Apple iPad 4: Performance

November 16, 2012 by Louie Tran Reads (38,576)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 9
    • Usability
    • 9
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.33
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance

The Apple iPad 4 is powered by an A6X processor, which is a 1.4GHz dual-core ARM-based processor with quad-core graphics. Although there aren’t any apps as of this writing that take full advantage of the new A6X, games certainly do run noticeably smoother, and apps load a lot quicker than the third-generation iPad. I am no way saying that the A5X-based iPad 3 is slow in any way, in fact it’s still one of the faster tablets in the market.

Apple iPadThe Geekbench Score for the iPad 4th-Gen is 1757. For comparison, the third-generation model, which launched in the spring, received a score of 791 — about 50% lower.

In real-world overall usage, though, there really isn’t that much of a difference between the two tablets. However, if you run graphics and processor-intensive games like NOVA3, you can clearly see the difference in performance, and how quickly the game loads. Social networking apps do load quicker but there is hardly any noticeable difference when using the app itself. This can also be said about simple games such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.

I see no real difference in running and streaming HD videos on Netflix, Crunchy Roll, and Stream to Me except the apps load slightly quicker on the newer iPad. It’s still too early to make any real judgment of the iPad 4’s performance at this time, so we will have to wait for applications that take advantage of the new A6X processor.

The iPad 4 has 1GB of RAM (1024 KB), the same as Apple’s third-gen iPad but twice as much as the iPad 2.

There are 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions. Pay careful attention to which one you get, as there is no memory card slot to add extra storage.

Communications

The forth-gen iPad comes in two flavors in terms of wireless capabilities. The WiFi-only version supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz) with Bluetooth 4.0. The Cellular model supports all of the above, plus GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz) UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) and LTE. If you are on Verizon and Sprint, add CDMA EV-DO Rev A and B on top of all of that.

Connecting to my wireless network was very simple, and thanks to the new Advanced Wi-Fi technology, data speeds were noticeably faster than my third-generation iPad.

Apple iPadUsers of the 4G LTE version should expect to get 16MB down and 3.5MB up on AT&T. With Verizon, I can get up to 30MB down and 18MB up; it’s just a matter of how good your network coverage is. But based on my test in the Los Angeles area, Verizon seems to be the best choice for most people.

Software

The iPad 4 runs on this year’s iOS 6, so anyone who is currently running this on their iPhones or iPads should be no stranger to the operating system. Apple’s operating system is very responsive, and it runs faster on Apple’s new tablet than any iOS device.

The tablet comes with the usual software, including Scott Forstall’s greatest hits: Game Center, Maps, and Siri. Photo Stream and iCloud are also present, along with all the other apps you would find on any device running iOS6.

There are over 250,000+ third-party apps for the iPad, and those that take advantage of the Retina display look fantastic. Reading books under iBooks look as good as ever, and the Newsstand App magazines look great, unlike the lower-resolution iPad mini.

Entertainment

As mentioned earlier, there are 250,000+ apps for this device, so chances are there is something for everyone. With the new A6X processor, games run much more smoothly.

I streamed videos from my desktop using Stream to Me, which handled HD videos without any hiccups. I watched anime on Crunchy Roll, and listened to music with Slacker Radio.

While we are on the topic of sound and music, the newer iPad has stereo speakers. If you don’t have external speakers handy, the iPad speakers are adequate enough to accommodate a small conference room.

Watching videos on the Retina display is an incredible experience. Thanks to the higher resolution and sharper images, movies and anime look great on the screen.

Cameras

Apple iPadPowered by a 5MP rear-facing camera, the iPad does very well — for a tablet — in capturing photos and videos at 1080p. It’s no iPhone 5, and doesn’t have a built-in flash, but it does take decent pictures even in low-light situations.

In order to save the battery on my smartphone, I sometimes turn to FaceTime on my iPad. With an HD FaceTime HD camera, my friends can see all the perfections and imperfections of my wonderful face.

Battery Life

Even with the newer processor, the fourth-generation iPad is able to last at least 10 hours of video playback according to Apple. That seems reasonable, based on my testing. I’ve used the device to write this review, watch movies on Netflix, anime on Crunchy Roll and did quite a bit of video chatting through out the week. I did similar testing with the iPad that I did with the iPad mini, in which I had the device unplugged from the charger on Friday morning, and used it excessively through the weekend, and it’s now Monday afternoon with 18% of power left.


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