Last week, one retail chain was offering the iPad “3” for only $399.99 — $100 off the regular price. [Hint: if you run to Micro Center, you might get one. Ends 12/12.] MrConsumer’s friend who had just purchased an iPad 2 for the same price was not too happy, but he wondered how in the world this chain could be selling the iPad “3” for $100 less than the full list price knowing that Apple closely controlled advertised retail prices.
As it turns out, Apple had recently discontinued the iPad “3” and had quietly introduced an iPad “4”, which might explain the discount. Much of the confusion, however, has to do with Apple’s decision not to explicitly name each new iPad by number. There was the original iPad, then iPad 2, then iPad (no number, but referred to by retailers as “third generation”), and now iPad with Retina Display (again no number, but referred to by retailers as “fourth generation”).
So if you are looking for the latest “iPad”, you might wind up with either the “iPad 3” or the “iPad 4” because they are both just called iPad (sans number). What is the difference between the two? You have to look at the fine print.
They both have the same gorgeous Retina display. The primary differences are three for the iPad 4: the Facetime camera is better, the processor they say goes twice as fast, and iPad 4 has that new obnoxious connector that makes all your old i-accessories obsolete.
So, if you are shopping for an iPad, and you pick up a box, how do you know if it is an iPad 3 or 4? You have to look at the tiny label to find the model number.
One 16-gig white iPad 3 has a model number of MD336LL/A for example, while a similar iPad 4 has a model number of MD513LL/A.
In our view, Apple made a big mistake to not clearly identify iPads after the iPad 2 by number to avoid consumer confusion.