The New iPad Has Landed

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There you have it, folks. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) has just taken the wraps off the latest and greatest iPad. The customary flurry of supply chain leaks and rumors had already tempered our expectations of what to expect, and Cupertino delivered a package that was mostly in line with my personal predictions with no major surprises or "one more things."

The only aspect we didn't really know was the official moniker, and Apple surprised everyone by simply dubbing it "The new iPad," instead of the "iPad 3" or "iPad HD" that most (including me) were expecting. Let's go through the upgrades and see what's changed.

Retina Display
This is probably the most important upgrade, and it was practically a lock going into the announcement. Apple doubled each screen dimension from 1024 x 768 to a 2048 x 1536 resolution. This cranks up pixels per inch, or ppi, from 132 to 264, which is still short of the 326 ppi on the iPhone's Retina Display. Despite the lower ppi, though, Apple is still marketing it as a Retina Display (where the naked eye can't distinguish individual pixels) since the iPad is typically read at a further distance than the iPhone.

Those dimensions quadruple the number of pixels on the screen to more than 3.1 million, and it tops many HDTVs on the market today that have fewer pixels packed into larger screens. That's an awful lot of pixels that require an awful lot of horsepower, which brings us to ...

Cupertino made an interesting move (although not entirely unexpected because of the rumor mill) with the custom ARM Holdings-based chip inside. Instead of bumping up to a quad-core A6 CPU, Apple stuck with a dual-core processor but jumped up the cores inside the graphics processor to four.

This chip is dubbed the A5X, and as fellow Fool Eric Bleeker points out, it dampens the quad-core narrative that's being led by NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) this year with its Tegra 3 as the only mobile quad-core CPU currently on the market. In comparison, the Tegra 3 has a 4-plus-1-core CPU and 12-core GPU. Apple even went as far as to compare the A5X directly to the Tegra 3, claiming four times the performance.

Apple will still probably come out with a quad-core A6 soon enough, potentially in this year's iPhone, but it shows that the migration isn't particularly urgent.

Apple has improved the backside-illuminated image sensor found in the iPad, and the rear shooter (now called an iSight camera) sports 5-megapixels, while the front VGA camera appears unchanged. There's a chance that sensor maker OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI  ) is back in Cupertino's good graces and may have won the spot after losing the juicy iPhone 4S camera win to Sony last year.

This iPad carries improved optics like the iPhone 4S, but we'll have to wait for the teardowns to come in before the image sensor's origins are identified for sure.

As expected, the device comes in 4G LTE flavors compatible with domestic wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon. One of the biggest drawbacks to the technology has always been its merciless drainage on battery life, but the Mac maker has been able to impressively keep battery life for the iPad at 10 hours, which slides just to nine hours when using 4G.

This is the first Apple device to feature this next-generation connectivity, but it probably won't be the last. Apple boasted that the iPad "works with more [frequency] bands than any mobile device ever," which is more evidence that this do-it-all baseband from Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) is probably lurking inside.

Price points
Pricing on all the new models stayed put, contrary to dubious rumors that Apple might tack on an extra $80 to each model. The prices stack up at $499 / $599 / $ 699 for 16GB / 32GB / 64GB, respectively. Adding 4G LTE to any model will cost you an extra $130, just as it did with its 3G predecessors.

The iPad 2 has seen its price cut, and while Apple didn't go as low as a $299 8GB model, which would have promptly extinguished's Kindle Fire, it did keep 16GB of storage and is now available for $399.

Here's a comparison of a few specs:



The New iPad

iPad 2

Processor Dual-core A5X (with quad-core graphics) Dual-core A5
Display 2048 x 1536 Retina Display at 264 ppi 1024 x 768 at 132 ppi
Cameras Rear: 5-megapixel. Front: VGA. Rear: 0.7-megapixel. Front: VGA.
Connectivity 4G LTE 3G
Battery life 10 hours 10 hours


What didn't make it?
I was surprised to hear that Siri didn't make it into the new iPad. Instead, Apple touted Voice Dictation, which is simply mere hands-free transcription as opposed to the various tasks that Siri assists with. Looks like Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN  ) is going to have to wait before taking its complex relationship with Cupertino to the next level.

