iPad 2 Details Emerge: More Power, Two Cameras, Same Resolution

By James Mowery

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The highly anticipated iPad 2 is on the horizon, and details are leaking out about the Apple’s revolutionary mobile computing device. The size, processor, and screen are all set to receive numerous improvements. But that is only the beginning.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities has published a report that goes into detail about the future of the iPad 2. In it, the details are fairly revealing of what we could expect in the few months from Apple as far as the iPad 2 is concerned. This information was then covered by Apple Insider, and they seem to believe it is legitimate. We will, for the sake of this article, also assume that this information is true, but keep in mind that all of this information is subject to change.

So what’s on deck for the iPad 2? Let’s dive right into the details.

Separate GSM & CDMA Versions

First on deck is the fact that there will be separate GSM and CDMA versions of the iPad. This means that the iPad will run on AT&T’s network but will also have the potential to run on networks like Verizon and Sprint (and a slight glimmer of hope for T-Mobile on the GSM side, depending on what deals have been arranged).

The iPhone is getting all the attention right now, but it is expected that the Verizon iPhone will be followed up with an announcement of the iPad running on Verizon’s network.

Screen Resolution Won’t Change

If you were hoping for a better screen resolution on the iPad 2, you will be disappointed. The 1024 x 768 resolution of the original iPad is here to stay. Sure, it is depressing for those of you who were hoping for a widescreen 16:9 resolution display, but it appears that Apple is fine with the current display. I guess it isn’t that, even though I harped on it pretty badly in the past; maybe it will come to be in the iPad 3?

No Retina Display

Another thing that will be sorely missed is the retina display that has been rumored to be making an appearance on the iPad 2. It will not. This will also be a disappointment to some people who were hoping for a dramatically improved experience that the iPhone and iPod Touch currently benefit from. (This, too, was something I was looking forward too.)

The reasoning is that “making high resolution and bright IPS/FFS panel is not easy and the production volume and cost couldn’t meet Apple’s requirements,” says Kuo. In other words: they are too darn expensive and can’t be produced quickly enough. iPad 3?

Anti-Reflection Focus

One thing Apple will be improving is the screen readability when confronted with sunlight. It is a bit more challenging to read the iPad than, say, the Amazon Kindle in direct sunlight, and Apple doesn’t want the Kindle to get away with such an advantage. So, Apple is making efforts to produce a screen that combats the sun’s glare, which the company is hoping will shut down Aamazon’s marketing efforts with regard to this issue. This sounds reasonable, and I doubt people could argue against having a better screen readability.

Thinner Display

The iPad 2’s display will receive a haircut. It will be 30-35 percent thinner than the original iPad display. It has been suggested that this will result in a bette form factor for the overall product, but as of right now, it means that the iPad 2 could be a somewhat thinner. How much thinner the iPad 2 will really be is the question.

Faster Processor

Kuo reveals that the iPad 2 will feature a new processor that adds multi-core technology (no quad-core technology here because of power usage) and a slight boost in clock speed:

“iPad 2 will use [ARM] Cortex-A9 dual core processor running at 1.2GHz. Increasing 1~2% single core processor clock results in a 3~5% power increase and dual core could get a better balance between computing power and power consumption. That’s the reason why Apple will use dual core for iPad 2.”

Improved Graphics

Kuo also reported that the iPad 2 will have a better GPU. It will utilize Imagination’s SGX543 dual-core graphics chip, and it will be 200-300 percent more powerful than the iPhone 4’s GPU. Gamers will be the primary beneficiary of this technology, but it could also result other graphics-related improvements as well.

More RAM

Just to make sure that the aforementioned improvements are felt throughout the system — and so that improved GPU will be able to take advantage — the iPad 2 will also be receiving a boost in memory. The 512MB of RAM upgrade will match the iPhone 4 and double from the original iPad. This RAM will also be running at a higher clock speed at 1,066 MHz — which is over 200 MHz better than the iPhone 4 — to exploit memory bandwidth.

SD Card Slot?

Also of interest is the possibility of an SD card slot. This could be a possibility because of the iPad’s usage of creatives, especially with the plethora of audio, video, and photo editing applications that have made an appearance on the device. This would give people even more reason to appreciate the iPad, as desktop/notebook computers tend to be the primary tool for managing and editing these types of media. An SD card slot could make it easier for those people to get their data on and off the device.

However, this is not a confirmed addition for the iPad, so don’t get your hopes up yet.

Front- & Rear-Facing Cameras

Kuo’s report also mentioned that the iPad 2 will have front- and rear-facing cameras. The catch is that the quality of the cameras has been stated to not be as good as the iPhone 4’s cameras; instead, they are on par with the quality of the iPod Touch, which may or may not be a big deal. Either way, cameras of any quality would be an improvement over the camera-less iPad as it stands today.

4.5 to 5 Million Units

Finally, the report has noted that production is ramping up for the iPad 2. Production has already started this month, and Foxconn, the iPad’s sole manufacturer, has estimated that 4.5 – 5 million units will be produced in the first quarter of 2011.

When Can We Buy It?

The report mentions that the iPad 2 will “likely go to market in late 1Q’11 or early 2Q’11 based on supply chain shipment status.” Or, in other words, the iPad 2 will probably sell tons of units and likely be available for order anytime before July, unless there is some serious catastrophe.

The Price?

One thing that wasn’t divulged in this report is price. Will Apple lower the price of the first-generation iPad significantly? Will Apple lower the price for the 16GB iPad 2 slightly or potentially lower the price for the whole lineup? Will things pretty much stay the same as they are? I’m hoping to find out, because I’m planning on saving up for one of these.

In the end: expect the rumors to keep on coming, and we will be sure to bring them to you as they happen.

About James Mowery
James Mowery is a passionate technology journalist, entrepreneur, and Apple enthusiast who has written for various top-tier publications like Mashable, Techi, and CMSWire. Follow him on Twitter: @JMowery.

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