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What are all the differences between the iPad 3rd Gen models?
Please note that the iPad 3rd Gen (iPad 3/Early 2012) models have been discontinued. However, this Q&A has been updated to cover the latest iOS support and more. It can be quite useful for anyone considering one of these models on the used market.
As documented by EveryiPad.com, there are three distinct iPad 3rd Gen models -- the iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi Only), iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular AT&T/GPS) for AT&T in the US, and iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular Verizon/GPS) for Verizon in the US -- and each is differentiated by connectivity and battery life as well as weight, price, and model number.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.
Each iPad 3rd Gen provides either 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB of storage capacity and either a black or white glass front and an aluminum back regardless of capacity.
All iPad 3rd Gen models also share the same "resolutionary" 9.7-inch 2048x1536 (264 ppi) multitouch glossy LED-backlit "retina" display, are powered by a dual-core 1 GHz Apple A5X processor with quad core graphics and have 1 GB of RAM. Each have dual cameras -- a rear-mounted 5 megapixel "iSight" camera capable of shooting both stills and 1080p video and a front-mounted VGA-quality "FaceTime" camera, too.
Other similarities include support for 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 as well as an accelerometer, a three-axis gyroscope, an ambient light sensor, digital compass, a speaker and a built-in microphone.
iOS Support Similarities
All iPad 3rd Gen devices were initially configured with iOS 5.1 and are fully supported by iOS 6, also, with the exception of the "Panorama" photographic feature.
All iPad 3rd Gen models additionally can run iOS 7, but not all features are supported. Specifically, the iPad 3rd Gen model fully supports all basic functionality (Control Center, Notification Center, and Multitasking, as well as Safari and iTunes Radio). In addition, the device adds support for the Filters in Photos and more advanced photo functionality that Apple calls "square and video formats and swipe to capture." It continues to support Siri, as well.
However, the iPad 3rd Gen models do not support the new iOS 7 AirDrop or Filters in Camera functionality and it still does not support Panorama.
Visually, it is possible to differentiate between the Wi-Fi only and the cellular data-equipped iPad 3rd Gen models as the Wi-Fi only model has a solid metal back and the other models have a black plastic portion at the top of the back of the case.
However, as it is not possible to visually distinguish the two different cellular data models and can be challenging to visually differentiate the iPad 3rd Gen and other iPad models, particularly if they are not side-by-side, Model Numbers are one of the best methods for external identification. Model numbers are listed in tiny type on the back of each iPad near the bottom.
The iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi Only) is model number A1416, the iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular AT&T/GPS) for AT&T in the US is A1430, and the iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular Verizon/GPS) for Verizon in the US is A1403.
The iPad 3rd Gen models can be differentiated by other identifiers as well, such as the Order Number, which can be located by selecting the "Settings" app, touching General > About, and finally scrolling to what is specified as "Model" within the iOS. For example, the Wi-Fi only configuration of the iPad 3rd Gen in black with 16 GB of storage is MC705LL.
To pinpoint a specific iPad 3rd Gen by a variety of different identifiers -- including its Serial Number -- please refer to EveryiPad.com's Ultimate iLookup feature as well as the EveryMac app available for iOS 5 or later and Android.
Connectivity & Battery Life Differences
The iPad 3rd Gen models are differentiated by connectivity and battery life.
The iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi Only) supports 802.11a/b/g/n wi-fi and provides a maximum of ten hours of battery life whereas the iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular AT&T/GPS) and iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular Verizon/GPS) support 802.11a/b/g/n wi-fi, cellular data networking and A-GPS, but only support a maximum of nine hours of battery life when using cellular networking (and the same ten hours over Wi-Fi). The cellular data-capable models also weigh slightly more (1.46 pounds compared to 1.44 pounds for the wi-fi only model).
In the US, the cellular networking for the iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular AT&T/GPS) is intended to work only on AT&T and specifically supports the 700 MHz and 2100 MHz 4G LTE frequencies as well as UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz).
This model was sold around the world for a variety of carriers, but as it only supports 4G LTE frequencies in the US (on AT&T) and Canada (on Bell, Rogers and Telus) it only will work with 3G networks in other locations, which led to legal troubles for Apple in some countries. After complaints from government and consumer groups, as well as lawsuits, Apple quietly changed the advertised name of the iPad 3rd Gen models with cellular data capability from "Wi-Fi + 4G" to "Wi-Fi + Cellular."
Also, in the US, the cellular networking for the iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular Verizon/GPS) is intended to work only on Verizon and specifically supports just the 700 MHz 4G LTE frequency. It also supports CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). As CDMA largely is considered an obsolete standard, this model was not sold outside of the US.
Original Pricing Comparison Chart
The black and white models both originally cost the same amount. Pricing is differentiated by capacity and connectivity alone:
|Capacity:||16 GB||32 GB||64 GB|
|Price with Wi-Fi Only:||US$499||US$599||US$699|
|Price with Wi-Fi, Cellular Data (AT&T) & A-GPS:||US$629||US$729||US$829|
|Price with Wi-Fi, Cellular Data (Verizon) & A-GPS:||US$629||US$729||US$829|
Ultimately, any iPad 3rd Gen model would be a solid choice. For anyone who mostly surfs the web, uses e-mail, reads ebooks, plays games and does basic audio, photo and video editing, for example, it could be the perfect tablet computer.
Whether you decide to buy an iPad 3rd Gen with Cellular Data and A-GPS capability -- because you find mobile Internet from just about anywhere worthwhile -- or you decide to buy a cheaper one with Wi-Fi only because you mostly will use your iPad at home, the office, and other locations with Wi-Fi, the iPad 3rd Gen remains a solid choice, particularly given discount prices on the used market.
Other than price, another potential advantage of the iPad 3rd Gen compared to subsequent models as well is that the iPad 3rd Gen has a "legacy" Dock Connector port rather than the newer "Lightning" standard and remains compatible with older iPad accessories as a result.
iPad Purchase & Repair Options
There no shortage of places to buy an iPad 3rd Gen model or have one repaired. However, purchasing from a quality company with extensive Apple knowledge -- and after sales support -- will provide the best experience and save you money and time, too.
Site sponsor Mission Repair offers free diagnosis and 24-hour repair for cracked displays, dead batteries, broken buttons, and more for the iPad 3rd Gen in the US and ships parts for self-replacement worldwide.
Please also see EveryiPad.com's Ultimate iComparison feature to dynamically compare any iPad to any other iPod, iPhone, or iPad (new or old alike).