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Third-generation iPad: What you need to know

Macworld Staff | March 9, 2012
With Apple’s Wednesday introduction of the third-generation iPad, many of the questions people and pundits have spent the past few months obsessing over have been answered—but not all.

What about people who use Sprint?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a model for Sprint’s cellular network—at least not yet. Sprint’s initial 4G rollout was based on WiMax, a different technology from LTE. Sprint is now rolling out LTE, but it’s early days and Apple’s not supporting it right now.

How do the new screen and 4G/LTE connectivity affect battery life?

The iPad 2 claimed 10 hours of battery life for Wi-Fi surfing, movie watching, and music listening, or 9 hours of 3G surfing. Despite having a screen and wireless connectivity that use more power, and a more-powerful processor, the new iPad claims to offer identical battery life.

How is that possible? While the new iPad models are the same height and width as their predecessors, the Wi-Fi and 3G models are each 0.03 inches thicker than the respective iPad 2 models. While that might not seem like much, it adds up to just under two cubic inches of additional volume inside the new iPad. We’re betting most of that space is filled with battery, which would also help explain why the new iPads are, depending on the model, 0.11 to 0.12 pounds heavier than their immediate predecessors. Indeed, the new iPad’s battery capacity is listed as 42.5 watt-hours, compared to 25 watt-hours for the iPad 2

What about personal hotspots?

The new iPad includes software for—assuming your carrier supports it—setting up a personal hotspot, just as you can do on the iPhone 4 and 4S. This feature lets you share your cellular-data connection between up to 5 connected devices at a time.

Do I still need to be on a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime?

Apple didn’t announce any changes to FaceTime, so, yes, you’ll still be restricted to Wi-Fi if you want to video chat with the grandparents.

What’s this Bluetooth 4.0 about?

Like the iPhone 4S, the new iPad includes Bluetooth 4.0, the latest version of the Bluetooth standard. Bluetooth 4.0 includes all the features of Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (the version used in the iPad 2), so existing Bluetooth accessories should work fine. But version 4.0 adds a new protocol called Bluetooth low energy, which allows for devices that require much less power to operate and connect. (The folks behind Bluetooth call Bluetooth 4.0-capable devices Smart Ready.) Examples of devices that might take advantage of Bluetooth low energy are exercise and medical devices such as heart-rate and blood-sugar monitors. Bluetooth 4.0 might also be a boon for artists who want to use pressure-sensitive styluses.

Is the new iPad’s speaker any better?

We didn’t have a chance to listen too closely to the speaker (also, the room was quite noisy), but all indications suggest that it’s pretty much the same as the one on the iPad 2.


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