Apple announces the new iPad: Retina display, 4G, and the iPhone 4S’ camera

Apple has officially announced the new iPad. And for starters, that’s it’s name: iPad. Not the iPad 3 or iPad HD, just the iPad.  While it doesn’t have a new name, there are plenty of significant updates to make up for it — including the much-longed-for Retina Display.

The 9.7-inch iPad has a whopping 2047 x 1536 pixels, which is a lot. To give you some perspective, that’s more than your 1080p HDTV — one million more, in fact. The iPad’s display boasts 264 pixels per inch, and Apple explained how this bumps it up to Retina Display level:

“You may recall that with an iPhone held at a normal distance your retina can’t discern individual pixels. When the iPad is held at a normal distance [15-inches] it’s the same result.”

The much-loved camera system from the iPhone 4S has also made its way to the new iPad: a 5-megapixel BSI sensor, five-element lens, hybrid IR filter, AF lock, and face detection — which is a big step up from what we saw in the iPad 2. You can now also record full 1080p HD video. 

Apple has also released its first 4G LTE device with the iPad, which is new territory for the brand as well as tablets — there are only a handful on the market. The new iPad supports HSPA+ for up to 21Mbps, and HSDPA for up to 42Mbps — and LTE service will bump that up to a max of 72Mbps. Apple affirms that the iPad will also be backwards compatible with 3G networks for use around the world.

All the new features mean it needs more power — and it’s getting that with the help of the new A5X chip, its new quad-core SoC. Apple says this offers four times the performance of the iPad 2.

The tablet will get a little thicker than its 8.8 mm predecessor at 9.4 mm thick and weighing 1.5 lbs, and will be available in black and white at start at $499 March 16. Preordering will open later today.