iPad 3 - But what about battery life?

iPad 3 - But what about battery life?

Summary: Everyone has high expectations for the iPad 3, but what's going to power all these new features?

TOPICS: iPad, Hardware, Mobility

iPad 2 battery | Image credit: iFixit

iPad 2 battery | Image credit: iFixit

There's literally no end to the iPad 3 rumors currently making the rounds. It seems that the new magical, revolutionary device will have it all - better processor and graphics, retina display, Siri voice control, better cameras and 4G capability.

But there's one question that no one seems to be touching - how it all this technology going to be powered?

Note: For a good rumor-roundup check out Zack Whittaker's piece 'Could Apple 'do an iPhone 4S' with the next-generation iPad?'

Cramming loads of cool new features into a new device sounds like a wonderful idea, but remember that the iPad is a mobile device and as such will spend a lot of its time working off battery power, and battery power is a very finite source.

The current iPad has a working time rated at 10 hours. The first-generation iPad also had a 10 hour battery life. This is obviously what Apple considered the minimum. This means that the next generation iPad will have a minimum battery life of 10 hours. This means that if Apple is going to cram more into the iPad, Apple has to make the battery last longer, either by:

  • Fitting a bigger battery
  • Fitting more power-efficient components
  • Improving battery chemistry

It's that simple. There's no such thing as something for nothing. There's not been any huge improvements in battery technology so we're down to the other two options. It's possible that Apple will shrink the innards of the iPad 3, and this will allow it to fit a bigger battery, and some pundits are suggesting that adding an extra millimeter to the thickness of the iPad will be enough to squeeze more life out of it to power all the cool new features that they're fantasizing about. Personally I don't see Apple making the iPad 3 thicker, but instead I think that it will reduce the thickness of the display to increase the internal volume (perhaps by making use of Gorilla Glass 2).

Take a look at the history of the iPhone and the iPad and you'll notice one thing ... that progress has been evolutionary not revolutionary. Apple takes small steps and there hasn't been an iteration of either product where Apple has made a huge technological leap. Also, apart from adding a new color option (white) Apple has resisted adding any additional complexity to either product (the iPhone 4S even unifies GSM and CDMA into a single handset).

Note: It's interesting to note that what most pundits seems to be suggesting (especially in relation to the HD 'retina display') is that Apple will to a 180 and start to make things complex for the buyers and add a screen choice (standard and HD).

My guess, based on battery considerations, is that the iPad 3 will not feature an HD display (I've written earlier reasons why a 'retina display' on the iPad doesn't make sense), and I'm not expecting the iPad 3 to have 4G capability either simply because there isn't a chipset that's power-efficient enough to not compromise battery life.

Topics: iPad, Hardware, Mobility

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  • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?

    "My guess, based on battery considerations, is that the iPad 3 will not feature an HD display."<br><br>Hmmm. A very bold call. Will bookmark for future claim chowder. Unless you are going to argue that 266 ppi is NOT HD?
    • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?

      @john@... <br><br>I have to agree. I don't see it either. A QXGA 1,536 x 2,048 display has more pixels than my monitor - squeezed onto a device smaller than said monitor. That's a s*it ton of battery juice.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?

        @Cylon Centurion Wow! I just read the leaked iPad 3 feature list and release date, and I must say it's pretty amazing. Can't wait to pick mine up!

        If you guys want to check out the leaked iPad 3 information, just check the link below -

    • What is the point of a feature that provides no real benefit ....

      @john@... ... at the expense of battery life?<br><br>I guess everybody keeps forgetting that the iPad is a 10" display and that anything less than 32" will not provide any real visual benefit when playing anything at 1080p.

      The only benefit of 1080p HD display on a small mobile display is just psychological for people who need something stupid to brag about .... all at the expense of battery life.
      • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?


        I have learned to trust my actual observations rather than any scientific logic on subjective impressions.

        More to the point, I much prefer my iPod Touch retina display to a previously owned second generation model. I really shouldn't but I do. Go figure.
      • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?

        @wackoae For video, you may be right. But reading books, I would say that retina display rocks!
      • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?


        I guess you have never seen the difference in how text looks on an iPhone 3G and an iPhone 4.

        The difference it most certainly noticeable by most people, and putting that on an iPad, would be much more than psychologic. It would affect just about everything that a person does on an iPad. Emails, web pages, applications (once they are updated), etc. all will look much sharper, crisper and cleaner.
      • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?


        So you read that somewhere and now you're repeating it. Of course, they were talking about a common sitting distance from a 32" television. Anyone could pick up an iPad and see that the resolution is not as high as it could be. Try it sometime instead of repeating what you hear to make it look like you are "in the know."
  • RE: iPad 3 - But what about battery life?

    Why would they do differently from what they did with the iPhone 4S?
    Just silently cut 100 hours from the standby time and 1 hour from the WiFi usage and put the marketing emphasis on all the irrelevant stuff to have people swallow the thing without pain.
    That's what was done and it worked fine.
  • Do less, expect more

    Many who dare to speak get 6 hours at best with 5 hours being common.

    With Apple it often seems a feeding frenzy of semi myths.
  • 'Retina' is about angle versus distance, not just ppi

    Basically, the 'retina' display in the 4(s) is 314ppi and the pixels are supposedly unresolvable at 12in.

    Half the ppi at 24in would be just as unresolvable. Therefore, a tablet, where viewing distances are usually greater that for a phone (around 1.5 to 2), can be much lower in resolution because it is an inverse relationship between distance and ppi.

    For viewing a 4:3 9.6in tablet at 24in, while maintaining the equivalent angular resolution as the 4(s), the resolution would need to be 1200x900, and at 18in, 1600x1200.

    These are far more modest than the 2000x1500+ bandied about in other blogs.