iPad 2 vs. iPad Original: Worth the Upgrade?

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As expected, Apple has made a huge splash with the iPad 2. Though the company hasn't officially released sales figures yet, many industry insiders estimate that as many as 1 million devices were sold within the debut weekend. Initially it was tough to track an iPad 2 down at retail, and the estimated ship time for one on Apple's site grew to 4 to 5 weeks before settling back down this week to 2-3 weeks. But what if you already own the original iPad? Now that the launch hype has dissipated, does it make sense to ditch your old one to pick up the latest and greatest?

There's no argument that the original iPad set the standard for the media tablet category, combining a top-notch display with a fun and intuitive multitouch interface. You also get more than 65,000 apps, all of which work on both the iPad and iPad 2. The iPad 2 certainly is an improvement with its size reduction (33 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter) and faster processor (dual-core A5 CPU). Still, it's not exactly a quantum leap forward.

Both tablets feature the same size 9.7-inch screen (1024 x 768), can run Apple's latest OS 4.3 software, and have been offered in identical memory allotments (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB). Rated battery life is comparable, too, with both slates' having a claimed endurance of 10 hours. However, we saw nearly two hours more endurance from the iPad 2. The iPad 2 also sports some features the original iPad lacks, such as dual cameras.

The back 720p camera works fairly well, but only when recording video with ample ambient light. The front VGA camera enables FaceTime calls, which are easy to set up. The quality isn't fantastic, but we found the picture to be brighter than the Motorola Xoom in our recent face-off.

So what about performance? The iPad 2's dual-core A5 chip does cut down on lag--although that wasn't much of a problem to begin with--and enables swift video editing via the iMovie app. The A5 also enables beefier graphics performance, which is why it can handle Photo Booth without breaking a sweat. We also anticipate that developers will be able to tap into this chip's power over time.

Then there's the little things. When you combine the iPad 2's thinner and lighter design with the magnetic Smart Cover, this sequel just feels right. Is all of this enough to warrant an upgrade? As much as we love the iPad 2, we'd say it's not necessarily worth shelling out another $500 or more. The original iPad is still superior to every other tablet on the market.

On the other hand, if you like the idea of staying in touch with FaceTime and want the best performance for the most demanding apps and games, the iPad 2 could be worth the splurge. You also get built-in Verizon Wireless 3G as an option, which wasn't available previously. Before you had to choose between an iPad + MiFi combo for Verizon or get the AT&T version with integrated broadband.

But don't let us do all the talking. Take a look at this comparison chart and our full review of the iPad 2 to help decide for yourself if its worth making the upgrade.

Product iPad 2 iPad
Price $499 to $699 (Wi-Fi), $629 to $829 (3G)
$499 to $699 (Wi-Fi), $629 to $829 (3G)
Operating System iOS 4.3 iOS 4 (Upgrade to iOS 4.3)
Size (inches) 9.5 x 7.3 x 0.3 9.56 x 7.47 x 0.5
Weight (pounds) 1.3 1.5
Processor 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 1-GHz Apple A4
Display 9.7-inches (1024 x 768 pixels) 9.7-inches (1024 x 768 pixels)
Camera 960 x 720 pixels, VGA front-facing


Video Recording 720p @ 30 fps NA
Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n, AT&T and Verizon 3G options 802.11 a/g/n, AT&T 3G option
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light, 3-axis gyroscope Accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light
Internal Memory 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Battery Life (Wi-Fi) 11:11 9:23
Geekbench Performance 742 458
Graphics Performance (GLBenchmark app) 852 Million 164 Million


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Add a comment
  • Steve-would-say Says:

    Flash does nOt reallocate memory properly.
    Adobe tried to fix that and it's security holes.
    Adobe officially concedes and no longer will be developing it.

    Adobe is actively innovating HTML 5. Most web sites quickly following adobes wisdom.
    Why is Flash better for us?

  • vova Says:

    Flash on Ipad - easy with Skyfire browser!

  • Guillaume Says:

    Ive asked the app est re guys Brock: they say this works on iPad 1 if you upgrade to latest iOS version.

  • pinaud Says:

    No Flash ? No Ipad. Sorry ...

  • Brock Says:

    Always surprised few reviews mention mirroring ability of anything you see on the iPad 2 screen to a projector or a tv. That is huge to me.

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