• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review


If you're reading this now, we assume you’re not one of the faithful fans who queued all night to get your hands on an iPad 2 the day they were launched. This next-gen tablet has proved to be the subject of more media hype and fan hysteria than its older brother, and in Asia it was selling on the grey market for at least twice its original price.



While the iPad 2 is slimmer, speedier and even more desirable than the first one, is that enough of a reason to upgrade, or even to buy one in the first place?




When it comes to all things techie, making them smaller is always a big selling point – and the iPad 2 weighs in at just 600g (compared with the iPad’s 712g) and is 33% slimmer. The aluminium body is just 8.8mm deep, which makes it slimmer than most smartphones, and sits comfortably in the hand, rather like a futuristic, very cool-looking slate.



The capacitive touch-screen measures 9.7 inches and is surrounded by a bezel that is either white or black. There’s a home button at the bottom, and at the top is a camera suitable for video calls. The rear camera has a rather oddly low-resolution of 0.7 megapixels. Along the top edge you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack, and the volume rocker is on the side, along with a switch that can be set to either mute the sound or lock orientation.

Under the bonnet, Apple has made a few upgrades – there’s twice as much RAM, and a new A5 dual-core 1 GHz chip. The increase in speed is most noticeable when switching between apps – almost a second of a difference between this and the old iPad.


The 1024x768 display also looks brighter thanks to the new graphics chip – we had been hoping for increased resolution, but maybe the folk at Apple are keeping that for the iPad 3.



Back to basics



When it releases a new device, Apple also sends out a new operating system – here it’s iOS 4.3 (a 4.3.1 update should be available by the time you read this). The interface looks just as it does on the iPad 1, but now everything has speeded up – plus there is video calling thanks to Apple’s FaceTime app (although it only works over a Wi-Fi connection).



The touch-screen is just as responsive and slick as it was on the first iPad, and the virtual keyboard is very comfortable to use in both landscape and portrait modes. Like other Apple devices, you need to connect to iTunes to activate the iPad 2. This will act as its ‘home’ iTunes account, and it will sync media files and apps to it. Unlike Android and Window Phone 7 devices, you have to be plugged into this iTunes to download any software update.

One of the new features of iOS4.3 is Home Sharing of iTunes content over Wi-Fi. If your iPad is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as its ‘home’ iTunes, it is possible to stream video, music and photos from your computer to the iPad. On the desktop version of iTunes there is a Home Sharing link, which makes it easy to set this up, but the iPad doesn’t make it quite so easy – you have to delve into the settings menu then enter your Home Sharing details (these are your iTunes account details).



Next it’s on to email – a highlight of the iPad. It is possible to set up Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and Microsoft Exchange, as well as webmail to feed into your device (note that real push mail delivery – that is, instantaneous – is only available on your Exchange accounts). However, if you have any technical leanings you can get round this by setting up your main account as an Exchange one – you’ll find the settings if you do a Google search. It will also sync contacts to your iPad.


Our favourite thing – as it was on the first iPad – is the dual-window tablet-optimised view. In landscape mode, you can see the inbox in one panel and there is a reading panel on the right – as you see in Microsoft Outlook. In portrait mode, the reading panel takes over the entire view and a small tab appears in an inbox window. Whichever way you look at it is an elegant and very natural way to read your emails.






On first view, the iPad 2 appears to be a superb media player. The screen is clear and bright and the speakers offer clear, full sound. The new operating system sees Safari work quicker (pages loaded over Wi-Fi in about five seconds). When we compared the iPad and the iPad 2 side by side, the new tablet almost always proved speedier. However, there is one big omission – still no support for Flash-encoded web video. This is even more of a problem on a tablet where the big screen is just made for watching video. Okay, so not everyone will be using Flash sites – but if you watch sports highlights, or news site videos, this is going to be a real issue.