Apple continues with improving its streamlined global rollouts, and the new iPad is set for an aggressive launch starting just a week from Friday, on March 16, with preorders starting today. The iPhone 4S was the fastest global launch yet, and the new iPad should see similar treatment.

The only remaining question is how many will move on launch weekend.

The iPad has started a revolution, but Apple is hardly the only winner. Some of the winners are hard to see because they're buried deep inside the gadgets. Check out this new special free report on "3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution" that names a handful of companies that provide the crucial components that these gadgets rely on. It's free.

Fool contributor Evan Niu has a synthetic long options position on Nuance Communications, has sold bullish put spreads on Qualcomm, and owns shares Verizon Communications, AT&T,, OmniVision Technologies, ARM Holdings, Nuance Communications, and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Qualcomm, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of NVIDIA, Nuance Communications,, and Apple, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and writing puts on NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2012, at 8:30 PM, websterphreaky wrote:


    Apple and Steve Jobs have been burying, hiding and trying to lie their way out of the horrific working conditions, dehumanizing of workers, child labor and numerous worker suicides because of the condition and poor pay. As an attempt to further white wash the recent bad press and now exposed situations with Apple’s manufacturing partner in China, a so-called independent workers rights organization was call in – FLA “Fair Labor Association”. Apple has KNOWN about these abuses and child labor for 8 YEARS. But there is a hidden “hitch” in this story.

    The labor investigative organization “FLA” IS Apple, Apple is the founding source for FLA. How does anyone expect that any FLA probe and investigation of Apple’s manufacturing partners will be honest!? They are not.

    ALL the workers on the multi-mile square FOXCONN factory campus live in dormitories that are owned by Foxconn and the “room and board” is not free. Of the average $214USD monthly a Foxconn factory worker is paid, almost half is deducted for Room and Board and Transportation. Little recreational facilities are available for workers, mostly a few pools and movie halls. But since work shifts are 12 hours OR MORE, 6 days a week, Workers are too tired to participate in any recreation activities. There are 400 computers (with restricted internet access – it IS Communist China) available for the workers to use, however with 800,000 plus workers, that means the ratio of computers to worker is 1 computer for every 2,000 workers!! Each worker has access to a computer for 0.36 minutes, or 36 seconds!

    Technically Foxconn is owned by a Taiwanese company and the Communist Chinese Government, which provides all the land and the building construction for free to Hon Hai Industries (Foxconn / Apple)

    Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Apple subcontracts 100% of production of what it sells according to Mike Daisey, author and monologist. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "InBusiness With Margaret Brennan."

    THE BIG LIE FROM STEVE JOBS 8 YEARS AGO!!! He KNEW about the Labor Abuses!!

    The Truth of the Apple iPad Behind Foxconn's Lies: Worker Suicides, Horrific Working Conditions, Brutal Worker Treatment, Child Laborers. Suggest you share this story in the Media.

    Apple and Foxconn, the truth about the suicides - Deconstructing Foxconn

    More about Mike Daisey Apple Investigation on CSPAN: "The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs."

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2012, at 9:11 PM, haysdb wrote:

    The resolution of the iPad exceeds all HDTV's anyone is likely to have in their home. There are a handful of 4K monitors out there, starting at around $25,000.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2012, at 7:59 AM, hiddenflem wrote:

    shame on you for spamming the board with that garbage. working conditions in apple factories are better than most in china-why attack apple specifically?

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2012, at 8:47 AM, sedowst wrote:

    Don't blame Apple for the poor working conditions. If you are so upset, go after the government to raise living standards in the country. These workers are infinitely better off in the factories than in the fields starving. Why don't you hop on over there and organize the workers into a labor union? I'm sure the government will give its blessing (not)!

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2012, at 10:37 AM, gilbertmj2 wrote:

    Finally, Apple adds micro-SD capability! Only to the 4G model?


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