Apple’s new iPad: Nice, but do we really need it?

Another year, another iThingy by Apple. Not a laptop, not a phone, but instead a new, ever-so-slightly-modified version of the iPad 2.

Another year, another iThingy by Apple. Not a laptop, not a phone, but instead a new, ever-so-slightly-modified version of the iPad 2. A beautifully crafted 7-10” slab of technology with a touchscreen for primary input and wireless technologies for communication and data transfer. Sure they look pretty neat and certainly feel cool and intuitive to use but do we really need them?

Tablets are not as functional as laptops and as yet  are not small or portable enough as your smartphone, so where exactly is the market for them? Yes, you can word process on them, but the whole experience feels clumsy and troublesome compared to the ease of typing on a laptop or desktop computer. Society seems to have reached a point where we’re making sleek gadgets that we just do not need. Yes you can draw sketches or read books on the high resolution touch-screen, but there are dedicated drawing tablets for that and e-readers with e-ink screens which do not strain your eyes after a few chapters. Hell, what’s wrong with just drawing on paper and reading a book? The niche that the iPad manages to fill is that of convenience for cool people who must have the new… everything. Smartphones offer the same convenience but wait – the iPad has a bigger screen and more power under the bonnet. Laptops are portable too but require a time consuming boot-up and a protective bag. The iPad will fit in most bags, satchels and rucksacks, and battery life lasts anywhere from six to ten hours, compared to a laptop’s paltry two to four hours. The iPad cannot replace a laptop for work-heavy users and in no way can it replace a mobile phone, it would look implausibly idiotic pulling an iPad out of your bag to take a call.

iPad & iPhoneMany tablet owners are doing just what smartphone owners do but with a few more inches of playspace. The new iPad’s major new feature is the amazingly high resolution screen (2048×1536 pixels) which is actually crisper and more detailed than any HDTV on the market. The 9.7” screen works wonders for drawing detailed sketches, reading larger volumes of text, and editing photos etc. If you have ever played Draw Something, the hugely popular pictionary-like game, you’ll know how tricky it is drawing on a smartphone’s tiny screen. Much like the iPhone 4’s retina screen, the iPad’s retina screen makes high resolution images and videos look more beautiful than ever. The new iPad is indistinguishable from its predecessor by design alone. It comes in at an acceptable weight of 652g (10g more for the 4G version) and at just 0.37 inches wide it fits incredibly well in the hands. Yes, you’ll notice you’re holding a weight, but the device is by no means like a lead brick.

The iPad 3 really comes into its own against other tablets when it comes to apps and software. A choice of over 200,000 dedicated apps and games means there is far more choice for casual users and tech geeks alike, and an abundance of higher quality apps than are available on competing tablets.

Gamers interested in picking up a tablet should note that In the last couple of years the gaming library on iPad has exploded with high quality releases, with graphics rivalling output on even the Xbox and Playstation 3. The iPad 3 is the definitive tablet to own if gaming is a big factor in helping you decide which tablet to purchase.

So the new iPad is an impressive piece of kit, but aside from 4G mobile internet technology, which isn’t even available in the UK until the end of 2012 or mid 2013, it doesn’t really do anything new that the iPad 2 can’t; it just does everything with a prettier screen and more processing power.

The extra £100 cost over the iPad 2’s price nets you a higher resolution screen, a better rear facing camera and a more powerful processor. It’s a worthy investment if you’re spending a few hundred quid on a device anyway and keeps you future proof. If you really like the extra detail that HDTV brought into our living rooms the new screen will not disappoint.

Should you buy it?

iPad 2 owners may want to give upgrading a miss as it’s not a huge jump in features or specifications, but if you’re in the market for a new (and unnecessary) tablet, have a few hundred quid to burn and don’t already own one, then the iPad 3 is an easy recommendation. Just don’t expect it to replace your laptop or compete with your phone for portability.

  • Manufacturer: Apple

  • Price: £429-£659
  • Released: 09/03/2012
  • Battery life: 8-10 Hours
  • Colours: Black/White


  • Lightweight

  • Stunningly high resolution screen
Extensive battery life
Vast catalogue Software and Games


  • Expensive
  • No groundbreaking new features over last model

  • Still can’t fully replace your laptop
Doesn’t play nicely with Android Phones
Poor quality front facing Camera