Apple iPad 2 review

£399
Price when reviewed

Extras

That’s it for the visible changes, but there’s a hidden addition that caused quite a stir at the launch: Apple has built magnets into the left edge of the iPad 2, allowing the new optional cover to snap satisfyingly into place. Expected to cost about £25, the cover is divided into four segments with a hinged spine that snaps neatly over the iPad’s magnetic edge. It not only protects the screen, but can be used as a stand for typing or watching movies.

Apple iPad 2 - Smart Cover

It’s clever, and we like the way it turns off the screen automatically when flush with the surface of the screen. But when folded back against the back of the iPad it flops around disconcertingly, to the extent that we preferred to remove it when using the iPad handheld.

Apple iPad 2 - Smart Cover

Performance

There are more changes under the hood, with an updated CPU, a new GPU and a doubling of the original iPad’s 256MB RAM.

The CPU is the most interesting update, replacing the single-core 1GHz Apple A4 processor with the dual-core A5. In real-world use it’s immediately obvious that the iPad 2 is a much faster and more responsive device than its predecessor. Applications seem to launch more quickly, websites appear in the blink of an eye and the iTunes Store and App Store feel more responsive.

This is no mere impression. We upgraded the first iPad to iOS 4.3 (the same version as the iPad 2) and ran a number of tests with the two iPads side by side. In BBC iPlayer, programmes consistently launched a couple of seconds more quickly on the iPad 2. The BBC website loaded in an average of five seconds, two seconds quicker than the first iPad. And the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark completed in 2,108ms compared with 3,450ms on the older hardware.

It’s even more impressive when compared to its Android rivals. Even the original iPad had a significant edge over the Tegra 2-based Android tablets we’ve seen, and the extra core of the iPad 2 gives a further boost – although it still can’t match the speed of even the most modest desktop PC or laptop.

Gaming

The benefit of the new GPU is a little harder to measure. Apple claims it’s nine times faster than the first iPad, though games on that platform already enjoyed rich graphics and smooth frame rates. We expect that games enhanced for iPad 2 will use the extra power for more advanced effects such as anti-aliasing, more detailed textures and the like.

Apple iPad 2 - Infinity Blade

We tested Infinity Blade, one of a handful of enhanced-for-iPad 2 titles available at launch, and can confirm that the graphics do look slicker. There’s more detail to figures, edges are smoother with less obvious stepping and textures simply look more lifelike. We also noticed quicker load times and slightly smoother frame rates.

Detail

Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical

Dimensions186 x 8.8 x 241mm (WDH)
Weight601g

Display

Primary keyboardOn-screen
Screen size9.7in
Resolution screen horizontal1,024
Resolution screen vertical768
Display typeLED Multi-Touch
Panel technologyIPS

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz1,000MHz
Integrated memory16.0GB
RAM capacity512MB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating0.7mp
Built-in flash?no
Built-in flash typeFail
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Other

WiFi standard802.11n
Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSno
Accessories suppliedNone
Upstream USB ports0
HDMI output?no
Video/TV output?no

Software

Mobile operating systemiOS 4.3

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos