Apple has been officially reprimanded over its misleading advertising in Australia of the term 4G for its third-generation iPad. No considerable penalty here: According to The Australian, Apple has agreed to a $2.25 million settlement in Australian courts after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) won a battle alleging the Cupertino, Calif.-based company misled customers about the new iPad's touted features.
Back in March, Apple announced its new iPad as 4G LTE-compatible with AT&T and Verizon Wireless's networks in the U.S., as well as Canadian carriers like Rogers, Bell, and TELUS. But on the Australian and UK webpages for the third-generation iPad, Apple clearly stated that with the help of a micro-SIM card from a local carrier, the Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. Trouble was, this wasn't the case: Even with a local micro-SIM, Australian and British owners of the new iPad couldn't connect to the high-speed 4G LTE network.
After being sued by the ACCC, Apple responded by agreeing to grant refunds to unhappy Austrlian customers, as well as publish a statement that clarified how the iPad supports ultra-fast mobile networks, just not Australia's Telstra LTE network. Apple has also since updated its international websites, changing the language from Wi-Fi + 4G to Wi-FI + Cellular.
Following Apple's response, several other countries began to investigate the 4G claims too, including the UK, Denmark, and Sweden.
One may rightfully ask if the marketing of the new iPad is misleading, said Marek Andersson, a lawyer with the Swedish Consumer Agency. The question is whether this information is clear enough in Apple's marketing.
Apple was lucky to get away with only a $2.25 million penalty, especially since other countries cannot sue now that Apple has officially changed the language in all its ad efforts.
4G LTE: Is It Even Worth It?
The new iPad was the first Apple product to connect to the 4G LTE network, but many believe Apple had tried to include the high-speed network into the previous iPhone, the iPhone 4S, and failed. The first implementations of LTE in smartphones tended to ravage battery life, which was a major complaint from users, and if Apple wanted LTE in the iPhone 4S at the time, it would have been forced to increase the phone's thickness to accommodate a larger circuit board and a bigger battery. Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a company earnings conference call last April, said first-generation LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises.
The iPhone 4 PCB [printed circuit board] is already incredibly small, not leaving any room for an extra chip to enable LTE without shrinking the size of the battery, said Anand Shimpi, a chip expert and CEO of Anandtech.
The new iPad was almost certainly an LTE test-run for the next iPhone, because even it's a great new feature, it certainly has a fair share of issues.
First of all, choosing the LTE iPad option is costly. Compared to the Wi-Fi-only iPad models that cost $499, $599 and $699, the 4G LTE versions cost $629 for 16 GB, $729 for 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. Making matters worse, 4G LTE isn't a one-time payment; you will continue to pay for access to this network for as long as you own the iPad.
Streaming is also very costly. Even though 4G LTE connections produce seamless browser and video-viewing experiences, the reality is that data plans aren't designed to handle so much bandwidth.
AT&T offers 250 MB of data for $14.99 a month, 3 GB for $30 a month, and 5 GB for $50 a month. Similarly, Verizon Wireless offers 1 GB of data for $20 a month, 2 GB for $30 a month, 5 GB for $50 a month, and 10 GB for $80 a month. If this wasn't expensive enough, owners get charged an additional amount -- between $10 and $20 -- for each gigabyte that exceeds the user's monthly cap.
In a profile by The Wall Street Journal, many AT&T and Verizon customers came forward with their stories of how the new iPad shot through their data plans.
Brandon Wells got the new iPad last Friday, started wirelessly streaming March Madness games the next day and by Saturday night was out of gas, The Wall Street Journal reported. Two hours of college basketball-which he viewed mounted to his car dashboard and live at tournament games-had burned through his monthly wireless data allotment of two gigabytes.
The reason LTE is so expensive? For the exact same content, LTE uses twice the amount of data as 3G networks.
Verizon estimates that streaming [regular video] over an LTE connection runs through 650 megabytes an hour, The Journal said. That's double the amount of data used streaming the same video over a 3G link, because the fatter pipe lets more data through. On top of that, the new iPad's sharper screen will encourage some users to view videos in high-definition, which uses 2 gigabytes an hour on a 4G connection, according to Verizon.
Leaving Out LTE
Even though many international customers won't soon be able to enjoy the speed of LTE on their iPads, there are plenty of other incredible features inside the new iPad besides 4G.
The new iPad features an improved camera, a bigger battery, and a dual-LED backlit system that powers an 2048 x 1536 true HD Retina Display that displays 3.1 million total pixels. The display features 44 percent greater saturation of colors than its predecessor. Apple's dual-LED solution makes the iPad's screen noticeably brighter, but it also apparently solved several puzzling issues with heat dissipation and battery consumption.
The new iPad runs on a A5X chip, which relies on quad-core graphics to power the high-definition graphics evident in the brilliant Retina Display, but the chip is not the rumored A6 chip many were hoping for. Apple also managed to maintain 10 hours of battery life in the new iPad, including 9 hours on 4G.
Furthermore, the new iPad can act as a personal hotspot, which can host up to five devices. The iPad is also 3G world ready, meaning the user can roam around the world and pick up 3G with no problems.
Apple also upgraded its rear camera for better photos, even though taking pictures with a bulky iPad isn't really ideal. However, Apple's new iSight camera features a VGA FaceTime camera on the frontside and 5-megapixels on the backside, which includes features like face detection, white balance, and an infrared filter with advanced optics. And, of course, Apple outfitted the new iPad with auto-focus, video stabilization and full 1080p HD video recording.
Users may be upset about the lack of speed, but the new iPad is certainly a beautiful device that many won't want to miss.