Almost a year after its release, the iPad 4 is still one of the fastest mobile devices available. The iPad 4 is powered by a 1.4 Ghz dual-core CPU and paired with an integrated dual-core graphics processor. In performance tests, the iPad 4 is twice as fast as the iPad 3 and around four times faster than the original iPad.
The iPad 3 is no slouch either. While benchmarks like Geekbench put it in a similar bracket as the iPad 2, the third generation iPad included a much more powerful graphics processor. This was needed to power the Retina Display, which made its debut on the iPad platform with the iPad 3.
The iPad Mini uses the same chipset as the iPad 2, and while the Mini does have upgraded features like better dual-facing cameras and 4G data speed, the processing power is on par with the iPad 2.
Another often-overlooked factor when it comes performance is the amount of RAM available for applications. The original iPad included 256 MB RAM, with the iPad 2 doubling this to 512 MB. The iPad 3 and iPad 4 include 1 GB of RAM, which gives them the ability to do more multitasking while remaining very responsive to the active application.
The iPad Mini uses the same chipset as the iPad 2, and performs similarly on the benchmark tests.
Is the iPad 4 faster than the iPhone 5?
Yes. The 4th generation iPad edges out the iPhone 5 in performance tests, with the iPhone 5 coming in with a Geekbench benchmark score of 1618, just behind the iPad 4's score of 1778. The margin of difference is slight enough that few would notice the difference.
How does the iPad compare to Android tablets?
It's difficult to do a true comparison when dealing with different platforms. While one device might score better on benchmark tests, the platform itself may require more processing power. For example, Windows tends to require more resources than a Mac because the operating system -- which is built more for business than consumers -- is simply doing more at any given time.
Similarly, the Android platform has some neat tricks up its sleeve. It allows for more robust multitasking, with some tablets allowing you to pin two apps to the screen at one time. And some Android tablets support widgets, which are small apps that run on the home screen, such as a clock or a widget that shows the latest Facebook updates. These features are definitely cool, but it also means Android-based tablets will tend to use up more processing power and resources.
Still, the iPad 4 has performed admirably against the competition. Nine months after its release, and we are just now seeing Android tablets that top the iPad 4 in performance. The Galaxy Note 8.0 was one of the first tablets to slip past the iPad, and the recently refreshed Google Nexus 7 may very well be the fastest Android tablet available. However, the current king of the Android platform is the Samsung Galaxy S4, which is noticeably faster than the Nexus 7.