Back in October of 2012, Apple threw the tech world for a loop by announcing the iPad 4. This was at the event where everyone was expecting the iPad mini, and the Cupertino firm made good on those rumors, but no one expected a successor to the iPad 3 so soon.
Yes, the poor iPad 3 was less than a year old when its was pushed from the spotlight. To add further insult to injury, Apple refers to the iPad 4 as iPad with Retina display, even though the iPad 3 was the first tablet with the signature high-density display.
The iPad 3 is now gone from Apple shelves and assembly lines. It's only available as a refurbished product when buying directly from Apple. The iPad 2, however, is still sold new, and serves as Apple's budget tablet offering.
But enough about confusing marketing practices, what are the actual differences between the two iPads? Is it worth plunking down the extra cash for the iPad with Retina aka iPad 4? Or should you save a little money and grab a (gently) used iPad 3? Let us break it down so you can decide just how broke you're going to go.
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iPad 3 vs iPad 4: Screen
Both the iPad 3 and the iPad 4 come with Apple's Retina display. They both have a pixel density of 264ppi (pixels per inch). Not too shabby, but it's actually outdone by the iPhone 5, which is 326ppi. We think if Apple can make a 4-inch screen than dense, then an iPad mini 2 with Retina should be a given.
iPad 3 vs iPad 4: Camera
Apple might not have upgraded the screen, but it did upgrade the front-facing camera. The iPad 3 came with a 0.3MP standard definition offering, whereas the iPad 4 makes full use of the Retina display for video chatting with a 1.2MP HD camera.
iPad 3 vs iPad 4: Processor
Gearing up from the iPad 2, the iPad 3 comes rocking a dual core A5X processor, with a quad core GPU. However, the iPad 4 packs Apple's latest A6X processor, which Apple says "doubles the performance of CPU tasks."
The iPad 4 comes with a battery that lasts up to 10 hours, but so does the iPad 3. Don't think that this is a bad thing though, we noted in our iPad 3 review that despite the high-resolution retina display, the battery life was "more than acceptable."
iPad 3 vs iPad 4: OS
Apple's latest operating system, iOS 6, was recently launched alongside the iPhone 5, so unsurprisingly it's also featured on the iPad 4. The iPad 3 launched with iOS 5.1 but is upgradable to iOS 6.
iPad 3 vs iPad 4: Connectivity
The big difference between the two iPad generations lies within their connectivity options. The most obvious of these is the new 8-pin Lightning dock, first announced on the iPhone 5.
This is 80 percent smaller and more durable than Apple's original 30-pin offering.
The other major difference is that the iPad 4 (Wi-Fi + Cellular version) comes LTE enabled. The iPad 3 did come enabled with 4G, however, it couldn't be used in the U.K. But, with the introduction of the iPad 4 Brits can also enjoy super fast mobile internet when they're out and about.
iPad 3 vs iPad 4: Price
With the announcement of the iPad 4, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the iPad 3 would be made cheaper. Apple has different ideas, with the plan seeming to be to phase out the 3rd gen iPad.
The iPad 4 debuted at the same price of the iPad 3, with the Wi-Fi only tablets coming in at £399($499, AU$539) £479($599, AU$649) and £559($699, AU$759) for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB respectively. The Wi-Fi + Cellular versions cost a bit more, at £499($629, AU$679), £579($729, AU$789) and £659($829, AU$899) for the three storage options.
As mentioned, the iPad 3 is no longer in production, but Apple and other retailers are still clearing out an inventory of refurbished models. Savings compared to a new iPad 4 is about 15-18 percent.
For the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models, you'll spend £249($US379, AU$419) £309($469, AU$509), and £369($549, AU$539). For the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions it'll cost you £415.00($509, AU $499) £469 ($599, AU$589) £539.00($679, $669).
Since there won't be anymore, stock on the iPad 3 is limited. Honestly though, given the small price difference, you're better off buying the newer, more future price device, unless you're looking for a collector's item.