Apple’s new iPad: What’s in it for photographers?


posted Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 6:01 PM EDT

Apple's new iPad. Photo provided by Apple Inc.Apple is today showing off its latest variant of the device that kicked off the tablet computer craze, and while the rumor mill was right on many counts, they missed the mark on one point: the name. The third-generation iPad will, it seems, be referred to simply as an "iPad", which is probably going to lead to some confusion on the second-hand market, not to mention in Apple's own App Store. (Apple's website variously refers to its new device as either "the new iPad", or when they're feeling particularly verbose, "the new, third-generation iPad".) So much for iPad 3, or iPad HD.

Really, though, the name isn't terribly important. It's the upgrades that count, and there are several that will be of particular interest to photographers. Key among these is a new, higher-resolution display. It's still a 4:3 aspect ratio, so if you're shooting in the 3:2 aspect typical of SLRs, you'll still get black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when viewing images full-screen. (And doubly so when viewing wide-aspect 16:9 high-def movies.)

Total resolution of the new iPad's display is 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, and it carries the same "Retina" branding as the displays on the iPhone 4 and 4s, as well as the iPod Touch 4, although pixel density is significantly lower than those devices. At 264 pixels per inch, it's just slightly better than halfway between the 132ppi of the original iPad / iPad 2 screen, and the 326 ppi of previous Retina-branded devices. It's definitely much higher-res than the previous iPad screen, though, and that will make it easier to judge focus and fine details in your photos. Apple is also claiming 44% greater color saturation, so images should look richer than on the original iPad display.

Apple's new iPad looks very much like its predecessor, but a lot's changed under the skin. Photo provided by Apple Inc. Click for a bigger picture!

Apple's new iPad looks very much like its predecessor, but a lot's changed under the skin.
Photo provided by Apple Inc.

There's also a new Apple A5X system-on-a-chip at the heart of the third-gen iPad, in place of the A5 SOC of the iPad 2. While Apple doesn't state the processor or clock speed used, the rumor mill has it that it's still a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, but supposedly now clocked at 1.5GHz, versus the original A5's 1GHz. The A5X SOC now includes a quad-core graphics processor rumored to be the PowerVR SGX543MP4, in place of the SGX543MP2 used in the iPad 2. That's the same chip used by the Sony Playstation Vita handheld game console, although Sony's device couples it with a quad-core processor and has a vastly lower-res display, so we wouldn't expect similar levels of performance. It's worth noting that Apple's press materials aren't claiming the new iPad to be any faster than its predecessor; it has a lot more pixels to cope with, and dealing with that is likely going to demand a significant chunk of its improved processing power. The iPad 2 was known as a pretty snappy device, though, so retaining similar levels of performance will likely prove more than adequate for many uses. Despite the increased processing power, Apple is still rating the third-gen iPad as offering 10 hour battery life, unchanged from that of the previous models.

The new iPad also has updated built-in cameras, which comes as very welcome news. The iPad 2's cameras were a definite Achilles heel, offering only VGA resolution on the front-facing camera, and 0.9 megapixel resolution on the rear-facing camera, and yet despite that, we've still seen folks using their iPads to shoot photos. Now, they can shoot at five megapixel resolution with the rear camera. That's still quite a bit below the 8-megapixel resolution of the iPhone 4S, but it's a vast upgrade from the iPad 2. The lens has also been updated, and while we don't yet know the focal length, we understand that it is now a five-element, f/2.4 optic with hybrid infrared filter, similar to that used in the iPhone 4S. (Apple never provided a spec for the iPad 2's rear-camera lens, so we're not exactly sure how that compares.) It's also now possible to shoot 1080p 30fps video with the updated rear camera. The front-facing camera has not been upgraded, sadly, so your FaceTime videos will remain decidedly standard-def.

Two color options are available for the new iPad: white, or black. Photo provided by Apple Inc. Click for a bigger picture!

Two color options are available for the new iPad: white, or black.
Photo provided by Apple Inc.

