad
My son received an iPad 3 as a graduation present from his aunt and uncle back in June, and I doubt that he is upset that Apple has refreshed the iPad just four months later. He (and I since I borrowed it a lot before he left for school) loves how well the iPad functions as everything from a reader to a game platform. One of the reasons why is that the iPad 3′s greatest improvement was the introduction of the Retina display as well as a faster chip than the iPad 2.
So if you have a several-month-old iPad 3 (which you probably won’t be able to exchange), you shouldn’t be upset with this refresh of the iPad. You already have a robust tablet with a fantastic display, a fast chip, super fast 4G LTE connectivity (if you have the cellular model) and a great HD camera on the back as well as Siri functionality.
You’ll be better off waiting until next October (my guess) when Apple will undoubtedly introduce its 5th generation iPad. Let the speculation begin on what that iPad will look like.
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