How undersold is the iPad 4 update? How angry should you be if you have an iPad 3? What does it teach us about future iPad Minis?
With the A6 having twice the processing power as the A5, the iPad 4 probably finally has enough CPU to do non-accelerated operations on its 2048×1536 context. In this regard, the iPad 4 is a polished or finished iPad 3. Unfortunately, the A5X wasn’t the culprit of the iPad 3’s size and weight compared to the iPad 2. It remains as thick and as heavy. It’s still noticeably lighter than the iPad 1 and Microsoft Surface, but it’s still noticeably heavier than their iPad 2. Marco Arment has postulated that the A5X was the reason for the iPad 3 running warmer than the iPad 2, so maybe the iPad 4 will run cooler. Apple also quietly increased the wattage of the iPad wall adapter, hopefully decreasing the exceptionally long charging time of the iPad 3. I’ve joked around the office that since they killed the iPad 3 but kept the iPad 2, the iPad 3 must be the “worst iPad we’ve ever made”.
Other than having a lightning port and twice the processing power, the iPad 4 didn’t improve on the iPad 3’s dimensions. I fear this means that the iPad Mini simply cannot be made to drive a retina display with current technology and we’re not any closer this year than we were last year. Again, the A5X and A6X are not the reason for the big battery, it’s the retina display itself. Remember when PowerBooks had their replaceable batteries in a corner of the device, taking up less than 25% of the area? A look into the retina MacBook Pros and all iOS devices reveal that the battery is now effectively most of the device.
I don’t mean to write this to sound pessimistic but rather to temper expectations. We shouldn’t expect at retina iPad mini until we see an iPad 2 sized retina iPad, unless Apple will get off the 10 hour battery high horse (they shouldn’t).