iPad 2 Review: How Does the iPad 2 Stack Up?

A look at the second generation iPad

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The iPad has gone through several generations, with each generation improving over the last. That doesn't mean the older models of the iPad are obsolete when compared to newer models. On the contrary, beginning with the iPad 2, older models remain relevant and perform well for many years beyond their initial release date.

Though the iPad 2 has been around since 2011, it is still kicking. 

iPad 2 Features

  • Dual-core 1GHz A5 chip (twice as fast as the original iPad)
  • Both front-facing and back-facing cameras
  • 1024x768 IPS display with LED backlight
  • Support for both AT&T and Verizon 3G networks
  • Size: 9.5" by 7.3" and 0.34" thick.
  • Weight: only 1.3 lbs.

The iPad 2 doesn't boast as many features as newer models. It doesn't have a Retina Display. It doesn't have a micro USB port or expandable memory (neither of which iPad has ever featured), nor does it support 4G cellular data speeds. It does, however, deliver a better and faster iPad experience over the original iPad.

Faster Than the Original iPad

The iPad 2 offers a nice performance boost over the original. The dual-core A5 processor clocks in at up to twice the speed of the original and graphical processing unit also received a nice little upgrade. Compared to the latest models, though, the iPad 2 is a bit of a laggard.

Sleeker and Thinner

At one-third of an inch thick, the iPad 2 is definitely a thin device, but what is really incredible is how the iPad 2 feels even thinner in your hand. It utilizes curved edges that make it feel even more comfortable in your hand than the original.

The 9.7-inch display is the same as the original: a 1024x768 resolution and LED backlight.

The external speaker was moved from the bottom edge to the back of the iPad 2 and delivers a more solid, thick tone.

The device features the same buttons as the original; a home button, sleep/wake button, volume control buttons, a configurable switch and the older Apple 30-pin connector.

Using the Digital AV Adapter the iPad 2 supports 1080p HD output, which means it will look fantastic on your HDTV.

Larger Battery

The iPad 2 features a slightly larger battery than the original iPad, providing 10 hours of activity and up to a month on standby. This is impressive considering the dual-processor and the upgraded graphics processor over its predecessor.

But You Call Those Cameras?

If there is a downside to the iPad 2, it is the cameras. The one feature everyone knew was a given for the iPad 2 was dual camera support, and Apple delivered, if just barely.

The back camera offers 720p quality video and "video stills," while the front camera offers VGA quality. In practice, the back camera can snap decent-but-not-great photos outside, however, nowhere near the quality of its contemporary device (the iPhone 4) but take it indoors and you'll get a grainy sub-par quality that seems more like it came from a 2007 Windows Mobile phone than a 2011 iOS device.

The addition of the dual-cameras does bring FaceTime to the iPad, and the quality is good enough for video conferencing.

iPad 2's Relevance

The iPad 2 has enough oomph to still get essential jobs done like checking email, surfing the web and even watching online videos. The newest juggernaut-sized apps aren't going to run well on the iPad 2, as they're likely designed to take advantage of the increased RAM available on new models.