Display

The iPad 2 continues to use what boils down to the same 9.7 inch 1024x768 (XGA) LCD as the iPad 1. It isn’t the 300 or close PPI display that many speculated would launch with the iPad 2. Instead, for the most part, it’s identical to the 132 PPI panel which shipped in the first iPad. 

Side by side the two have very similar brightness, black level, and contrast. That said, we’ve noticed some differences in the numbers between the four iPad 2s spread among us. Two are 16 GB WiFi models, one is an AT&T WiFi - 3G, and another is Verizon WiFi - 3G. Each have slightly different brightness and black levels, and correspondingly different contrast as well. 

Display Quality Comparison
  White Level Black Level Contrast Ratio
Apple iPad 2 #1 (AT&T 3G) 406 nits 0.42 nits 966:1
Apple iPad 2 #2 (VZW 3G) 409 nits 0.49 nits 842:1
Apple iPad 2 #3 (WiFi) 352 nits 0.45 nits 778:1
Apple iPad 2 #4 (WiFi) 354 nits 0.41 nits 859:1

After looking at the numbers we’ve collected, there seems to be a pretty obvious trend emerging. The WiFi iPads seem to have a brightness closer to 350 nits, whereas the 3G models have brightness levels at 400 nits. It seems entirely possible that there are either multiple suppliers for these panels, or different batches with differing performance characteristics between the WiFi and 3G manufacturing lines. 

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Display Contrast

We measured white point on the iPad 2 with an X-Rite i1Pro and found that (at least my AT&T 3G model) it was right at 6604K, very close to D65 and good performance. Conversely, the iPad 1 WiFi on hand measured around 6908K which is admittedly still acceptable, but not quite as good. In reality, there will probably be a large amount of drift in color temperature across different panel suppliers and batches, just like we saw with the Verizon iPhone 4’s noticeably blue display. 

Indoor viewing angles on the iPad 2’s IPS display are still excellent. Uniformity is also good, with one caveat.

There’s been a lot of talk about backlight bleeding on the iPad 2. Initially, I didn’t notice any backlight bleed on my iPad 2, however I now notice a small blotch where backlight bleeds in the bottom right corner. Pressing on the glass surface, I can change the intensity of this backlight bleed, which would imply that the bleed is due to stresses in the glass and TFT like you’d see if you were to press on a panel. It’s not bad at all, especially compared to some of the worst-affected examples I’ve seen in forums online, but hopefully this gets worked out with better manufacturing. Oddly enough, side by side with the iPad 2 the iPad 1 also shows some noticeable light bleed. 


Left: iPad 2, Right: iPad 1

Outdoor glare and viewing angles are essentially unchanged. Subjectively the iPad 2 seems a tiny bit better, perhaps thanks to the slightly thinner glass and adhesion process, but it’s still hard to read anything outside in direct sunlight. 

Compared to the Xoom, the iPad 2 is more usable outdoors:

In summary, the iPad 2 display is relatively unchanged from the previous generation, aside from some obvious (and repeatable) differences between the WiFi and 3G + WiFi models. If you're holding out for an iPad with an extreme resolution display, this isn't the one you're looking for. Maybe in 12 months time.
WiFi and 3G Basebands On the Strength of Glass
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  • george1924 - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Seems to be fixed now Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the correction :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • drugos - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    As usual, one of the most comprehensive reviews on the net. Thanks guys! Reply
  • Bosh - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Yes, as usual ! Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Who buys worthless over-priced rubbish like the iPad, apart from hipsters/dickheads? I can understand the appeal of it to them, and I've nothing against dickheads who love them, but what purpose do they serve to the rest of us?!?

    It's incapable of being used for real work so basically useless except as a toy when out and about, but too large to be carried around in anything smaller than what a small laptop could be carried in, so what it can do when on the move may as well be done on a smartphone.
    Reply
  • B3an - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Cant beleive i'm saying this about an Apple product... but the iPad 2 isn't expensive for the hardware. Look at the Motorola Xoom which is lot more expensive for marginally better hardware, although the iPad 2 has better hardware in some areas. The thing is though Apple can sell the iPad 2 at little profit because they just make the money from app sales. So it's hard for other tablet makers to compete on price.

    I agree with everything else though.
    Reply
  • shabby - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    The ipad2 is expensive, imagine if asus took their $250 10" netbook and removed the keyboard, replaced the hard drive with a sd card for memory, and ditched the intel mobo/cpu for a slower soc this thing would cost maybe $150.
    The only reason these devices have these prices is because that's how much people are willing to pay for them.

    As for the xoom, motorola for some reason thinks they can charge a premium for it, they certainly are smoking some good shit. These phone manufacturers will fail with their expensive tablets.

    Once asus and other netbook manufacturers start saturating the market with android tablets you'll start seeing cheaper solutions.
    Reply
  • jalexoid - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    That is not true. FOB price for the 16GB XOOM clone(proper quality clone, not a knockoff) is about $330. Smaller components cost more. Reply
  • WaltFrench - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    “The only reason these devices have these prices is because that's how much people are willing to pay for them.”

    Showing off the fact that we've had Econ 101, are we?

    Perhaps there's some object/service that operates differently that you'd care to mention.
    Reply
  • kukabuka - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Well, I for one think tablets are really great when you don't need a keyboard or a fast processor or a lot of storage. Which would be never. If the iPad sells way better than the Xoom, I'd say your theory about hipsters/dickheads being the only market group for tablets is confirmed. Reply

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