/ Technology

New iPad – your expectations will always exceed reality

Reactions to Apple product launches are rarely reliable. Expectations are raised so high that they are rarely met. Last night’s new iPad launch was no exception. Is it time to cut the hype surrounding Apple products?

Apple rumours are far-fetched at the best of times, but mere hours before the event a new one appeared – the new iPad would have a ‘haptic’ feedback touchscreen.

What did this mean? That you’d feel the texture of items on-screen – i.e. a rough fabric would feel rough. This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds – a company in Finland has showcased this technology – but it’s a long way from being ready and was all but fantasy for the new iPad.

Apart from that, most of the new iPad’s features were leaked beforehand – a fact that puts to bed Apple’s so-called ability to keep secrets. We knew the screen would be a ‘retina display’ – two times the resolution of the iPad 2. We knew the processor would be called the A5X, a sure enough sign that the upgrade wouldn’t be as radical as some previously thought. And plenty of other details were either predicted or hinted at.

Like a film trailer that gives away all the twists, the event was mundane in comparison to the things people *thought* the new iPad would do.

Beyond the iPad hype

Put aside the lack of surprises, however, and the new iPad is a strong evolution from the iPad 2. The significance of the ‘retina display’ is difficult to explain in words – it really does need to be seen to be believed. It has a resolution of is 2,048 by 1,536 pixels – that’s four times the number of pixels than the iPad 2 and a million more than an HDTV!

If you need an idea of the difference, simply find an old iPhone 3G or 3GS and put it beside the iPhone 4/4S. I was blown away by that comparison when I first saw it and the larger screen on the iPad will only amplify the effect.

But the other key feature of the iPad, its support for 4G mobile broadband (which promises wireless internet speeds 10x faster than 3G) sparks a pang of regret. Why? Because apart from a trial in Cornwall, the UK doesn’t have any 4G networks at present.

This extra fast wireless internet is widely available in the US, and Sweden and Norway are leading the way in Europe. But Ofcom says mobile networks won’t start deploying 4G in the UK until early 2013. Like the UK’s waning broadband network, this is another poor reflection on our readiness for the ‘digital age’.

This isn’t Apple’s fault, of course, but it does put a serious dent in the argument for buying a new iPad. As does the fact that the impressive looking new software will, with one or two exceptions, work just fine on the now discounted iPad 2.

None of this will affect Apple’s dominance of the tablet market – I fully expect the iPad to be dominant come this time next year. But perhaps next year people will have learnt to expect a little less, and enjoy the results a little more. We can but hope.


When I bought my iPad 2, about 6 months ago, there were some rumours that the iPad 3 was coming soon. I am glad I did not wait. I am perfectly happy with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and the other features of my older model. The most impressive feature of the new iPad is the fact that the price has not been increased, despite the improvements.

I am glad to see the resolution of HDTV put in perspective.

bush says:
10 March 2012

So having not actually owned one yet, i am pondering on whether to go for the new version or the cheaper iPad2. The camera is my quandary. It’s supposed to be loads better, what do you think of the current camera?


I am happy with the cameras (both front and rear) but I mainly use the latter to make quick copies of documents. Find a friend with an iPad 2 and try it out for yourself. When I was considering buying an iPad 2, there were plenty of people keen to demonstrate what theirs would do, and to let me play.


I also note the new iPad “HD” will only connect with other apple products just like the current one. It would be useful to be able to hotspot or bluetooth with another make. There are a lot of us unable to acces 3G never the next generation 4G. As most people only want to read emails, online papers and Internet browsing there is no advantage in the UK over current iPad.

Arnold says:
9 March 2012

The new iPad has 4G built in, which won’t be available in UK until next year, does this mean that it won’t work on any telephone network or will it work on 3G at a slower speed and if I take it abroad will it work on any network.


The new screen is quite frankly mad. Having more pixels than a huge 50inch TV on such a small device is luxurious – even unnecessary. But it’s certainly evidence that the 1080p HD standard has made screen development stagnant. I know TV makers are showing of extra-HD tellies, but Apple’s jumped the gun on this one.

I’d like to see the battery in this thing – to be able to support all of these improvements (so many pixels/more processing) and still run for 10 hours is great. If they could take that battery tech and put it in the iPad 2, maybe we’d see a good 20 hours on a tablet?


I believe the battery capacity and claimed operating time are unchanged from the iPad2.


Having looked at the figures, the iPad 3 does have the same claimed battery life as the iPad 2, but the battery is substantially larger. Sorry.

Megabeing says:
9 March 2012

I believe that siri will not work for locations outside of North America and that the ‘4G’ chips also only work with the North American standards – the bandwidths chosen by most of the rest of the world simply won’t work.

Not too compelling at the moment!

Tim Plowright says:
9 March 2012

@ Megabeing – I think you will find that Siri isn’t included with the new iPad, but you are correct that some of Siri’s features (not all, but arguably the most useful) are unavailable in the UK. I suspect that Siri will make an appearance as a paid for app (iPad only) in the app store, so that those who want it (and have the 3/4G ready versions) can buy it and those that don’t want it can save their precious storage (I have no idea how big Siri is).

I don’t fully understand the bandwidths thing, but given that we are likely to see another version of the iPad before we see an upgraded mobile network in the UK it may prove not to be an issue.

@Ben1 – I totally agree with you, but who knows how much of that hype they create and how much is just journalists/bloggers desperately trying to attract people to their sites to drive up their advertising revenue by making outlandish claims about secret sources and wondrous new features.

Ben1 says:
9 March 2012

Apple is ALWAYS overhyped, especially by journalists who don’t have to buy their stuff (I’m not including Which? in that – I think!).

Dr. M. Rueben says:
9 March 2012

I am one of those who believe that when apple make a product they make about 5 models initially, each slightly better than the other, then release an ‘upgraded model’ every year. In short they are conning the customers by selling inferior versions of the final end product. You then end up buying the same product 5 times before you get the real deal.

Apple customers are now conditioned to buy new versions of apple products every year, if they cannot they feel cheated, never stopping to think ‘hey I have just spent all that hard earned cash on something that I will have to replace at the same or greater price in 12 months’.

I have tried I pads, found them to be badly designed [what the hell were they thinking when they decided on the size of the thing ? ], absolutely pointless and not worth a tenth of the retail price.
My phone does all the I pad does, is the right size for everyday use, costs far less, and it can also make phone calls.
The I pad is a smart gimmicky toy, useless for anything except making Apple oodles of money.
To be fair it’s one saving grace was to push the industry into releasing real tablet computers onto the market a lot earlier than they wanted to. One step nearer the merging of PC and mobile phone into the one ‘motherbox unit, we have been waiting 20 years for!!!!!!

dunkan says:
9 March 2012

What an inaccurate diatribe… I have a mk1 iPad and a mk2 MacBook Air, and use them both constantly. The iPad is so useful that I’ve already ordered a mk3; and, far from being pointless, the iPad is also a really practical addition to my iPhone. Even the mk1 screen makes a huge difference to viewing maps, for example!