Battery Life, Conclusion
If you open up the new iPad you’ll find the battery takes up most of the internal space available. It’s a whopping 42.5 Wh unit, which makes it almost twice as large as the battery in most other tablets and on par with some laptops.
Despite this, Apple is not claiming any additional battery life. That’s the impact of the high-resolution display. It clearly sucks down the juice – but how badly? Let’s start with our YouTube test, in which we stream YouTube videos until the battery dies. The percentage numbers represent the display brightness the test was run at. We typically test at both 30% and 70% brightness.
In both benchmarks we see similar results. Apple’s iPad 3 has extremely long battery life. In fact, at 30% brightness it exceeds the battery life of the Transformer Prime with the keyboard dock attached. That may seem absurd, but it’s actually not that surprising. After all, the new iPad’s battery has about the same capacity as the combined batteries in the Prime and the keyboard dock.
The battery life of this tablet is in a class of its own. There’s nothing that comes close to touching it – even at 70% brightness it still defeats all other tablets we’ve tested by a large margin. You can put the iPad 3 through a day of use and still have enough battery life left over to enjoy a movie.
There are two downsides to the large battery. One is heat. I suspect that the reports of warm iPads are mostly due to the battery, which is probably warming while it discharges and also crowds out room that might otherwise be available to help cool the display and the SoC. I recorded a maximum external temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit, and while that is warmer than any other tablet we’ve reviewed, it’s not particularly uncomfortable.
The other issue is charging time. In my testing the iPad 3 took as long as six hours to charge from 3% to 100%. It seems the large battery has over-matched the trickle of power that is available through the charger.
I think most owners will find these issues to be only minor annoyance – if they’re noticed at all. The tablet’s excellent endurance, however, is hard to miss. Apple remains the king of battery life.
The Apple iPad is the standard by which all other tablets are judged. The iPad 3 does nothing to change that. The iPad 2 was the best tablet you could buy, so it’s little surprise that the iPad 3 has replaced it in that role.
I can’t say enough about the display. The impact of it is subtle at first, but the more I used it, the more it impressed me. This was reinforced when I compared the tablet to the iPad 2 and the Transformer Prime. Text is far sharper on the new display, and a direct result of that is a better web experience and easier navigation. You won’t need to spend as much time hassling with pinch-to-zoom because everything is easy to read from the moment a page is loaded.
Everything else in the new iPad is built to support the retina display’s resolution, and as a result it merely holds the line in numerous areas. It’s a slight bit thicker and heavier than the previous iPad, and while the battery is much larger, overall battery life is about the same (still better than Android competition, and sometimes by a wide margin). Fortuantely, the iPad 2 was already excellent in these areas, so holding the line isn’t a bad thing.
The new iPad is the best tablet money can buy and its release has transformed the gap between it and the competition into a canyon. Our praise can’t be much clearer than that, and the new iPad is worth every word of it.