iPad New vs. iPad 2!

The Gold Medal for product launches belongs to Apple for its mobile devices. When a new iPad or iPhone is introduced, press coverage is abundant and emotions build from enthusiasm to fervor to fevered pitch. Pre-orders sell out; lines form at stores, sometimes weeks ahead; and the product name becomes a trending topic. People tweet, post on Facebook and brag to their friends when they finally have a new iDevice in their hands.

This year is the third time Apple has introduced a new iPad. Two years ago, Apple created the iPad and educated us not only on what an iPad was, but why we wanted one. Tablet computers had been sold before by other companies, but never with much success. Naysayers abounded explaining why the iPad would be a flop.

This year’s iPad, the confusingly named New iPad (I so wish Apple had given this new model a new name!), is the first iPad to launch with significant competition from other devices. Android tablets, most notably the Kindle Fire, have made inroads into the iPad’s dominant market share. Already outselling computers from every single PC manufacturer, the iPad is an amazingly successful product.

With 172 million iPads sold last year alone, how does Apple sell even more? They could do nothing and continue to sell an outstanding product, they could lower the price on their existing model, or they could introduce a new model. Apple chose the latter two options.

Unlike cell phones, there is no natural product cycle for the iPad. Cell phones have two year contracts, providing an opportunity to upgrade the device at a significant discount when a contract is up for renewal. Unlike computers, iPad models have not become obsolete, the original iPad works with almost all apps in the iTunes App Store (unless they require a camera).

Whether you’re thinking about an upgrade, adding to your iPad stable, or getting your first iPad, you should consider your goals before deciding which iPad to purchase.

  • Purpose – will you be using your iPad for fun, creating content (artwork, music, videos, documents, etc.), work and/or study?
  • Resources – will buying a new iPad put a significant dent in your budget or will your bank account barely blink when you make this purchase?
  • Passion – do you love having the latest and greatest tech or do you view an iPad as merely a useful device?
  • Functionality – what features do you need to ensure your iPad can do what you need it to do?

The New iPad, launched on Friday, offers three main advantages over the previous model, the iPad 2:

  • Better screen – Retina display, more pixels;
  • Faster speeds – more memory, better processor, and 4G/LTE connectivity,
  • Better camera – HD video recording, improved lens and more megapixels

Compare iPad models

These improvements are significant technologically, yet Apple kept the prices the same as with the previous iPad 2 prices. Apple is continuing to sell the iPad 2, but at a reduced price, giving you plenty of options for an iPad purchase.

iPad New v. iPad 2

Which iPad Should You Buy?

Because the iPad 2 is still available new at reduced prices, if you’re buying an iPad you should seriously consider why you should spend the extra money to get the New iPad instead of a new iPad 2. The improved features should matter enough for you to lay out the extra cash to get the latest model. The main considerations in deciding which iPad to buy should be what features you want and how much money you are willing to spend.


I received my new iPad on Friday, having owned the original iPad and the iPad 2. I laid out the iPad 2 and the New iPad side by side and asked various people to try to guess which model was the 2 and which was the New based upon the display. I wasn’t being unfair, there is no way to determine which one is the new model without looking at the screen. Since a key improvement in the new iPad is the superior screen display, I asked my testers which model was which based upon looking at the displays.

I had them look at my home screens on the iPad 2 and the New iPad, which both had the same wallpaper and app icons.

People struggled.

They looked back and forth between the two. No one could tell the difference. One frustrated tester even remarked, “What, you wanted the new one just because Apple slapped a new number on it?” I had to tell him, “No, there isn’t even a  new number on the latest iPad.” He looked at me quizzically.

I then opened a photo on both the iPad 2 and the New iPad. People still struggled, though some noticed improved clarity in some parts of the photo on the New iPad.

