Apple iPad 2 review
|Review: June 2011|
In a nutshell: The Apple iPad 2 is a truly amazing tablet. Equipped with a large 9.7 inch screen, it's big enough to work and play seriously, and the hardware needed to support it is all here: a dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM and up to 64GB of built-in memory. Add to this the polished performance of Apple's iOS 4 and the wealth of built-in and downloadable apps, and we think you'll get more for your money with the iPad 2 than with any other current tablet.
Today's best buy: Apple iPad Mini 4 128GB from Currys (£399.00)
The Apple iPad 2 is the tablet everyone else is trying to beat. If you don't mind spending the money and you don't want to bother comparing details with other tablets, just buy the iPad 2 and be done with it. On the other hand, if you'd like to find out whether it's worth the money and is the right tablet for you, read on, because this review was written for you.
Looking at specifications isn't the way to evaluate an Apple product. Apple are masters of spin, and if you read Apple's description of the iPad 2 it's easy to be wowed by FaceTime, Photo Booth, iBooks and features that other tablets seem not to have. And Apple always give their product specs in different units to other manufacturers. Who knows if a screen with 132 pixels per inch is any good? Or if a 25 watt-hour battery compares well with other manufacturers' batteries that are always quoted in mAh? No, reading Apple's marketing material will get you no closer to understanding what the iPad 2 can do. To do that you need to pick one up and start poking it. So let's do just that.
The first thing we notice on picking up the iPad 2 is how sleek and well made it looks and feels. It's so tactile. It reeks of quality. It's also pretty large - not far off an A4 pad of paper, although at 8.8mm thick it's astonishingly slim for an electronic device. It weighs in at just over 600g. But bigger is better for a tablet isn't it? And it's not so large that it feels uncomfortable to hold. But you'll need a large bag to carry it around in, and you might feel uncomfortable getting it out to use in a public place. A smaller tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab might just be a better option in this respect.
But of course, there's a reason why the iPad is this size - it's the screen. The screen is a gorgeous LED backlit display measuring 9.7 inches diagonally. That puts it almost on a par with a small notebook computer, and it's a screen that's big enough to get some serious work done. Pixel-wise, the screen measures 768 x 1024 pixels. Since Apple are so fond of quoting pixels per inch, let's note that this works out at 132 pixels per inch, which doesn't compare favourably with the 330 pixels per inch of the iPhone 4 or even the 170 pixels per inch of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. But, to be fair, in the flesh it looks fine. In fact it's a good display, and big enough to make it feel more like a computer than a phone. It's also big enough to display HD 720p videos, which is a key advantage over smaller tablets.
There's no denying that when it comes to user-friendliness, iOS 4 is one of the most accomplished operating systems around. If the iPhone 4 is user-friendly, then by blowing up the screen, the iPad has become even friendlier. It's the details that make the difference. The way pages turn when you're reading ebooks (sorry, iBooks); the way you can swipe through your photo collection as if it really were a collection of printed pictures. Yes, the iPad may be capable of doing some serious work, but it's at its best when its doing some serious play.
With such a large screen, you need some meaty hardware to back it up, and the iPad 2 has it. At its heart is a dual-core 1GHz processor, which is fast enough to handle anything you can throw at it. There's plenty of memory too, with 512MB RAM and a choice of 16GB, 32GB or even 64GB models on offer, although the 64GB model is rather pricey.
As well as deciding how much memory you want, you'll also have to choose between the Wi-Fi version and Wi-Fi + 3G. The Wi-Fi version doesn't require a contract with a mobile network operator, as it relies on having a Wi-Fi network available for connecting to the internet. That means you'll only be able to access facebook, twitter, youtube and all the rest if you can guarantee being in a Wi-Fi zone. The Wi-Fi + 3G gives you the flexibility of accessing data via the 3G (or 2G) mobile phone network when Wi-Fi isn't available, but you'll have to take out a monthly contract with a mobile operator.
As well as Wi-Fi and 3G, the iPad 2 can connect to other devices wirelessly using Bluetooth (including Bluetooth headsets), or via its 30-pin connector port, which can plug into a USB connection on a computer. There's also a 3.5mm stereo audio connector for plugging in headphones. You can connect to a TV with an optional Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter. The digital AV adapter supports Full HD 1080p output.
The iPad 2 comes with a built-in Maps application. This works similarly to Google Maps and can display street maps, satellite imagery or a combination of both. You can also get turn-by-turn directions (for pedestrians, cyclists or cars), live traffic information, Street View and information about points of interest. The system works very well, with multi-touch zooming and finger panning across the screen. The dual-core processor renders everything rapidly for a satisfyingly responsive experience. You can easily bookmark locations or email a route to your friends. This is how all maps should be! You'll notice a difference here between the Wi-Fi only and the Wi-Fi + 3G versions, as the Wi-Fi version has less information available to it for pinpointing your location.
