Apple Announces ‘The New iPad’, Conspicuously Doesn’t Call it ‘iPad 3′. New Battery Tech?

Posted on 08 March 2012 By Ben Lang


Well this is odd. No doubt you’ve heard by now that Apple has just announced the latest refresh of the iPad, but for some reason they aren’t calling it the ‘iPad 3′. This update includes nothing particularly revolutionary, but that’s not to say that they didn’t just up the bar.

See the new iPad tracking page in our mobile product database for full specifications, links, gallery, and more.

Everything major added to the ‘new’ iPad can be summed up in one sentence: it’s got 4G LTE, a 2048×1536 ‘retina’ display, an improved backside-illuminated 5MP rear camera, and an updated A5X chip which has quad-core graphics. Doesn’t sound like all that much really, right?

Why Not iPad 3?

Maybe that’s why Apple isn’t calling this the ‘iPad 3′. I’ve scoured the official marketing material and haven’t found one mention of ‘iPad 3′. Instead, Apple is insistent in using the term ‘the new iPad’. This is a really weird move because no doubt ‘iPad 3′ has way more SEO value than ‘new iPad’. For months those in the tech industry have been exclusively talking about this release as the ‘iPad 3′, but Apple is clearly avoiding that name. Why?

Maybe Apple doesn’t think that the new iPad is deserving of the iPad 3 title? While the retina display a pretty amazing feat which currently outclasses any other tablet on the market (and likely will for the next year), iOS wasn’t overhauled, and the improvements to the CPU, camera, and data options were pretty much demanded by the market at this point. Maybe Apple is finding it tough to follow their own act over the last few years of taking the market (and customers) by storm with impressive additions to the mobile ecosystem.

The closest mention of iPad 3 that I could find is contained in a summary paragraph about the new iPad on Apple’s website:

Pick up the new iPad and suddenly, it’s clear. You’re actually touching your photos, reading a book, playing the piano. Nothing comes between you and what you love. To make that hands-on experience even better, we made the fundamental elements of iPad better — the display, the camera, the wireless connection. All of which makes the new, third-generation iPad capable of so much more than you ever imagined. [my emphasis]

I called out Samsung just the other week for causing senseless customer confusion with the nomenclature of the Galaxy Tab series. I have to do the same thing for Apple and the new iPad. If this release is being called ‘the new iPad’, what happens when the next model comes out? Will the new iPad become ‘the old iPad’? Or maybe the next model will be ‘the newer iPad’, then followed by ‘the newest iPad’. If Apple is really going to stick with ‘the new iPad’ as the name for the current release, they’d better be ready for some confused customer support calls down the line — “Yeah I’ve got a problem with my new iPad,” says the customer. “Are you talking about the old new iPad, or the latest new iPad?” goes the customer support rep.

And to get back to the SEO point… when the next iPad is released, searches for ‘new iPad’ are going to turn up results for the model that was just released, rather than whatever new model Apple releases in the future.

All of this could simply be avoided by calling it the iPad 3. Of course, this probably isn’t news to Apple. I’m willing to bet they had more than one marketing meeting about this, and somehow they came to the conclusion that ‘the new iPad’ was the best name. Exactly what benefits this could have are beyond me at the moment. Hypotheses are welcome in the comments below.

No Siri on the new iPad?

An updated A5X CPU, 4G LTE, improved camera — we could say we saw this all coming. But there’s no Siri! If one thing seemed for sure for the new iPad, it was integration with Siri. Oddly, Apple has left Siri out of the new iPad, meaning that the iPhone 4S is still the exclusive vehicle for the virtual personal assistant. Apple did say that Siri was in beta when they announced it for the iPhone 4S, and it seems it will remain that way until Apple decides to deploy it to other devices. Maybe Apple isn’t ready for the volume of Siri queries that would accompany millions of new iPads?

A sliver of Siri did make it into the new iPad — as with the iPhone 4S, you can use the dictate button on the keyboard to speak and your voice will be converted to text. Why a mere sub-routine made it to the new iPad rather than the whole thing is perhaps even more confusing than if there was no Siri functionality at all. Without Siri, new iPad users won’t be able to send messages, emails, check the weather, check their calendars, set alarms, and more, via voice command.

Why the Huge Battery?

So what’s up with that battery? 42.5Wh means nothing to most people but to me it means that Apple have just secured some amazing battery technology. You simply can’t increase a battery capacity by 70% and keep the same weight without doing something special. A few thoughts come to mind. Firstly, this could be a breakthrough in battery technology that has significant impact on the mobile ecosystem. 42.5Wh in a product that weighs 652gm? I’ve never seen anything get close to that.

Expect the MacBook Air to get a huge battery life increase based on this.

The problem is that Apple may well have just locked-up the most significant advance in mobile technology ever. If they haven’t bought the company already they will have negotiated a deal for supply of batteries for all mobile products. It includes iPhone, iPod, MBA and MacBook. If there are patents on the technology, where does that leave alternative product suppliers?

There’s another issue here too. Why does the new iPad need a 70% bigger battery for the same battery life? Apple are quoting 10hrs for Wi-Fi usage so it’s nothing to do with LTE. Is the A5X that much bigger amore powerful? I’m suspecting much bigger clockrates and many more cores across the CPU and GPU resulting in this huge increase in power requirements. Or is it the display? The display controller is now driving 4 times the number of pixels.

We’ll be looking for confirmation of the 42.5wh battery in teardowns and keeping an eye on heat and battery life.

