iPad 3 - Two and a Half Years Later


Back in 2012, I was an owner of a 4th generation iPod Touch. It seemed like everyone had one, and for a good reason. Its 'retina display' was amazing for when it was launched in 2010 alongside the iPhone 4, and of course you had the vast Apple ecosystem of apps alongside your music player.

After about 9 months of ownership, the relationship started to turn sour. The device started to slow down more and more, with apps completely out of the device's reach when it came to performance requirements. Hardly surprising when you find out the Touch came with a measly 256mb of RAM. This lag became more and more substantial until just using the damn thing became a chore.

By that summer, I put my foot down and decided I wanted to get something new. But I didn't want another iPod, oh no. I wanted to upgrade to the daddy iPad. The latest 'Pad at the time was the 3rd generation, and it looked mighty tempting. It too had just received a 'retina display' makeover (albeit much later than the iPod and iPhone), and was marketed as a highly capable tablet.

In August 2012 I took the plunge and forked out £400 (yes, really) of my hard-earned pounds for one. For that money, it should really give me daily back massages. But all was well, and it meant I could comfortably surf the web anywhere in the house without resorting to a small phone screen or a clunky laptop. Needless to say, it was used for many hours on a daily basis.

Fast forward to today, and the trusty old thing is still getting used daily for casual web browsing. That's pretty much all it gets used for - there's barely any apps or music on there, save that for my phone. But has anything changed? Yes, very much so.

First of all, we have the cosmetics. Due to its aluminium back, this thing is fairly scratched. Nowhere near as bad as my chrome-backed iPod mind, but you'll still struggle to pass this thing off as 'good condition'. Considering it spends about 95% of its life in a protective case, I struggle to think how horrible it will look now if the back had been on every hard surface in my house. It's also worth mentioning that there are a few chips along the edges, but they are pretty small and minor.

Then we come to the overall performance of the thing. Over time, electronic devices just slow down for no good reason, even if they are kept clean (I'm looking at you, iPod), and it turns out my iPad is no different. With a measly 1GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM, a lot of apps and even websites are really starting to tax my poor 'Pad. Safari is particularly bad at times, where the device will freeze for a good 30 seconds before responding. It's fair to say this thing isn't the slick beast it once was.

It's got so bad now that my phone, a budget Motorola Moto G, is much nippier flicking through websites. The only saving grace for my iPad now is the screen is still a pleasure to use for full-fat websites.

Certainly, I want to replace it. In my head, I know I shouldn't have to replace a £400 device in less than three years, but that's how technology works I'm afraid. I certainly won't have my phone for two and a half years, for certain. But what do I replace it with?

Do I keep with Apple? The iPad Air 2 is a beautifully thin thing with the fancy Touch ID and now 2GB of RAM. But I do fear that I will fall into the same trap as before. On the other hand, I could get a taste of Android on the big screen, with choices ranging from the rather nice looking Nexus 9 to the cheaper Tesco Hudl 2. Android is king when it comes to customisation, but there isn't many tablet optimised apps on the Play Store.

I'm not totally sure right now, but one thing I do know is that I don't have a casual £400 in my pocket right now. Damn unemployment...