The iPad 2 also highlights the failings of iTunes as a media manager. You can drag and drop photos from the iPad to a computer – but not the other way round – but you have to use iTunes to move music and movies. Apple has, of course, made it easy to move your media library through its software, but many will find the fact that not all high-quality file formats are supported very frustrating. Critically, there is no support for DivX, which is rapidly becoming the format of choice for compressed online video.

These similar issues bug the iPhone too, but on a device like the iPad 2 it is even more annoying. We were also disappointed to see no USB port or external memory slot – these would at least allow you to upload video without having to go through iTunes. It all adds up to Apple wanting to send its users down a single path into its operating system

The entry-level iPad 2 offers 16GB, which is useless for movies – or music – but you’ll have to pay another £80 to get a decent 32GB model (£160 if you want 64GB), which bumps up the price quite considerably.





Yes, the iPad now has video calling – and with a screen this size it makes more sense than it does on the smartphones. Apple’s own FaceTime app works well (only over Wi-Fi though) and has been integrated to allow you to make FaceTime calls straight from a contact’s profile or from the app. You’ll find it only works with other iPads, iPhone 4s and new MacBooks – but you can take comfort in the fact that the Skype app will work with any Skype account, regardless of what kind of device your friends have.



The camera on the rear of the device can record 720p video, yet takes still pictures at an oddly low 0.7 megapixels. The images cannot even be viewed well on the iPad and are full of noise. Video fares better, but this is definitely no camera device. Stick to using the cameras for video chat and leave it at that. We’re not quite sure why Apple has even added a rear camera – it may be that the next version of the iPad will have an improved lens.


One new thing we do like is photo frame mode – you can watch a slideshow of the pictures you have on the iPad 2 by pressing the icon beside the slide on the unlock screen. Preloaded is PhotoBooth, a photo-effect app that is quite addictive. It doesn’t produce the artistry that you get with Hipstamatic, and it’s not really a great photo editor, but it’s fun to play with if you want to add twirls to your face, or use the Mirror filter to see what you’d look like if your face were perfectly symmetrical.



Games and apps



One of the big benefits of the iPad 2 is the number of apps you can choose from – the App Store is still streets ahead when it comes to tablet-optimised software. The touch screen make the iPad the ideal device if you want to play games such as Cut the Rope (that big screen makes it far easier) as well as getting into the action of highly detailed RPG, racing and shoots games such as Asphalt HD. And the new graphics card makes the games look far better, while that dual-core processor helps them to run really smoothly.



It’s a shame that the Game Center is rather disappointing in this iOS. It is possible to add friends with iDevices, but interaction is limited to how you compare in mutual games and how they have scored in games they’ve played. It’s barely more than a holding page for games – what we might call a folder, in fact.



The verdict



Despite some glaring omissions in the features lineup, the iPad 2 is such a joy to use that you forget that it can’t play Flash video, or update software over the air, or offer a streamlined media transfer facility. If you already have an iPad you will have got used to these issues, but if you already have one, there’s not enough about the iPad 2 that justifies an upgrade. While it’s fun to use, as more tablets come on to the market, Apple’s failings will become more and more apparent. This is another tempting product from Apple that isn’t needed – although many will still want it.




Type of phone:





241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8 mm


607 g


16 million colours




0.7 megapixels

Special Camera features:


Video recording:


Video playback:


Video calling:


Video streaming:


3.5mm jack port:


Handsfree speakerphone:


Voice Control:


Voice Dialling:


Call records:




Ringtones customization:


Display description:

LED-backlit IPS TFT







Standard color:

White, black

Launch Status:






Operating system:



Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Announced date:

February 2011

What's in the Box:




International launch date:

March 2011

Battery life when playing multimedia:

10 hours



FM Radio Description:


Internal memory:


Memory Card Slot:



Email, IM

Internet Browser:


E-mail client:

Attachments, Push email, IMAP4, SMTP, POP3







Data speed:





600 minutes


720 hours

Display size:

9.7 inches



Audio recording:


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