iPad 2 Rumor Roundup
Yesterday it was reported that Apple plans to unveil the iPad 2 on March 2, 2011. If that seems sudden then let’s not forget that it’s been well over thirteen months since the original was announced and almost a full year since it was released. By any standards of modern-day technology this can only mean the device is long overdue for an upgrade.
What makes the iPad 2 notable is that it will be Apple’s answer to the imitators its spawned over the last few months. There are high expectations for Jobs and Co. to innovate beyond what we’ve seen coming from the likes of Motorola and RIM. So can we once again expect a revolution? Maybe. Here is what the mystical device is said to include:
The original iPad was the first Apple device to include their custom-made 1Ghz A4 processor. It was fast, albeit hampered by the device's 256 MB’s of on-board RAM. By comparison, the iPhone 4 (released only a few months later) doubled the RAM resulting in a slightly snappier experience.
Word is the iPad 2 will introduce Apple’s new multi-core A5 processor with 512 megs of RAM. This update is a given frankly, still its nice to see Apple jumping on the multi-core bandwagon. Engadget has heard the new chip is “blazingly fast” and capable of “cranking out 1080p video like running water.”
Likewise, its been said that there will be three version of the iPad this time around – WiFi and UMTS models (which are currently available) and a new unit that supports CDMA radio capabilities.
New Form Factor and Other Surprises
The other big rumor (and there is some significant visual evidence to support this) is a new slimmer form factor. Gone is the curved back of the original iPad in favor of a flatter surface. Likewise, these leaks have also revealed slots for a rear-facing camera, what appears to be a larger speaker grill and possibly an SD card slot. Although the later may be wishful thinking on the part of Mac fans.
Perhaps the biggest question mark is if the iPad 2 will utilize a higher density screen like the iPhone 4. Once again we have evidence of higher resolution textures found in recent builds of iOS, however, the reality of such an upgrade is what makes the feature a little less likely.
To achieve an effect comparable to the resolution bump we saw on the iPhone 4, the iPad’s screen resolution would have to go from 1024x768 to 2048x1536. While this is possible in the realm of affordable consumer electronics there is then an issue of processing power. The current thought is that the A5 chip on the iPad 2 simply could not handle running iOS smoothly on that large a resolution. And given Apple's preference for smooth performance, it makes Retina Display on the iPad all the more doubtful.
Then there’s an article from Apple Insider that reports that Apple has been unsuccessful in producing enough working Retina iPad panels to justify its inclusion in the iPad 2. However, the article quotes an insider who says the panel will be included in the iPad 3.
Therefore, the current speculation is that the iPad 2 will retain the same display resolution as its predecessor.
How about some Facetime?
And finally, the iPad 2 is said to finally include a VGA front facing camera (which by some accounts was supposed to be included in the original) as well as a somewhat disappointing 1MP rear-facing camera.
Likewise, recent builds of iOS have shown elements of camera and video recording applications. Not to mention the very obvious rear-facing camera hole popping up on all iPad 2 case leaks.
And some what unsurprisingly, Facetime is said to appear on the iPad 2 as well. The app will give users the ability to call (over WiFi) any iPhone 4 or Apple Computer users from their tablet. A lack of video-confrencing has been widely considered to be the most disappointing exclusion from the original iPad.
From what we can tell the iPad 2 will be the iPhone 3GS of its product line: a nice solid upgrade to the original. Expect to see a faster processor, more RAM, 2 cameras, a thinner design and maybe an SD card slot. Without a doubt enough to place Apple's star product back into direct competition with the recent Morotola Xoom and upcoming BlackBerry Playbook.
The real question is if it’s worth the upgrade for owners of the original? My feeling is no. While video chatting and a snappier processor seem nice, they’re certainly not deal-breakers. If, however, you've been mulling over an iPad purchase in the past, this may very well become the excuse you've needed.
But let's not forget one stark reality: that Apple is already hard at work on the iPad 3. We've heard that it will include everything from Retina Display to a touch sensitive bezel. From the sound of it, the iPad 2 may just be a nice stop-gap between Apple’s next great attempt at reinventing the wheel.