New iPad vs. iPad 2 – Should I upgrade?

The new iPad has been unveiled featuring a new-and-improved ‘retina display’ and high-performance camera, but do these added features result in a sufficiently compelling reason to ditch your iPad 2 and upgrade?

The iPad 2 is only a year old, and considered by many to be the best-performing tablet available, but as the iPad’s main competitors begin to catch up, it’s important that Apple doesn’t take its foot of the gas.

Update – read our full iPad review or check out the compeition with our guide to the best iPad alternatives.

Apple iPad 2 and New iPad comparison

New iPad and iPad 2 compared

It’s difficult to compare products on features alone, so it’s important to think about what these mean.

Is the new iPad, not known as the iPad 3, worth buying?

The faster processor and improved camera will improve everyday use, but  these features alone aren’t as compelling a reason to upgrade as when the iPad 2 replaced the original iPad – unless perhaps you’re a big gaming fan. At the time of the iPad 2’s launch the difference between the two iPads was more obvious – the iPad 2 was much more comfortable to hold thanks to the few grams that Apple had managed to shed and the slimmer body.

By comparison the new iPad is slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2 due to the new screen technology. The new iPad isn’t quite as heavy as the original iPad (680g), but it’s definitely a retrograde step.

Everything rests with the retina display – if it’s as impressive in the flesh as Apple says, it might make the added bulk worth the sacrifice.

Apple iOS 5.1 updates

Many of the announcements made at Apple’s unveiling of the new iPad described updates to the applications, such as iWorks, Garage Band and iLife; however many of these are iOS updates so can be downloaded to the iPad 2 and the original iPad.

And if the high-speed web-connectivity promise of 4G is what’s drawn you to the new iPad, then perhaps you should think again, as a 4G service isn’t expected to arrive in the UK until next year.

So if you’re looking to buy a new tablet, and you have your heart set on an Apple, then it may be worth considering the iPad 2, which Apple will continue to sell alongside the new iPad at a reduced cost. Then again, many will simply want the latest model irrespective of cost.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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Categories: Tablets

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46 replies

  1. With my limited understanding of the technology I suspect a ipad3 would not give me extra features that I would use – Gaming, Bands. What I am wondering is whether to go with Wifi or wifi + 3g. I already have a iphone 4s but might want to ddoanload say a newspaper with no wifi available

    1. Personally, I use a wi-fi only iPad, and when I want to use it on the web when out and about, I connect it to my iPhone 4’s personal hotspot. This tends to be only on the train journey to and from work, or at my parents’ home where the thick walls means the wi-fi signal can be patchy in some rooms.

      For me, this is a solution that works well, but I can see why a 3G iPad would suit a more demanding user.

    2. As Ben points out, you can always use your iPhone 4S’s ‘Personal Hotspot’ feature to tether your iPad to your iPhone’s 3G connection. I would do this myself, but I much like the idea of having to waste extra battery power on my iPhone (the 4S already has an issue with battery consumption).

      For something so minor, it seems like a rather important decsion to make, particularly because you’ll be stuck with the outcome. My feeling was that, despite the extra cost, I might regret it if I didn’t get the 3G (or 4G as it may eventually be).

      If you don’t think you’ll use 3G too often (but would nonetheless prefer the option), I’d recommend buying a preloaded 3G microsim. Three sell 3GB preloaded sims (for use within 90 days) for £20, but they can currently be found for £13 on Amazon. Many mobile networks will charge too much for data you likely won’t use (and conveniently won’t roll over to the next month) and try and entice you in to some unpleasant contract. O2 have a plan by which you can buy a day’s 3G usage (upto 200mb) for £2.04, whenever you need it. I’d opt for either that or a pre-loaded sim.

      Also be careful to opt for a decent network (see Ofcom consumer site for network speeds). For speed, avoid Orange and T-Mobile. O2 has the fastest average 3G speed (with Three in joint second place with Vodafone), although O2 has the worst geographical coverage of the UK, whilst Three has the best.

      Other questions:

      16GB, 32GB or 64GB? Depends on your personal usage. I personally find 16GB too little, but I’m never going to use 64GB… so it’s 32GB for me (to match my iPhone!)

