Apple’s Surprise Announcement Today – A New Fourth Generation iPad

The new iPad 4 is externally almost identical to its predecessor, the iPad 3.

At a launch event today that was primarily focused on the worst tech secret ever, Apple’s new iPad mini, the company also succeeded in surprising everyone with the announcement of a new generation iPad, too.

Perhaps the reason Apple was so successful at keeping this device a secret is due to it being so very much identical to the third generation iPads.  There are essentially five differences of note :

1.  A slightly faster processor (the 1GHz dual core A6x instead of the 1GHz dual core A5X, which Apple claims gives ‘up to’ twice the performance of the earlier chip)

2.  A slightly better user-facing camera (now 1.2 MP, up from 307k)

3.  The addition of Glonass GPS (the Russian GPS system) to the regular GPS

4.  Slightly faster Wi-fi in some cases (dual band)

5.  The interface port changed from the old larger style to the new smaller style (as on the iPhone 5 and now mini iPad too)

The unit still has the same screen, the same dimensions and weight, and the same battery (although the faster processor might possibly use the battery up slightly faster).  It comes in the same options and is priced the same, too.

Needless to say, if you already have an iPad 3, there is utterly no reason at all to get an iPad 4.  If you have an earlier generation iPad, you might like the doubled pixel density on the iPad 3 & 4, and the slightly faster processor.  Especially if you bought an original iPad shortly after it was first released, you probably owe yourself an upgrade.

One more thing.  If you recently purchased a third generation iPad, you might be able to get it exchanged for a new fourth generation model.  This article reports that some Apple stores will exchange older units (up to a month old) for newer ones.  Your mileage may vary, but it would certainly be worth a positive attempt.  While we’re not saying you should upgrade an iPad 3 to an iPad 4, if you can swap the 3 for the 4 at no extra cost, you absolutely should do that, to enjoy the extra speed and the new connector which will of course now be the standard for everything Apple makes.

The new fourth generation iPad goes on sale on Friday 2 November and is available for pre-order now.

UPDATE :  Google has now released a 10″ tablet that directly competes with the iPad 4.  Read our comparison of the two devices here.

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