Now that the dust has settled (and all the inventory for pre-selling has been claimed), if you weren’t one of the lucky ones, should you wait in a really long line to get a new iPad? Well, first, here’s some of the reasons why the new iPad is better than the iPad 2.
Improved Visual Display: Significant improvements here. Apple refers to this as a “Retina Display”. This means the human eye can’t discern the individual pixels being displayed on the screen. In plain English, it means better looking movies, books and games.
Better Camera: Apple only updated one of the cameras, the rear facing one. The front-facing one (most commonly used for Face Time or video calls) does not improve. You’ll be able to take better quality pictures with the rear facing camera. I don’t view this as a huge improvement. I don’t generally walk around with my iPad taking pictures, I find it kind of awkward for that. I do use FaceTime, and would welcome better resolution on the front-facing camera in the future.
Faster Processor: Again a change that really should just impact gamers or design people. I’ve never run into an issues where the processor wasn’t fast enough to read a book or surf the web. I did have a game or two that were a bit slow.
Faster Data: The new devices will support Verizon and AT&Ts 4G networks. I have a 4G hotspot right now that works okay, but not great. I wouldn’t expect the 4G service to be any different. To me, this is a “nice to have”, but probably won’t bear fruit as a real improvement for most users for another 6 months or so as the 4G networks become wore widely disseminated.
Battery Life: Battery life is advertised as the same as previous models (untested so far). The new iPad is a bit thicker, and is listed as having a more powerful battery. If you’re not using 4G, I would suspect you might get better battery life out of this unit than the iPad 2.
Personal Hotspot: I definitely like this change. Essentially it means you should be able to use your device to provide wireless access for 5 other devices. Not sure how this will affect battery life or data speeds. The current 4G hotspots Verizon provides do see some slowdown with multiple users but are still very usable.
Better AppleCare: This has been something Apple has been moving towards gradually for a while now. Essentially, if you buy AppleCare, they’ll cover some accidental damage with a $49 deductible. This is great recognition on Apple’s part that….stuff happens.
IMO, the single best thing about the new iPad is that the iPad 2 is now available at a reduced price. The new iPad is priced at $499 for an entry-level model. The iPad2 gets a $100 price drop on all models. This makes it accessible to many more people, which should mean increased interest in developing apps for the iPad.
Overall, I think the changes are remarkable considering no perceivable weight increase and no price increase. However, I think that only true power users of the iPad 2 need to upgrade to this. Someone who has the original iPad will see a large improvement here. I have an iPad 2 right now, and don’t intend to upgrade anytime soon. I might consider a reduced price iPad 2 for my daughter, but that remains to be seen.