When I woke up this morning, I was expecting Apple to release the new iPad mini, along with the new iMac and the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. What I didn’t see coming was a new full-sized iPad, and I don’t think I was the only one blindsided by the announcement.
Since 2010, Apple has stuck to a once per year upgrade cycle. The original iPad came out in March, the iPad 2 came out in April, and the third generation (new) iPad also came out in March, so an iPad in October is entirely unprecedented.
In fact, Apple has never done a six or seven month release for one of its mobile devices. The iPhone, the iPad, the iPod touch, the iPod nano, and the classic iPod have always had at least a year between updates.
This surprise move by Apple has not been to the delight of fans. In fact, I think most of us third generation iPad owners are peeved that there’s already an improved Apple device to purchase, when we just shelled out hundreds of dollars six months ago.
While I’m still a bit shocked that Apple would put out a second release after seven months, I’m also surprised that it’s been deemed the fourth generation iPad. That’s an entire iteration – a serious upgrade. Apple has been known to incrementally update its line of MacBooks on a bi-yearly basis, but it’s never brought about a name or generation change.
I knew when I purchased my third generation iPad that it would eventually be outdated, but what I didn’t expect was a seven-month life cycle. My “new” tablet is now retired, which is disappointing, to say the least. Is it worth it to shell out an additional $499 or more for the “newer” iPad?
Let’s take a look at what the fourth generation iPad brings to the table. It’s packing the new Apple-designed A6X chip with quad-core graphics, which is the chip we originally speculated would be in the third generation iPad. It’s also sporting a 5-megapixel iSight camera, a front-facing HD FaceTime camera, expanded LTE capabilities, a Lightning connector, and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ Wi-Fi for improved speeds.
This afternoon, Phil Schiller promised that the A6X chip will deliver twice the performance of the A5X chip in the third generation iPad, which is clearly the biggest draw of the new tablet. The problem is, does the iPad need that much power? Are game and app makers able to utilize that processor?
The answer is no. While you may see an incremental improvement, developers are still going to create games and apps that will work with the internals of the iPad 2, the iPad mini, and the third generation iPad. We’ve had the third generation iPad for nearly seven months now, and I have yet to see a game that won’t run on the iPad 2. That processor doesn’t mean much when developers are limited to apps that function on multiple platforms.
Twice the performance sounds good on paper, but in reality, you’re not going to see the speed boost yet. When the fifth generation iPad comes out, and when older iPads are being retired, then you’ll see what an A6X chip gets you – longevity. Is any developer going to risk creating an iPad 4 only app that alienates iPad 2, iPad mini, and third generation iPad owners? Unlikely.
I know a 2X speed boost is enticing, but in my opinion, it’s not worth the cost of a whole new device. Even with Wi-Fi speed increases and an improved camera, it’s still not enough of an upgrade to justify going from the third generation iPad to the fourth generation iPad. The third generation iPad is still too good to make an upgrade worthwhile.
There’s no doubt that Apple’s fourth generation is going to fly off of store shelves, especially with the holiday season approaching. Apple is in the money making business, not the smile making business, so I understand the release.
As a third generation iPad owner, however, I’m still upset that the tablet I bought seven months ago is now half as slow as the current device, even if it won’t make much of a difference in use. It’s the principle. The fourth generation iPad doesn’t make the third generation iPad outdated, but it does put it one step closer to obsoletion.
I know others out there are upset with Apple’s decision as well, and there’s one thing you can do to show your displeasure – don’t buy the newest iPad. Not only is it not worth it, it’s also a way to vote with your wallet.
And do you want to know the main reason why you should forget about buying the fourth generation iPad? It’s only a matter of months before Apple releases an even newer tablet. Now that Apple’s thrown a cog in the update machine, we have no way of knowing when another iPad is coming.
At least us third generation tablet owners are now in possession of a limited edition iPad. Hang onto it, the Apple device that only lasted seven months might be worth some cash one day.