Is Apple flailing around a bit at the moment?

Discussion in 'All Things Apple' started by Doppel, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. Doppel

    Doppel Lifer

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    FWIW a year ago I had zero Apple-branded devices in the house. Now I have an ipad, iphone, ipod, apple TV, so I'm not a hater.

    However, when I saw that the ipad 3 (sorry, "new ipad") was so recently replaced with the 4th (sorry again, I mean "Ipad with retina display"), I thought it weird. Why discontinue a product so soon? And then now I'm seeing reports that the 5S is going to hit production (maybe...) late this year and full swing production Q1 with a spring roll-out, what's going on? I swear in one article I read that yet another ipad will be out, too.

    Will this be the new thing: A device update every ~8 months? I can't wait to see what they call the next iPad. For me the device generations will be diluted if they are little more than a few grams lighter or a processor a bit faster (and already the ipad is hugely overpowered for what most people will ever do on it, since virtually all the apps still work fine on an ipad2).
     
  2. ViRGE

    ViRGE Elite Member, Moderator Emeritus

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    The 5S rumor is bunk. You can't move up production by half a year; testing and qualification don't work like that.

    As for the iPad, it's a victim of timing. Apple's options for March were either to continue with the iPad 2 for another 7 months, or release something in the interim utilizing a beefier SoC, 45nm LTE modem, and the retina display. That alone was a major upgrade, and more importantly their competitors would be able to come out with similar devices, so we got the iPad 3.

    Once they had Swift/A6 however, there was no need to continue producing the iPad 3. Switching over to the iPad 4 would greatly improve performance without significantly changing their production tooling.

    So I don't think Apple is flailing around here. They are basing their launches on their ability to get next generation components rather than locking everything to a yearly cadence, but that's not even close to being flailing.
     
  3. Oyeve

    Oyeve Lifer

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    Apple is just milking the iMust have it crowd. Releasing a new ipad 6-7 months after the last one and its only difference is 2 cores and a new connector. Its the connector that is the reason why apple came out with a new one so fast. New connector means you have to buy all new accessories. Your average iMust have it user has a few connectors and a few accessories for it and that means more $$$ for apple when you have to buy/replace more older adapters/cable/speakers.
     
  4. PricklyPete

    PricklyPete Lifer

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    So you have half the world complaining thatApple takes too long to one out with their newest phone, and then you have people complaining when things get upgraded so quickly. You can't please everyone.
     
  5. Kaido

    Kaido Lifer

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    Yup, I think the media is just taking advantage of Apple's timing to make hyped-up news reports. Unfortunately the timing stunk and iPad 3 users got the shaft, but it's not like the iPad 3 magically got worse overnight. The iPad Mini not having Retina is a little weird, but they obviously needed something to put in the iPad Mini 2 next year, so that's marketing for you.
     
  6. JackBurton

    JackBurton Lifer

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    IMO, that's the reason Apple came out with the new iPad ahead of schedule. They wanted to unify their devices with one connector rather than continue selling a device with the old connector potentially causing more grief for the customers. People that had the "old" iPad 3 don't HAVE to upgrade, but for people considering buying a new iPad, it would be advisable to wait for the new iPad with the new dock connector so you don't have to deal with 2 connector types and possibly need to purchase an adapter in the future. So instead of waiting 6 more months, Apple just moved the release date up. I personally was waiting for the new connector on the new iPad, since I bought my wife her iPhone 5. No sense in purchasing an iPad with the old connector when I KNOW the new the version was going to get the update. So for me, this worked out great and I was able to purchase an iPad sooner rather than later.

    I actually think an iPad release in November (before Christmas) is a much better date than their normal April release date too. Apple can now take advantage of the Christmas rush with their new products.

    I also don't think Apple is going to a 6 month release cycle. This is just a readjustment of their schedule and I'm sure they'll go back to their yearly product release cycle.
     
    #6 JackBurton, Nov 14, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  7. JackBurton

    JackBurton Lifer

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    Exactly. But like I said, I think this is just a readjustment of their normal yearly release cycle.
     
  8. JavaMomma

    JavaMomma Senior member

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    When the iPhone 5 came out with the lighting connector there was no way I was buying an iPad 3 without it.