In case you’re thinking that my testers need to head straight to the eye doctor, know that they were not the only ones who couldn’t tell the difference in displays between the iPad 2 and the New iPad. Check out this video to see what happened when The Next Web asked people on the street to tell the difference between the two iPads:

The reason my testers and the ones in the video couldn’t tell the difference between the two is because they weren’t looking at updated apps that take advantage of the improved screen on the New iPad. Apps that are new or have been updated for the new Retina display screen make the most of the New iPad’s capabilities. Kindle, NY Times, Angry Birds, ABC Player and other popular apps have already updated to Retina display graphics are using the New iPad’s improved display to enhance the appearance. (See,
24 Must-Have iPad Retina Display apps for new users

When shown apps updated with Retina display graphics, my testers were easily able to pick which device was the New iPad and which was the iPad 2.

More Retina display apps are launched/updated daily so if you want an iPad that shows these apps at their best, choose the New iPad. These apps take up more room on your iPad, so if you have an original iPad or an iPad 2, don’t update an app just to get a better image. You won’t see any difference and the updated app will consume more room on your device.


If you choose the Wi-Fi only model of the New iPad, the improvements in speed may be difficult to notice. Loading apps side-by-side and surfing the Internet on Safari all showed that the differences between the iPad 2 and New iPad were barely perceptible.

The most significant speed differences between the two models was when connecting to the Internet over cell phone networks, 3G for the iPad 2 and 4G/LTE for the New iPad. To take advantage of this feature you need three things:

    1. A New iPad with 4G/LTE (adding $130 to the price)
    2. Data coverage from a carrier (AT&T or Verizon in the US)
    3. 4G/LTE Coverage

If you want to have access to the Internet on your iPad when you’re away from Wi-Fi, you will need to buy data coverage from a carrier. You don’t need to commit to a data plan for an extended period of time, you can buy it as you need it. If you find you use data coverage often, you should consider how much data you are using and get a data plan to fit your needs. The figure to the right shows the monthly prices for data coverage for the New iPad.

The increased Internet speed of 4G/LTE only matters if you can actually get 4G/LTE coverage in your area. If you live in Europe, you’re out of luck. The 4G/LTE networks in Europe are not compatible with the New iPad.

If you live in the US, you still may not have 4G/LTE coverage, as it is still quite limited. If you aren’t in one of the 4G/LTE coverage areas, your new iPad can still connect over 3G, but you won’t have the lightning fast speed advantage of 4G/LTE.

AT&T 4G/LTE Coverage Map

Verizon 4G/LTE Coverage Map


Are you really going to use a camera on your iPad? Is the iPad going to be the best camera you have? An iPhone 4S has a better camera, with 8 MP versus 5 MP for the New iPad. If a better camera is your sole reason for getting a New iPad, perhaps you should save your money, get an iPad 2 instead and, with the money you save, get an iPhone 4S.

What About Apps?

Currently only a handful of iPad apps take advantage of the Retina display of the New iPad. More apps are launched/updated every day using Retina display, but these apps can be very large, using a chunk of space on your iPad. As apps become more sophisticated, they grow larger.

Because the storage space on your iPad cannot be expanded, you’re making a commitment when you buy an iPad. Retina display apps, interactive books and HD videos can command much of the capacity of your iPad. For example, Barefoot World Atlas, an excellent interactive atlas app for kids utilizing Retina display, uses 1.5 GB of space. You can see how loading apps and other content on your iPad could quickly make you wish you had invested in more space.

An iPad 2 is compatible with all of the Retina display apps, they just won’t look as sharp on the iPad 2 as they do on the New iPad.

My Advice

Do you insist on watching movies and TV in HD? Do you save a few bucks renting a video in SD or do you pay the extra to watch it in HD? If you are a big fan of HD and are willing to pay more for it, get the New iPad. If SD is fine and you’d rather save your money for other things, get the iPad 2.

Space on an iPad may be more of a factor for you than the display or speed. If your iPad budget is limited, you may want to invest in extra space rather than the speed or the display. If you get a 16 GB iPad, you might quickly be struggling to manage your space as the new apps overtake your iPad’s capacity. If you’re going to be getting more than a few apps, 32 GB should be the minimum size to consider.

