iPad 3 review

Sharper screen, faster innards - but is it worth the update?

new iPad 3 review
The definitive new iPad 3 review

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It's now been a few months since the new iPad 3 was unveiled, and we've been using it day in, day out to get a much better feel for how Apple's latest tablet really fits into your life. And now there's an iPad 4 to be thinking about - which is the one you should be buying?

For those people wondering if they need a tablet, the answer is probably no. Whether you WANT a tablet is a completely different story - and once you've tried a new iPad, being the 3 or 4, the rest just don't stack up - including the iPad 2.

Even after all this time the Retina Display still wows. With the SD card add-on it becomes a wonderful device to take on holiday (especially if you've invested in a decent camera). Checking out your photos on a beautiful screen with such a higher resolution makes everyday browsing a real pleasure.

Sure, we became a bit blasé about the internet browsing experience after a few weeks, in the same way many people stop noticing HD resolution on their new TV. However, as soon as we saw another tablet or an older smartphone, we were pining for the pin-sharp viewing experience the iPad brings.

iPad 3 review

For the price, you would expect the iPad to be nigh-on perfect; and although it's a mighty fine piece of kit, there are some niggles that are tricky to overlook.

First among these is the battery life - that lovely display drains the battery like you wouldn't believe - especially if you are doing anything intensive like gaming or watching videos.

It's rare that the iPad 3 made it through a day without needing a charge if it was doing much more than sitting in its case.This wasn't apparent in our initial tests, but as we loaded it up with apps and started to really use it day after day, the battery life became something of an issue.

However, the design question marks raised at launch were a bit over the top in our opinion: sure, Apple made a bit of a rod for its own back by boasting so long and so hard about the dimensions of the iPad 2.

iPad 3 review

So when the iPad 3 was thicker and heavier, you can understand the consternation of the reviewers.

But, from a practical viewpoint, the extra weight doesn't really make all that much difference; even the iPad 2 was never really a device that you could comfortably hold in one hand for long and an extra few grams and millimetres are neither here nor there in everyday use.

It's a little unfair to hold a premium product's price against it, but knowing how much an iPad costs - coupled with the size and weight of a ten inch tablet - mean that taking it anywhere is a mission of care.

The SmartCover is fine, but we couldn't help but feel it just doesn't offer enough protection out and about, so we ended up sticking the whole lot into another sturdier case - robbing the new iPad 3 of a whole level of convenience.

It's a measure of how much we love it, as well as how much an iPad costs, that we ended up accepting these barriers to our ease of use. Recent stats that suggest most people use their tablets primarily at home perhaps point to us not being the only ones who are in possession of a "cotton-wool tablet" - ie, the pristine design is something we really wanted to protect, and as such began to use it out and about less and less, despite having the 3G version.

It will be interesting to see how many iPad owners cast an eye over the significantly less premium, but cheaper and smaller Google Nexus 7 by Asus and wonder if that might be a little less worrying to cart around.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.