How the New iPad Stack Up Against iPad 2

With the recent release of the new iPad, the question out there for many people is if it’s really worth it to upgrade to the new iPad after just a year of iPad 2 ownership. Is it really worth it go out there and spend another $500 plus just for a new one?

Apple is touting the new retina display, the updated camera, the A5X processor, and the new dictation service for reasons to upgrade. Are these that much of a significant upgrade over the iPad 2 that they warrant trading up? Much of the answer to this question depends on how you plan on using the new iPad.


The crown jewel of the new iPad is definitely the retina display. The resolution of this is even better than what you will find in an HDTV. Having used an iPad 2 for the past nine months and now trading up to the new iPad, I was stunned at how much of a difference the retina display makes. I thought it was great to begin with, then put on my reading glasses and was absolutely in awe. The difference is very much noticeable, whether you’re looking at photos or looking at text. Some of the apps have already upgraded to take advantage of the retina display.



Anyone who has owned an iPad 2 can tell you that if there was one area in which it was lacking, it would be the camera. It was woefully inadequate. I used it to take screencaps for these articles, and had to transfer the photos into other apps to sharpen them because the camera took such dull photos. I will let you judge for yourself regarding the camera in the new iPad. The first photo was taken last fall with the iPad 2. The second photo was taken today with the new iPad. The photos transferred through Photo Stream to my MacBook, and I exported them through iPhoto at the second highest quality setting and didn’t add sharpening at all.


One new feature in the new iPad is dictation. Many think it’s the consolation prize of not getting Siri, which many were hoping for. I tried dictating a quick email to my sister who has also bought a new iPad, but for her, it’s her first iPad. You can see that it needs punctuation. You have to tell it “period”, “question mark”, and “new paragraph.” I also found I needed to enunciate much better. I then tried to begin writing this article using the dictation. You can see where I started over a few times trying to find the correct wording. I have since decided I am a much better writer than speaker.


The new iPad also employs an upgraded A5X processor. This was a major selling point to me since I do most of my work on the iPad. To tell you the truth, though, I haven’t seen much of a difference. With the iPad 2, I had some apps that quit on me for no apparent reason, and in the time I have been using the new iPad, I still get that occasionally. As far as speed, I have never noticed the iPad 2 to be slow, so there wasn’t really any room for improvement with that. Anything that has been slow on either iPad has been because of a slow website or slow network connection.


It was announced that the new iPads were also slightly thicker. But to tell you the truth, that difference isn’t detectable. Picking it up and holding it, I can’t see or feel the difference. Additionally, I am using a keyboard case that says it is meant for the iPad 2. You can see in the picture above that it fits easily in the stand. When it’s closed, it’s a tight fit, but a good fit. I’d rather have it tighter than looser.

I can’t vouch for the upgrade from 3G to 4G LTE, as I use my iPads just with WiFi. However, with the changes outlined above, I found them to be significant enough to warrant my upgrade. I ordered it the day it was announced and haven’t regretted it. Again, it really depends on how you will use the new iPad. If graphics and picture-taking isn’t important to you, the upgrade may not be worth it. If they are, these changes make the upgrade worth it all on their own.

Have you upgraded to the new iPad?

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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