Apple iPad 3rd Generation

Apple has now released the third generation of its iPad tablet, with an upgraded 5Mp camera and a 9.7in Retina display.

Apple iPad 3rd Generation

Apple iPad 3rd Generation

Having sparked the tablet revolution back in 2010 with its very first iPad, Apple is now on the third iteration, with the latest model featuring an improved display, faster processor and 5Mp camera that’s capable of capturing both stills and HD video. But with increasing competition from the likes of Samsung and Asus, can the iPad 3 keep Apple seated at the top of the tablet market?

Features & Build

It’s fair to say that Apple has become renowned for its slick product design, and the iPad 3 is no exception. With its smooth curves, matte silver finish and glossy touch-screen, the iPad 3 looks and feels great.

It features a brand-new 9.7in touch-screen Retina Display that’s been developed specifically for the device, and crams in an impressive 2048x1536 pixel resolution – that’s four times more pixels than the iPad 2 and a million more than a standard HDTV.

The display itself has also been treated with a fingerprint resistant ‘oleophobic’ coating to repel oils and smears.

At the heart of the iPad 3 sits a custom-designed dual-core Apple A5X processor with a quad-core graphics facility, which works towards powering the super-high resolution screen. There’s also a built-in lithium-polymer battery that offers up to 10 hours of constant web surfing, watching videos or listening to music.

The iPad 3 houses a 5Mp camera on the back that’s able to capture 2592x1936px images, as well as full 1080p HD video, though it lacks an LED flash unit like Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4s. There’s also a smaller, secondary 0.3Mp camera on the front, though this is primarily used for video messaging via the FaceTime application.

Performance & Handling

Tapping the Camera icon on the home screen activates the camera option, which took just shy of 2secs to open and allowed us to snap away by either tapping the on-screen capture button, or by pressing the volume rocker switch on the edge of the tablet – though the latter proved to be a bit fiddly.

By default, focus is automatically locked onto the centre of the frame, though it can be fine-tuned manually by tapping on an area of the screen where you want to focus. The automatic face detection also worked well, detecting up to 10 faces and using them to balance both the exposure and focus across the frame.

Capturing video is as simple as moving the slider at the bottom of the screen over to video mode and hitting the Record button to start the capture – tapping it again stops the process.

Tapping the Options button grants access to a helpful rule-of-thirds grid overlay to aid with composition, though there’s a lack of advanced shooting options such as ISO and white balance control.

Although a 5Mp camera may sound puny compared to most compacts, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s a vast improvement on the iPad 2’s 0.7Mp camera. Comparing our test shots with its predecessor, the latest model provided massively improved sharpness and clarity. 

The higher resolution images also allowed us to create prints at A4, albeit with a slight amount of interpolation. Its only downside came when shooting in low-light, as without the aid of a flash, shots were often blurred and rather noisy.

The iPad’s pin-sharp Retina display made reviewing images a delight, resolving brilliant clarity and vivid colour, and the touch- screen was equally impressive, responding to even the lightest of gestures. There’s even an option to view your shots as a slideshow, effectively turning it into an HD digital photo frame.


There are a handful of iPad varieties currently available, including a choice of black or white screen surrounds, 16, 32 or 64GB internal memory, and optional 4G for mobile internet connectivity – though this requires an additional sim card.

Depending on which version you opt for, the iPad 3 will set you back between £399 and £659, which isn’t cheap. However, it’s fair to say that you certainly get what you pay for.


The iPad 3 is by no means going to replace your compact, and although image quality was admirable, the tablet’s large size makes it a little impractical to use as an everyday photographic tool. That said, the iPad is, of course, far more than just a camera, and for any photographer looking for a slick, efficient way of displaying their portfolio, answering emails, social networking and more, the iPad 3 is a brilliant – if expensive – all-in-one solution.


  • Street price: £139 (Secondhand price as of July 2016)
  • Resolution: 5Mp (2592x1936px)
  • Lens construction: 5 elements
  • Aperture: f/2.4 fixed
  • Focusing: Autofocus, Tap to focus & Face detection
  • Monitor: 9.7in (2048x1536px), LED back-lit multi-touch Retina display
  • Video: Full HD (1920x1080) @ 30fps
  • Flash: No 
  • Processor: Dual-core Apple A5X with quad-core GPU graphics chip
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • GPS: Yes
  • MP3: Yes
  • Email: Yes
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 technology
  • Mobile internet: Optional 4G (requires sim card – not included)
  • Battery: Built-in Lithium-Polymer
  • Storage: 64GB internal memory (16 and 32GB also available)
  • Colours: Black or White frame
  • Write speed: 0.9secs JPEG
  • System requirements (for connection): Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later, PC Windows 7, Vista or XP Home/Professional (SP3)
  • Weight: 662g
  • Dimensions: 241.2x185.7x9.41mm
  • Visit:

This review was first published in the June 2012 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.