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Although today’s special Apple keynote in San Jose is centered around the announcement of the iPad mini, lest we forget the Retina-displaying, 9.7-inch iPad complete with all the bells and whistles. Released back in March, the 3rd-Gen Apple slab brought a host of improvements on its predecessor such as the A5X processor for quad-core graphics, and today, in line with recent changes made by Apple, a slightly-amended version of the slate, dubbed as iPad 4th-generation has been announced today.

The announcement comes straight from Senior VP, Phil Schiller at the Apple media event at California Theatre in San Jose, CA.

Let’s get right into it: the fourth generation iPad comes with a faster processor, better cameras, availability on more wireless carriers and a certain improved connectivity port.

Time to discuss them in detail.

iPad 4

Internal Hardware

The 3rd generation iPad that was announced earlier this year came with a beefed up version of the A5 processor in the iPad 2, which Apple called the “A5X”. It had quad-core graphics to support the doubled resolution, but the same general performance as the iPad 2.

This time around, Apple has introduced the A6X. Over the A5X, it has twice the general and graphical performance while maintaining the same 10 hour battery life. How much faster this is compared to the A6 chip in iPhone 5, only time (and rigorous benchmarking) will tell.

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Cameras

While the rear camera is of the same impressive-for-a-tablet 5-megapixel variety, the front-facing camera is now HD much like the iPhone 5 “FaceTime HD” camera. This will reduce the disparity that was so obvious on the third-generation iPad with its higher-than-HD resolution but “VGA quality” FaceTime camera.

Lightning Connector

The fourth-generation iPad also comes with the new Lightning connector; finally sealing the new connector’s position in Apple’s family of mobile personal computing devices. It’s slimmer and better designed, but it breaks compatibility with previous accessories like speakers, docks etc.. You’ll have to buy a Lightning to 30-pin connector cable separately to use them with the new, new iPad.

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Connectivity

Besides the usual suspects – AT&T and Verizon – Apple has confirmed that Sprint will also be carrying the fourth generation iPad with support for its LTE network. Wi-Fi technology has also been further advanced, with support for 2.4GHz / 5GHz frequencies and channel bonding.

Pricing And Availability

You can buy it in black or white, in 16GB ($499), 32GB ($599) and 64GB ($699) configurations for Wi-Fi-only models. You can also get the 4G LTE model for the respective storage configuration by paying the usual $130 on top.

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