What’s The Point of Apple’s iPad 2?

iPad ModelsApple’s iPad 2 is still sticking around in Apple’s product lineup despite the launch of a fourth generation device along with the iPad mini.

This puts the iPad 2 in an awkward position, with specifications that are less impressive than mini’s in every possible way but screen dimension. Yet it’ll sell for a higher price — $399 compared to the mini’s $329.

The mini has the same processor, battery life and resolution as the iPad 2, but way better front and back cameras, higher pixel density, lightning connector (why’s the iPad 2 still using 30-pin connector anyway?), Siri and optional LTE.

Most important, the mini is only half as heavy as its regular-sized counterparts, despite having only marginally smaller screen dimensions. For this reason alone, I may abandon my iPad 3 for mini.

Though it’s an excellent tablet and it fits into my workflow very nicely, when I use the iPad 3, I usually rest it against a table, pillow or even my lap. It’s simply too heavy to hold for an extended period, especially in one hand. Since I don’t game much on the iPad, performance is not a huge issue to me. The only thing I have to consider is whether to compromise a larger Retina display for a lighter iPad.

But for first-time customers who are unsure of whether to buy a mini or an iPad 2, the choice is rather obvious. You can either pay more for a heavier device with a bigger but less crisp display, or spend less for a lighter and thinner device. The compromise is pretty reasonable. That’s why I think the iPad mini seriously diminishes the iPad 2’s attractiveness, so I expect demand for the latter will be seriously affected.

Whenever a new device is announced, Apple’s tradition is to move previous generations down to the mid- or low-end and sell them at a discount. So it’s curious that Apple decided to keep the iPad 2 now that the iPad 4’s on the scene, especially since the iPad 3 remains available.  May be it’s because the production costs of the iPad 3 aren’t as low as the iPad 2’s. But when the next iPad comes along, it’s likely that second-generation tablet will be phased out, and the regular iPad’s high and mid-end models will be equipped with Retina displays. That will make the display a key factor when people make their iPad purchase decision. At least until the iPad mini sports the Retina display, if it ever does.

Which would you buy — the iPad mini or its larger sibling? Tell us in the comments below.

8 Responses to “What’s The Point of Apple’s iPad 2?”

  1. I don’t own a business that needs an iPad so I have no reason to get one. If I want the features (e.g. camera, internet lookup), I’ll get an iPhone or iPod. If I want a bigger screen (with WAY more power and flexibility) I’ll get a small laptop.
    As soon as they have the iPad DS (dual screen, foldable in the middle) then I’ll seriously consider it for personal use.

    • specifically, the iPad is too big to be truly portable like a phone; you have to carry it like a laptop to use it so you might as well have a laptop with more power. The main advantage is the quick-on feature that most laptops don’t offer.
      By offering a foldable version, it actually becomes portable with the compactness of a phone (or close, anyway)

    • I use a smartphone, tablet, and laptop (which acts as a desktop with an external monitor) daily, and they all serve different purposes. For work, I uses my laptop for heavy web browsing, researching, and writing. I usually have many tabs opened, and it’s easier to navigate around them using a mouse or keyboard shortcut than tapping on a smartphone or tablet.

      I mainly use my iPad for PDF reading (a whole lot of it), Flipboard for news reading, leisure web browsing, emailing and social networking. I can do all these around the house or out, without having to worry about cables, booting up my laptop etc. In short, it’s ready whenever I need it, wherever I need it.

      Of course, things that I do on the iPad can be done on my laptop as well, but it’s a lot less convenient and the experience is not as great. I admit that the iPad is not as portable as it is useful, that’s why I’m happy that the iPad mini is now out (though I’m unsure whether I want to swap, yet).

      I highly doubt Apple will ever release a foldable tablet, but Sony released one earlier this year: http://www.wired.com/reviews/2012/03/sony-tablet-p/

      • I initially bought it because I need to read a lot of PDFs, and the BlackBerry PlayBook that I had earlier just doesn’t cut it because the aspect ratio and screen size is not suitable. And I can bring it to places where I won’t carry my laptop (my laptop stayed where it is since I bought the iPad), so I can do my reading at places previously not possible.

        I use it for entertainment and other things too. I use Alien Blue for Reddit browsing (the ultimate time waster), podcast, watching lectures on iTunes U, note taking, music player (if I’m not moving around, otherwise I’d look like an idiot), etc.

        I don’t know. It may seem that I’m not doing a lot of cool stuff on the iPad, but just by doing things I’ve listed above, I sometimes spend over half my day on the iPad, majority of the time reading. I especially like Flipboard for delivering magazine-like content to me everyday, keeping me up to date with topics I chose, and inspire me to write some of the articles published on Dice.

        I’m spending a lot less time on my laptop though, and as a result, I don’t have to urge to upgrade my laptop despite it being close to 3 years old. I only use it when I need more processing power and capability than the iPad can offer.

  2. who said the ipad2 is even around anymore? you can’t even buy one from apple’s site, what the point of your article.

    btw, the mini is not that impressive with 2 yr. old internals. i like apple, but damn people don’t be some damn complacent.

    • It’s still available at $399 on Apple’s US online store, available to ship within 1-2 business days. The guts of the mini is definitely not as impressive as it could be, but if people are willing to buy the iPad 2, which has slightly worse innards than the mini, at $399, the mini wouldn’t have problem selling at $329.

      Definitely not as cheap as I hope, but as of now, Apple still have its competitive advantage in terms of tablet app ecosystem and brand loyalty, so it can afford not to race to the bottom with Google and Amazon. That’s good in a sense that there will still be room for non-Apple tablets to compete in the mini category. Competition is necessary to drive innovation.