/ 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.Β 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!

Dr. M. Rueben says:
9 March 2012

dunkan has posted a very interesting list, proving my point about Apple, instead of the 3 items dunkan uses.
Macbook Air
I pad
I Phone
Wouldn’t you rather have one that does everything you need, and does it well? I am sure we all would.
Why then instead of producing a mother box, does apple keep pumping out soon to be obsolescent hardware?
Could it be profit before product?
I am looking forward to the 5th generation I pad, the one I can put a sim card in!

malamadre says:
9 March 2012

I think it is fair to say you are not a great fan of Apple and fair enough, but to write of tablets as pointless is to stupidify millions of users including doctors in surgeries, engineers in all sorts of fields and not to forget – users like my girfriend (retail General Manager) who simply find PC’s too complicated and slow to start. They have also led to more creative thinking in terms of app development and created jobs for thousands of people. But then again, perhaps everyone else is wrong? Do we need the iPad 3? Well there will be anotherone after this one and if you don’t like it stay away.

Andy says:
10 March 2012

I have to say I think you’re wrong on so may levels Dr Reuben. I only bought an iPhone and iPad 2 about 6 months ago, so I don’t think I’m an Apple geek just yet. The iPad truly is a superb device. As a teaching aid, couple it with the new iTunes U and I can watch lectures on Astronomy from Yale and Philosophy on my hour long commute to work on the bus in the morning. Easily read the Times newspaper using their fantastic app. I’m learning Bridge on it – all things that attempting to do them on a small phone screen simply wouldn’t work for, and using the PC to do it and have to balance on my knee when someone’s leaned the seat back in front of me simply would be a complete pain. Whilst I bought the 3G version I don’t think it’s required since it works flawlessly with the iPhone 4 capability to act as a hot spot, so I wirelessly link to the internet through my phone and haven’t put a 3G sim chip in the iPad. I can do my email on the bus to work and whilst coming home again, which allows me to leave the office early, beat the traffic, and still meet my work requirements – all whilst listening to my music…At home, having just bought an Apple TV, I can now stream BBC TV via iPlayer using the VPN option (I live outside the UK) to my TV off the iPad – fantastic. It’s fair to say that yes, when it was launched, I never understood why anyone would want one – and I didn;t buy it. 2 years later – I can’t imagine life without it. Will I upgrade to the iPad 3, probably not, if I didn;t have an iPad and was wondering why I needed one – I hope this response has persuaded you… I’ve also just upgraded my iPad 2 to the new OS 5.1 to run the new iPhoto app – so I can edit my photos very simply in my spare time now also – it’s also superb and a bargain at less than 5 USD.

James says:
10 March 2012

Dr Reuben your notion that Apple develop a complete product which they then hobble in order to be able to release new models each year, means that Apple must have a Time Machine which enables them to travel 5 years into the future and bring back all the new technology and processors from the future. Why not ask them to let you have a ride in it too? Where your idea has some truth is that when developing something new, whether OS X, iPod, or the iOS products, they do not worry about getting a complete feature set in the first release. Instead they release something which does something unique which the competition does not do, to give them some purchase in the market, making sure that it works really well, then with each iteration of the product they slowly add on other features making sure every time that they all work in an intuitive seamless stable way. In short they would always prefer to add one extra feature done right, than a mish mash of many revisions and features poorly implemented. So they gradually build something brick by solid polished brick. Those of us who like Apple kit see this as a feature, not a bug.

Great responses, thanks.
Apple is one of the worlds iconic brands and I do love its designs, I am not anti Apple. I just believe that the philosophy it was founded on has taken a back seat to profit. looking at the history of the company it’s not difficult to see why they had to adopt a more profit centred business, after all how many times can a company be bailed out?

Andy, I do swear that in 10 years time you will look back at your post and laugh saying wow I had to do all that, just as we look back at the house brick sized mobile phones and all the other obsolete tech with a wry smile. The rub is ‘why did I have to do all that when they had the tech that could do so much more but wouldn’t release it’.

James: The tech you believe are from 5 years in the future are created now, and released later. sometimes because we just are not ready for it [Heros reaction engine; what use have I for that thing]. Sometimes because additional components to make the damned thing work have not been developed yet [the glue that holds the windscreen on your car, smaller batteries to drive mobile tech]. But mostly it’s to squeeze as much cash out of an idea as you can by releasing as Apple do. This is not a bug or a feature, its just business.
One example of current advanced tech we do not have access to, wingless aircraft.
How is Holovision doing, anyone know? and just how far have we gone with nano tech?

We are all aware that Military & Gvt agencies are streets ahead of high street tech, is it so hard to believe that the billion dollar corporations are just as advanced?

