iPad 2 vs the new iPad: Which should you get?

iPad 2 or the new iPad: Which should you get?

You've decided to get an iPad, but you're not sure if you need to spring for the $499+  new 2012 iPad, or if you'd be okay with the older, $399+ 2011 iPad 2.  First, yes, those names are wicked confusing,  but the names aren't the only confusing thing. There are a lot of factors to consider. Let's go over them one by one, and help you decide.

2012 iPad product line

While Apple has left older iPhone and iPod touch models on the market several times, this is the first year they've left an older iPad model on the line. It may be a year old, but it's still a respectable device and it's $100 cheaper than the cheapest new model.

iPad 2 (2011) 16GB - $399 Wi-Fi, $529 Wi-Fi + 3G

The 2011 iPad 2 with 16GB of storage is the first "budget" iPad designed to ease the barrier of entry for price-concious first-time buyers and for bulk buyers like schools and businesses. It doesn't have the crystal clear, high density Retina display or 4G LTE data, or the new, super-fast Apple A5X processor, and the cameras are terrible, but it runs the same iOS 5 operating system, and has access to the App Store and Safari, and can do most everything the new iPad can do. And it looks almost identical.

If price is more of a concern to you than getting the latest and the greatest, and $100 makes a big difference in your budget, the iPad 2 is still a great choice.

New iPad (2012) - $499 and up Wi-Fi, $629 and up Wi-Fi + 3G + LTE

The new iPad (no number) is the new king of the tablets, and Apple's latest iOS device. It has everything last year's iPad 2 had, and a lot more. Notably, the screen is a double-resolution Retina display at 2048x1536, which is more pixels than a 1080p TV scrunched down into a 9.7-inch size. In other words, you can't see the pixels. Speaking of 1080p, it supports both 1080p video playback, and has a 5mp camera on the back that can shoot 1080p video. (It looks like the iPhone 4 camera with the iPhone 4S photo processing software)

Apple offers the new iPad Wi-Fi at three price points depending on the amount of storage:

  • 16GB - $499
  • 32GB - $599
  • 64GB - $699

If you want it with 3G GSM/CDMA, and 4G LTE in the U.S. and Canada, the prices go up $120:

  • 16GB - $629
  • 32GB - $729
  • 64GB - $829

If you know you want a top of the line iPad, with the latest and greatest features and every bit of cool technology Apple has to offer, then get the new iPad.

Any questions?

If you're still not sure, hit up our iPhone Forums to get the help you need to make up your mind.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPad 2 vs the new iPad: Which should you get?


They should've gonne $299. THAT would have DESTROYED the competition. $100 difference. Meh.

Last I checked, the Kindle was doing pretty damn well. Second, the iPad went from a 90% market share to a less than 65% marketshare in less than a year. A pretty big damn drop.

Keep in mind that the current tablet market started in March of 2010 with the iPad. There really wasn't anything else to compare it to in 2010. Easy to have 90% of a market you create.

54 percent of kindle users are very satisfied with their purchase compared to 75 percent of ipad users, kindle fire may be selling well but they wont get nearly the amount of repeat business. If Ipad went to 299 they would the company they would be most hurting is themselves,the estimates for the cost to manufacture an ipad ranges from $260-$326 per ipad people are willing to pay 400-750 to get an ipad, the whole marketshare thing is not really reflective of ipad losing customers to competitors so much as more people are getting into the market with these 2 dollar android tablets that come out each week. The fact is apple is still dominating and their profits through the roof they dont need to discount their product to near or below cost levels.

Atleast 45 Days from the Time it is starting to ship and deliver in the U.S is what the expersta are saying.

I think i'm going to get an Ipad 2, i'm not over impressed with the new specs. I did want Bluetooth 4.0 but not worth a 100 bucks

The descent of market share isn't as important when the market is flooded with other choices just like the Android phones. What's impressive is that Apple still has most of the market as opposed to the iPhone due to Android's flood.

For me it comes down to do I want LTE or not.
The iPad is either going to be my mobile-hotstop or a phone , I don't care about Retina display it is nice to have but not a deal-breaker for me.

How Can the Retina Display not be a deal breaker??!! It is the main reason why the New iPad will storm the market.

don't underestimate the importance of that pretty screen when it comes to improving functionality. If you read a lot or create content it makes a world of difference.

Don't overestimate this pretty screen you've created, Admiral. The power of this screen is nothing compared to the power of the Force.

I own a refurbished iPad 1 (from Apple) and have been impressed with the quality. I see that the Apple store is selling refurbished iPad 2 16 GB for $349. If that price was $299 I would jump all over it. Still considering at $349.

Wonder if future devices will be out quickly? Seems like the trend now is nine days after the announcement. This was quick, and not just the US this time. Retina display, and the better camera did it for me. Glad I held out. Ordered one earlier in the app store with no problems.

Small correction Rene. $529 - $499 = $130, not $120. Otherwise great article. It's nice to have simple articles like this to point friends and family at when they have questions. Keep up the good work good sir (and everyone else there at iMore too)

My iPad 2's screen seems clear enough to me - people don't hold them as close to their eyes as their iPhones. Also, I never use the cameras unless I'm on Skype, whose video quality is already terrible so it doesn't matter. I'll wait for the fourth-generation iPad to even consider upgrading.

Can someone please tell why apple STILL thinks each 16gb of memory costs $100. That alone just infuriates me! Maybe a couple years ago but in this day and age its fkn ridiculous!!!!!

The Retina display is nicer, a better processor is nicer, and the better camera, is nicer, and LTE is great.
But the iPad 2 display was quite nice already, and few apps are yet configured for retina yet anyway.
The processor in the iPad 2 has made it a far more desirable tablet than anything else in the category to date. Is this new processor actually going to make the New iPad that noticeably better?
Most people don't use the camera on the iPad that much any way, so how much does this really mean?
LTE is awesome...for the small percentage of people buy connected devices. The large majority of iPads sold are Wi-Fi only units, and not all areas have LTE any way.
All said and done, I'm a bit disappointed as I expected more from the "big upgrade"...that wasn't. Software...same. Siri...nope.
It seems to me the biggest changes were really the Apple apps that received updates and were highlighted as part of the big update to the iPad. And even that is a bit of a head scratcher because these apps need to be purchased and downloaded from the App Store, as they aren't native to the iPad upon purchase.
I love my iPhone. I love the iPad and Macbook Air and Pro. I just feel this update fell short.

The expectation of being "wowed" by an upgrade seems to be a reoccurring theme in many posts. From a technological point of view most of the upgrade aspects for the Apple devices are a wow. A lot of us grew up in the pre-cell phone erra, the technology developments we see today are amazing. From the prospective of design and manufacturing these achievements seem to get lost or toned down as the general public assimilates higher end technology into their every day lives. In other words the more we consume the more it takes to wow us, a sort of numbing of the senses.

Is the A5X processor better than the A5 only with the graphics processor or is there something else? Will movies be any different if they are not 1080p? I image a 720p movie won't look as nice after compression on such a nice screen. Right now, Best Buy is selling iPads for $100 less for all models. If one isn't getting an iPad for the better camera or for LTE, which would be the better buy? Is retina display and the A5X processor worth an extra $100?

They need as much of a lead as they can cause when Microsoft comes out with Windows 8 and there tablets it will start taking a share of the tablet world and become 2nd if not 1st ahead of Apple.