If you're planning to use your iPad for sharing content wirelessly, there's an important upgrade here, too. Although the WiFi connectivity is unchanged, offering 802.11a/b/g/n support, the Bluetooth PAN radio has been updated to support Bluetooth 4.0, where the iPad 2 was a Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR device. There's also a choice of two optional models offering 4G LTE connectivity, compatible with either AT&T or Verizon's networks in the US market, rather than the 3G models offered for the iPad 2. It's also now possible to use the new iPad as a hotspot providing connectivity to up to five other Wi-Fi capable devices, but only if your carrier allows this.

The new iPad runs on iOS 5.1, and the same version is supported by the original iPad and iPad 2 from today. While iOS 5.1 includes the same stock Photos app, Apple has now finally released a version of iPhoto for iOS devices including the iPhone 4 and 4S, as well as the iPad 2 and new iPad. Priced at US$4.99, iPhoto for iOS allows image browsing, multi-touch editing including the ability to "paint" adjustments selectively onto images, and offers a variety of canned artistic effects, graduated filters, and the like. There's also a Photo Journal function with support for captioning, maps, dates, and even weather information to be placed alongside your images, and the resulting creation can be uploaded as a web page on iCloud. Additionally, you can share photos with Facebook and Flickr, view them on your HDTV via an Apple TV device, print them with AirPrint, and share them (including non-destructive adjustments) between iOS devices, wirelessly. There's also an updated version of iMovie available immediately.

Apple's iPhoto app is now finally available for iOS devices, including the third-gen iPad. Photo provided by Apple Inc. Click for a bigger picture!

Apple's iPhoto app is now finally available for iOS devices, including the third-gen iPad.
Photo provided by Apple Inc.

Compared to its predecessor, the new iPad has the exact same width and height, but is 7% thicker and 8% heavier. That's an increase of 0.6mm or slightly less than 1/32 inch in thickness, and 51g / 1.8 ounces in weight, likely due to the larger battery requirements. (The new iPad packs a 42.5 watt-hour non-removable lithium-polymer battery, versus the 25 watt-hour lipo battery of the original iPad.) And that's the nutshell version of Apple's new, third-generation iPad, from the photographer's perspective. More info on the other, less photo-centric changes in the new iPad can be found on Apple's website.

Availability in the US market is slated for March 16th, with pricing set at about US$500 for the 16GB model, US$600 for the 32GB model or US$700 for the 64GB model. The 4G variants have suggested pricing of US$630 for 16GB, US$730 for 32GB, or US$830 for 64GB.

Press Release

Apple Launches New iPad

New iPad Features Retina Display, A5X Chip, 5 Megapixel iSight Camera & Ultrafast 4G LTE

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apple® today introduced the new iPad®, the third generation of its category defining mobile device, featuring a stunning new Retina™ display, Apple’s new A5X chip with quad-core graphics and a 5 megapixel iSight® camera with advanced optics for capturing amazing photos and 1080p HD video. iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G connects to fast networks worldwide, including AT&T’s and Verizon’s 4G LTE networks, and still delivers the same all-day 10 hour battery life* while remaining amazingly thin and light. Beginning today, iPad 2 will be offered at an even more affordable price starting at just $399.

“The new iPad redefines the category Apple created less than two years ago, delivering the most amazing experience people have ever had with technology,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The new iPad now has the highest resolution display ever seen on a mobile device with 3.1 million pixels, delivering razor sharp text and unbelievable detail in photos and videos.”

The new iPad’s Retina display delivers four times the number of pixels of iPad 2, so dense that the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels when held at a normal distance, making web pages, text, images and video look incredibly sharp and realistic. The 3.1 million pixels in the Retina display are more than one million more pixels than an HD TV, and with 44 percent increased color saturation the new iPad displays colors that are unbelievably richer, deeper and more vivid. Movies are now capable of playing at full 1080p HD-resolution, delivering an incomparable viewing experience on a mobile device.

The powerful new A5X chip with quad-core graphics was specifically designed by Apple to deliver a fast, responsive user experience while supporting the incredible Retina display. With double the graphics performance of the A5 chip, the A5X provides a superb balance between performance and power efficiency so users can enjoy all the benefits of the stunning new display while experiencing a smooth Multi-Touch™ interface, immersive gameplay, incredible visual depth and all-day battery life that iPad is known for delivering.

