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What are all the differences between the iPad 2 models? Which should I buy?
Please note that on March 7, 2012, Apple discontinued the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations of the iPad 2. Apple continues to sell 16 GB configurations.
As classified by EveryiPad.com, there originally were three different iPad 2 models -- the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi), iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/GSM/A-GPS), and iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/CDMA/A-GPS) -- and these models are differentiated by connectivity and battery life as well as price. EveryiPad.com also dutifully has noted the quietly released iPad 2 (Wi-Fi, iPad2,4) model, although it only varies from its predecessors by small technical details.
There are unique identifiers that also are worth noting for future identification as well as minor differences in weight, which most would not consider to be worth noting.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.
The originally released iPad 2 models were offered with either 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of capacity and also are available with a white or black front (and an aluminum back). If you prefer, you could consider each capacity and color to be its own model, which would mean that there are a grand total of eighteen models.
On March 7, 2012, Apple discontinued the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations, but continues to ship the 16 GB configurations. Apple also quietly introduced the internally revised iPad 2 (Wi-Fi, iPad2,4) on or around March 25, 2012 only with 16 GB of storage.
All iPad 2 models, regardless of release date, share the same 9.7-inch (1024x768, 132 ppi) multitouch "glossy" LED-backlit IPS display. All are powered by a custom-designed 1 GHz dual-core Apple A5 "system on a chip" processor, although the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi, iPad2,4) uses a smaller 32 nm, rather than 45 nm, processor of the same speed and general Apple A5 designation. All have 512 MB of RAM, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, an accelerometer, a three-axis gyroscope, an ambient light sensor, digital compass, a speaker and a built-in mic.
They also have front and rear mounted cameras. The rear camera supports HD video recording (720p up to 30 FPS with audio), and functions as a still camera as well, although Apple does not specify megapixels. The front mounted camera, designed to be used for video conferencing in conjunction with Apple's provided "FaceTime" software over a Wi-Fi network, takes VGA quality photos and video up to 30 FPS.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Smart Cover)
The iPad 2 models additionally support a new magnetic "Smart Cover" -- available at additional cost -- that protects the screen when not in use and automatically wakes up the iPad 2 when the cover is removed and puts it to sleep when the cover is attached.
The technical differences are that the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi) only supports Wi-Fi, the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/GSM/A-GPS) provides GSM and A-GPS support as well as Wi-Fi and the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/CDMA/A-GPS) supports CDMA and A-GPS as well as Wi-Fi. Battery life is estimated to be ten hours over Wi-Fi for all models and nine hours over 3G, whether GSM or CDMA, for the applicable models.
Visually, it is not possible to differentiate between the two configurations with 3G capability. It also can be easy to mistake iPad 2 models for other iPad models.
Consequently, model numbers are one of the best methods for external identification. Model numbers are provided in tiny type toward the bottom of the back of each iPad. The iPad 2 Wi-Fi, GSM, and CDMA models are assigned model numbers A1395, A1396, and A1397, respectively.
The iPad 2 models can be differentiated by other identifiers as well, such as the order number, which can be located by selecting the Settings app and pressing General > About and scrolling down to what is specified as "Model" within the iOS. For example, the Wi-Fi only configurations of the iPad 2 in black with 16 GB of storage is MC769LL.
To pinpoint a specific iPad 2 by a variety of different identifiers -- including the last four characters of its serial number -- please refer to EveryiPad.com's Ultimate iLookup feature as well as the EveryMac app.
Original & Current Pricing Differences
Both black and white models cost the same amount. Pricing is summarized below:
|Capacity:||16 GB||32 GB||64 GB|
|Price w/ Wi-Fi:||US$499*||US$599||US$699|
|Price w/ Wi-Fi, GSM & A-GPS:||US$629*||US$729||US$829|
|Price w/ Wi-Fi, CDMA & A-GPS:||US$629*||US$729||US$829|
* On March 7, 2012, Apple discontinued the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations and lowered the price of the 16 GB configurations. The Wi-Fi only 16 GB configuration now is US$399 and both the GSM and CDMA 3G-equipped models are US$529.
So, which should I buy?
Capacity clearly is a personal choice and only you know how many songs, movies, photos, ebooks and apps you intend to use on the device. Color, likewise, is a personal choice and only you can decide if you prefer a black or white model. Black may show fingerprints more in the short run, but white may be more likely to show dirt, grime, and scuffmarks in the long run.
For detailed comparison of the black and white color options, including some excellent points about glare and outdoor use, you also may find this video from DetroitBorg helpful to decide for yourself:
Other than capacity and color, on basic terms, if price -- both upfront and ongoing -- is most important and/or you only intend to use the iPad in your wireless internet-equipped home or office (and the occasional coffee shop), the Wi-Fi only model is your best choice.
If you intend to use your iPad on-the-go and would find A-GPS support particularly valuable, and price is not an issue, either a GSM or CDMA equipped model would be ideal. In general, in the US, AT&T's GSM network has the reputation for being less reliable than Verizon's CDMA network, although AT&T's GSM network is faster. Which network is the better choice for you depends on its performance and reliability in your area.
Ultimately, any iPad 2 model would be a solid choice for one interested primarily in consuming content and creating fun content that does not require a great deal of typing (although the iPad does support both a keyboard "dock" and keyboard connectivity via Bluetooth). For one who primarily surfs the web, plays games and does basic photo and video editing and music production, for example, it would be perfect.