    I figured that's why they called it the "New iPad" then they could just call the "New Ipad" the "New iPad with Lightning" - I actually wasn't expecting them to update the CPU though.

    Now the question is when does iPad Gen 5 come out? Spring or Fall?
     
  9. JackBurton

    JackBurton Lifer

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    Exactly, and I suspect that's why Apple pushed up their release date for the 4th gen iPad.

    I would say fall of 2013, which puts them back to their yearly product release cycle.
     
  10. runawayprisoner

    runawayprisoner Platinum Member

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    I think the iPad 4 is more of a "quick fix" than an actual "upgrade" to the iPad 3. Unless you play games and do a lot of intensive stuffs, I don't think you'll actually see any difference with the new Soc.

    Personally, I couldn't see any difference at all, and I think my iPhone 5 is still significantly faster than the iPad 4 in doing general stuffs. The massive resolution of the screen still seems like it's offsetting extra performance gain from going with a new SoC.

    And it's still 1GB of RAM. I was hoping Apple would go with 2GB to allow developers to cache more high-res graphics assets for Retina apps, but they probably decided against it until the SoC is fast enough to adequately drive the 3MP display.

    I think the rationale this time is that they're offloading whatever is left of the A5 production line to consumers with the iPad Mini, and they are moving to A6 production beginning with the iPhone 5 and iPad 4. Moving forward, they'll probably do the same next year: push excess A6 stock away with the iPad Mini and move on to A7 production with iPhone 6 and iPad 5.

    Considering Apple'd probably want an even faster graphics solution for A7, and the only alternative right now is the PowerVR "Rogue" 6th generation cores, which are not available immediately, I don't see how Apple will push another iPhone/iPad upgrade out in the next few months according to some rumors/reports.
     
    #10 runawayprisoner, Nov 14, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  11. Aikouka

    Aikouka Lifer

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    That makes sense since the memory controller is shared between the CPU and the GPU. Didn't Apple increase the speed of the RAM though? I think it's DDR3-1066 now instead of DDR3-800.

    I guess you could look at it that way, but I consider that Apple is actually trying to move away from the 45nm process. The only device that may still be using it is the AppleTV, but since the iPad 2 was silently upgraded to 32nm, I don't see why the AppleTV would receive the same treatment. It makes sense since the AppleTV most likely uses binned dual-core A5s that have been set to operate as a single core. It's not a high volume piece of hardware, which helps.

    It's plausible that Apple could refresh again during their original release time frame of early spring, but I highly doubt it. While this refresh may have irritated some users, it does make sense. I'm betting that we won't see another iPad until about 10-11 months from now with either an A6X or an A7X and a new screen with the same resolution, but a different manufacturing technology (e.g. IGZO). If the latter is true, the iPad will also probably shed some of its bulk (lower weight and thickness).
     
  12. Zink

    Zink Senior member

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    They're still on 128 bit wide DDR2 (maybe at higher clocks then A5X) but the latest gen like the Nexus 10 is using 64 bit DDR3 at 1600 MHz to get the same data rate as the 3rd gen iPad from only two RAM chips. Next year's iPad should have 128 bit wide DDR3 which will be twice the bandwidth of any other tablets available and with a new GPU architecture should have no problem doing another 2x speed bump. I think the obvious direction for the next gen will be thinner and lighter. The Nexus 10 makes due with a smaller battery and even higher res so with new screen tech and the savings that 32nm bring they should be able to reduce battery capacity significantly and do something that looks like the iPad mini but scaled up.
     
  13. Aikouka

    Aikouka Lifer

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    Ah, you're right. I'm not sure where I saw something about being upgrade to DDR3; it must have been one of the other billion mobile devices being released. :p

    I'd actually like to see an "iPad Mini Jumbo" as I prefer the aesthetic look of the Black+Slate that the Mini uses over the Black+Silver that the iPad uses.
     
  14. runawayprisoner

    runawayprisoner Platinum Member

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    It's actually more related to the CPU. Contrary to popular belief, the CPU is still responsible for rendering part of the interface, and it'd seem 2 Swift cores at 1.4GHz still isn't enough to push 2048 x 1536 pixels.

    Since the iPhone 5 has less than 1/4 the number of pixels to push, it has more than enough idle CPU time to spare.

