$499 16GB
Apple iPad pre-orders start today, ships on March 16, 2012.

  • Apple iPad 3: A5X dual-core processor with quad-core graphics, Retina display with 2048 x 1536 resolution, iSight 5MP camera, 4G LTE up to 73 Mbps, 1.4 pounds (slightly heavier than iPad 2), starting at $499 16GB. Available March 16.
  • Also announced: iOS 5.1 (available today), iTunes cloud supports movies/updated Apple TV (March 16), updated iWorks, iPhoto for iPad.
  • Post PC products - iPhone, iPad, iPod - account for 76% of Apple's revenues.
  • Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 for the new low price of $399 (16GB wi-fi).
Review by Clinton Stark
Apple iPad 3 Launch
Calm before the storm: Outside the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Apple has unveiled the iPad 3. Starting at $499 for 16GB, the new model ships March 16 with pre-orders beginning today.

In a scene reminiscent of a rock concert, the most eagerly anticipated product launch of the year went off without a hitch – or a surprise.

As expected the new slightly heavier iPad features a high-res “Retina” display. Also as expected, CEO Tim Cook led the presentation, and, by all accounts, did a decent if unspectacular job; walking in the footsteps of Steve Jobs — tech messiah for the ages — is no easy feat.

Deal-seekers take note. The iPad 2 is still on sale, now for the new low price of only $399 (16GB).

Apple iPad 3: What’s new 

HD Retina display

2048 x 1536, 3.1 million pixels “The most ever in a mobile device”, 264 pixels per inch, and 40% better color saturation.

Examples – eBooks, photos, movies – looked stunning. One differentiator e-Readers traditionally have over the iPad is e-ink technology. With Retina there may be one less reason to consider purchasing a separate device for reading. iPad 3 can do it all – unless you want to read on the beach that is.

Processor – A5X dual-core processor with quad-core graphics; twice the performance as the iPad 2.

iSight 5MP Camera (with 1080p recording)

4G LTE up to 73 Mbps (Verizon, AT&T)

Battery life still 10 hours, 9 hours on 4G

9.4mm thick, 1.4 pounds (slightly heavier than iPad 2)

Pricing: $499 16GB ($629 4G), $599 32GB ($729), $699 64GB ($829)

What we didn’t get

No smaller 7-inch version iPad (still high probability one will be launched in 2012)

No SD card slot (a photographers best friend)

No price change (up or down)

No name change (the “iPad HD” naming predictions — so certain were there bearers — were wrong)

No 128GB version (max. capacity is 64GB – with no options for expansion)

No Siri for iPad (though there is dictation)

No haptic display (long-live Android!)

“We have our feet firmly planted in the post PC future.”

The post PC era continues to be a rallying cry for Apple. Cook cited the iPad, iPod and iPhone as the portfolio of Apple’s post PC products, together accounting for 76% of revenues (amazing, considering this is a company originally built around a PC: the Mac).

iPad 3 Launch
Walking in the tech messiah’s footsteps: Apple CEO Time Cook.

San Francisco Bay Area Film and TheaterStarkIn – Apple iPad 3 Launch

Score: B+

There’s nothing ground-breaking here. Despite that, the press, Twitter, and blogs will be relentless in their iPad 3 editorial – and for good reason, this is an important follow-up for a company that is transforming the PC industry as we know it.

Unfortunately we, the public, are hard to surprise these days. With the rise of hyper-tech coverage we know everything before these announcements unfold. That’s too bad. In days gone by, we could always expect ooohs-and-aaahs thanks to the unexpected. But we already knew about the Retina display, the heavier weight, the A5X processor.

Apple sold 15.4 million iPads last quarter. That’s astonishing. Per Tim Cook, that’s more “than any PC maker sold of their PCs.” No other vendor (read: Android) comes close, although Amazon did make inroads late in 2011 with the Kindle Fire, demonstrating consumer appetite for lower priced, content-rich tablet offerings from vendors other than Apple.

Until the competition shows it can counter Apple’s command of the tablet market, it’s obviously Apple’s to lose. Smartly, Apple did not lower the price of the iPad. It still starts at $499.

Incremental and evolution are the order of the day. And that’s how I’d describe the iPad 3. Not everyone will need or want to upgrade. But it does what it needs to do, and pushes the envelope just far enough (Retina display) that the competition will yet again be chasing Apple in 2012. — Clint.