Apple has finally unveiled its third-generation iPad, simply called the “new iPad”. The new iPad looks identical to the iPad 2, but boasts a high resolution “retina” display, has an upgraded 5-megapixel camera and is powered by a dual-core A5X processor with quad-core GPU. The new iPad also boasts 4G connectivity, though Aussies will miss out, at least for now.
Should you buy one? How much does it cost? What is the deal with 4G connectivity? All your questions and more are answered in our ultimate new iPad buying guide.
Why you should buy the new iPad
Like the original iPad, and the iPad 2, the new, third-generation iPad has been designed primarily for consuming media — watching videos, viewing photos, reading books and browsing the Internet. It’s best described as a media consumption device, rather than a media creation device. If you’re interested in typing up long documents or creating a 70-page PowerPoint slideshow, then the new iPad still isn’t for you. It’s important to understand that the new iPad is not a notebook or laptop replacement and really wasn’t designed to be.
The new iPad’s many appealing features include an excellent design, an outstanding, high resolution screen, access to the App Store with almost 200,000 dedicated apps designed specifically with the iPad in mind, excellent battery life of up to 10 hours and slick performance overall. The new iPad remains is a very entertaining device, particularly when it comes to media consumption.
The new retina display is the clearly the key aspect of the new iPad and will undoubtedly be its biggest selling point. The screen has a resolution of 2048×1536, double that of the iPad 2. This gives it a pixel per inch (ppi) of 263, a significant increase over the 132ppi of the iPad 2. Officially, Apple says the retina display resolution is higher than most high-definition televisions.
The new iPad also has some other upgrades, notably a much improved 5-megapixel rear camera and a faster, quad-core graphics processor that promises faster gaming performance. Though these are both welcomed upgrades, its the screen that will appeal most to potential new buyers.
Why you shouldn’t buy the new iPad
If you already own an iPad 2, you certainly don’t need to rush out and buy the new iPad 2. Yes, the new iPad has a sharper screen with an outstandingly high resolution. Its rear camera is also a nice upgrade, while a faster, better performing graphics processor is good news. However, the iPad 2 will perform ALL of the functions of the new iPad. If you can live without the higher resolution screen of the new iPad, your iPad 2 will perform just as well as it always has.
The new iPad once again lacks a USB port and a memory card reader; both often criticised features on a device that’s perfect for viewing and storing photos.
How many models of the new iPad are there?
As it did with the original iPad 2, Apple is launching a total of six new iPad models — three with Wi-Fi and another three with Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity. (More on 4G later). The Wi-Fi+4G iPads use a micro-SIM card (a smaller version of a regular SIM card found in mobile phones) to access a telco’s network, in much the same way a smartphone accesses the Internet. Both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+4G models of the new iPad will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions.
What’s the deal with 4G and will it work in Australia?
The new iPad is 4G (LTE) capable in the US and Canada, with separate models that will work on the Verizon and AT&T networks. However, Wi-Fi + 4G models of the new iPad use the 700MHz and 2100MHz LTE bands while Telstra, the only carrier in Australia to currently have a 4G network, uses the unsupported 1800MHz band.
Aussies users will still benefit from dual-channel HSPA+ technology which provides a theoretical maximum download speed of 42Mbps, but this is not 4G. Think of it more as 3G+. Australia isn’t the only country to miss out on 4G connectivity: over 14 commercial 4G networks across the globe use the LTE 1800MHz band (the same as Telstra 4G).
Despite the iPad’s 4G capabilities not being of any use in Australia, Apple is still advertising 4G connectivity as a feature on the Australian Apple Web site. 4G is listed as one of the major new features on the dedicated, Australian iPad page, while the wireless broadband model of the new iPad is now called Wi-Fi + 4G rather than Wi-Fi +3G.
How much does the new iPad’s Internet access cost?
All three major Australian telcos have announced new pricing plans for the third-generation iPad. Here is a complete overview of the current pricing details for both pre-paid and contract plan iPad data in Australia.
Telstra prepaid plans
Telstra sells a prepaid SIM for the iPad for $30. The prepaid SIM pack includes 3GB of data which has a 30-day expiry. Telstra customers can then recharge their new iPad with the following data plans:
12GB: $150 (365-day expiry)
All of the above Telstra pre-paid data plans are available without a contract but have a 30-day expiry. The exception is the 12GB, $150 plan which has a 365 day expiry.
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Telstra contract plans
Telstra will sell the new iPad on a range of 24 month data plans starting at $48 per month for the 16GB model, but will not offer the tablet on 12 month plans or sell the iPad outright.
Telstra’s 16GB, 32GB and 64GB new iPad plans are detailed below:
Optus prepaid plans
Optus offers both pre-paid as well as BYO month-to-month iPad data plans. The telco offers four month-to-month plans with no contract as follows:
For prepaid plans, an Optus prepaid iPad starter kit costs $30 and includes 3GB of data with a 30-day expiry.
Optus prepaid recharges start $20 for 1GB of data with a 30-day expiry and range up to $130 for 15GB of data with an expiry of 12 months. Other prepaid Optus options include $40 (5GB/60 day expiry), $50 (6GB/60 day expiry), and $80 (8GB/6 month expiry).
Optus contract plans
Optus offers the new iPad on 24 month contracts, with no shorter 12 month contracts available. Optus’s plans start at $38 per month for the entry-level 16GB iPad model over 24 months.
Optus’ new iPad plans are detailed below:
Vodafone prepaid plans
Like Optus, Vodafone offers both pre-paid as well as BYO month-to-month iPad data plans. The telco offers four month-to-month plans with no contract as follows:
Vodafone offers a whopping NINE pre-paid data plans for the iPad. The plans are best broken up into 30 day expiry, 180 day expiry and 365 day expiry, as follows:
250MB: $9.95 (30 day expiry)
1GB: $14.95 (30 day expiry)
4GB: $29.95 (30 day expiry)
10GB: $49.95 (30 day expiry)
6GB: $100 (180 day expiry)
12GB: $150 (365 day expiry)
18GB: $200 (365 day expiry)
25GB: $250 (365 day expiry)
30GB: $300 (365 day expiry)
If you recharge before the end of the credit expiry period any unused data will be rolled over to the next month — provided you don’t exceed Vodafone’s maximum balance of 39GB.
Vodafone contract plans
Vodafone offers the new iPad on a range of 12 month plans in addition to 24 month contracts. Vodafone’s plans start at $47 per month for the entry-level 16GB iPad model over 24 months.
Vodafone’s 24 month 16GB, 32GB and 64GB new iPad plans are detailed below:
Vodafone’s shorter 12 month 16GB, 32GB and 64GB new iPad plans are detailed below:
What do you think of the new iPad? Does it offer enough upgrades over the iPad 2 for you to buy one? Let us know in the comments below!