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Apple iPad 2 review

Apple iPad 2 review

The iPad 2 finally arrived in the UK last month following the usual hype and hoopla of an Apple pre-launch. The gossip, the spy pics and the keynote all pointed towards another best-selling, life-changing device. And while the iPad 2 isn’t too much of a leap forward from its predecessor, it’s already doing the business. Want to know whether it’s worth coughing up for and waiting while Apple sorts out its supply lines? Then read our iPad 2 review now.

First impressions

ipad 2 promo

It’s hard to look beyond the iPad 2’s slinky, slimline frame. At 8.6mm, it’s impossibly thin - thinner even than the iPhone 4. Its weight has been cut down too, to 613g for the 64GB Wi-Fi and 3G model that we tested. That all means it’s even more portable than the old-school model, making it ideal as a netbook replacement.

There’s a real snap to the software thanks to the beefed up A5 chipset, while set-up took us a mere three minutes. It’s in the early stages where Apple really shows why it’s the leader of the pack, and the iPad 2 really is a case of love at first sight.

10/10

Design

ipad 2 large

The iPad 2 isn’t too much of a design shift from the previous model. It is notably thinner and weighs less, but the essentials remain the same. 9.7-inch LED backlit display, with the same 1024x768 resolution as before. This was a disappointment to some, seeing as an iPhone-matching Retina Display had been mooted. The panel can appear pixellated when zooming right in on text or playing non-iPad-optimised games like Stick Cricket, but this isn’t a regular or troublesome issue. Watching movies and web video on the device is a delight, with excellent contrast and no judder.

10/10

Features

a5 processor

The A5 chip is perhaps the iPad 2’s biggest calling card. The 1GHz dual-core processor means the slate zips along at lightning speed, with games looking stunning and apps running without any discernible lag. It’s likely we’ll see the A5 land inside the iPhone 5 later this year, and all indications here suggest it’s an absolute monster, capable of handling anything you can throw at it.

The dual cameras, however, really aren’t up to snuff. The rear-facing number shoots stills at less than one megapixel, which is ludicrous in the days of 12 megapixel camera phones. While it can record 720p video, we’re unconvinced that shooting clips on the iPad is of particular value. Yes, the iMovie editing app is great and clips are HD Ready, but the device just feels too big for imaging. The front-facing camera allows you to use the on-board FaceTime function, although this does remain a niche concern. Images are a touch grainy and no better than using the old iSight camera on a Mac. Really, the cameras are the only major letdown on a device which is otherwise perfect.

7/10

Software

ios 4.3

iOS remains peerless when it comes to tablets. Yes, Google Honeycomb is smart, but the manner in which Apple has optimised its mobile operating system for the larger screen is superb. The Mail app remains one of the iPad’s best features, the pop out menus and easy interface marking a real contrast to the less-than-breezy version found on the iPhone. The extra screen real estate allows for greater control over apps, with better menu structures. Of course, having thousands of apps at your disposal helps, and iOS proves once again here why it has the edge over Android.

9/10

Ease of use

iOS contributes hugely to the iPad 2’s ease of use. The soft keyboard is excellent and takes virtually no time to master. In our opinion, a keyboard accessory is almost unnecessary if you’re only going to be tapping out emails, tweets and Facebook messages. The advent of multitasking has made the iPad a far easier machine to handle, with improved folder management and the fact you can access whatever you need from the homescreen meaning it’s perfect for even the most hardened tech cynics. And that’s really the iPad 2’s strongest suit. This is a device for everyone, not just the hardcore. It’s why the iPad 2 will sell millions and why you should buy one now.

9/10

Specifications

  • Apple A5 chipset
  • 16, 32 and 64GB Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models
  • Dual cameras with 720p video
  • 9.7-inch, 1024x768 screen
  • 30-pin dock connector
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Bluetooth 2.1 10 hours battery

Overall mark: 9/10

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