The new iPad vs iPad 2

The new iPad, the iPad 3 or whatever you want to call it, has arrived with its funky screen and the natural reaction from most is going to be to buy the thing straight away, but is that necessarily the right move? Just because it's the latest in the line of Apple's top tablet, does that make the the new iPad the best one around, or, more importantly, actually worth the money it costs you?

The best way to see that for sure is to take a good look at all the the new iPad parts and all the new iPad specifications and compare them to the iPad 2 to show exactly how they differ. Whether or not Apple still makes the iPad 2 available for sale at the same time, it'll still be easy enough to pick up the older model on third-party sites and at vastly discounted rates. So, which is the best way to go for you? Read Pocket-lint's the new iPad vs iPad 2 and decide for yourself.

Form Factor

1st: iPad 2
241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm, 613g

2nd: the new iPad
241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm, 652g


The iPad 2 is a thin devil in its own right, so to better it on the form factor front was going to be tricky. Naturally, there were also another couple of complications here that were always going to prove a challenge for the Apple engineers on the the new iPad. A more powerful processor and more splendorous screen need a bigger battery in order to power then for as long a time frame and that means a bulkier body with a heftier mass. Sure, the the iPad 3 reaps the benefits in later rounds but the first category goes to the older model. What? You didn’t think it would be all plain sailing, did you?

Display

1st: the new iPad
9.7-inch, 2048 x1536, LCD with IPS

2nd: iPad 2
9.7-inch, 1024x768px, LCD with IPS


Getting that screen boost was what the Apple-appreciating public has been crying out for for the past 12 months. We all thought we’d be getting a Retina-type levels of resolution when the iPad 2 was launched but, now, finally, that dream has become a reality. The move doubles the pixels and therefore the pixel density over that 9.7-inch display and, even though you probably never thought that the iPad 2’s screen was exactly a problem, lay it next to the the new iPad 3 now and you’ll have little doubt about which one you’d rather have in your bag.

Engine Room

1st: the new iPad
Apple A5X

2nd: iPad 2
Apple A5


The enhanced graphics potential of the the new iPad needs a processor with enhanced graphics abilities and that’s exactly what the quad-core graphics Apple A5X system-on-a-chip provides. The number of cores in the graphics element of the SoC means a zippier interface, smoother games and, fingers crossed, highly proficient rendering of your HD movies. The A5 in the iPad 2 is no slouch. You’ll still be able to enjoy the top apps but it’s in 12 months when the horizons of the developers have broadened and expectations have moved on that you might start to notice that certain games become a bit of a strain.

Imaging

1st: the new iPad
5MP rear, 0.3MP front, 1080p video at 30fps

2nd: iPad 2
0.3MP front, 0.7MP rear, 720p video at 30fps


While the iPad’s video credentials were never chronic - the VGA on the front and the 720p recording on the back are just about enough for chatting to your friends and family back home and capturing that moment, respectively - the 0.7-megapixel stills were an obvious weakness. Thankfully, Cook and pals have paid attention here and managed to squeeze in a significantly better camera system this time around.

Apple has gone and implemented the majority of the camera tech from the iPhone 4S into the the new iPad. This means a major win here over the less than great performance of the iPad 2. The new iSight camera uses things like a 5 element lens and IR filter as well as things like software stabilisation and auto exposure/focus. A big improvement over the last gen tablet and another nail in the coffin for those who want to be at the top of Apple’s tech tree.

Software

Win: the new iPad
iOS 5.1

Lose: iPad 2
iOS 5.1


iOS went and got a little updated at the the iPad 3 announcement. It brings Siri to other parts of the globe including Australia and Japan. Unfortunately if you own both an iPad 2 or 3, you aren’t going to be seeing it. That’s because Apple hasn’t fully implemented the software with the new tablet, instead adding voice dictation for emails and messaging. You do however get a bumped-up native app resolution which should make things look extra sweet on the the new iPad’s display. As such it claims the win here.

Storage

Tie: iPad 2
16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash

Tie: the new iPad
16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash


Higher resolution screen or not, there’s still enough space on either 16, 32 or 64GB of in-built flash memory storage to hold everything you’re going to need on your new iPad. Well, you weren’t expecting an SD card slot now, were you? One of the problems, of course, with solid state memory is that it’s quite expensive. So, while it might have been nice to have an new iPad with a 128GB file locker inside, bundled in with all the other upgrades, it probably would have just made the thing too pricey. At the end of the day, you’ll just have to do a better job of managing your memory.

Connectivity

Win: the new iPad
Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE, dock connector

Lose: iPad 2
Wi-Fi, 3G, dock connector

Notice the words LTE there in the iPad 3's spec sheet. We certainly did. What does this mean? Well it makes it possible to have an astronomically faster browsing speed over mobile networks on the the new iPad than the iPad 2. You can reach all the way up to 73mbps compared to the iPad 2’s 7.2mbps. The rest forms very much the standard trio these days. No NFC sadly but ultimately the inclusion of LTE makes it a hugely better beast than the iPad 2. Good for us Brits as well as we can take advantage of Three’s just announced HSPA+ network.

While Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity are very much the standard trio these days, the only areas where the the new iPad could really have improved upon the incumbent is in the speed of that cellular connectivity and that’s exactly what Apple has done. Waving around a 9.7-inch tablet for contactless payment isn’t particularly practical for those hoping for the inclusion of NFC technology but LTE is something that will certainly be enjoyed by those living in the States and other countries with a 4G mobile infrastructure in place.

Battery

Tie: iPad 2
Up to 10 hours use

Tie: the new iPad
Up to 10 hours use


The size of the things might be different but the result is the same. It’s obviously important to Apple to maintain certain standards in its device lines and one of them seems to be that you should be able to use a portable gadget like a tablet for up to 10 hours before it conks out on you. There are obviously sacrifices to make for that to be possible but the boys and girls of Cupertino’s finest have managed to juggle the form factor, the engine room and all those new pixels and technologies to make it so for the new iPad. The result? A tie. We will say though that dropping down to just 9 hours on LTE does make the the new iPad deserve special mention here.

Price

1st: iPad 2
£329

2nd: the new iPad
£399


The full effect of any price drop won’t have hit at the time of writing but it’s worth noting that at just before launch it was possible to pick up a 32GB version of the original iPad for £100 less than the 32GB iPad 2. Sadly we don't get quite that saving this time round, the iPad 2 hitting £329 instead. Still a discount is a discount.

It’s an obvious win for the iPad 2 but the real question that we have to consider is whether such a price drop is worth it in the face of not only the new technology but, more importantly, the risk that the latest apps might not run so well on your older machine 12 months down the line.

Conclusion

1st: the new iPad
2nd: iPad 2


Sure, you’ll be able to pick up an iPad 2 on the cheap and, yes, much of the hardware is actually the same but the the new iPad is new and improved exactly where it counts. The bulk of a tablet is its screen. It’s what hits you in the face when you pick it up and it’s the window through which you get to enjoy all the games, videos and web browsing that these devices are simply for. There are plenty of creative uses for the new iPad but, ultimately, these tablets are about consuming content first and making it second. This isn’t one of Apple’s “S” devices. The new iPad is the real deal. Buy one of these and not the iPad 2 or you’ll only live to regret it. Even better, if you are in the US then pick one up and enjoy the quickest possible web speed on an Apple portable via the new LTE connectivity.

Like the look of the iPad 3? Let us know in the comments below...