      Smart Cover or no Smart Cover? Leather or Polyurethane? Many buy the leather as the polyurethane isn’t available in black. Don’t be fooled here. Buy a Griffin Intellicase – it’s black, it’s cheaper, and it provides all the functionality of a smart-cover, whilst also protecting the back of the iPad. For the paranoid with slippery fingers, I’d recommend the Griffin Survivor.

      Black or White? I’m afraid only you can answer that question. I opted black, to match my iPhone.

      Good luck in your decisions!

    3. hello iv,e also got a iPhone 4s,and daily get my english paper downloaded in France using the 3 g network shoudn,t be any problem i,n England

  2. Is it worth an upgrade from an iPad 1 – yes, if you value a camera and improved processor, though buying an iPad 2 maybe better value. Is the iPad 3 worth an upgrade from an iPad 2 – I would doubt it for most users, especially as the camera improvement is in the camera on the back not the front, so will make no difference to Skype / Facetime calls. The improvement in screen resolution is not enough of a reason for the vast majority of users… and finally 4G is not available in the UK so that is no benefit. Conclusion; consider buying an iPad 2 now the price is dropping. Its great technology and will give great service until the iPad 4 comes out next year.

  3. According to apple’s site the weight of the new ipad is 652g for wi-fi only, not 635g as in the article.

    I think the ipad has made ipad2 a fantastic bargain and makes the original ipad1 a must buy for the kids if you can get one 2nd hand ~ £150?

  4. I have the iPad 2 and love it—but I was disappointed at first they did not give it the retina display that the iPhone 4 had. The screen definition alone would make the new iPad more than worth the extra hundred bucks. The camera on the iPad 2 sucks also, so having a much better camera and 1080p video on an HD screen would seem to make the new iPad a no brainer! Think about it! We will be able to stream full HD video!!! We can’t do that now on iPad 2.

  5. I know some of you have suggested using your iphone as a personal hotspot, as a method of getting web availability outside of known wi-fi spots – does that work for other smart phone’s too?

    I’ve got a Nokia 8-00 – does the Ipad allow me to link this up to get connectivity?

    1. Hi Jonty,

      It’s less about the iPad’s capabilities and more about the capabilities of your smartphone. iPads can connect to any standard WiFi network and many smartphones can now host an ad-hoc network to share their 3G connections. iPhones and Android (2.2+) both have the ability to do this. For Nokia, you may want to check out:

      Bare in mind that your mobile network may not allow tethering. Many networks do, but require you to pay extra for the privilege. Where tethering is not allowed, you could find your 3G service throttled or suspended. I would still recommend paying a little extra for an iPad with 3G capabilities. It can work on its own and (especially with prepaid data) it doesn’t have to be expensive.

  6. Although the Apple I-Pad2 will continue to be available, on Apple UK’s own website, they are only now marketing the very limited 16GB version, with the higher capacity editions apparently wthdrawn in favour of IPad3

  7. I’ve pre-ordered the new iPad despite having an iPad 2.

    My reason was largely the expectation it’ll have 1GB of RAM.

    This would be double the iPad 2’s RAM. My iPad 2 is forever running out of memory and apps crashing as a result. Even just web browsing and having 5 or 6 tabs open in Safari can be enough to run out of memory if the pages are graphic heavy.

    I hope double the memory on the new iPad will solve this.

    1. A perfectly sensible question. The answer is a little more complex. It’s an issue that spreads further than the iPad, across iOS (the operating system used on iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads).

      In 2010, Steve Jobs wrote an open letter called “Thoughts on Flash”, in which he explained the reasons for Apple’s decision not to adopt Flash Player.

      Apple essentially prefer HTML5, which they consider to be ‘the new flash’. This decision was more controversial back in 2010, but it now looks as though it was the right move. Adobe had already discontinued development of mobile flash player and last month (February 2012) announced they are discontinuing flash player development for Linux (which is very significant). There is a general move, across the internet, towards HTML5.