The good news is that you can still get an iPad 2 new. The Apple Store only sells the 16 GB iPad 2 model new, but at Best Buy, Radio Shack and Amazon, you can buy 32 GB and 64 GB models of the iPad 2 new for much less than you can buy the New iPad. (Make sure to compare prices between the retailers as prices vary significantly.)

If you’re considering upgrading from the iPad 2, take a look at a New iPad to see if the improved display makes a big difference to you. If you do a lot of reading on your iPad, you may highly value a sharper display so upgrading would be worth it. But if you use a limited number of apps, and those apps haven’t been updated yet, you can wait until they get the Retina display and then take another look at the New iPad.

Bottom Line

If you have the money to spend, want the latest and greatest model, appreciate the improved speed and camera and will use apps that utilize the improved display, then get the New iPad. Just don’t sacrifice space to buy one. With increasing space needed for sophisticated apps, ebooks, HD videos and other content, you will want the highest capacity you can afford.

If the improved speed, display and camera aren’t very important to you, save some funds and get an iPad 2.

Are you considering the new iPad? What features are important to you? Let us know in the Comments section below!

I am honored to have a guest post today at Adrienne Smith’s blog. Please check it out at The Top 10 Sites to Promote Your Business!


* Home screen image display by Brendan Lin

** iPad pixel image by Jeff Turner

*** The Voice image by Gui Ambros

Subscribe to The Wonder of Tech for Free!


  1. says

    Awesome review Carolyn!

    Congratulations on receiving your New iPad! Must be feeling wonderful indeed!

    Each time I read about the iPad on your blog, I get tempted to go in for one :)

    I loved the way you have taken so much of time and effort to put up the comparisons, which sure make things very clear to understand. Even the people in the video were confused and half of them were choosing the older one as the new iPad! I guess the main differences that are visible to the eye remain the clarity of the screen, besides the other invisible features.

    If I had a choice and had a wish fairy around, I would have gone in for the new one as well- just for checking it out, as I haven’t tested nor tried the older one. :)

    Thanks for sharing :)
    Harleena Singh recently published this awesome post..How Can I Be a Better Parent?My Profile

    • says

      Hi Harleena, Yes, that video really shows how people can’t tell the difference between the two iPads. But with more and more new apps coming out, the improved screen will matter more. Some people will care about that, others will be fine with the old screen. It’s important to look and see which one works best for you!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Harleena!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Poll: Is the New iPad for You?My Profile

  2. sureshpeters says

    With the new ipad :) the ibooks will gonna rock for sure. the more awesome display makes the kids, students more interactive to learning they feel like amazing :D and games, productive apps are super awesome. See this kind of gadgets at our workplace can increase the working hours time and will make a impact to our thinking as well , you will start thinking in creative way :)

    hey Carolyn,
    You should try the iphoto . Its really awesome one..

    Thanks for the great post :) am still waiting for my new ipad


    • says

      Hi Suresh, Great point. With interactive textbooks for kids and apps for business, having a crystal clear screen will be very important for many people. But there will be many people who will want to save funds and buy the iPad 2 instead. Either way, they will have an amazing piece of tech!

      Thanks so much for your visit and awesome comment, Suresh! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Poll: Is the New iPad for You?My Profile

  3. says

    Okay, it really does sound like a cool gadget and I will eventually take the dive. By the time I get around to it they might be on their 20th update! I can’t believe they’ve had so many updates in just this year alone. They are really plowing the way!

    Thanks for this fabulous review Carolyn. As always, you’re on top of things.

    Also, thanks for guest posting for me today! I’m so honored to have you over at my place.

    Enjoy your week Carolyn and you know I’ll be back by often.

    Adrienne recently published this awesome post..The Top 10 Sites to Promote Your BusinessMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Adrienne, You’re right, the iPad is a very cool gadget. I imagine when it becomes time to update your iPod Touch you may make the leap to the iPad, or whatever Apple calls their tablet by then!

