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What is the battery life of the iPad 2 in "real-world" tests? Is it possible to replace the battery?
Apple officially reports that all iPad 2 models -- the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi), iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/GSM/A-GPS), and iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/CDMA/A-GPS) -- provide "up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music." For the 3G-equipped models, Apple likewise promises "up to 9 hours of surfing the web using [a] 3G data network."
Apple provided the same estimate for the original iPad models, and "real-world" tests showed that the estimate was quite reasonable. However, a collection of real-world tests for the iPad 2 can be worthwhile as well.
Third-Party Battery Life Test Results
Different reviewers reported a variety of different experiences in their evaluations of iPad 2 battery life.
The battery life, while very good, isn't as strong as I found it to be on the first iPad. In my tough battery test, where I played full-length movies until the battery died, with the screen brightness at about 75% and both Wi-Fi and cellular radios running, the iPad 2 just barely exceeded Apple's claimed battery life, dying after 10 hours and nine minutes. That's. . . an hour less than I got from the original iPad, which clocked in at 11 hours, 28 minutes.
Like its predecessor, battery life is seriously impressive, lasting 13.42 hours in our rundown (which looped an iTunes-bought movie), though the iPad 1's battery took 14 hours flat to run down last year.
As far as I can tell, the iPad 2 gets identical battery life to the iPad 1. I played three movies, back to back to back, on an iPad 1 and iPad 2: Casino Royale (HD), The Fantastic Mr. Fox (SD), and the 1980 theatrical cut of The Empire Strikes Back (SD). Both iPads were set at 50 percent brightness (the factory default setting), and I kept the iPads in airplane mode for these tests. Both iPads dropped the same amount of battery life percentage for each movie: 12, 11, and 15 percent, respectively.
I tested a pair of new iPad 2s -- a white 32 GB model with AT&T 3G; and a black 16 GB model with Verizon 3G. For comparison, I also tested with an original 16 GB iPad 3G. . .
To test the battery life of each device, I played a movie I bought on the iTunes Store, repeating it until the battery finally gave out. I cranked the screen brightness all the way up, connected to a local Wi-Fi network, and set the volume low.
The good news: even with its increased processor power, faster graphics, and smaller capacity, the iPad 2 actually outlasted the original iPad by a little less than three percent.
Finally, in the most comprehensive testing of all -- covering web use, video playback, video recording, and gaming -- iLounge discovered that the iPad 2 battery life differed depending on the tasks performed. For web use, specifically, the publication noted:
The iPad 2 with Wi-Fi had the longest running time at 11 hours and 33 minutes, followed by the iPad 2 over 3G GSM at 9 hours and 3 minutes, and the Verizon iPad 2 using 3G CDMA at 8 hours and 41 minutes. The iPad 2's Wi-Fi time beat the original iPad's run time by over 1 hour, with the GSM version improving on last year's time by nearly half an hour, and the CDMA version coming ahead by 3 minutes. Only Verizon's iPad 2 falls a little short of Apple's estimates, and then only by a little, solely when it's using cellular service.
Ultimately, just as it is for the original iPad, the battery life for the iPad 2 is impressive in "real-world" tests and 9-10 hours is a reasonable estimate.
Official & Unofficial Battery Replacement Details
When the iPad 2 battery no longer holds a sufficient charge, you officially are required to send the entire iPad to Apple for replacement. Apple charges US$99 for servicing plus US$6.95 for shipping (US$105.95 plus tax).
Interestingly, in addition to providing pricing information, Apple formally states that the company "will replace your iPad for a service fee" and "you will receive a replacement iPad that will not contain any of your personal data." This indicates that Apple reserves the right to send you a different iPad rather than actually replacing the battery in the one sent in.
As for replacing the battery in the iPad 2 yourself, the battery is not designed to be replaced or swapped by an end-user. In the site's customary teardown, iFixit found the iPad 2 to be particularly difficult to take apart without breaking the display.
Essentially, replacing the iPad 2 battery is a task best left to a professional. If it is important to you to be able to replace the battery yourself, the iPad 2 is not the device for you.
Also see: How do I replace the battery in the iPad 2?