Apple iPad 2 review: Love and hate 2.0

GSMArena team, 23 March 2011.
Pages: 12345678»

Tags: Apple, iOS, Touch UI

Introduction

The Apple iPad 2 is about to hit European shelves, fresh form a diet and exercise regime that’s helped it shed weight and build muscle. Faster, thinner and lighter is an accurate account of what’s been going on in the year that divides the two editions of Apple’s tablet.

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Apple iPad 2 official photos

Apple is taking it easy with the upgrades as usual – everything is carefully planned to ensure smooth traffic of new and repeat customers. It’s weirdly inconsistent with the hype about every new release. Anyway, faster-thinner-lighter is a fair deal to offer new users without making the original iPad adopters feel duped.

Apple iPad 2 Apple iPad 2
Apple iPad 2 official photos

It’s a sequel from the creators of a blockbuster. The iPad 2 is in no mood to start a revolution. But evolution should be good enough considering the original iPad is yet to be beaten.

Key features

  • 9.7” capacitive IPS touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels; oleophobic coating
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n connectivity
  • Optional 3G connectivity (data only)
  • Optional GPS with A-GPS support
  • Apple A5 SoC - 1 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor, PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics
  • 512MB RAM
  • iOS 4.3
  • 16/32/64GB of onboard storage
  • Weight of 601 grams (607 grams for the 3G version)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 10 hours battery life
  • Accelerometer, compass and three-axis gyro-sensor
  • Compatible with every iPhone app without any modifications
  • The cheapest version costs less than an unlocked iPhone
  • 0.7MP auto-focus camera, 720p video recording at 30fps
  • VGA secondary camera capable of Facetime calls
  • Impressively slim 8.8mm waistline
  • Four and five-finger gestures (locked by default, but easy to enable with a Mac and a $5 app)
  • 1080p TV-output with the Apple Digital AV Adapter (purchased separately for $39), 720p video streaming
  • Magnetic Smart cover ($39 or $69)

Main disadvantages

  • iTunes required for uploading content
  • No Flash support in the web browser
  • Poor still cameras – though, really, this thing isn’t meant for taking candids
  • No standard USB port
  • No kickstand – it cannot stand on a table without the help of a dock stand or a Smart cover
  • Non replaceable battery
  • No stereo loudspeakers
  • No GPS receiver for the Wi-Fi only version
  • No memory card slot
  • 3G model uses micro-SIM, instead of a regular size SIM
  • iPhone apps designed for HVGA resolution squander screen real estate or look pretty bad uspcaled

The list of disadvantages of any iOS device is the usual long read. Apple’s iOS has limitations that we all have to live with. Apple will never bring Flash support, allow regular file management or make iTunes (or at least the mandatory cable connection) optional. As to the actual iPad 2, if you want real GPS functionality you have no choice but to opt for the 3G-enabled model, which adds $120 to the regular bill.

But if you’re willing to forgive the shortcomings, the iPad 2 brings both a performance upgrade and a redesign. The tablet is powered by the new Apple A5 SoC, with a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, PoverVR SGX543MP2 graphics and 512MB RAM.

The Apple iPad 2 comes to address one of the main issues of the original iPad: weight. And while the handling is improved we’re less certain about the aesthetics. True, it’s an impressively thin tablet (slimmer than the iPhone 4) but uses the older generation iPhone design.

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Apple iPad 2 live shots

Anyway, the speed boost is all there and we’ve enjoyed some impressive performance in our early tests. The Facetime video-calls and 720p videos are nice add-ons too. Unfortunately, higher screen resolution is too much of an upgrade to ask for in only the second release.

The iPad 2 has its ups and downs but, like it or not, it will sell in millions just like the original. But Apple is probably keeping a wary eye on the Android army readying a massive deployment in the coming months.

That’s still to come though. For the time being, the Apple iPad 2 gets our full attention. Follow us on the next page where we start exploring Apple’s new tablet.

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