Sequels aren't usually any good, but the iPad 2 is thinner, lighter and faster. Plus, it should cost no more than the original.
A gaunt-looking Steve Jobs has launched the second version of the iPad at a special event in San Francisco. He said 15 million iPads had been sold in just nine months during 2010, a figure he was keen to point out was far larger than the total number of Tablet PCs ever sold.
He mused about 2011 being the “year of the copycats”, but said none of the new launches by Samsung, BlackBerry and others even measured up to the original iPad. Rather than “resting on laurels”, Jobs said Apple wanted to give customers what they wanted and that the new iPad has an “all-new design”, being “dramatically faster” thanks to the new dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 processor. Graphics, however have been the focus, being up to 9x faster than the A4 processor. Battery life is unaffected, as the new processor uses the same amount of power as the old A4 processor to give a claimed 10 hours of use or up to a month in standby.
As expected, the iPad 2 gains two cameras – one rear- and one front-facing. They appear to be identical to the pain in the iPhone 4, with the rear camera capable of shooting 720p video at up to 30 frames per second, while the front supports 640×480 at the same frame rate.
There’s also now a gyroscope, just as you get in the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch for better detection of the iPad 2’s position in space. Despite these additions, the iPad 2 is one-third thinner than the original: down from 13.4mm to 8.8mm thick – that’s marginally thinner than the iPhone 4. The rear is made from “durable aluminium” while the screen is unchanged from the original in terms of both size and resolution. That means 9.7in and 1,024×768 pixels – no Retina display, unfortunately. Also missing is a GPS receiver, although geotagging photos is possible via WiFi.
Of course, thinner means lighter – the iPad 2 weighs just 601g, compared to the 680g of the original. It makes a noticeable difference, as we found when we got our hands on one of the demo units at Apple’s UK launch at the BBC Television Centre. Unlike the original, which didn’t feel particularly light or svelte, the new model (partly thanks to its bevelled rear edges) feels impossibly thin, yet sturdy. Performance also felt nippier, with the web browser being very responsive in particular.