Last week, Apple announced the fourth generation iPad: the first iPad with retina display. This means that we have now the iPad 1, iPad 2, the new iPad, and the iPad with retina display. In terms of how they look, they all look very similar. On the box of the device itself, it does not display model numbers like “iPad 2”; rather, it just says iPad. So the question is how to tell what iPad model you have without doing a lot of research to find out. This article outlines distinct, visible features of each model so you can easily decide and distinguish which of the iPad models you own. This can be especially useful for new iPad users who want to buy, or have already bought, an iPad used (or even a brand new device since they are not marked).
iPad 1 vs. Other iPad Models
The biggest difference between the iPad 1 and other iPad models is that the iPad 1 does not have a built in camera while all other iPad models do. So check for a camera; if your iPad does not have one, then it is an iPad 1.
iPad 2 vs. Other iPad Models
If your iPad has cameras (both front and back), then it is either an iPad 2 or iPad 3 (the new iPad, which is discontinued) or the iPad 4 with retina display. Except for the iPad 1, all other iPad models also look very much alike. The easiest way to tell is by looking under Settings > General > Keyboard; if there is a ‘Dictation’ option, then it is an iPad 3 (we are assuming that this device is running iOS 5). If the device is running iOS 6, then check Settings > General and if you see a Siri option, it is an iPad 3 or iPad 4. In short, if you see a ‘Dictation’ option or ‘Siri’ option, then it is NOT an iPad 2.
iPad 3 vs. Other iPad Models
So you bought an iPad and it has both cameras and Siri. This means we have narrowed it down to the iPad 3 or iPad 4 – so how do we further distinguish from here? One of the most visible features of the iPad 4 is the ‘Lightning’ connection. All other iPad models have a 30-pin connection. If you see the ‘Lightning’ connection, then it is the iPad with retina display, which is the newest model.
Please note that each iPad model varies greatly in terms of technical capabilities. We did not list all features that differentiates iPads from one another. This article just outlines the easiest ways of distinguishing iPad models from one another (adding more information would just further complicate the process).