Eileen says:
20 May 2012

Apple products are great but shame about their customer service at the apple store at lakeside.especially their managers.

Mad Mike says:
9 March 2012

I have been using my iPad2 for almost a year and think it is great; I wouldn’t go anywhere without it now. Although the iPad3 is clearly an improvement I won’t be dumping my iPad2 for it as the changes (particularly with lack of 4G in UK) are not great enough to warrant it, but if I didn’t already have the 2, I am sure I would go directly for the 3.

Lee says:
9 March 2012

The jump from the first iPad to the iPad 2 separated them on to different models. The new iPad just seems to be and iPad 2 with extra upgrades, like when You buy a car You can add alloy wheels and parking sensors.
I am sure the resolution is amazing to look at. Like all the other upgrades. But with a maximum of 64gb You are hardly going to have all your movie collection at hand.
It is however hard to be critical when Apple have a brand new product at the same price as the iPad 2.
Will I be trading my iPad 2 for the newer model……..no. If I dropped mine tomorrow I would go out and buy the iPad 2 at a cheaper price

Tempus fugit – and just after buying an iPad 2 at Christmas, hey! here’s the iPad ‘not HD nor 3′.

I feel much the same as I did when, just after I’d bought a 27″ iMac last year to release me from being locked into OS10.4 (10.5 and 10.6 wouldn’t run on my computers), OSX Lion was introduced (which won’t run any of my Apps that need Rosetta), and MobileMe was turned into iCloud (which needs Lion!). i.e. aaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!

I’ve always used Macs, and do love ’em for computing, but having had an Android phone for over a year and using the iPad for a bit now I have to say that I think that the iPad is extremely over-rated. Assuming Android apps on a tablet are the same as on my phone, they are just much better (apart from the stock Apple iLife and iWork apps). Not being tied into the Apple colour scheme and modus operandi they are more colourful and have more controls and features. Google Maps is a case in point, but also a Twitter app like Twicca. Both blow the socks off anything you can get for the iPad, including Google Maps for iPad!

Personally I’d like to see the iPad throw of the limitations of the iPhone iOS menu system and become more of a small computer, less like a big phone.

Snowy says:
9 March 2012

I am very dissappointed. I did not buy and IPAD2 because I wanted to wait for the new model. I wanted thinner, lighter, better resolution with faster processor. We got 2 out of 4. Samsung are going to announce a new tablet with higher resolution than IPAD so I may just go for them.. Up yours Apple!

Paddy Murphy says:
9 March 2012

I have the fast Iphone 4s with Siri, which I am still trying to understand, and a laptop computer. Cannot see a need for a tablet. Have the Samsung one ,but very rarely use it.

Larry says:
9 March 2012

IPad 3?, I still have IPad 1 and have no intention of upgrading to anything higher, the one I have does all I ask of it, through ICloud I can do link all, IPhone, IPod, IMac and IPad, and really enjoy myself.

Dennis says:
9 March 2012

Doing PC simple repair for friends is easy …til some poor sod comes along with a Mac then I have to say sorry take to Apple and pay their expensive engineers for your expensive os and equipment!!!

Well my Macs have been unbelievably reliable and I have purchased 20 desktops and laptops for work and home in the last 20 years. One failed hard disk in an iMac (no harder for replace than in a PC) and I had a hinge fail in a MacBook Pro because I dropped it. My only dealings with engineers are to have work PCs fixed. Maybe I have been lucky.

The cost of upgrading to the latest version of the Apple operating system (OSX Lion) is Β£20.99.

Repairing an iPad is likely to be expensive, but the same applies to other tablets. Mine has a good protective case.

joc says:
9 March 2012

For me it is a great disappointment. because of what it could have been.

Most importantly it could have had a lot more memory, the great limiting factor. 256GB was possible.
What encouragement is there for the software developers to port their applications to iOS when you do not have either space for the APPS or the storage space for the files that are created? ( Witness Adobe limiting file sizes for its Photoshop IOS app)
Me thinks it was deliberately held back at 64GB to discourage this and keep space between the iPad and the Macbook Air, preserving both markets.
I will wait another year for the product I know they can make but have yet to do so. Perhaps if we don’t buy it Apple will get the message that they need to produce products customers want and not simply conform product roadmaps.

dunkan says:
9 March 2012

Uh – I’m fortunate enough to have both a MacBook Air AND and an iPad, and have to tell you that they work together beautifully; and what on earth do you need to carry around that needs 256gb? My current iPad has never hit anything like its limit (32gb, I think!) even with loads of music and too many films… and the fully loaded Air still has over 100gb free.

Apple DO produce products customers want; and as for the software developers – just how many million apps have Apple sold?


