iPad iPad 3 vs. iPad 4 - which one?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by ebedgert, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    I'm thinking of getting a second iPad to complement my iPad 2, which I like a lot. I have a lot of poorly supported apps on the iPad 2 (which runs 5.1) that I absolutely can't afford to have break when iOS is updated, and I want a second iPad anyway, so I'd like to get a refurbished iPad 3 or 4. (so at least I can use it as a test environment to make sure my apps don't break with new OS updates, plus the retina display would be nice too)

    The sticking point is the iPad 4's price - plus the fact I'd have to invest in a new connector. But the iPad 4 is supposedly faster than the iPad 3, and I'd like that for the art applications I use. How much faster *is* the 4? Or would I be fine with a refurbished 3, which is about $60 cheaper than the refurbished 4?
  2. macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2009
    Well if you want it for some time go with the 4.
  3. ThatsMeRight, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013

    macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    The iPad 3 performs, graphically, 50% worse than the iPad 2 if you take the Retina display into account (because: Retina display has four times more pixels, but the A5X chip is only twice as powerful)
    CPU-wise they are equal

    The iPad 4 , graphically, is equal to the iPad 2. Why? The iPad 4's display has 4x as many pixels as the iPad 2, and the A6X chip is also four times as powerful as the A5 chip in the iPad 2.
    CPU-wise, it's also twice as fast.
    The iPad 4 also has: the new dock connector (so 'compatible' with any future Apple products), a better camera than the iPad 3, a better front-facing camera (FaceTime HD)
    About A6X vs A5X: basically, you could say the A6X chip is just as powerful as 2 A5X chips combined.

    I'd say: if the difference between an iPad 3 and iPad 4 is 'only $60', than go for an iPad 4. It's got better cameras, the new connector with a 12 W charger included, GPU is equal or sometimes better compared to the iPad 2 (all in full glory 2048 x 1536 resolution) and it's much more future-proof thanks to the powerful CPU that's twice as fast.

    To clear some stuff up: the iPad 3 being relatively less powerful, doesn't necessarily mean performance always drops. There are basically three things that can happen:

    1) Performance drops (lower framerates, image tearing)
    2) Performance doesn't drop, because it's a very light game (like Angry Birds) and the GPU was never fully utilized
    3) Performance doesn't drop, because the developer removed functionality and special effects (see image below)

  4. macrumors 68020


    Mar 19, 2012
    For longevity sake I'd probably go for the iPad 4.
  5. Guest


    Jan 29, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    What scaremongering, absolute nonsense. It's not a cut and dried 50% difference as you boldly claim.

    Real Racing 3, running at a higher resolution on iPad 3 is not 50% worse performance wise than the iPad 2. And even the 4S, essentially the same spec as an iPad 2 with a smaller display to drive, has frame rate issues in the cockpit view in that game.

    To the OP though, always go with the best device you can afford and if you want to keep the same device long term without upgrading, get the latest device. The iPad 3 was my first iPad, I waited until the 3rd gen (great decision in retrospect eh?) and after dropping £649 on the top end model at that time (64GB WiFi + Cellular) I'll be using my iPad 3 for some time yet.
  6. macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    I am obviously talking about 100% utilisation of the GPU cores. In that case, the iPad 3 will perform 50% worse if you take the Retina display in account. Raw power.

    Still, even if the GPU is not fully utilized, game performance on an iPad 3 is worse than on an iPad 2. Basically, the only time when you don't notice it is with the really 'light' games (think Angry Birds).

    iPhone 4S is about 12% less powerful than the iPad 2, but the resolution is also 12% lower.
  7. macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2013
    Agreed 100%. What absolute drivel.
  8. macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    There's only one thing: the iPad 3 is in raw power, if you take the Retina display, up to two times less powerful.

    Of course, in real-world situations you won't always see such a huge performance drop. Why not? Sometimes, you're just dealing with simple games like Angry Birds: these kind of apps don't require that much power, so even with a relatively less powerful GPU they will run just fine.

    In some other cases, performances does actually drop. Also, in other cases, the developer might decide to scrap some functionality (see image below).


    In this game, you'll see that some special effects have been removed.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2013
    Hmm. Perhaps not total drivel after all.

    Well, in the end, I'm glad I have the 4, lol.
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2012
    Of course, you would love Ipad 2. Its so loveable. Everything about it is so balanced which is the best Ipad to date imo.

    And why would u even consider getting discontinued Ipad 3? Its heated, battery is bad and for only 60 cheaper, Ipad 4 is a clear winner.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2008
    Except in this game and others with demanding graphics you can turn on the non retina graphics and get all the special effects back.

    Although I don't know who gets iPads based upon whether they get to see some insignificant smoke effects. Go worry about that on a gaming PC.

    Every game is very playable on the Ipad 3 and I'm talking about all the new releases as well.
  12. macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2013
    I don't think that's his point. I think the point is the fact that the iPad 3 can't run the same effects with the same efficiency as the 2 suggests a lower output of power.

    So the implication is that you are making a rather big trade off if you want retina when going with the 3. This trade off doesn't exist if you are going with the 4.
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2012
    What is this Game ? Which one is this ?
  14. macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2013
    Yes, get the iPad 4 is a wise choice. The iPad 3 comes rocking a dual core A5X processor, with a quad core GPU. However, The iPad 4 packs Apple's latest A6X processor, which Apple says "doubles the performance of CPU tasks." You're better off buying the newer, more future device.
  15. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    Thanks for the responses. I should have been clear up front about what I intend to use the new iPad for - artwork. (I don't give a hoot about games.)