    I think moving away from the 45nm process is inevitable. But at the same time, they still have excess stock of the A5 chips that are sitting around, so I think they'd want to use them all for the iPad Mini.

    And next year, it'll be excess stock of A6...

    I don't think Apple can refresh again during their original time frame at all. There is absolutely no way they can do that at this point given that they'd need a working redesign of the iPad/iPhone by around now to test... in order for it to be in mass production in February/March.

    Not to mention they won't be able to bring anything new to the table. Next-generation GPU cores from PowerVR are still not ready for prime time yet, and I suspect Apple would want to leverage the extra GPU power for the next devices.

    In fact, if we'd consider that it takes Imagination past Q1 2013 to ship working next-gen PowerVR cores, then Apple's early upgrade this year is actually to buy them time for the next SoC design. Apple's obsession with more GPU power on their mobile devices is clear from looking at A6 and A6X specs.
     
  15. Zink

    Zink Senior member

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    I thought the observation was that the new iPad felt almost the same as the old one? I think that shows a bottleneck in RAM or flash because the CPU and GPU got a bump. Obviously it is related to the high res but the CPU is not necessarily the bottle neck.
     
  16. bigrash

    bigrash Lifer

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    exactly!
     
  17. Subyman

    Subyman Moderator <br> VC&G Forum
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    This pretty much answers your question and is the same story for a lot of people. Apple is converting a lot of people, much faster than any one is leaving the apple ecosystem.

    IMO the iPad's refresh was mainly to get the lightning port on the device. It would be a strange lineup to have the new mini and the iPhone on lightning but still sell the flagship iPad with the older plug. Now the iPad lineup going forward is updated and coherent. I doubt we will see a new iPad proper for bit. I believe apple was propping the iPad up to compete for some time while they focus on rejuvinating the professional line (Mac pro.)
     
  18. runawayprisoner

    runawayprisoner Platinum Member

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    Well, to be clear, I think the iPad 4 does show some minor improvement over the iPad 3, but when you put it next to the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5 is obviously faster and smoother.

    RAM and Flash aren't likely bottlenecks... since both of those should be the same or inferior on the iPhone 5. Plus you don't actually need to access flash storage that often while rendering the interface.
     
    #18 runawayprisoner, Nov 15, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2012
  19. ViRGE

    ViRGE Elite Member, Moderator Emeritus

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    The only way the iPhone 5 can be faster/smoother than the iPhone 4 is in situations where that huge screen makes you GPU limited. The iPad 4 has a faster CPU, faster GPU, twice the memory bandwidth, and twice the flash storage bandwidth of the iPhone 5.

    Though I'm not sure how someone could not notice the difference between the iPad 3 and iPad 4. Just the CPU alone is a significant difference in CPU-bound scenarios (complex webpage rendering comes to mind).
     
  20. runawayprisoner

    runawayprisoner Platinum Member

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    No. I'm quite positive you'll see that difference clear as day even in situations where it doesn't make any sense for there to be a GPU bottleneck.

    Like, for instance, try Pages. Loading any document in Pages on the iPhone 5 is always faster than on an iPad 4. I've verified this with my mom's iPad 4 and Apple's display iPad 4 using the "Getting Started" document.

    It's possible the CPU has to render the document before displaying to the screen, thus the extra loading time, but Pages doesn't load the entire document all at once. It only loads the first page.

    The difference between the iPad 3 and iPad 4 are actually pretty small when it comes to websites. Unless you're on a website that has a lot of animated GIFs, it's all about the same. Either Apple optimized iOS 6 enough to make the difference negligible, or the iPad 4 is offset by the screen's huge pixel count. I think the latter is more likely.
     
  21. Doppel

    Doppel Lifer

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    That makes some sense and mentioned elsewhere in the thread. The iPad3 just got unlucky having the old connector on it. iPad 2 hangs around as the poor man's full-size ipad without the update.
     
  22. ControlD

    ControlD Diamond Member

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    The new connector is exactly the reason I just picked up a refurbished iPad 3. I don't see any reason to buy adapters for all of my stuff just to get a marginally faster device, especially since I don't see me getting another iPhone unless Apple actually decides to make the device interesting again.
     
    #22 ControlD, Nov 16, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012
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