      Thanks so much for the opportunity to appear at your blog, Adrienne. I really appreciate your warm welcome there! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..My 10 Favorite iPad Apps!My Profile

  4. Faran says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I haven’t got a chance to get my hands on the new iPad yet, but to be fair I am not very impressed with this new iPad. just a similar iPad with better resolution and a processor.

    And I also don’t like the fact that apple is trying to sell it by showing the pictures of an iPad with high resolution, not to mention retina isn’t apple’s invention.

    but pretty thorough review btw, now m gonna read it .. :p

    • says

      Hi Faran, I completely understand what you’re saying. The improvements in speed and screen resolution will be very important to some but others really won’t care. But I have to think that Apple will show the difference in screen resolution to promote the new iPad, otherwise, what else can they use?

      Whether or not Retina display is Apple’s invention, they have it on the new iPad so they should make the most of it. No other tablet offers that feature yet.

      Thanks for stopping by and offering your insights, Faran! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Uberlife: The Power of TogetherMy Profile

  5. Janet Callaway says

    Carolyn, aloha. WOW! Fabulous, fabulous review. Though Kina doesn’t want an iPad, I truly appreciate what you had to say. Ironically enough, I saw another review and the person raved and raved about the new retina display as the reason to buy one. If I were so inclined to buy one, your screenshots would let me know that I might as well save my money.

    With iPad 2’s lower price, it will be interesting to watch what happens in the iPad 2 vs. Kindle Fire battle.

    Look forward to reading what you have to say over at Adrienne’s. Until then, aloha. Janet

    • says

      Hi Janet, Thanks so much for your kind words. I think the decision to buy a New iPad is more of a close call than with other iDevices. It’s not a slam dunk, it’s very personal whether you value the improvements over the iPad 2.

      I’m not going to tell anyone how to spend their money, I just want to let them know the pros and the cons of each device. I have read rave reviews and I have read reviews panning the device. Clearly people value the improvements differently, but what matters is really what the reader thinks.

      Hope you have a lovely week, Janet! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Preparing Your iPad for Resale!My Profile

  6. Liz S says

    Great article! If I was to get and iPad 2 from say Glyde, would you suggest the 32 GB or 64 GB for textbooks/apps/ music since you said that the apps will now take up more space on the iPad because of the display.

    • says

      Hi Liz, Thanks! Yes, I would suggest the 32 or 64 GB iPad 2 models from Glyde. I think a 16 GB model would force you to spend a lot of time managing your apps and other content. The interactive textbooks on iTunes can be over 1 GB. For example, the Algebra I book in iTunes is 2.35 GB. If you have one iBook for each course, you won’t have much room left on your iPad for fun apps, music, videos, etc.

  7. says

    Thanks for such a thorough review. Lots of point to think about, but based on this, I am thinking I will go for the iPad 2. At least that’s what I am going to ask my family to gift me for my birthday! :-)
    CarolB recently published this awesome post..March Into Sales Madness!My Profile

    • says

      Hi Carol, I think a strong argument can be made for getting the iPad 2 with more storage than the New iPad with less room for apps and other content. I hope you enjoy your iPad, Carol! :-)

  8. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    That’s a great review you have here. I just left you a comment at Adrienne’s and thought I’d come by here again. I am not much of a tech person, and I am in awe to see someone like you. How do you keep up with all of this?

    If I hear of anyone needed to know about a specific tech item I will send them to your blog :)
    Sylviane Nuccio recently published this awesome post..How To Create Your Own Customized Aweber Email TemplateMy Profile

  9. says

    Hi Carolyn –

    Great review as always. I put my “new” and “old” iPads next to each other and really couldn’t tell the difference. When I looked closely at small type fonts, you could see a some difference. For right now it just gives them bragging rights which reminds me of the old claims about PC processor speeds and digital camera megapixels. They were important because people said they were important!
    Because I do a lot of Keynote presentations which sometimes use the Internet, I bought the 4G version. Convention centers often charge extra for wi-fi in their conference rooms so some organizations try to save money but limiting availability.