You can make video calls with your iPad 2. Apple call this FaceTime and act like they invented the concept themselves. The problem with FaceTime, though, is that you can only call someone else’s iPad 2, iPhone 4, new iPod touch, or Mac, and only over Wi-Fi. The front-facing camera can also record VGA resolution video or grainy 0.3 megapixel still shots, which isn't a lot of use really. There's a slightly better camera on the rear of the iPad, which can record video in HD resolution, but it's not a high quality camera, and for still shots its really quite atrocious. And you can probably imagine for yourself how hard it is to handle a camera that's the size of a small cushion. There's some compensation for the poor photo quality with the Photo Booth app, where you can embellish your snaps with weird and wonderful effects. "The fun keeps coming" according to Apple. Especially if you're drunk or aged about twelve or under.
We're in safer territory when it comes to music, because the iPad 2 is really just an iPod that's developed grand ideas. So downloading and syncing music using iTunes is a breeze, playback quality is excellent via stereo headphones (you can even have 5.1 surround sound if you buy an optional cable) and the big screen makes it easy and fun to manage your music collection. It's ideal for watching music videos too, of course, which brings us on to the media player. Now, this is a truly great feature, because there's nothing like a big screen when it comes to watching any kind of video - from a youtube clip to a full length movie - and if you add in the capability to watch in HD, then you're in for a treat. Add to this the ease of downloading video content from iTunes, and you'll find this one of the best aspects of owing an iPad.
iTunes is also the home of the App Store, and there are already over 65,000 apps made specifically for the iPad. Whether its games, personal organisers, or just time-wasting fun apps, you'll find it here. Probably. The main challenge is avoiding the dross, and for this you can use iTunes' Genius. We're also fans of the iBooks app, which connects you to the iBookstore, where you can iRead an iBook or an iMagazine or ... sorry, getting confused with all this iStuff, don't know when to iStop. Nearly forgot to say that the LED backlit display isn't quite as crisp as Amazon's Kindle for reading books, but it does have the benefit of colour!
The internet works brilliantly on the iPad 2. Apple's Safari web browser is good, and with multi-touch zooming you can swish around websites to your heart's content. With 1024 x 768 pixels, you probably won't need to do a lot of zooming, as most websites display normally, just like they would on a computer. It's a great experience being able to hold websites in your hands and poke them with your fingers to make them do things. You can also get easy access to sites like facebook, twitter and youtube on your iPad. It all works well, except for the lack of Flash video support.
With so much to play with, you'll be wondering how the iPad's battery holds up. You were wondering that, weren't you? The 25 watt-hour battery delivers up to 10 hours of continuous use between charges. The device can be charged via USB on a computer by or a mains adapter. You might be wondering how a 25 watt-hour battery relates to the mAh units normally quoted by manufacturers. We can tell you that it's a 6930 mAh battery, which is reassuringly huge, and seems to be right for the job.
So, the iPad 2 is an amazing collection of tech, tools and apps. It's almost like a demonstration of all that's cool in technology in the year 2011. It's definitely iconic. It's definitely cool to be seen with it. And it's surprisingly affordable too, at least the 16GB version. Here at Mobile-phones-uk.org.uk, we've taken delight in bashing Apple in the past, but even we have to admit that the iPad 2 rocks. Is it the best tablet in the world? No, because different people have different needs. But the iPad 2 will fill the needs of many. If we could change one thing it would be the cameras. But that's quite a small feature. We have to admit it in fact - the iPad 2 is a truly great product.
Apple iPad 2 features include:
- Operating system: iOS 4
- Display: 9.7 inch LED backlit multi-touch screen with 768 x 1024 pixels
- 0.7 megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom
- HD 720p video recording (30 frames per second), secondary VGA camera for video calling (FaceTime)
- Music player (AAC, HE-AAC, Protected AAC, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV formats)
- Media player (H.264 video, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio, MPEG-4, AAC-LC, M-JPEG, AVI formats)
- Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through with Apple Digital AV Adapter (sold separately)
- Messaging: email with attachments
- aGPS with digital compass and Maps
- Internet: Safari web browser, YouTube
- Doument viewer (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Excel and others)
- Notes, Calendar, Contacts
- Built-in mono speaker
- Wireless printing (to compatible printers)
- Processor: 1GHz dual-core A5 processor
- Memory: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB models
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 30-pin dock connector port, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, Video-Out
- UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz, GSM/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)
- Size: 241 x 186 x 8.8 mm
- Weight: 601g (Wi-Fi model) or 613g (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
- Battery: 25 watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
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Apple iPad 2 user reviews
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Average rating from 20 reviews:
Reviewed by Ian from UK on 6th Sep 2012
I love this tablet. Got on T-mobile deal for £25 per month paying £139.99 for the device (2GB data per month). However now that Everything Everywhere are planning to launch 4G this year I am starting to regret not paying an extra £60 to get the new ipad. Anyway it's still great and my kids love it too. Best thing for me is the Sky Go app for the football when I'm in work!
