Hands on with the iPad 2

3 Mar 2011

Siliconrepublic.com gets to try out the next iPad, the iPad 2 – just how good is the tablet computer?

LONDON – The first thing I noticed when I picked up the iPad 2 was just how much lighter feels than the iPad. The difference in weight between the first iPad and the second iPad is only about 90 grams, but I could definitely feel the difference. The new iPad 2 is a lot easier to hold with one hand, which was a strong selling point for a lot of 7-inch tablets.

At 8.8mm, it’s slim, too – slimmer than an iPhone 4, according to Apple, though I didn’t have one on hand to compare. Of course, this means that people upgrading from the first iPad to the new one will have to get a new cover. Apple showed off its “smart covers” at the press conference, which stick onto the device magnetically.

The iPad 2 comes in both black and white, and I got to use the white version, which looked quite sleek. It has a front-facing VGA camera and another at the back, though we weren’t told how many megapixels it has.


The speed on the device feels a lot faster than that on the iPad, making surfing the web and navigating through the tablet a breeze. According to Apple, the device is nine times faster with graphics than the first one. Certainly, it was able to handle a lot more than before. It could run nine webcam filter videos on Photobooth quite easily, as well as running media-heavy apps, such as iMovie, without difficulty.

More time would be needed with the device in order to determine just how much better it was than before, but there did seem to be a notable improvement.


I was very impressed with the iMovies app. The touchscreen interface was pretty intuitive, which allowed me to drag parts of the video to other sections of the timeline. There was a lot you could do with the app, including implementing transitions and other filters. I only got to use it quickly, but based on my first impressions, it seemed like a powerful app to allow users to make quick video edits on the go.

Garage Band was also quite impressive. It almost seems like it was made for the iPad, as playing instruments with your hands on such a large screen feels quite natural. Its touch-sensitive instrument controls heightened how intuitive the UI was and the smart instruments provided a nice introduction for those untrained in music to the instruments it had on offer.

Overall impression

Based on my quick hands-on test of the iPad 2, there’s no doubt there have been improvements on the previous device. However, whether it’s enough for it to keep ahead of the competition remains to be seen. Many analysts have said the iPad 2 seems more like an iPad 1.5 and there seem to be persistent rumours that the iPad 3 could arrive sooner than we think.

At this stage, I’m not 100pc convinced users should immediately throw their old iPad away and upgrade to the second. While it has many impressive “thinner, faster, better” qualities, it doesn’t seem to be a giant leap from what has gone before. That said, from my brief encounter with the iPad 2, it seems like an incredible device for those uninitiated to the iPad world.