Out with the old, in with the new. That's Apple's mantra with every yearly refresh of its product cycle, but yesterday they eschewed that thinking and, just 7 months after introducing the 3rd generation iPad, we have a replacement.
Worry not, though, if you've recently purchased a not-so-new iPad. Aside from select stores extending the 2-week returns policy to 30 days for irked owners, this "new" iPad offers little more than a subtle hardware refresh. Much of the same specs carry over -- the stunning Retina display, the same great build, the same rear camera -- with a few new hardware sprinkles on top of a still-fresh tech cake.
Powering the 4th gen iPad is Apple's A6X CPU, which they claim is twice as powerful as that in the 3rd gen device -- though it was no slouch, complete with quad-core graphics, which should give the newest iPad the same boost as that found in the iPhone 5 -- though in real world terms you'll likely not notice a massive difference between the two models, though this is testament to the speed of the old device.
Also new is dual-band WiFi, improved LTE coverage supporting more countries (rejoice, Sprint fans, you're now covered), an HD FaceTime camera, and the same image processor as that found in the iPhone 5 -- though if you are using the iPad to take serious photos you should probably reevaluate your life. Also new is Apple's Lightning connector, which handily renders all current docks and accessories obsolete, but a $29 adaptor will solve that headache -- mostly.
Pricing remains the same, at $499 for a 16GB with Wifi, and $629 for the same storage with LTE on board, rising in $100 increments for 32 or 64GB of storage, and it's available November 2.
For those hoping the 3rd generation will follow past examples and drop in price, no luck. It ceases to exist when the new iPad goes on sale, with the iPad 2 remaining at $399, and the new iPad mini slotting in at $329.
For those wondering why Apple shifted from their usual yearly product cycle, remember that Windows 8 launches on October 26 with a slew of high-end tablets -- including Microsoft's own Surface -- and Google's October 29 announcement is expected to include the much-rumoured Nexus 10 tablet. The launch of this iPad smacks greatly of Apple merely trying to remain relevant in the news cycle, but far be it from me to accuse Cupertino of playing out their desperation with a hardware refresh.