14 Responses to “Apple Announces ‘The New iPad’, Conspicuously Doesn’t Call it ‘iPad 3′. New Battery Tech?”

  1. Jon says:

    Apple may have simply been trying to bring the iPad’s naming scheme in line with they rest of their products. The iPhone and the iPad were oddities in that they were the only Apple products that had version indicators in their names. There is no ‘iMac 8′ or ‘iPod touch 4′.

    • Ben Lang says:

      Good point and definitely a possibility. I will say this non-specific naming scheme has messed me up more than once when looking at the MacBook Air series!

    • Yu says:

      I concur. Think about it: An Upgrade from XYZ to XYZ-2 sounds great. But once you’re up to XYZ-10 the difference in number doesn’t have much of a psychological significance any more (at least to me). Why not stop early?

      Isn’t Apple commonly keeping the two most recent iterations of their devices on the market? The older ones as a budget model, the newer one as their lead model. This is simple enough I think. When searching for a specific generation in Google, their update cycle allows for calling it inofficially “iPad 2012″ which will probably give acceptable results (as, whoever wrote about it as “current iPad” will hopefully still somewhere mention the 2012-date of the article).

      • digi_owl says:

        Been their pattern so far, at least. Also the reason why they can keep producing iOS updates so easily, as they only have a few models (with mostly the same internals no less) to worry about.

  2. Martin says:

    amen x2 great post.

  3. pispot says:

    As you said, the large battery capacity is the biggest surprise which comes with the new ipad. 42wh in a sub 700gramm device is surly amazing, but i’m not quite sure if this is a sign for breakthrough in battery technology.

    Many decices don’t use the best possible battery on the market, for reason of pricing.

    Apple uses lithium polymer which could mean that the new battery weights only 100gramms more. So apple could have made the rest of device 50gramm less in order to get a 650 gramm device.

    I think that apple just squeezes out the most of todays battery technology.

    • Chippy says:

      YOu could be right. 100gm more (about 250gm in total I would say – you agree?)

      • James says:

        The iFixit tear down indicates the battery has about the same capacity density as the one used in the iPad 2. So no new battery break through but rather a lightening of the system enough to ensure the increased battery mass isn’t that noticeable.

        Netbooknews also reports there are some possible down sides to the higher capacity. Since it takes longer to charge, especially if being used while charging.

        http://www.netbooknews.com/46900/what-the-apple-fanboys-left-out-of-their-new-ipad-reviews/

      • digi_owl says:

        @James Heh, shows the limits of USB compatible charging i guess. My recently aquired Thrive/AT100 keeps surprising me with how fast it charges. But then it uses a 19V charger vs the 5V one get out of a USB connection.

  4. k234 says:

    It’s obvious. Apple is going to milk this bestseller with yearly upgrades. That is their business model.

    Incrementally include tech that could have easily been in the first product.

    It’s shiny so people will buy it over and over again.

    It would get stupid when we get to Ipad 9 in five years or so wouldn’t it?

  5. Tmarks11 says:

    Just like with MacBookAir, the annual iPad upgrades will probably be called by the year. Not too hard to understand. How mch confusion will their be next year in comparing the”new ipad” with “ipad (2012)”? None.

    I suspect all the pointless hate levied against Apple for choosing to call the latest iphone the “4S” rather then “5” caused them to reconsider their renumbering scheme.

    You say no “revolutionary” things n this ipad, but it has a higher resolution display then ANY laptop, and mre pixels then most 27″ displays? How is this not revoutionary? You say “breakthrough battery technology”, with unprecidented storage capacity? Howis it not revolutionary?

    • James says:

      Calling it revolutionary is a bit exaggerating since the only thing really new is providing such high resolution for a affordable price. Apple didn’t even invent the technology that made the screen possible, specifically SHA (Super High Aperture) was actually developed by Sharp and JSR years ago.

      Apple was just lucky they had John Zhong, one of the key partners and co-patent owner, who developed that technology at the time, on their pay roll since 1998. Otherwise they would have had to pay for the licensing and use of the technology.

      While the main reason they doubled the resolution wasn’t to be innovative but because iOS simply can’t handle a variable range of resolutions. So it was double or nothing!

      And I already pointed out that according to the iFixit tear down that the battery capacity density is the same and thus the same as the iPad 2. They just squeezed in a larger battery by taking away mass from the rest of the system.

      While they didn’t bother improving the charger. So it now takes longer to charge the larger capacity. Though that’s pretty impressive by itself but still not revolutionary.

      So while they are pushing the limits of what’s possible right now, it’s more evolutionary than anything else. Just like the iPhone 4S.

      Apple is likely saving their real advancements for the real next gen iPad that will come with the A6. Especially since much the next gen technology won’t be available to the later half of the year, going on through next year, and Apple will want to know what the competition is coming out with before they commit.

  6. Oz says:

    THE REASON (POSSIBLY):

    The name iPad is protected by someone other than Apple, especially in the Chinese market. There is actually a law suit against Apple because of the name iPad – as it belongs to a company in China.

    So, perhaps instead of retaining only ‘iPad’ – Apple have now revised the name to: The New iPad.

    This is one reason. Another reason could be what others have said i.e. in line with other Apple products.

  7. Kyle says:

    All that time wasted writing that when it does nt matter what apple call it the fact is the people call it iPad 3 and a search for the iPad 3 brings up the right model word of mouth will always name the new iPad iPad 3 that’s all folks.