The iPad 2’s retail package brings no surprises. Only a tad wider than the device itself the box holds your brand new iPad 2, a short manual, a very compact charger (think the original iPhone’s) and a USB cable.
If you opted for a Smart Cover the only thing you’ll really miss is a headset. Their thinking must be that this is not a phone but a computer. You don’t get headphones when you buy a MacBook. Or maybe it is more likely for iPad buyers to have an iPhone than not.
Apple kept the aluminum unibody but gave the iPad 2 the tapered edges typical of the older generations of the iPhone.
A metal case is always a premium feature especially with the iPad’s thickness of just 8.8 mm. It’s the slim girth and the reduced weight that make the iPad 2 notably more comfortable to use and handle. However, we do find the original sharper and more attractive with its hard square edges.
The first iPad looked more like the iPhone 4 while the iPad 2 returns to the curvy shape used in the first three generations of iPhones and the iPod Touch family. The new design and the somewhat different choice of materials make the iPad 2 more comfortable to hold in hand. You will instantly feel the difference to the slippery first-gen iPad.
This time, the iPad’s back is completely flat so it doesn’t wobble when you place it on its back. It also won’t scratch badly around the Apple logo as the original one did. It’s not to say that the iPad 2 will better cope with the daily wear and tear. It’s just that the design doesn’t make a particular part of the device more vulnerable.
The iPad 2 doesn’t have many hardware controls: there’s the Home key on the front, of course, the power/screen lock key on top, plus a volume rocker on the right.
Just above the volume rocker is the screen rotation lock, which doubles as a mute button – you can assign either function to the key.
The top of the iPad 2 features the 3.5mm audio jack, the Power/Lock key and the microphone.
At the bottom is the proprietary Dock connector and the single loudspeaker. The connector position on the tapered edge of the device so plugging a cable is a bit trickier than usual.
Above the screen is the front-facing camera (VGA). There’s also a hidden ambient light sensor, which is in charge of the automatic adjustment of the screen brightness levels.
The only thing to note at the back is the tiny 0.7MP camera lens (and the centrally placed Apple logo). The rear facing camera can also be used in FaceTime but its more important feature is the 720p video capture.