Apple iPad 2: 12 things you need to know

1. iPad 2 is lighter and thinner

called it an all-new design. And it is. The main physical thing is that the new iPad is thinner – 33 per cent thinner, clocking it at 8.8mm. Incredibly, that’s thinner than the iPhone 4 which clocks in at 9.3mm. It’s also 15 per cent lighter, which is welcome. You wouldn’t want it to be completely lightweight, but a bit less weight is good. It’s also available in white as well as the original black.

2. The iPad 2 has FaceTime

The new iPad has the expected front-facing VGA camera (as well as one on the back). What’s the point of the one on the back? Like the iPhone 4′s rear snapper, it takes 720p video (though has no flash unlike other tablets). And that’s enough for us.

3. The iPad 2 battery life stays the same

The iPad 2′s battery life is apparently not limited by the new design – it has the same 10 hour battery life as before, with a month of standby time (tsk, real-world figures please). Still, that’s quite impressive when you think about the reduced size of the unit.

4. As does the iPad 2 display

The new iPad has a 9.7-inch display which, yep, is exactly the same. So the large-scale retina display wasn’t ready as we suspected. iPad 3 should sort that one out.

5. iPad 2 goes dual-core

A few months ago, a dual-core processor would have made headlines. Now they’re 10-a-penny and in many an Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet. The new processor is called the Apple A5 and is based on ARM’s Cortex-A9 design. And it’s probably clocked at 1GHz again.

6. iPad 2 graphics will be awesome

All Steve Jobs said was that the graphics capability would be 9x that of the current iPad. WOW! All he said? That promises serious gaming awesomeness (and it helps that the device now also has the gyroscope from the iPhone 4 and latest-gen iPod touch). The graphics will still be some version of Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR SGX graphics technology.

7. iPad 2 has iOS 4.3

The latest version of iOS ships with the iPad and will be available for iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch on 11 March. There’s faster Safari browsing performance; iTunes Home Sharing and thankfully an enhancement to AirPlay. Let’s hope it works now. (By the way, iPhone 4s can act as Wi-Fi hotspots too).

8. The stupid button problem has been fixed

When the first iPad came out, the switch on the side locked the orientation. Super cool, everybody thought. Except Apple did a typical Apple thing and changed it to become a mute button. When there was already a volume control on the other side of the device. iOS 4.3 gives you the choice about what to do. That’s what happens when you listen to your customers. Thanks, Apple.

9. The iPad 2 has HDMI out

It will set you back around ?30 for the cable, but you can connect your iPad up to the TV and charge it while doing so. What’s more you can have HDMI Video Mirroring that lets you mirror your iPad screen on an HDTV. Cool for presentations and the like – or just playing movie content.

10. The iPad 2 features HSUPA

The iPad 2 also features HSUPA support. That means faster uploads over 3G. Like mobile broadband. It’s only available on the iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, naturally. Expect this to come to the iPhone in the next update too.

11. The iPad 2 UK release date is 25 March

Apple has announced that the Apple iPad 2 UK release date is 25 March. T-Mobile and Orange told TechRadar they are stocking iPad 2 “when it becomes available later this month”. O2 told us it wouldn’t be selling the new tablet but would be offering data plans for it, while Vodafone offered a stern “no comment”. Thanks for the clarity there. As iPad 2 costs the same in the US as the original iPad, expect the models to start at ?439 here.

12. iPad 2 sees Apple come out fighting

As well as some serious gnashing of teeth at competitors during Steve Jobs’ keynote, even the press release gets nasty. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.” Unfortunately though, it’s just not true. In terms of specs – if not looks – the latest Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablets are a match for the new iPad.

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