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The new iPads: What you need to know

Macworld Staff | Oct. 25, 2012
Between Apple’s presentation at its Tuesday press event, the press releases and spec sheets that followed, and our all-too-brief hands-on session, we’ve been able to get a pretty good first impression of the new iPad mini and, to a lesser extent, the fourth-generation iPad. So while we wait for our review units to arrive, here’s what we know so far.

How much does the iPad mini cost?

The iPad mini is available in the same configurations as the fourth-generation iPad, but each model is $170 less. In other words, the 16GB Wi-Fi model goes for $329, 32GB is $429, and 64GB is $529; adding LTE cellular data ups the price to $459, $559, or $659, respectively. You can order one starting on Friday, October 26. Apple says the iPad mini will start shipping November 2.

Now that the iPad mini exists, why would anyone buy an iPod touch?

With the 32GB iPod touch priced at $299 and the 64GB model priced at $399, $70 more than the entry-level iPad minisome people are wondering why anyone would go for the iPod touch. Thats a valid question. But Apple would sayand we would agree, for the most partthat the markets for the two products are very different.

Sure, the iPad mini offers a larger screen, but the downside to such a size is that it no longer fits in your pocket. The iPod touch, on the other hand, is still pocketable (4.9 by 2.3 by 0.24 inches, 3.1 ounces)a crucial feature for some people. The iPod touch also offers more storage for your money, and a true Retina display. As with many things in tech, huge and miniature both cost more, and the iPod touch is a marvel of miniaturization. If you want an iOS device with lots of storage and really long battery life that fits in your pants pocket, the iPod touchor the iPhone, of courseis for you. If youre willing to give up pocketability and a good amount of battery life in order to get a much larger screen, Apple now has you covered there in a couple of different ways, too.

The fourth-generation iPad

What are the differences between the fourth-generation iPad and the third-generation model released earlier this year?

On the outside, the only obvious change is that the latest iPad uses Apples new Lightning connector instead of the older 30-pin dock connector. (If you have older audio and power accessories, you can use them with the new iPad via Apples Lightning-to-30-pin adapters.) But Apple has also upgraded the new iPads cameras, as the new iPad includes a FaceTime HD (720p) front camera and a 5-megapixel (1080p-capable) back camera, in contrast to the VGA-resolution front camera and 960-by-720-pixel back camera on the iPad 2.

The other big iPad changes are hidden inside. First, the fourth-generation iPad features a dual-core A6X processor with quad-core graphics, a significant upgrade over the A5X processor in the third-generation iPad. The new version also has upgraded Wi-Fi circuitry: Apple claims that the fourth-generation iPad provides up to twice the wireless performance of the third-generation model. Specifically, the new iPad supports channel bonding, which means that it can use two adjacent bands of the wireless spectrum, allowing a theoretical doubling of the data rate. Channel bonding can work in the 2.4GHz frequency band, but youre much more likely to get its full advantages in the 5GHz band. (In fact, Apples own Base Stations, and many from other companies, dont support channel bondingalso known as wide channelsin the 2.4GHz range at all, so you benefit only when using the 5GHz range.)

 

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