    However, speed and power is relevant for most high-end art apps with the Retina display, because some apps are prone to lag, and I'm assuming a faster chip will keep that from happening.

    I think your comments have nudged me toward the 4, at any rate. I know many people were unhappy with the 3 when it first came out.
  16. macrumors 68040

    Nov 12, 2012
    I think there have been discussions about using an ipad for artwork. Maybe a search would help your choice, I do not remember the recommendation.

    My choice regardless is the 4, I had a 3 and returned it.
  17. macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008
    It's cool---your iPad 3 is an incredible piece of technology. I sold mine and took the hit to pick up the iPad 4. We've since also updated our business iPad 3s to the iPad 4s. They're definitely a bit quicker across the board. Is it able to be quantitively 'felt' as a specific percentage? Nah...but regardless of the task, it's quicker. Whether it's loading an app, populating an RSS reader (FlipBoard, Early Edition), surfing, loading sites, rendering a video or exporting a file...all the way around, it's definitely 'faster'. It's also a substantial upgrade to the fluidity of the UI, gestures and app switching. It's going to be most noticeable to you and I. Both of us being long time iPad 3 owners...as soon as you spend a day or two with the '4', you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Dicking with one @ Best Buy for 10 minutes won't reveal the difference as well as spending real time with your real daily workflow for the differences to be apparent... To me, it's the same as the transition from the 4-4s...to the iPhone 5. The big 'processing' difference between the evolution of the iPhone '4' family to the 5 was big! Again...quite noticeable after being an owner for a long time then switching. That's when the differences are obvious. I like the different GPU differences shown by 'That's Me Right'. Pretty cool. But this only ONE area where the CPU/GPU of the iPad 4 shows it's prowess in comparison to the A5 family (iPad 2/3 and Mini...iPhone 4/4s).

    That said---enjoy your iPad 3, you're right---it's Awesome!!! Easily the second best tablet on the market today (tied with the 'Mini' IMHO:))

    You're missing the forest through the trees (or is it the other way around? ;))
    See my above response. Most folks don't decide just because of 'smoke effects' to buy the latest technology. I've owned both...and noticed many more pros to the iPad 4 vs my iPad 3s than just a couple of special FX. It was cool that he took the time to post those differences though, eh?

  18. macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2013
    I have noticed this as well. I do a lot of exporting of large PDFs after annotating them, and it is a lot faster than the iPad 3. Websites do load faster as well, but I really mostly notice the speed in exporting of documents.
  19. macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Wow! I just got the iPad 4 today coming from the iPad 2...and all I can say is wow! The screen is absolutely beautiful! Now I know what you guys are talking about with the rMBP....eventually I will make that switch as well but for now this iPad 4 is gorgeous! :)
  20. Guest


    Jan 29, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    Yeah, I mean I'm not naive enough to ignore that the 4th Gen is a more powerful machine, but people seem to see the specs on paper and allow those to manifest themselves in first time impressions. Right now the 3rd Gen isn't "50%" slower than the 4th Gen, you can't use raw specs on paper and screenshots of extra smoke to scream, "It's twice as fast"!

    The day will come, possibly soon with the release of iOS 7, where the 3rd Gen will begin to feel slower, in line with those specs on paper, than the 4th Gen. For now, thankfully, my 3rd Gen runs every app I throw at it very well and is fast in it's operation and I've no issue with iOS animations (stuttering animations annoy me, I cannot use my wife's iPhone 4 compared to my 4S). I've also never had any issues with excess heat, regardless of what I run on my 3rd Gen, although I never use it above 50% brightness ... too bright otherwise!

    I waited until the 3rd Gen before taking the plunge on an iPad, and to some extent you could say given the circumstances which unfolded that I got burned. I opted for the top end model, at that time prior to the introduction of 128GB models, and I'm not going to go through the hassle of selling it via the likes of eBay or Gumtree to fund a 4th Gen.

    I personally believe that there's no real benefit in 3rd Gen owners upgrading to the 4th Gen, I'd rather wait until the form factor changes and get a "real" update rather than a speed bump and new charging port. For some, that is enough of a reason to update, but even if I wanted to right now I have committed to paying for a bathroom refit and my wife would more than likely throttle me if I spent any of the budget on a new iPad less than a year after dropping £649 on one! :D
  21. macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2010
    Hong Kong
    Just out of interest:
    What game is that? And why do the game developers remove some of the special effects with iPad 3?
  22. Guest


    Jan 29, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    It's NOVA 3.

    On iPad 3 you can either run it at iPad 2 resolution with full effects, which results in a lesser resolution image due to it upscaling to the higher resolution screen of the iPad 3, or you can run it at full native iPad 3 resolution which looks razor sharp but removes the fancy graphical effects like smoke.

    It's like the old PC resolution vs effects decision.

    iPad 4 can run it full resolution with all effects, although oddly enough games like Real Racing 3 run full resolution with particle and reflection effects on the iPad 3 just fine.
  23. macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

    May 23, 2010
    I was ready to get the iPad 4th Gen until I found out that Brandsmart had iPad 3rd Gen in stock at a substantial discount. Truthfully, I'm happy I got the 3rd Gen because of accessories that I already have with the 30 pin connector. I bought the 64 GB AT&T for $599 which would have run me $829 for the 4th Generation.
  24. macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2011
    If you're only saving $60 I say go with the newest one. If you can save $100 or more, consider the older one. I just bought a second 3rd generation with LTE because I was able to save $84 less than the refurbished price from Apple. That would put it significantly cheaper than a 4th gen.
  25. macrumors 6502


    Jan 7, 2012
    It comes with a lighting cable do you mean an adapter for your accessories, if you do it only costs about $20, pretty cheap.

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