iPad 3 review

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

new iPad 3 review
The definitive new iPad 3 review

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

New iPad 3 review

It's almost impossible to give a verdict on an Apple product that everyone will agree with, as there's so much about its devices that's entirely subjective, bringing responses no other product could manage.

The iPad 3, like many of Apple's products, is a little overpriced for what it delivers, and still lacks some key features. But given the sheer volume of people that queue up for days on end just to get their hands on one, are these really the problems some critics would have you believe?

We liked

Well, the first and most obvious highlight on the iPad 3 is the Retina Display. We've talked about it at great length throughout this whopping review and it's the one element that never failed to impress us no matter what application was running on the screen.

It's clear, it's bright, it's crisp; essentially it properly expands the smartphone experience onto a larger tablet and takes us into a new generation of displays.

We're also fans of the design of the iPad - and yes, we know it's the same as before. We're not sold on the fact it's heavier than the previous iteration, but the build quality is something most other manufacturers long for, and are constantly trying to ape.

Then there's the improved graphical performance, although not necessarily for the gaming aspect just yet. The titles we had a play with on the new iPad weren't visually arresting enough for us to proclaim the device the next coming in portable gaming, but combined with the improved screen offered something that will have others in the handheld market a little bit fearful.

And then there's the user interface - another element that polarises opinion. We're pretty agnostic here at TechRadar, and while we appreciate the power that can be had from widgets, there's something about the simplicity of the iOS UI that we just love - and simplicity counts for a huge amount in the burgeoning tablet market.

There will always be those that hate the lack of widgets, customisable home screens and more intuitive notification bars (and we salute you for that) but if you're in that camp, you're probably not even bothering to read this review as you know what you're getting with an Apple device.

We disliked

For all its power, there are still some elements of the iPad 3 that could be improved in our opinion. The first is the fact the device will heat up quite considerably under medium-term use (depending on the apps you're running), which could really disconcert some users; despite the fact it didn't seem to have a huge impact on battery life.

Then there's the things that make it feel like a second class citizen to the iPhone 4S: no location-based fun in the Reminders is an odd choices for this supposedly flagship device.

We're not going to criticise it for not being quad core considering there's no valid reason for such a chipset as yet in a tablet - but if the market shows there's a need for such power, the iPad 3 will look a little behind the curve.

The design is by no means terrible, but given Apple is a company that prides itself on design, adding heft and thickness to the new iPad seems an odd choice, and gives your arm an unwanted workout during a movie session.

And there's the issue of storage too: we suggest you steer clear of the 16GB model if you're going to be using a lot of apps or downloading HD films, as you'll find the space is used up pretty darn quick and you'll have to start deciding between different types of content.


Despite the above negative points, there's no doubt we're still looking at a top contender in the tablet race once again. Apple's greatest strength has always been fusing together some headline features with an OS that just works, and will appeal to the largest amount of people.

Should you buy it over the £399 of the iPad 4 or the £269 of the iPad mini? There's no doubt there's a LOT better on the tablet front out there these days, and an extra £40 for a tablet means you should always look at the newer model, especially if you're shelling out that much.

In short: if you've got an iPad 2, or don't really care about visuals, then you should stick with / purchase the now much cheaper pad, but the smaller and more value-friendly Nexus 7 is even better than the iPad 4 in our eyes, so really think if you need that extra screen size.

It's a decent budget version and is really the iPad 4 with a slightly less impressive spec list - we can't really recommend it over the new version, but if you are given it for a present for some reason, it's still a great tablet to have 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.