There was a lot of pressure riding on the Apple iPad 3 prior to launch due to the success of previous iterations, but they do say diamonds are formed under pressure. That's why a refurbished iPad 3 sets a whole new standard for Apple tablets.
Apple's relentless approach to innovation means that a new iPad is delivered to the market every single year, which means that these tablets are always being compared with both older devices and their successors. In this respect, it's definitely a case of things getting better with time, with the iPad 3 reigning successfully as one of the best and most impressive Apple tablets following its launch in March 2012.
Once the Apple iPad 2's time in the spotlight was done, many wondered what was next and whether the upcoming iteration would really improve things. In the case of the iPad 3, the answer is yes and by quite a lot, with this tablet boasting an enhanced Retina Display, an upgraded A5X processor with quad-core graphics and a 5MP camera that represents a huge enhancement on Apple's previous tablet offering.
While the iPad 3 may have the same, 9.7-inch display as its predecessor, this screen is packed full of pixels and boasts an impressive resolution of 1536x2048. This is what distinguished the iPad 3's retina display from the pretenders to the tablet crown, while it also delivers a 264 PPI density that allows for crisp, clear and high definition imagery. While this is slightly less than the iPhone 4 (which was released around the same time and boasts a 330 PPI density), it's more than adequate given that we're meant to hold the device around 15 inches from the face.
If you compare the physicality of the iPad 3 to the iPad 2, you'll notice that the former is marginally thicker and ever-so-slightly heavier. This is a small and negligible change, however, and one that also lends itself to a premium design that features elegant curved edges, oleophobic scratch-proof glass and a sleek aluminium chassis. The additional weight and heft is also indicative of robustness and excellent design quality, so it should provide genuine reassurance when handling the tablet on a daily basis.
Undoubtedly, the main upgrade on the iPad 3 is the camera app, which has been elevated from a 0.7MP lens to a 5MP alternative. This is a similar offering to what's available on the iPhone 4S, while the integration of an f/2.4 aperture and a five-element lens creating a genuinely impressive spec and allowing for crisp imagery with an exceptional resolution.
The camera app also features the so-called 'tap to autofocus' mode, which helps to automatically correct the image sharpness according to the light level and optimise your pictures.
The battery on the iPad 3 also represents a significant upgrade on its predecessor, and in fact the power pack has almost doubled in size. Overall, the 11,560mAh battery allows for up to two days of moderate use on average, particularly when setting the Retina Display to its optimal level of brightness and leveraging the processor's quad-core graphics for gaming.
We also reckon that the power pack would offer even greater longevity were it not for the number of pixels packed into the display, although this is a small price to play given the overall quality of the screen.
Finally, it's important to note that the iPad 3 is available on both Wi-Fi Only and Wi-Fi + Cellular plans. The first of these means that you can only connect to the Internet and download your emails with a viable Wi-Fi connection, whereas the latter enables you to leverage a mobile network and get online even when you're on the move. With this in mind, you can select a plan that suits your usage and enables you to get the very best value for money.
While the iPad 2 was a worthy addition to the tablet market, there's no doubt that the iPad 3 represented a much-improved and high quality successor. From its pixel-packed Retina Display to its capacious power pack and underrated gaming engine, the iPad 3 should be considered as a ground-breaking tablet that has blazed a trail for other devices to follow.