Apple iPad 4 review

Relaunched as Apple's 10in budget tablet option, you'd have to be on a tight budget to consider the iPad 4 over the iPad Air

Apple iPad 4 header
Our Rating 
4/5
Price when reviewed 
329
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

Specifications

9.7 in 2,048x1,536 display, 652g, 1.4GHz Apple A6X, 1.00GB RAM, 16GB disk, Apple iOS 6

The Apple iPad 4 came as something as a surprise in late 2012. Everyone was expecting the iPad Mini, but as the new iPad (or iPad 3) had only been out since March, and so a replacement after just 6 months was a bit of a shock. Apple is no longer selling the iPad 4, having replaced it with a range of iPad Air and iPad mini tablets. You can still pick up an iPad 4 secondhand, but is it worth buying?

The iPad 4 is quite a bit faster than its predecessor though, fast enough to handle most tasks you might want to do today - after all if a developer's app doesn't run well on the highly-popular iPad 3 and iPad 4 then its in trouble. The biggest physical change was a switch to the new Lightning connector. At the time this seemed rather annoying, with lots of us having plenty of docks and cables for the old 30-pin connector.

If you're looking to buy an iPad 4 in retrospect though the new connector makes a huge difference. It not only means your 'new' iPad is compatible with all the latest accessories, but also you get a connector that works both ways up and stays connected better than the old one.

Apple iPad 4 Lightning

A Lightning connector replaces the old 30-pin connector and brings the iPad into line with the other iOS devices

While the iPad 3 used a slightly tweaked version of the Apple A5X processor, with quad-core graphics to handle the tablet's high-resolution screen, the iPad 4 has the brand new Apple A6X processor. This is the same model used in the iPhone 5, although the 1.4GHz model used here also has quad-core graphics. Again, this move makes a lot of sense, as Apple can concentrate on a single processor for its iPad and iPhone lines.

Apple was promising that the A6X processor was double the performance in games and 2D tasks as the old A5X, which is a bold claim. Happily, we're pleased to report that it's completely true. In our tests, we saw the iPad 4 complete the SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks in just 888ms, while the iPad 3 took 1,508ms. Similarly, the BBC News website rendered in 3s on the iPad 4 and 5.6s on the iPad 3.

For graphics we ran GLBench, which showed similar results: 25.6fps on the iPad 3 and 50.7fps on the iPad 4. All of this isn't to say that the iPad 3 is slow, as it isn't, just the iPad 4 is, impressively, even quicker.

As we've come to expect from an Apple product, iOS is incredibly smooth. Every single transition and operation happens incredibly smoothly and there's none of the inherent jerkiness you get with an Android device. Web browsing is an absolute pleasure, with even the most complex sites rendering quickly, while pinching to zoom is incredibly smooth. In terms of day-to-day performance, the iPad is still the tablet to beat.

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