Review: iPad with Retina Display (4th generation)

It's not worth an upgrade, and it's overkill for most people. But it's ideal for photographers or salespeople.

NameTablet: iPad with Retina Display (4th gen)
At a glance:Retina screen for crisp, clear text and images,Hard to tell the difference for many apps,No real improvement over 3rd Generation iPad with Retina display
Summary:It's good, but not worth the upgrade unless you specifically need a Retina screen.
RRP:$729 (16GB, Wi-Fi)

I reviewed the iPad with Retina Display in May 2012, when it came out, and I was pretty impressed. If you're considering the iPad with Retina Display (4th Generation), it's probably worth reading that review, then heading back here. In summary, though, I found the Retina screen crisp and clear, which proved great for reading text and viewing photographs. Best of all, that lovely display came without having diminished the iPad’s battery power.

That iPad, also called "iPad with Retina display (3rd generation)", or more simply "new iPad", has been superceded just six months later. The iPad with Retina display (and Lightning connector), aka iPad with Retina Display (4th generation) is the new kid on the block.

What's the difference? The main change for the new iPad is simply a shift from the previous Apple dock connector to the new reversible and easy-to-use Lightning connector. Lightning is also used on the iPhone 5 and iPad mini. Additionally, the iPad with Retina display (4th generation) has a slightly beefed up A6X processor, and more GPU power than the previous iPad with Retina Display.

I have to admit that I was hoping to see visible differences between the two Retina display models. Sadly, though, I was to be disappointed.

We conducted several side-by-side real-world performance tests: launching apps, playing games, accessing settings, viewing photos, zooming and turning pages. In no case could we discern any difference in speed between the two. If anything, the screen display on the 4th generation iPad Retina seemed a little dimmer and less vibrant than that of the 3rd generation iPad. At times it even seemed less bright than the iPad 2.

Below: spot the difference? iPad 2 (top left), iPad with Retina Display (top right) and the new 4th generation iPad with Retina Display (and Lightning connector), bottom right.

In the time between testing the iPad with Retina Display and its new Lightning-enabled replacement, I’d also hoped that more apps would take advantage of the Retina Display. Sadly, again I was disappointed.

If there are Retina-enhanced apps out there, either none of my hundred apps is included among their number, or I can’t really tell the difference. Reading text on a Retina display in general is sharper, and similarly photographs show more detail, but in all, I’d say that unless you'll primarily use an iPad for photography and eBook reading, it’s probably not worth the Retina version.

The new iPad with Retina Display is only for those who don't already have an iPad, an have an absolute need for the high resolution screen - photographers, salespeople and the like. It's not worth an upgrade from the 3rd generation just for Lightning, and for most people, the iPad 2 will fulfill their needs.

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Tags iPad 4Appleipad 4th generaltionTablet4th gen ipadretinaapple ipad 4iPad

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Zara Baxter

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