Reviewed by King from Uk on 24th May 2012
Just received a refurbished iPad for £259, it's worth getting it
Reviewed by King from Uk on 9th Mar 2012
I have used transformer,iconia a500, xoom n now this ipad2. I must say this is just amazing and so smooth and would recommend
Reviewed by Nazi from UK on 27th Feb 2012
Its amazing. Batter than all the tablet on the market. Must have it really good. You will enjoy every single minute on it :)
Reviewed by Rav from UK on 10th Feb 2012
Don't like this icon menu. They need to rethink their products. Itunes is awful
Reviewed by sridhar from india on 10th Feb 2012
i hate this pad..............plz dont buy this thing
Reviewed by Me from UK on 21st Jan 2012
WOW! I love this, I'm on it right now, it runs fast, it doesn't crash, the battery life is great, the display is good... The list goes on. I don't know what I'd do without my iPad, the only bad thing I have found is that the apps and music are quite expensive compared to android.
Reviewed by AuzzieUk from Uk on 17th Jan 2012
Not as fast as my 4g ram laptop but man I just put in my bag and there Im carring a very good mini computer great for anything really
Reviewed by mary o rily from ireland on 3rd Jan
i got this at Christmas its got my name on the back its the best thing ever good detail huge screen GET ONE !!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D
Reviewed by Ryan from Wales on 29th Dec 2011
Well I finally gave in to temptation and got an upgrade to an IPad 2 I've always been an Android user so was a tad bit sceptical at first but as soon as I turned this thing on i knew it was something special the OS is so slick and easy to use and the apps - well their on another planet to the ones on Andriod market far better quality I am amazed people have a go at Apple but if this is the quality they turn out then why the fuss? Hopefully the IPhone 5 will live up to expectation as I'm really looking forward to changing to iPhone later in the year - I am converted
Reviewed by someone from somewhere on 26th Nov
I have the iPad 1 but since people say the iPad 2 is better because of webcam+camera, ill give 5 stars. I got it 64 GB for my 12 birthday and I had for 3 months now and it is AWESOME!
Reviewed by John from Scotland on 13th Nov 2011
Face time is brilliant much easier than Skype. You don't have to prearrange a call just call the iPhone or email address and the phone or iPad will ring. Internet is also great switch on and it's there immediately no waiting for it to boot up. It is also a bonus to have a built in iPod and easy to load music from pc. Screen is also a good size for watching movies. The book reader is good if you don't have a kindle. This device will change what people expect from a computer. Not a replacement for a pc but a great addition. Only minus point is no support for flash player.
Reviewed by Jj dacay from Here on 12th Nov 2011
Reviewed by jake from england on 24th Oct 2011
Reviewed by Peter from Uk on 18th Oct 2011
I've had my iPad 2 for nearly a week and all I can say is I should have got one sooner. It does everything I want and more. I've just updated the software to version 5 and it seems to run even better. Battery life is good and the touch screen is really responsive. The only thing missing for me is a USB slot and flash player but I'm getting use to not having them. Putting pictures on using iTunes is fairly straight forward and I've learnt how to put them in different folders rather than having them all in the same folder. All in all I'm really pleased with it and it'll get used on a daily basis.
Reviewed by minibraveheart from uk on 26th Aug
outstanding, is quicker , better & easier to use than any windows based laptop/netbook. my 6 year old girl uses it all time with ease and has limitless apps, also skype on here is buffer free, deserves more than 5* max
Reviewed by martene from usa on 21st Aug 2011
best tab ever
Reviewed by T.Partick from UK on 14th Aug 2011
I have had my piad 2 for a month now and everyday I like it a little bit more. This is by far the best pad on the market. It's super fast, light and big enough to be useful as a second computer yet small enough to carry around. The only real problem I had was using itunes on a windows 7 computer and syncing with the ipad 2. It took me a bit of time to sort this out properly, but now it's fine. An outstanding device and highly recommended.
Reviewed by Yoz aribaz from Uk on 8th Aug 2011
Truly outstanding in all respects!
Reviewed by Phil from Uk on 21st Jul 2011
I received a 16GB iPad 2 (wifi model) as a gift 2 days ago. It is an amazing device and I would highly recommend it to anyone!!!