There are still a lot of people who don’t have a tablet, so there is a market for the iPad 3. I would not be surprised if those who use the original iPad chose to upgrade. I don’t know how long the iPad 2 will remain available for, but Apple have obviously found it worthwhile to keep the old iPhone available in addition to the iPhone 4.

joc says:
9 March 2012

Allow me to explain.
I suppose its because I have always used my Apple products for my business, as an Industrial Designer. Always have done, for the past 22 years. I get through a lot of GB as a designer, as do many other of my Apple loving design colleagues.
I know what it could have been and lament the fact that Apple is moving towards consumer products and away from really useful computers. I suppose you are right in that Apple Do produce products customers want, as testified by the sales they continue to rack up and Yes, Steve meant it when he said it was now the post PC era, but I still need to get stuff done.
A more powerful iPad would have been perfect for me. Great screen, integrated iOS, intuitive interface, no mouse and keyboard, good processor and some hefty physical space encouraging professional applications. I would use it instead of my Macbook Pro when on the move.
I still love the products, but the products are increasingly not what I “need”. If the rumors that they might be ending development of the Mac Pro range turn out for real then it will be a dour day for me.

I don’t normally add comments on websites so these will be my last words on the subject.

David Harbutt says:
10 March 2012

Have read all the hyp and cannot really see what its all about.
All the i pads are good or very good and an amazing leap in inovation but let us not become just humans that follow, ‘ i-sheep’ (because there are many)
I bourght a Samsung tablet 10.1 and its fantastic! (the one Apple tried to ban)
People who see the different tablets and the Samsung 10.1 begin to see there are other things on the market and sometimes better products. The Samsung product has a brilliant screen, a better shaped screen and on a tech aspect does not have the conflict with Adobe Flash, which Apple have!
Several poeple I know are now thinking of going away from the i-pad and going andriod to make life easier in thier work.
I have no association with Samsung and do not promote thier products but just think everyone should see ther are other products out there just as good. Android will probably win in the long term as Apple will price themselves out of the market (and over hyped).

James says:
10 March 2012

I wish that what you are saying was true, because nobody produces their best work, unless they have serious competition, but at the moment unless you are one of those that feel physically sick at even the notion of owning an Apple product, or you have a religious commitment to “open source”, the iPad is your only logical choice, and Apple are right now streets ahead of anyone else in the tablet market. To take your points one at a time

1 Flash – Good luck with that. Adobe have ceased developing it for mobile OSs.

2 Price – Thus far the only tablets for sale at prices much cheaper than the iPad have been sales from manufacturers leaving the market, and the Kindle Fire, which is probably being sold by Amazon at a loss in the hope of recouping that money on ebook sales. The consensus of the reviews is that it is a bit of a dog. The days when Apple made slow overpriced hardware are long gone. As a side note I have played with a number of tablets, and I have yet to see an Android tablet that scrolls as smoothly as the first iPad or does not exhibit some lag making you unsure if a tap has registered. iOS products don’t have these problems.

3 An Android tablet will make your life “easier”. Well they may sometime in the future, but right now they have the perennial problem of all open OS’s, platform fragmentation. This means even on new hardware you are most probably running a version of Android up to 18 months old, and the chances of ever being able to upgrade are slim. This also makes Android much harder to develop for which in turn is reflected in the quantity of apps, and also I’m afraid, on their quality. I sincerely hope Google do find a way around this problem but until that is so I wouldn’t want to bet on an Android Tablet.

Robbie says:
10 March 2012

Which should refrain from using the word “invest” when applied to consumer products as it implies some future value to products that I usually throw in the bin after a couple of years.
The correct word is buy.

Maybe consumer good should be sold with a caution: Warning – the value of your investment is guaranteed to go down.

It might stop this rampant consumerism.


The iPad 3 does indeed have LTE (4g or Long Term Evolution) technology embedded, but there is a big but… It will not ever work on a UK 4G network… The chip set only supports the US 4G frequencies so can never be used in the UK 4g rollout or not! However it does have the very latest 3G technology HSPA+ which will giver far better speeds that pure 3g alone can provide and indeed faster than the iPad 2


Sent from my iPad 2

Regarding the screen resolution…

This is a major advance, the next iPad hopefully will increase resolution again to perhaps the current 4k Cinema standard? Well even at this level of resolution it still cannot match the HD CCTV system in my bathroom….. The mirror! Now if you want to benchmark any screen, TV or anything like that then compare the performance with a mirror and realise that there is still some way to go for the technology to catch up… πŸ˜‰


THis is a subject for the podcast, available later this week. Patrick will be defening his claim that “The new screen is quite frankly mad.”