A Much Larger Battery

Apple claimed no decrease in battery life for the new iPad compared to last year's model and only a 1 hour drop over LTE. The problem is that the combination of A5X SoC under GPU load, the LTE baseband and driving/lighting all of those pixels in the Retina Display has a significant impact on power consumption.

Apple addressed the issue by increasing the new iPad's battery capacity by 70%. If the leaked PCB photos are accurate (they look to be), Apple increased battery volume by shrinking the motherboard size and increasing the thickness of the tablet.

The new 42.5Wh battery is downright huge. To put the new iPad's battery in perspective, this is nearly the same battery capacity as the what was shipping in the 2008 13-inch MacBook Pro. This is also a bigger battery than what's used in the 2011 11-inch MacBook Air:

Apple Battery Capacity Comparison

Over the next two years you can expect to see the line between ultraportable and tablet blur considerably. Looking at where the new iPad falls in the chart above really begins to exemplify just how blurry that line is going to become.

With the display off, the new iPad looks and feels a lot like the iPad 2. The additional thickness is hard to see, but the additional weight is definitely noticeable. The new iPad isn't as heavy as the original model, but it's clearly heavier than the iPad 2. I don't believe the added weight is a deal breaker, but it is a step backwards. Maintaining battery life however obviously trumps added weight.

The math is pretty simple. If Apple is claiming 10 hours of battery life with a 42.5Wh battery, the new iPad with the iPad 2's battery would likely be good for just under 6 hours. Such a drop would be unacceptable and thus the new iPad gets a bigger battery and incurs additional weight from the new battery and display components.

The CPU & More Final Words


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  • name99 - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Buy yourself a copy of GoodReader NOW!

    Most of what I read on my iPad is technical PDFs, and GoodReader does a good job of allowing you to define crop margins so that the relevant text covers the entire page. For PDFs targeting A4 or US Letter it works really well.

    I assume you are currently reading PDFs in iBooks? That's garbage --- iBooks is pure crap when it comes to handling PDFs. Not to mention, GoodReader also does a much better job of allowing you to file a large number of PDFs in a hierarchical system.
  • Michiel - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Why do you think serious readers exclude serous gamers, mailers, twitters, facebookers, bloggers, movie-fans, TV watchers, musicians, photographers, students, etc, etc...

    Oh, by the way; The Kindle excludes all of them.

    If you want to mock the iPad, think first !
  • Michiel - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Are so clever or am i a retard ?

    Why in the name of whatever is it so damn hard to figure out what the purpose is of an iPad ?

    I'll go to the store on my bike.
    Wait ! A motorbike is better.
    Wait ! A car is better.
    Wait ! A Ferrari is better.
    Wait ! Give me an airplane.
    Wait ! Give me a 747.

    Is it so hard to see things in perspective ?
  • Lucian Armasu - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    If the CPU hasn't changed and the GPU doesn't even compensate for the increase in resolution, can you really say that iPad 3 is faster than iPad 2, then? Somehow I think it isn't, and even if it was, as you said, some apps and games that worked on iPad 2, will not work on iPad 3 with the new resolution (only if they keep the old one).

    As for Windows 8 tablets, to do that you'd need the x86 version of Windows 8. As far as I know Atom doesn't support such high resolutions, so it will not be competitive with high-end ARM chips - unless you're really thinking of using Ivy Bridge Core i3-i7 chips in your $1000+ tablet. Not to mention that the graphics performance will be terrible even then, and you'd need an even bigger battery than the one in iPad 3, just to have half the battery life.

    So far I still still Android as the only one that can seamlessly work between a tablet and a laptop form factor, although it does need a few more improvements to allow for a more "desktop-like" feel when in laptop mode (even though Windows 8 is wrongly going in the opposite direction).
  • vision33r - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    This is why Apple sold over 100mil iPads because it's target towards people who don't want to be stuck behind a PC or a notebook.

    Avg folks just need a web pad for viewing sports scores, lottery numbers, news, read a few books, and play a nifty game.

    They don't need a quad core i7 CPU overclocked and 1TB of disk space.

    iPad sells because the buyer does not want to understand specs.

    Specs is the reason Android tablets won't succeed. It is killing the Android tablet market as more vendors will bail as profits are so razor thin and depreciation is fast and high.

    When you Android folks only look at paper specs, 90% of Android tabs are already out dated in 3-4 months as you guys would only buy the highest paper specs.

