Apple's iPad Media Event recently drew to a close and TouchArcade was fortunate enough to have been sitting ring-side to watch the iOS phenomenon further unfold.

During today's event, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage to announce, first and foremost, the third generation iPad (which is known as, simply, "iPad") as well as related iOS apps and a new and improved third generation Apple TV.

It turns out that the rumors leading up to the new iPad's unveiling were true; the new unit sports an improved Retina display with four times the number of pixels as the earlier iPads. The new screen has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels and features notably improved color saturation as compared to the earlier devices. In order to push so many pixels around the screen, Apple has utilized their new A5X processor, a more powerful unit than the earlier A5, that features a quad-core GPU, bringing twice the number of graphics cores of the iPad 2 to bear on pixel- and polygon-pushing tasks. Given these specs, the A5X GPU configuration should be virtually identical to that of the Sony PSVita. Presumably the A5X features two CPU-cores, as did the A5 before it.

During the event, Cook brought several guest speakers on stage from various software studios, including Namco Game Design Director James Shelton and Epic Games President Mike Capps. Shelton demonstrated Namco's upcoming aerial combat game Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, while Capps took the audience on a tour of Epic's upcoming Infinity Blade: Dungeons. Both titles were an impressive demonstration of gaming on the new, twice-the-resolution Retina display of the new iPad. (Well, as much as they could be on a studio projector with a lower resolution than the new iPad, itself!)

After the main event, attendees were given the opportunity for a hands-on with the new iPad and to chat with several high-level figures, including senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller, about the latest iOS device.

Upon picking up the new device for the first time, the thing that strikes you right away is, unsurprisingly, the clarity of the screen. Indeed, the experience of using the new iPad is much the same as using an iPhone with Retina display as compared to an earlier iPhone or iPod touch. It's striking, and in the best of ways. The jump in resolution, I noticed, was most visible in bringing up web pages in Mobile Safari, where content had the clarity of pages in a magazine. To me, the new iPad feels physically identical to the iPad 2, as far as weight and size.

I spent a short period of time with Air Supremacy and, there, saw high framerates with numerous aerial enemies on-screen, rendered quite a bit more sharply than I am accustomed to from an iPad game. I think that Infinity Blade: Dungeon might actually be a better demonstration of the design intricacy and minute detail that the screen can deliver, but I did not see that title, in person, unfortunately.

The device unveiled today brings unprecedented video fidelity to what was already one of the best gaming platforms out there -- the iPad. It's four times the pixels, with twice the graphics power of the iPad 2. All of us here at TouchArcade are anxious to see what developers have in store for Apple's new flagship iOS device.

UPDATE: My Flickr photo gallery of the third-generation iPad event can be seen here.

  • Tim Jordan

    I wonder how old iPad games will look on this new display and what kind of frame rate we could expect from the current processor intensive games with this new display (I have a hard time believing they can keep a 60fps rate at that new resolution).

    • Dean Keith

      Old games should look the same since the increase is exactly 2x2.  So one old pixel fills EXACTLY 4 new pixels.  If the color saturation is better, old games may look a little better actually.
      iOS games tend to have much simpler geometry than HD console or computer games, so it may not be that big of a deal to drive four times more pixels.

      • Guibsx

        That was also my question. Anyway, I just pre-ordered mine. I had plants to get the ipad 2 and was desapointed with the fact there was no bump in screen resolution. Now I have no excuses.

      • Erik Wilgenhof

        I tried to grow iPad plants myself but they never bore fruit...

      • J.Shamblin

         Have you tried planting your iPad in front of a mirror? I doubled mine in no time.

  • Dean Keith

    I am surprised they didn't add Siri. They did add dictate, but I use Siri on my phone a lot more than I thought I would, and 90% of what I use it for would be relevant on an iPad: "How many inches is 44 centimeters?" etc.
    Also, calling it "iPad" is pretty dumb. The entire world was expecting "iPad 3". So why go and make it ambiguous with the first one.

    • zadillo

      At some point the numbered naming scheme has to go, so now's as good a time as any to do away with it.  At some point these product names don't make sense - can you imagine the iPhone 8, the iPad 15, etc.?   These are product names that should stand on their own now, like Apple's other products.  We're not on the MacBook Pro 9, or the iMac 7. 

  • DwayneW

    So the pumped up processor and the new GPU configuration makes the New iPad simply a higher resolution equivalent of it predecessor? Meaning, all that new hardware is to support screen?

  • zadillo

    Before anyone asks, I didn't rip this point off from MG Siegler, but just saw he made the same basic point about the naming scheme on techcrunch:

  • Rob Geeson

    I've ordered one, naturally. But I am a little disappointed with the a5x. Last year the CPU took a x2 jump and the GPU x9. This year, at best, the CPU is x0.5 and the GPU is x2 - and that's with four times the pixels to push around. The GPU might be the same as the Vita's but the CPU may only be a dual core 1.5Ghz at best - and again that's with more pixels to push. It'll still look tasty I'm sure but the emulation of 360 games may not be happening for at least another Ipad generation!

    • BulkSlash

      Agreed, the CPU being dual-core was rather conspicuous by its absence during the presentation. If they'd come out and given a good reason for not going quad-core I would have perhaps been satisfied, but not talking about it made it seem like something they needed to cover up.

      Maybe there's a good reason for it; I could certainly believe that a clocked-up core is more likely to benefit apps which don't use threading. No matter how many cores you add if the code isn't written to use the extra cores then they're probably sitting idle.

      • Joseph

        It seems apple has always hidden the exact technical specs, such as ram with their other releases.  Even when the iphone4 ram doubled from 3gs, they didn't disclose that in the press release.  So I don't think it is about covering it up. 

  • JCat_NY

    Sold the ipad 2 - ordered the new ipad without a hitch like last year's fiasco. I'm so glad they're doing release date delivery for pre-orders, 'cause I will never ever do that line thing again.  I know it's crazy, but I was really hoping for Siri! I wonder if at some point, this "dictation" thing can be upgraded to Siri with a later ios release...?

  • Jeremy Janzen

    Four times the pixels and double the GPU power = half the speed.  Does it not?  Unless there is something Apple isn't telling us about the GPU side, it seems performance at native res has to be slower.

    • DeInit

      Not really a straightforward equation. Just like saying the iPad 2 was "9x the original iPad" in gpu power is misleading, because that was "up to", which translates into "in specific contexts, doing specific operations, all other things being equal", and by what we've been told, we know nothing of these parameters as far as the New iPad goes.

  • J.Shamblin


    The upgrades are nice, but I was hoping for some new features like pressure sensitivity, screen texture or SD card slot. There's always next year though.

    I'm still happy with my iPad 2. 🙂

    • Michael A. Robson

      SD card slot hahahahahahhaha

      • J.Shamblin

        I suppose you have something against SD cards. You're a bit rude and you're obviously baiting me with your taunt. I bet you have something clever to add to the conversation.

        Well, what is it then?

  • araczynski

    i was hoping for at least a 128gb option, oh well, i'll let work buy me one, not going to bother getting my own.