updated 01:30 am EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
Noticeable improvements in photo, video, graphics
A pair of Asian websites that have gotten mysteriously early access to the as-yet-unavailable third-generation iPad have been busy testing the devices, reporting on the improved camera, graphics systems and RAM capacity of the new machine while also confirming that the A5X processor has the same clock speed as the previous model. The improved graphics processor, however, more than makes up for this, tests show.
Despite having to manage four times as many pixels and a higher-resolution camera, the new iPad's graphics system showed substantial improvement in two key OpenGL benchmarks, the "Egypt offscreen 720p" test which showed the new iPad hitting 141 frames per second (a 50 percent improvement over the iPad 2), and the "Pro offscreen 720p" test that showed more than 80 percent improvement. Other benchmarks showed smaller improvements, but improvements were seen in all categories of test.
Across the board, the new iPad was able to achieve 60 frames per second, up to a high of 242 frames per second. The previous A5 dual-core processor has still been seen to outpace even quad-core Tegra chips, and Apple may well have performed additional optimizations to squeeze more performance out of the ARMv7-based chip alongside the much more powerful graphics processing.
The same Vietnamese site that showed off early pictures and an unboxing video of the new iPad in action have also posted some basic benchmarks and additional screenshots that better illustrate the screen and some apps, including the new iPhoto for iOS.
A Hong Kong site, PCM Online, has offered photo comparisons showing the improved lens of the new iPad, which shows great improvement over the previous iPad and nearly on par with the 8MP lens found in the iPhone 4S, which is still the high-water mark for mobile device cameras. The pictures shows substantially better color and sharpness. The iPad, like the iPhone 4S, offers some image post-processing automatically, for example brightening detected faces.
Professional reviewers are starting to weigh in with their own articles, just a day before the iPad's official launch. We collected some of them earlier today, with the consensus so far being that the screen must be seen to be believed, and that Apple's hyperbole about it and the battery life even with LTE activated stand up to claims.
Third-gen iPad video test