Unlike the iPad mini, the iPad 4 continues the iPad tradition of having only a single loudspeaker. We performed out loudspeaker test on it and it scored a Good mark. We don't see many people using the iPad mini as a playing station but it will do for the occasional movie on the couch.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overal score|
|HTC One X||65.1||66.0||75.8|
|Asus Google Nexus 7||68.6||65.9||75.8|
|Samsung Note II N7100||70.0||66.6||80.5|
|Motorola RAZR XT910||74.7||66.6||82.1||Very Good|
You can find more details on the testing process here.
iPad 4 comes with iMessage - it lets you exchange instant messages between iOS-running iGadgets (running iOS 5 or above) via Wi-Fi or 3G. You can send plain text as well as multimedia (pictures, sounds, videos) messages. The app stores all your messages within threads and offers options for mass delete and forwarding. There is a search field, MMS support (if you choose to attach a multimedia file) and character counter. iMessage gives you delivery reports too.
The iPad 4 probably won't be your primary device for chatting on iMessage but it's very convenient that when you have an ongoing conversation on an iPhone you can simply continue it on your iPad.
Email supports multiple accounts (configurable in the Settings app) and offers Universal Inbox (showing all your mail at once). The Mail app also supports threads, email archiving and quick lookup of documents thanks to the integrated document viewer. There is also an Open With option, offerings to handle your files with some of your installed apps (PDF reader, mobile office, iBooks, etc).
In portrait mode the left bar with all your emails remains hidden until prompted while in landscape you get both the inbox/emails bar visible and the email you've opened is on the right.
You can set a VIP list, and emails from people on the list will be delivered to a dedicated VIP mailbox and will appear highlighted in your standard inbox. You can also set a different notification regime for VIP emails - so they appear on the lockscreen, for example.
If you open your Inbox and hit the Edit button, you now have a Mark key alongside Move and Delete. You can now mass mark emails as read/unread or flag them as important. Unfortunately, a "Select All" option is still missing.
Bold, Italic and Underline font styles are added to the text editing options as well as quote font size levels. Text selection works the usual way (tap & hold & select) and the available options will appear as soon you've made the selection.
The Notes app is exactly the same as before. You get the familiar split-screen layout with the notes you've saved on the left and the note edit screen on the right.
Your notes are also synced with iCloud so you won't have to worry about losing any of them.
Siri-powered dictation is available in Notes, Email, iMessage and any app that supports it. It works just like on the iPhone 5 - hit the corresponding button your keyboard and start dictating.
The keyboard on the iPad 4 is exactly the same as on the previous iPads and knows the same tricks. You can undock the keyboard, which places it dead center on the screen. You can then move it up or down, depending on what's underneath and where you would like to place it.
You can also split the keyboard in two by doing a simple pinch gesture on it or selecting it from the keyboard options. This is pretty useful in both portrait and landscape orientations if you have to type while holding the tablet - reaching the middle of the screen with your thumbs is hard, even when you hold the iPad 4 in portrait orientation.
The smaller iPad mini offered a better typing experience as it was easier to hold and it was it was easier to reach all the keys. Still, people have been typing on 9.7" iPads for years now and if you're upgrading your fingers will be used to it. If not, give the split keyboard a try - it's a bit unusual at first but you get the hang of it pretty quickly.