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The iPad is a range of tablet computers from Apple designed as a very portable platform for web access, books, movies, email, games and music, plus it's own applications downloaded from Apple's AppStore. It falls somewhere between a laptop and a smartphone but whilst it uses the same operating system as the iPhone it isn't actually a phone, although iPad 3G models can use a 3G cellular data connection where there is no Wi-Fi connection available and it is possible to make calls over Wi-Fi or 3G using a VOIP application.
The first model of the iPad (the iPad Wi-Fi), went on sale at the beginning of April 2010 in the US and was followed a few weeks later by the iPad Wi-Fi +3G version. Within one month, one million iPads had been sold. This was half the time it took to sell the same number of iPhones, previously Apple's fastest-selling product ever. 15 million iPads later in March 2011, Apple brought out an improved iPad 2 featuring a faster processor, thinner design, front and back cameras for FaceTime video calling and a three-axis gyroscope. Since then there has been 4 different models as well as a range of iPad minis.
The iPad1 has a 10" (1024 x 768 pixels) LCD touchscreen display with scratch-resistant glass with a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. Its built-in accelerometer can sense the orientation of the iPad and switch the display to landscape or portrait accordingly. This version is the only iPad without a camera. Wireless connectivity is via Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth, wired connections are via iPad's proprietary Dock connector. This iPad has no external connections except for a headphone socket and the Dock connector. There are three capacity options (16GB, 32GB or 64GB) using internal flash memory and there is no ability to expand storage. The Wi-Fi +3G models have a micro-SIM slot for the GSM carrier's SIM card and they are normally sold unlocked so they will work with any carrier. Apple claims up to 10 hours battery life for the internal rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery.
Released in 2011, the biggest change for this iPad was the introduction of two 720p cameras, one on the front and one on the back, this also supported the introduction of FaceTime, an Apple to Apple video calling programme. This version also was the first to support Apple software such as iLife, iWork, garage band and iMovie. It came shipped with iOS5 and is supposed to work significantly faster than its predecessor with an Apple A5 chip.
This was the first iPad to feature a Retina display, and was the first in the line of Retina only iPads. Released in 2012, it boasted a 5-megapixel camera as well as improvements to the processor, making it significantly faster than the second-generation iPad. This was the first iPad that can be managed on its own, without needing to be connected to a computer. This model has a reduced battery life of only 8 hours, 2hrs shorter than both the 1st and 2nd generation. This was also the first iPad to include Siri, the voice recognition software that also features on most of the iPhone range
The 4th generation of the iPad features big changes in speed over its predecessor, with Apple claiming that the A6X chip makes it up to 2 times faster than the 3rd generation iPad. It shipped with iOS6 and is still available from Apple with Retina display as standard. This was also the first iPad to feature the new ‘lightning’ connection as opposed to the 30-pin connection that you will find on previous models.
This the most recent addition to the iPad family, which stays true to the Air range across the Apple product line as it is significantly thinner and lighter than the iPads before it. One of the biggest changes for the celluar version it that it is the first iPad to use a Nano SIM instead of the Micro SIM, which was featured on previous models. This iPad ships with iOS7, Apple’s most up to date operating system. Its A7 chip means improved performance and better graphics on the 9.7” display, which is only available in Retina.
The iPad mini features a reduced 7.9” screen, with models available with and without retina display. Whilst they may look the same on the outside, the standard display iPad mini, has significantly slower processing power due to its A5 chip in comparison to the iPad mini Retina’s A7 chip. The Retina display mini also has the option for video zoom, which is not available for the standard iPad mini. The only other main difference between the two is the Nano SIM, which is featured on the retina mini, as opposed to the Micro-SIM that works with the standard iPad mini. Both versions are available from Apple, shipping with iOS7, the most advanced version of Apple’s mobile operating system.