What the iPad 3’s display is costing you: the tale of a 42.5Wh battery
The iPad 3 was just announced, and with it came the new specs page at apple.com. Upon glancing through it, one piece of information caught my eye: the battery capacity. As you probably know by now, the iPad 3 has four times the screen resolution of the previous iPad, but the same battery life. It’s slightly heavier, and slightly thicker, but still, quite an accomplishment. Turns out that maintaining the same battery life requires a 42.5Wh battery. In comparison, the iPad 2 has a 25Wh battery. A nice 70 % extra.
As you know, I’m not a big fan of the new “resolution war”. I think the iPad definitely needed an upgrade, but quadrupling the resolution is just too much. It’s beyond what there’s video content for, web pages for, basically anything except tailored content and photos will be too low-res for the new screen. The reason for this massive boost is to keep the ratio and everything by bumping the resolution in a way that makes each old pixel 4 of the new pixels, instead of doing something in between. Let’s get something straight: Apple could have done something in between. 1.5x bump in either direction, for instance. A bit more work to upgrade apps perhaps, but perfectly doable. Why didn’t the company do that? Partly because the new resolution is a marketing ploy, partly because people would have been disappointed if it didn’t.
Anyways, my point here is exactly how much bigger the battery is. 70%. Actual capacity, a purely objective measurement. Logic dictates that an iPad 2 using that new battery would last for 70% longer, putting it up to about 17 hours.
There are other factors than the screen of course, like the chip. The A5X may or may not use more power, but in any case, it’s also there because of the new screen. A lower resolution screen would have meant more power to spare, or a more power efficient chip.
So, that’s it people, you got what you wanted: a quadruple resolution iPad. In the process you gave up a combination of a battery boost, more spare processing power, possible price drop, and a smaller, lighter tablet. Much lighter, actually, with the new iPad topping at 662 grams. Starting to close in on 100 grams more than other 10-inch tablets. Ouch. The charger for the new iPad is still 10W, btw, so expect a very nice bump in charging time. Even at perfect energy transfer rates, which isn’t how this works, it would not take more than 4 hours. Hope it was worth it.