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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  • Guspaz - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    You can get 1920x1200 in a 13" notebook monitor. Until recently, the highest resolution you could get on a 27" display was 1920x1200. Clearly this doesn't make any sense; there is a 4.3x increase in surface area there, but no increase in resolution...

    I had a 1080p 24" monitor, and it felt low-res. I've since upgraded to a 2560x1440 27" monitor, and it does seem a bit better. As it should, it's a 25% increase in surface area, but a 78% increase in pixel count.
  • ZeDestructor - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    I suspect it stagnated because windows offers extremely poor scaling by default, despite being given all the info via EDID/HWID... Reply
  • Exodite - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Now if some enterprising soul could just cut away all the useless gunk adhered to the back of those displays, and ideally scale them up to 20-24", I'd be almost happy to pay ~499 USD!

    Imagine for a moment a 4x3 resolution desktop screen with large vertical resolution and low cost. *sigh*

    As a software engineer I have yet to see any reason to move past my two 1280x1024 displays from '06.

    I don't need color accuracy, widescreen formats, USB hubs or exotic display connectivity. I just want a display with high vertical resolution, high refresh rate and a good price.
  • Guspaz - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    4:3? No thanks, even for coding.

    I'm sitting here on two 1280x1024 monitors, while at home I have a single 2560x1440 monitor. The difference is painful; lines of code don't fit in 1280 pixels, so stuff gets split between two, which isn't easy to work with. My single monitor at home is higher resolution than my two at work, I'd gladly trade these for a single higher res 27" monitor.
  • Exodite - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    We obviously have very different coding styles then.

    Strictly speaking I don't need more horizontal space than 80 characters, though additional space for menus and toolbars are obviously an advantage.
  • michael2k - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Wait, what? The iPad has more lines in either direction than 1280, 1440! Reply
  • michael2k - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Why not mount it on a stand, place it 10" away from you (so that it appears equivalent to a 22" screen), and use something like Parallels to run your desktop on it? Reply
  • Exodite - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    I'm sitting pretty much 10" away from two 19" screens as it is, unfortunately it'd have to be a bit bigger than 9.7" to be ideal. :P Reply
  • medi01 - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    -Our beloved customers are ready to give us more of their money for trendy gadget upgrade. We gotta sell them 'The New iPad', what have we got to "revolutionize"?
    -Eh, not even some app like Siri that we can remove from app store and shamelessly claim to make yet another breakthrough?
    -Bah, let's play 'retina" display card then.
    -Well, we only got 264 points per inch display, we claimed "retina display" to be 326 ppi, can we still claim 264ppi is retina?
    -We are Apple dude, we can claim anything! (besides dudes like Anand will find excuses to demonstrate we were right)
    -Right. Anyway, we'd need more powerful hardware too keep up old speeds at new resolution. (dudes like Anand will still make us look better, by using useless to customers off-screen benchmark) so we'd need a bigger battery.
    -So it will be bigger, heavier and take longer to charge?
    -Oh well, but it will still have "retina display". Should still sell well.
  • WaltFrench - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    “Retina” display was a pixel density such that <b>at the likely distance from the eye,</b> the user would have a hard time distinguishing pixels. Works out to about 1 arc-minute (1/60th of a degree) for human eyes.

    I see lots of people using iPads on my commute route, on my frequent flights, in the occasional coffee-shop stop. Nobody tries to hold them the 10" – 12" away from their eyes, as Jobs cited for the iPhone4S.

    In other words, by failing to know a damn thing about vision (or elementary trig), your comment blathers ignorantly.

    PS, a word to the wise: it wouldn't have been very clever even if your point was in the least valid. Don't give up your day job to be a comedy writer. Even if your local Android Klub fans like it.

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