      Most browsers now support the language (which doesn’t require a third party plugin) and it’s being taken advantage of by Apple, YouTube, Facebook, Microsoft… the list goes on. Google have even developed a tool called ‘Swiffy’ (which can convert flash into HTML5) to encourage developers to abandon flash and begin to use HTML5. It’s still new, but it’s here to stay. Internet giants are encouraging a move towards HTML5… and they can’t do that by prioritising Flash Player. Apple is just riding the train… it’s not going that fast yet, but at least it’s moving.

  8. This article, title: “New iPad vs. iPad 2 – Should I upgrade?”, is premature to say the least. The author should have waited until he/she had hands on experience. Rediculous article!
    Tip for your the article you will I am sure write post March 16th; try and get across the experience of using this device and don’t just relie on crutch of comparing numbers. Apple products are about the experience and not about a bunch of numbers (Apple put enought numbers in a device to ensure good experience). Numbers may be important for commodity PC to ensure good experience. Battery life is the only number you want to hear about apple products, everything else you chose; storage etc.

  9. This doesn’t impress me much – was hoping for a lot more. Not sure why Apple bothered.
    Really : a new back side camera; a better display?

    Sorry not tempted.

  10. I’d quite happily go for an iPad 2 but now the New iPad is out, there is only a 16GB version of iPad 2 available! If I want 32GB I have no choice any more, have I? Apple did the same with the iPhone 4S launch: all of a sudden only a 16GB iPhone 4 was available. Just not enough storage for lots of music, apps, photos and videos.

  11. my dilemma when ordering the new iPad was Black or White! spent 3 hours deliberating and ended up ordering Black Wifi+3g 64GB with engraving… i sold my iPad 1 on ebay last week for £265 but after ebay tax received £225.
    looking forward to next Friday just need to find a really protective case, do any of you good people have a recommendation?

  12. Is there any advice on the best screen protector film for ipads?
    I have a “Speck tough skin” case bought from an Apple shop for my 4s similar to the Griffin which gives good protection. So will probably buy a Griffin Survivor
    I also bought a POGO pen which seems a bit hit and miss to write with.

    1. Hi David,

      When it comes to screen protector film, I can’t say it’s necessary for iPads. The film prevents scratches, etc. to the screen. But unlike an iPhone in your pocket with your keys, an iPad is unlikely to get scratched. When it’s not in use, it’s almost always covered (usually with a smart cover). If you have a Griffin Survivor, I can’t see the need for a screen protector. The Survivor already comes with one, and it’s far stronger than a layer of sticky plastic.

      Should you want to remove your device from its case, then a screen protector may be in order, but probably only for anti-glare. Anti-Glare screen protector film (of all brands) produces a slight pixellation on the device display. With the new retina display, this may be less tolerable. Other ‘clear’ protectors may have prevented fingerprint smudging on previous iPads, but the new iPad has the ‘oleophobic’ coating (found in the iPhone 4/4S), designed to ‘resist fingerprints’ and you may find a screen protector leads to more smudges.

      A good iPad case and a nice stylus should suffice. I’d recommend either the ‘MediaDevil Magic Wand’ or the ‘Griffin Stylus’.

  13. I’m quite happy with my ipad 2! It does all I want it to do (and more). I won’t be shelling out £500 for ipad 3 when I’ve only had the ipad 2 for a few months.

  14. Well it’s a easy decision for me as I’m not upgrading from any tablet. Just ordered my iPad 64 Gb wifi, if I need 3/4g I’ll be getting a myfi unit from my provider. All ready had confirmation of delivery on or before the 16th march for the iPad.

  15. “Which” is rapidly loosing credibility by publishing articles such as this. It is inconclusive, lacking authority, and most importantly, actual user experience. You can not possibly attempt to give a review or an informed opinion on a product if you have not actually seen it, held it, used it…. Disappointing that Which has now resorted to basing its reports on hearsay.

    1. Hi Kev,

      What aspect(s) of this report are based on hearsay? Apple confirms the published specifications, so I don’t see how authority could be lacking. Did you mistake this article to be a review of the new iPad? Did anyone?

      Before a product is released, one can only speculate. This is merely speculation, not a review. Many people do buy new products based on the specification alone. Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have purchased the new iPad without having seen it or held it.

