TechnologyTell

New iPad gen 3 buyer remorse – Did Apple “betray” users?

Sections: Features, iPad, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Opinions and Editorials, Originals

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4th gen iPad

I have some sympathy for folks who bought 3rd-generation New iPads over the past six months and are now complaining they’ve been hard done by with Apple releasing the 4th-gen iPad. Some sympathy…but not a whole lot.

I’ve been there, and not. In March, 2009, I bought a then-current late 2008 model unibody MacBook, reasoning Apple would not release a major upgrade for another half-year or so.

I was wrong.

Two months later, Apple released a major upgrade of that machine, with faster processors, a FireWire 800 port, and a SDCard slot, relaunching it as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. I was not amused, particularly because lack of FireWire I/O was my main complaint about the MacBook.

On the other hand, that MacBook has proved to be one of the best Macs (possibly the best Mac) I’ve ever owned, so the sting has faded.

Last March, my iPad 2 Was just nine months old when the New iPad was released, but I’d expected that, and was relatively serene about no longer having the latest iPad hardware (although that’s never a particularly big deal for me anyway). I wasn’t about to upgrade from a machine less than a year old, and would indeed bridle on principle at replacing even a two-year-old device that was still working fine. It of course didn’t hurt that I had (and have) mixed feelings about the Retina display, and because of the ultra high res panel’s prodigious appetite for processor resources, the iPad 2 remained the fastest iPad in some benchmarks despite its A5 system-on-chip not having the quad-core graphics processor of the New iPad’s A5X SoC. Also, the iPad 2 remained the thinnest, lightest iPad, and it runs cooler.

 

That changed last week when Apple unveiled (along with the new iPad mini) a 4th-generation iPad with an Apple in-house designed A6X SoC that’s been claimed (and apparently proved) to be twice as fast as the 3rd-gen iPad’s A5X chip, and is cooler-running and more economical in power consumption. That’s a serious performance improvement, so it’s understandable why iPad 3 owners are feeling some buyers’ remorse. I have to wonder if the truth is that Apple wanted to use the A6X chip in the 3rd-gen iPad last spring, but it just wasn’t ready in time, obliging them to go with the 45nm process A5X SoC to tide them over.

When Apple announced the iPhone 5 in September with its A6 SoC and new Lightning dock port, I wondered how long they would allow the flagship iPad to languish running yesterday’s silicon, connecting through the old 30-pin dock. Now we know. The iPad is once again Apple’s fastest and most powerful iOS device.

The operative question now is whether there will be a 5th-generation iPad come spring. I’m cautiously doubtful, but not with any strong confidence. For one thing, they’d get another batch of users who ponied up for the 4th-gen iPad mad at them for releasing another new revision after five or six months. There’s also the possibility that Apple is migrating iPad version updates to the lucrative fall back-to-school and pre-Christmas sales from late winter/early spring as they’ve done with shifting the iPhone 4S and 5 to fall release dates.

 

On the other hand, distinctions between the 3rd-gen and 4th-gen iPads consist of the A6X SoC, the Lightning dock connector, a new front-facing FaceTime HD camera, a claimed-by-Apple twice the Wi-Fi performance boost compared with previous iPad models, and support for more LTE wireless carriers worldwide. So, the A6X speed bump is the only really substantive upgrade, making this latest iteration more properly an iPad 3S rather than an iPad 4. That means if Apple were to wait until October, 2013, to release the next iPad version, it would be 17 months between major revisions, which is a very long time in the context of this sort of product.

We’ll have to see. In the meantime, A6X power eliminates several of my reservations about the Retina display iPad as a reasonably substantial upgrade from the iPad 2.

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8 Comments

  1. Try windows phone 7.8 now that’s real betrayal

    James
  2. No! I’m so sick of this meme. Technology is always advancing. If you’re buying it so you can be the cool kid with the best stuff, then you probably don’t need it. My wife and I got each other 3rd gen iPads as wedding gifts this past June, and I’m as happy today as I was when I first turned it on at the Apple store.

    What’s more remarkable to me is that my iPad 3 has more capable hardware than the brand-new Surface or any of the Nexus tablets, a nearly flawless UI, and has a resale value of around $450. So what if it doesn’t have the newest processor? I use it mainly for news, facebook, web browsing and casual games.

    If all you want is the latest and greatest toy, you will shell out the cash for the 4th gen, and Apple knows it. More power to them.

    Ben Kenon
    • You sure about the resale value? Because in my screen the register is $329. Other than the processor, its the front cam im enraged about. The 3rd gens front cam is VGA. I cringe everytime i use it. VGA. And hacent you heard about the Nexus10? The screen is better, speakers better, and everything else in 30% less the peice. Don’t confine yourself to just Apple.

      jeremy
      • I have a 64 fb iPad 3. Even if its *only* $329, so what? I’ve has it for almost 6 months now. That’s very little depreciation as far as consumer electronics go. I’m not a fanboy. I’m not a tech guy either. I don’t care about jailbreaking or booting or any of that. I’ll stop *confining* myself to Apple when they are no longer making great products. I’ve handled a Surface and Nexus 10.whatever. Android feels amateurish and Windows 8 is… weird. Who cares about the resolution being better on this or that tablet? It had to happen sometime.

        Ben Kenon
    • Yes, the only reason you might want to upgrade to the A6X is if you play the bleeding edge graphical games out on iOS.

      Greg R.
  3. I think it’s ridiculous to say you were betrayed if you bought an iPad 3. I bought an iPad 3 on launch day because I was waiting for the iPad to have a Retina screen before I bought in. Well guess what? My iPad 3 is just as awesome and fast today as it was before the iPad 4 was announced. Had they redesigned it from the ground up, maybe I’d be less happy. But all they did was swap the A5X for an A6X and give it a Lightning port. Sure I’d like to have a Lightning port because my iPhone 5 is moving my cables to that standard. And I don’t play a lot of graphic intensive games so the A6X isn’t of much consequence to me. I’m not the least bit mad about the 4th gen iPad. I will keep my 3rd gen until the iPad 5 comes out, and consider upgrading then.

    Greg R.
  4. I don’t think it’s a question of latest and greatest but properly functioning hardware, as the author stated

    “That changed last week when Apple unveiled (with a new iPad mini) a4th-generation iPad with an Apple in-house designed A6X SoC that’s been claimed (and apparently proved) to be twice as fast as the 3rd-gen iPad’s A5X chip, and is cooler-running and more economical in power consumption. That’s a serious performance improvement, so it’s understandable why iPad 3 owners are feeling some buyers remorse. I have to wonder if the truth is that Apple wanted to use the A6X chip in the 3rd-gen iPad last spring, but it just wasn’t ready in time, obliging them to go with 45nm process A5X Soc to tide them over”

    If Apple knowingly released a device that was inherently flawed and not ready to be released they did indeed betray the buyer’s of the iPad 3.

    TF
    • The device is not inherently flawed. After releasing the iPad 3, they apparently finished developing the A6X chip. Maybe the A6X chip was in development but wasn’t ready for inclusion in the iPad 3 so they decided to go ahead and release the Retina iPad. This in no way indicates the iPad 3 is flawed in any way. It simply contains a now 1 generation behind processor. I have an iPad 3 and it works great. I don’t play heavy 3D games on it though. They claim the A6X is faster than the A5X. Great. Still doesn’t make the A5X flawed.

      Greg R.