    Zero incentive for a vendor to push out a high quality tablet if the margins are so thin.
  • Icehawk - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    I totally agree as both a tech guy and an iPad owner - I use my PC for most "computing" tasks but I use the iPad for reading, looking something up quickly in front of my TV, and casual gaming - and for that specs don't matter just how it works. I passed on the iPad2 waiting for the resolution bump the iPad has desperately needed along with increased memory - IME RAM and poor coding are why the majority of apps that crash do so.

    I'm curious whether app size will increase significantly due to higher rez resources?
  • gorash - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Android tablets don't sell because Honeycomb is a temporary OS. With Honeycomb and Jelly Bean they should do well. Reply
  • WaltFrench - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    When I look at the apps that *I* see people using on the iPad (in coffee shops, airplanes, bart, friends' homes…), essentially NONE are maxing the GPU, and CPUs are maxed only on occasion.

    That's cuz I don't bump into gamers. But the sales figures say iPad users are buying lots of games, so that's the only likely reason for the GPU upgrade: to support hi-res gaming, which was already no slouch on the iPad versus other tablets. Game devs can chip in, but with relatively little fragmentation of the iPad line (accentuated by the fair assumption that the really hardcore types will immediately upgrade to the iPad3), developers have a pretty easy target to optimize for. Should result in extremely playable, very good-looking games.

    Operations such as surfing, which spend relatively little time rendering text or elementary graphics, won't be bottlenecked by speed, either.

    The new GPU power seems to be exploited very nicely in the iMovie and iPhoto apps. Here, the transformations are applied to the whole photo image, while only a relatively low-res screen view needs updating. Since the number of pixels on the screen is not the limiting factor, the net transformation should be quite a bit faster (assuming it's actually done in real time, as opposed to a series of filter codes stored with the base image).

    Already, iMovie was a killer app on the iPad2; the only Android app I saw was hopelessly buggy and with the level of Android tablet sales that have happened in 2 years, there's exactly zero developer incentive to tweak for all the CPU/GPU variations. Again, Apple is extending its lead in quality of user experience.
  • doobydoo - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    'If the CPU hasn't changed and the GPU doesn't even compensate for the increase in resolution, can you really say that iPad 3 is faster than iPad 2, then?'

    Arguably, yes. Is 100 fps at 10 x 10 better than 60 fps at 2000 x 1000? No.

    You have to take resolution into account when assessing speed. Also, bear in mind that the iPad 2 was not 'too slow' - it ran games at a perfect 60 FPS since games were designed to run on it. The iPad 3 therefore doesn't have to be 'faster' in raw FPS terms, its aim, clearly, was to increase the gaming quality without sacrificing performance.

    I also disagree that the GPU necessarily doesn't compensate for the increase in resolution. Despite what Anand says in this article, FPS does not reduce proportionally with resolution, so it may well be that the MP4 compensates for the increase in resolution perfectly well.

    'some apps and games that worked on iPad 2, will not work on iPad 3 with the new resolution'

    I suspect this is simply wrong. Either the iPad 3 will have been tested with some mainstream old apps to test, or it may retain the ability to process games at the old resolution and upscale. Giving the best of both worlds to developers, better quality, or better performance. Or both.

    'So far I still still Android as the only one that can seamlessly work between a tablet and a laptop form factor'

    The problem is that the Android tablets are nowhere near as polished or as high performance, with lower resolution screens and slower hardware. Using onlive for the iPad you can get a complete desktop experience - not that that's what most people who buy tablets are looking for.
  • JK6959 - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    The upgrade in GPU was to push the 4x increase in pixels at a useable speed, but the cost of more GPU and Resolution seems to be a large fall in effective battery life per WHr. Given they can't chunk up the phone for a fat battery and the doubling of GPU power would be wasted I cant see the benefit of putting this into the phone.

    If they increases screen to 3.7-4.0 inches and use the old iPad resolution to maintain retina DPI and some overlap of ipad/iphone resolution, the old A5 would still have more power than needed. For example a Full HD gaming laptop may get a GTX 560 in it, but you're not going to put that in a 1024x600 netbook as it is simply too much

    Apple have shown they're willing to delay until a product is ready, I think they'll get something more efficient in the next iPhone and that being more than just a die shrink or increasing GPU cores. I hope for A15 28nm, like TI have shown only 800mhz is needed for a fast performance

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