    When considering the iPad 2, notice Apple only sells the 16GB version – I assume because they believe price is so important to those buyers that extra memory would not be necessary. In my long career in computers, running out of memory was always a big problem so I would never buy the low end on any device. Because I use and evaluate hundreds of apps, i always go for 64GB but I think many people might be wise to consider the 32GB model. Software bloat always kicks in at some point and the retina display is likely to push up memory requirements for some apps. Also, the wonderful textbooks now available will come with significantly larger file sizes to accommodate all the great new media.

    Another point about the new iPad. It comes with Bluetooth Version 4 which is a significant upgrade and will allow the device to integrate better with all the new gadgets coming down the line from my “favorite fruit company”.

    I did notice one difference in the two screens – the new one had a slight yellow tinge – which was a problem in the past for some iOS devices. Since I do a lot of photo work on my iPad, I think this may be a problem. The ones I saw in the store today were perfectly white, so I will be taking mine back for a checkup very soon.
    Gary Braley recently published this awesome post..Office on an iPad? YES – and Windows too.My Profile

    • says

      Hi Gary, Thank you for your kind words. As my testers and I discovered, the improved display is really only apparent when looking at apps optimized for Retina display. If you’re just looking at a normal screen, the differences are very difficult to detect (the video illustrates this point well).

      I think Apple didn’t want to have its iPad 2 compete with the new iPad so it isn’t selling the 32 and 64 GB versions of the iPad which are close in price to the new iPad. Instead, I think the 16 GB iPad 2 is being sold to compete with the Kindle Fire and other low priced Android tablets.

      I agree with you about getting the 64 GB model, though that definitely pushes the price up. You’re right about apps and textbooks requiring an increasing amount of space on the iPad.

      I didn’t mention the improved Bluetooth because I have never used Bluetooth on any one of my iPads. It doesn’t connect to my car and I really have no occasion to use it. What do you use Bluetooth for on your iPad?

      But I agree, Bluetooth version 4 is a huge improvement. I love it on my iPhone 4S because it uses significantly less battery.

      If you look at the 2nd image above, you will see a yellow tinge. I have heard others mention that they have that problem, but I don’t see it on my new iPad.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your engaging comment, Gary! :-)

  10. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    Awesome review. I will definitively buy the new one, if I have to give my old one back to the University. I’m not sure if I have to just yet. The reason I’ll buy the new one is basically that it’s the latest, it’s faster and better display and a better camera. I don’t really use the camera on the old one, but I can see me using it on the new.

    To me, the iPad is now a very important part of my day-to-day activities and will certainly be an important part of my new business as well. But, I have been considering buying a MacBook Air 11″ – and I’m not sure if I would need an iPad if I did (other than for surfing and reading blogs) …

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. I can’t wait to finally get the chance to test the new ipad :)
    Jens P. Berget recently published this awesome post..The Sales-Boosting 
Power Of SimplicityMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Jens, If you don’t have to give back your iPad, that would be the easiest and most cost-efficient solution. If you have to return the iPad, then you should look at the New iPad when it comes to stores in Norway and compare it to the MacBook Air.

      Just curious, what would you use the iPad’s camera for? I’m glad it has a camera but I haven’t used it much at all. It’s difficult to imagine people using an iPad much as a camera due to its size. But maybe I’m missing something?

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jens. I’m glad you liked the review! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Your 10 Best March Madness Apps! My Profile

      • says

        I am not sure what I would use the camera for, but maybe I’ll record some videos of my office and places where I am at and publish them on Facebook, and I have been thinking about recording a video where I look into the camera and speak to my readers :)
        Jens P. Berget recently published this awesome post..Long Tail Pro – A Video ReviewMy Profile

        • says

          Hi Jens, Your videos are great. Any device that helps you do more of them would be good. The front-facing camera on the New iPad is no better than the front facing camera on the iPad 2, so if you’re going to use an iPad to record videos, you should use the rear camera. :-)

  11. says

    Thanks for the review. It makes it much easier to choose between the two when I know that someone I trust has done a proper review.

