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Apple iPad (4th Gen, Wi-Fi) - Tweaked for Double Performance

iPad (4th Gen, 2012) - A Tiny Step From A5X to A6X

Apple iPad (4th Gen, Wi-Fi) - From A5X to A6X

The iPad 3r-- no, wait, 4th Gen. 

Alongside the much-anticipated 7.9-inch iPad Mini comes the quiet accompaniment of a 4th-gen iPad, a pumped up version of the 3rd-gen 9.7-inch tablet that comes with a more powerful A6X chip, a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera and a lightning port. Yes, seven months along, the 4th-gen iPad is what the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 4, an incremental upgrade that adds little to the overall experience. Of course, that also means that the newest 9.7-inch tablet comes with all the goodness that the previous iPad offer: a razor-sharp 2,048 x 1,536 pixels Retina display, a 5-megapixel camera and large battery capacity. Here's a quick look at how both tablets stack up against each other and the older iPad 2:

Specifications / Tablet Apple iPad (4th Gen) Apple iPad (3rd Gen) Apple iPad 2
Processor Apple Dual-Core A6X (1.4GHz) Apple Dual-Core A5X (1.0GHz) Apple Dual-Core A5 (1.0GHz)
GPU PowerVR SGX 554MP4 PowerVR SGX543MP4+ PowerVR SGX543MP2
Memory 1GB 1GB 512MB
Storage 16 / 32 / 64GB 16 / 32 / 64GB 16 / 32 / 64GB
Display Resolution 2,048 x 1,536 pixels

2,048 x 1,536 pixels

1,024 x 768 pixels

The only physical difference is the inclusion of a smaller Lightning port, a transition that was first rolled out on the iPhone 5. Otherwise, both iPads are identical.

Seeing double? Can you tell the difference? Neither can we.

Apple's focus on delivering great user experience has resulted in the company sidelining some specifications of the new iPad, such as the clock speed and memory size. Based on ifixit's iPad teardown, the iPad (4th-gen) comes with pretty much the same internals as its 3rd-gen brother.

Of course, there are some minute differences - for one, instead of being fitted with Samsung's LCD screen as it was in the iPad 3, the iPad 4's display has been replaced with an LG display. This is unsurprising of course, due to the ongoing legal spat between both tech giants. The iPad 4 also ships with a better 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime HD camera, a big improvement over the 0.3-megapixel FaceTime camera in the iPad 3. The major upgrade is in the inclusion of an A6X chip that promises up to twice the speed as the A5X chip found in the iPad 3 and an upgraded GPU.

To assess the performance of the new iPad, we used Geekbench 2 which deploys different benchmarks to measure the performance of the processor and memory. Here's a brief description of each benchmark section provided by Primate Labs

  • Integer performance: a high integer scores indicates good overall performance. 
  • Floating point performance: floating point performance is critical in video games, digital content creation and high-performance computing applications.
  • Memory performance: it measures the performance of the memory hardware (which includes the main board, chipset along with the memory itself) and memory management functions provided by the operating system 
  • Stream performance: memory bandwidth is assessed in this section. Software working with large amounts of data relies on good memory bandwidth performance to keep the processor busy. 

Based on the scores above, the new iPad showed very good scores compared to the iPad 3 - in all cases, the A6X chip performed more than twice its predecessor, the A5X chip, given that both devices come with 1GB of RAM. Apple wasn't kidding when it said that the new iPad would offer twice the amount of processing power; these benchmark scores further supported their statement.

During our time with the new iPad, we could hardly find any fault with its overall performance. Like its predecessor, the iPad felt smooth and fluid in its operation, with effortless switching from one app to another. Of course, the new iPad could handle multi-tasking without any hint of a stutter in its overall performance. However, as a side note, though the 3rd-gen iPad's scores might seem low in comparison now, do keep in mind that it possesses extremely fluid performance as well.

Head over to the next page for more performance comparisons and our verdict.