New iPad 4 review

The iPad 4th generation has landed - and it's a bit faster

Hands on: iPad 4
Summary: a bit faster with a smaller connector

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It's now been a few months since the iPad 3 was unveiled, and now we already have a new version in the new iPad 4. So is there really that much there to talk about, or is it just a covert change that Apple decided to highlight as it's not got a much faster processor?

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 - we suggest you don't go and look at an iPad mini for fear of that making you sad.

iPad 4 review

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

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 new iPad 4, like many of Apple's products, is a little overpriced for what it delivers, and still lacks some key features, although these are becoming fewer and further between with each iteration.

We liked

Well, the first and most obvious highlight on the new iPad 4 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 new iPad - and yes, we know it's the same as before. We're not happy about the fact it's heavier than the iPad 2, but the build quality is something most other manufacturers long for, and are constantly trying to ape.

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. Sure, it's ageing, but it works better on a tablet than on a smartphone.

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 new iPad 4 that could be improved in our opinion. The first is the fact the device will still heat up 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. However, this is much less of a worry compared to the older version, with the heat not reaching the same worrying levels as before.

Then there's the things that make it feel like a second class citizen to the iPhone 5: no location-based fun in the Reminders and no HDR mode on the camera either.

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 over the next 12 months then the iPad 4 will look a little behind the curve.

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.

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.

The SmartCover is fine in terms of protection, but we couldn't help but feel it just doesn't offer enough protection out and about. However, with the new SmartCase, that issue has been solved, although it's freakin' expensive to buy. It does save the aluminium though, so that's worth thinking about.


Despite the above negative points, there's no doubt we're once again looking at a top tablet 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.

Sure, the price is a little high, and in a vacuum would be a real stick with which to beat the new iPad 4. But given many tablets are coming in at well over £500 / $AU600 these days (plus the fact so many people are willing to pay it) we can't criticise Apple's pricing too much here.

We do feel there should be a touch more 'awesome' for a 64GB device at a near £700 / $AU760 price tag, and beyond the screen there isn't too much more of an upgrade on show - at least until we get some titles that really show off the prowess of the new iPad's internals.

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, which starts at £329 / $AU429 - or there's the superb iPad mini to think about.

But we recommend you probably don't look at the upgraded model – once you've gazed adoringly into the Retina Display, played any of the high-power games or watched a Full HD movie in your hands, you'll struggle to not hate any tablet that isn't the new iPad 4, and for that and myriad other reasons, we've decided to make it a thoroughly Recommended tablet.

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.