iPad 4 impresses in speed tests

The iPad is a speed demon. And that can grow on you.

iPad 4 (foreground) and iPad Mini.
iPad 4 (foreground) and iPad Mini. Brooke Crothers

What the iPad 4 loses in style, it gains in performance versus the Mini.

As I wrote last week , the Mini's style, size, and weight make it hard to put down. But after upgrading from the third-generation iPad 4G/LTE model to the fourth-generation iPad with 4G/LTE and after a week of pretty constant use, I found the 4's performance compelling.

It feels fast and benchmarks fast. In most -- but not all -- cases, Web pages pop, apps load, and graphics render faster than the Mini.

And the 4's performance is supported by my own Geekbench 2 tests where the iPad 4 scored 1,791 and the Mini 764, which is pretty close to the benchmarks CNET Reviews got .

Geekbench's benchmark page also shows the iPad 4 beating the iPad 3 by a pretty wide margin.

A good chunk of the performance gain is coming from Apple's new A6X chip in the gen 4 iPad. An A6X-class chip should have been inside the Retina iPad from day one. The A5X in the iPad 3 was a place holder. That's how I see it at least.

For the iPad 4, 4G LTE speeds were solid too. In downtown Los Angeles over a period of two days, I tested speeds on the Verizon LTE network of both the iPad 4 and Mini.

On Friday, in areas between, and including, Beverly Hills area and Sherman Oaks, the results were unusual. Based on Speedtest.net, the download speeds on the iPad 4 usually fell between 34 and 40Mbps, while the Mini registered downloads of between 14 and 18Mbps -- less than half the speed of the iPad 4. That was surprising.

Upload speed differences were not as great. They were usually in the range of 11 to 14Mbps for the iPad 4 and between 8 and 11Mbps for the Mini.

But on Saturday, the results in the same areas showed much more even -- and down-to-earth -- numbers: both devices registered download speeds of around 10Mbps and uploads of about 3Mbps.

I would like to know if any readers who have access to both devices are seeing iPad 4 and Mini LTE speeds that are similar -- or not, as in the first case.

And, by the way, the iPad 2 I tested in the same areas registered a paltry 1Mbps download. Though that's not as surprising, as the iPad 2 is 3G and uses older silicon.

Overall, I'm still on the fence. Though I was glued to the iPad Mini in the few days after I got it, the gen 4 iPad with the fast A6X chip and Retina display is also a keeper.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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