    • says

      Hello Jack, Thank you. I take my readers’ trust very seriously and try to give you a thorough review. I know this is a long article but I wanted to make sure I explained the features of the New iPad and the differences between the two versions so people could make informed decisions.

      I appreciate your confidence in me, Jack. :-)

  12. says

    Can I have your old iPad………..just askin’ before anybody else did……

    I really do want one whether it’s the old or new and like I said before, my goal is to have one in my hands before the end of the year. I can feel it; it will happen.

    I’m really surprised Apple didn’t contact you however in regards what to name this thing; I’m sure they will rue the day they left you out of the loop…..

    Thanks for sharing; very good info.

    • says

      Hi Bill, Brilliant idea, but you’re not the first to ask. When I asked my family at the dinner table who wanted my iPad 2, all the hands went up, including my husband’s. Of course if I gave it to you, my family wouldn’t be arguing among themselves who would be getting it. Hmm…I’ll have to have a think on this.

      Yes, first I think Apple should consult with you and ask whom you would recommend for name selection. You pick me to help them and I stick a “3” on the back of the New iPad name. How’s that for a Get Rich Quick plan? :-D

  13. says

    Thanks for the wonderful review Carolyn. I am sure you are enjoying your New iPad and exploring the new features as well.

    I havent owned an iPAD until now, all I have is the HP TouchPad which I leave it on my coffee table for general browsing and skype. With 2 smart phones and 2 laptops I am really thinking if I need another tablet apart from the TP. Not yet finding a need for one, but would love to have the latest and greatest anytime.

    • says

      Hi Praveen, As you know, my brother has the TouchPad and loves it. He’s satisfied with the limited number of apps it has. He uses it for email and web surfing mostly. If you find that the TouchPad meets your needs, it’s difficult to justify getting an iPad! :-)

  14. Julie says

    Wow! That screen looks really incredible. And I haven’t known that it exists as a 4G version as well, I think I1m going to give it a try, I’ve heard legends from the speed of the 4G network.

    • says

      Hi Julie, Yes, the screen is incredible, but only with the apps that are updated to Retina display. It’s kind of like getting an HD TV when there aren’t many shows in HD yet. But take a look at one in person. If you like what you see and the apps you use have been updated to take advantage of the screen, you should be in good shape. Also be sure that 4G is in your area. If it isn’t you can still connect over 3G, you just won’t have a faster speed. :-)

  15. Andrew says

    Hi Carolyn, what is so special about the iPads, i am pretty sure the Samsung tablet isn’t far off if not better because my friend just received his bran new ipad and when he took it out of the box it didn’t even work, so that will straight away change my mind about the ipads.

  16. Paul says

    I would consider my budget,purpose and functionalities when purchasing an Ipad.I liked the featues of new Ipad that is 4G Connectivity,Retina display,High definition video recording.Retina display apps, interactive books and HD videos would occupy much of the capacity of your iPad.I wish to purchase new Ipad if its in my budget .

    • says

      Hi Paul, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I agree, the New iPad has a lot of wonderful features, but if it’s going to be a stretch for your budget, you should consider getting the iPad 2 instead, Paul. I think you’ll be very happy with that instead. :-)

  17. says

    First off thanks for the great comparison. I’ve been shopping for a present for my wife and have struggled with whether or not to splurge on the new one, or get a deal on the last model.

    Honestly I don’t think my wife will care about many of the new features…probably stuff a geek like me would notice more or care about.

    Also from what I’ve read the newest ipad seems buggy, and the heating issue seems to be somewhat troublesome.

    I think I’ll go for the last version and get a good deal. I think you just saved me some money.