      Tips: (1) ‘losing’ not ‘loosing’, but thanks for playing. (2) Hearsay = “Information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated; rumor.” This is categorically not ‘hearsay’.

  16. Hi Kenny. I appreciated your summary of the new iPad. It pretty much tells us all we need to know at this stage, and I guess that shortly ‘which’ will have a full review and will fill in the blanks, although I don’t see many of those. KUTGW

  17. Some interesting debate on Apple blogs as to whether the 4x pixel count the new iPad has over iPad2 is going to make memory requirements much bigger, ie. whether the 16 Gb new iPad will be too small. Jury still seems to be out, maybe Which could look at this when they start testing?

  18. iPad2 is lighter and has a border so it fits in a case which protects its back and front without losing screen space.
    3G is perfectly adequate for most purposes and it is still a fantastic device and I will not lose my love to the ‘new’.!!

  19. One aspect of the new iPad is Apple’s delivery… I ordered a 32gb by mistake, but wasn’t allowed to cancel or change the order. (“Return it for a credit”). So, 48 hours later, I ordered a 64gb as well. The 32gb arrived today; the 64gb is due in 3 weeks, on 10th April!

  20. I brought an ipad2 less than a month ago, and now the ipad3 has just been launched. I do like the ipad although it is more restrictive than I imagined. I’m only going to use it for stock quotes on the move, reading emails, and reading business information. It was pretty much an impulse buy – I could live without one.

    I don’t see the point in the better screen on such a small device. I really can’t tell the difference between a 1mb and 10mb photograph unless it’s enlarged significantly, so a better screen on a small device seems more like a must have marketing ploy more than anything.

    A few people i know tell me how annoyed i should be as I could have saved perhaps £100 if I brought this iPad a month later, but I don’t really see it that way. I’ve had a months pleasure from using my first apple product which is worth that. The satnav app is really good.

  21. For what it’s worth I have one of these and have naught but praise for the device itself. I will be using the thing to read manuals, documentation et. al. while away from home and the display is simply stunning; I anticipate no eyestrain at all. It really is a delight to look at and to use.

    For those using a PC as their main machine (with which the device will be “sync”-ing), a word of caution, though. Apple appear not to put development of the Windows version of iTunes at the top of their to-do list; I found iTunes to be sluggish, bossy (you *will* do it our way) and buggy.

    Your experience may, of course, differ from mine. But I cannot help but feel that this really quite lovely piece of hardware is let down, for Windows users at least, by a really rather shabby piece of software.

    1. They generally will. The two devices are the same height and width (although slightly different in depth) and almost all iPad 2 cases fit the new iPad. Many manufacturers do not appear to have changed design specifications, merely product packaging to reflect compatibility with the new model.

      It should be noted that some older ‘smart covers’ (including those designed by Apple as well as third party manufacturers) will not work on the new iPad. Apple has made the new iPad sensitive to the polarity of the smart cover magnets in order to fix a problem whereby folded smart covers occasionally put the iPad to sleep when touching the reverse of the device. In preparation for the new iPad, some manufacturers (obviously including Apple) updated their smart covers to be polarity specific. Consequently some smart covers will work and some won’t, depending on their production date. Apple, alongside some third party manufacturers (such as Griffin) are now replacing older incompatible smart covers for free.

  22. I am a newcomer to Mac technology and thought it time to go for the latest iPad. On day 1 I was seriouly thinking of selling it on eBay but I am now getting the hang of some apps. Unable to get my emails to load. It worked once but will not log on to the Yahoo server since. Very frustrating but still have the old lap top as back up. Also concerned that it does not sync with Windows XP and Outlook which many of us must still use. Not sure how I am going to cope with this. My wife has fairly weak hands and finds the iPad too heavy to use for reading books. Even I have cramped up whilst holding it upright. If I had a second chance I would opt for the iPad 2 with all of its feebies and support at PC World.

  23. kenny kstarkiss says useful things about “Flash” on 9/3/2012. this should be copied to a wider audience. Your review of the Soney tablet implies that unless Apple incorporates Flash very soon many people, including me, will be migrating to soney after the nexr Apple near miss!

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