The Display: Multiple Vendors, Nearly Identical to iPad 1

Apple built the iPad 2 with a similar 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 IPS panel as the original iPad. Side by side the two panels appear to have similar qualities in terms of brightness, black level and contrast ratio. Once we started measuring however we noticed a trend: there appear to be multiple panel vendors in play here.

Between Brian, Vivek, Manveer and myself we have four iPad 2s. Brian and I have two 3G models (AT&T and Verizon), while Vivek and Manveer have two WiFi models. All four are white and all four have 16GB of NAND. The results from our baseline display testing are below:

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

There seem to be two different values for white level: either around 400 nits or 350 nits. Black level is pretty variable between 0.41 nits and 0.49 nits, there doesn't seem to be a correlation between white and black levels in our admittedly limited sample size. For our display graphs we simply averaged all four together:

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Display Contrast

On average the iPad 2 seems to be marginally brighter with a bit worse black levels than the original iPad, resulting in a lower contrast ratio. The display is pretty close to what was in the original iPad and very tough to tell apart. There's still a visible advantage in contrast ratio over the Motorola Xoom.

The GPU: PowerVR SGX 543MP2 WiFi + AT&T 3G


View All Comments

  • name99 - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Depends on what you mean by "properly".
    In the city iPad location services work astonishingly well. God knows how they do it, I guess the SkyHook database is just huge.
    On the other hand, if you plan to go hiking with your iPad, you might be disappointed.

    One way to test this (if you have a mac) is to see how well your mac provides location. Grab a location-aware app (google maps in Safari is an easy choice) and ask it to locate you. (Note that you need WiFi to be on for this to work usefully, so if you're doing it at a desktop mac, make sure WiFi is on.)

    If you have a portable, try it in a few different places. Are you happy with the results? Because that's about what you'll get from iPad without GPS.
  • Mr Alpha - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    I don't believe it can. According to another famous Steve Jobs email iOS doesn't support getting internet access via tethering. On the other hand iOS 4.3 added hotspot to iPhone 4, which you should be able to use to get internet to a WiFi only iPad. Reply
  • solgae1784 - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    It looks like AT&T will allow iPad 3G to be used as a personal hotspot. Not sure about Verizon.
  • ATC - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Yes you can. I have an iPhone 4 with 4.3 installed and with the new HotSpot feature of iOS 4.3 you can do just that. However, in the US my understanding is that you need a tethering data plan and AT&T or Verizon will charge you more to activate the HotSpot feature. Of course you can always get around that by JB your iPhone.

    I'm in Canada and the HotSpot feature works here for free and works great (I've been using it for the past 3 days to share my 6GB data with my iPhone). But there are a few things to consider when doing this. One, your iPhone's battery runs down much faster (it's using 3G data and Wifi at the same time). Second, while I haven't tested this, I think you lose location service/GPS on your iPad because only the 3G iPad has a GPS (I could be wrong though).
  • 3DoubleD - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    I would be cautious here. I bought a Kindle with only WiFi thinking I could just tether to Android phone for internet access on the go... I was WRONG.

    In the case of the Kindle, the WiFi chip does not support connecting to non-router based wireless networks. So the Kindle cannot connect to any wireless network that you created with your phone, tablet, or laptop.

    So, the answer to your question is dependent on the wireless chipset used in the iPad. My recommendation is to find proof that someone has successfully tethered an iPhone with an iPad2 before wasting $800.
  • silverblue - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Definite improvement there; can't wait for HDR and more shader effects such as bump mapping to appear in mobile games. I knew years ago that the SGX was capable of AA but it's not something we've really seen up until now.

    I wonder how much faster this implementation is as compared to the SGX540 found in Hummingbird?
  • rish95 - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Well Imagination Tech says a dual core SGX543 is over 4X faster than the SGX 540.

    So even though the iPad is at 1024 x 768 you can still expect 60% higher frame rate, but the power per pixel is much higher.
  • tipoo - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Well that's disappointing. I hardly expected it to replace a dedicated camera, but with an iPhone 4-ish camera and the processing power it has it could have allowed for some neat things. But if the camera sucks, meh.

    Also, whats that vintage camera shown in all the test shoots?
  • Sarah_ - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    It's a Kine-Exakta II, made in 1948 :)
    The one in the picture is not functional but it definitely looks cool!
  • tipoo - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    Thanks! Reply

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