The 5 megapixel iSight camera features advanced optics for taking stunning pictures and recording full HD video. Backside illumination allows you to take great photos in low-light conditions and a new video image stabilization feature removes the bumps and shakes typically seen when filming with a hand-held device. Images can be enjoyed on the large Retina display, then edited, enhanced and easily shared with friends and family using the built-in Photos app on iPad.

iPad Wi-Fi + 4G with built-in next generation 4G LTE has the most comprehensive support for fast networks worldwide including HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA, and now both CDMA and GSM iPad users have the ability to easily roam internationally. The world-ready iPad delivers blazing download and upload speeds so web pages load incredibly quickly and email with large attachments can be sent and received easily. Personal Hotspot can be used to share the fast network connection on your iPad with up to 5 other devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB**.

With iOS 5.1, the latest update to the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, the new iPad has a number of new features and enhancements including: a redesigned Camera app with video stabilization technology; the ability to delete photos from Photo Stream; support for dictation in English, French, German and Japanese; and Personal Hotspot. iOS 5.1 also works seamlessly with iCloud®, a breakthrough set of free cloud services including iTunes® in the Cloud, Photo Stream and Documents in the Cloud, that works seamlessly with your iPhone®, iPad, iPod touch®, Mac® or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content and push it to your devices. When content changes on one of your devices, your other devices are updated automatically.

The new iPad also supports dictation, another amazing way to get things done just using your voice. Instead of typing, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard, then say what you want to say and the new iPad listens. Tap done, and iPad converts your words into text. You can use dictation to write messages, take notes, search the web and more. Dictation also works with third-party apps, so you can update your Facebook status, tweet, or write Instagram captions.

Apple also introduced the iPhoto® app, along with major updates to iMovie® and GarageBand®, completing its suite of iLife® apps for iOS. iLife and the iWork® apps, Pages®, Keynote® and Numbers®, have all been updated to take advantage of the new iPad Retina display. iPhoto includes breakthrough Multi-Touch features so you can use simple gestures to sort through hundreds of photos and find your best shots, enhance and retouch your images using fingertip brushes and share stunning photo journals with iCloud. iMovie now gives you the ability to create amazing Hollywood-style trailers as you record HD video, and GarageBand introduces Jam Session, an innovative and fun new feature that allows a group of friends to wirelessly connect to play instruments and record music together live on their iOS devices.

iPad runs almost all of the over 585,000 apps available on the App Store™, including more than 200,000 native iPad apps, from a wide range of categories, including books, games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel. The iTunes Store® puts the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store at your fingertips with a catalog of over 20 million songs, over 90,000 TV episodes and over 15,000 movies. The new iBooks® 2 app for iPad lets users experience an entirely new kind of ebook that’s dynamic, engaging and truly interactive. iBooks created with Apple’s new iBooks Author offer gorgeous, fullscreen ebooks with interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos, unrivaled navigation and much more.

Pricing & Availability

The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in black or white on Friday, March 16 for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model and $699 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for either AT&T or Verizon will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad will be sold in the US through the Apple Store®, Apple’s retail stores, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. iPad will also be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands on Friday, March 16. Customers can begin pre-ordering their new iPad today, and the incredible iPad 2 is now offered at a more affordable price of $399 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and just $529 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

iOS 5.1 and iTunes 10.6 are available today as free software updates. iPhoto, iMovie 1.3 and GarageBand 1.2 are available today for $4.99 (US) each from the App Store. Keynote 1.6, Pages 1.6 and Numbers 1.6 are available today for $9.99 (US) each from the App Store. Updates are available for free to existing customers. By the end of March iPad will be available in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

*Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

**Personal Hotspot requires supporting data plan. Customers should check with their carrier for availability.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

© 2012 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS, Macintosh, iPad, Retina, iSight, Multi-Touch, iCloud, iTunes, iPhone, iPod touch, iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iLife, iWork, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks and Apple Store are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.