The 4th-generation iPad is a minor upgrade. Likely launched to ramp up holiday sales ahead of a more significant upgrade, the tablet is almost identical to the 3rd-generation iPad. The iPad 4's biggest upgrade is its A6X chip. Though iPad 3 owners may have a hard time justifying an upgrade, early benchmarks show that the new SoC offers a significant performance boost.

A 4th-generation iPad Geekbench result has popped up, likely performed by a journalist with an early review unit. It reveals that the iPad's A6X chip is clocked at 1.4GHz. The A6 in the iPhone 5 has a maximum speed of 1.3GHz, so the iPad's version is running a bit faster.

When Apple revealed the 4th-generation iPad, it claimed that the new tablet would see double the speeds of its 3rd-generation counterpart. Should we be skeptical? According to these early results, Apple may have actually under-promised: the iPad 4 received a Geekbench score of 1757. The iPad 3 typically scores in the mid-700s.

The new iPad's score also beats the iPhone 5, which usually lands in the low-to-mid 1600s. With identical RAM and processor, this can be attributed to the slightly-higher CPU frequency.


Ship times have slipped to one week

Despite the modest upgrade, the 4th-generation iPad appears to be selling well. Apple's initial pre-orders for the tablet are sold out, with ship times pushed back to a week. News of sell-outs can be deceiving, though, as we don't know how many units Apple stocked.

Though the most hard-core (and wealthy) Apple fans will upgrade no matter what, this isn't a necessary purchase for iPad 3 owners. Apart from the speedy A6X chip, the only specs that get boosted are the front-facing camera, Wi-Fi network speeds, and the new Lightning connector. Unless you're a FaceTime fiend or want to maximize a Gigabit Wi-Fi connection, these are far from killer features.

The real question is whether the 4th-generation iPad will stick around for a year, or if it's just here for a few months. We're betting on the latter, with a big update (thinner with an improved display?) possibly coming around March.

Sources: Geekbench, 9to5Mac

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