An Improved Display
Apple's iPhone 4 comes with the Retina Display, a high-quality screen that most agree is the best in the smartphone space. Prior to the iPad 2's announcement, rumors surfaced, saying the iPad 2 would feature the same Retina Display. But at the company's March 2 event, Apple showed off the iPad 2 with the same old display quality of the first tablet. It was a disappointment, to say the least.
Where's the 4G?
Although Apple seemingly doesn't care all that much, 4G connectivity is becoming increasingly important to mobile customers. Those who subscribe to Verizon's 4G network would have been happy to see the iPad 2 come with the ability to connect to that service. But alas, it doesn't. And so far, Apple hasn't made any indication that it will be supporting 4G in the near future.
Apple's iPad 2 will come with iOS 4.3, an update to the company's mobile operating system that will feature improved browsing and a few other additions. But it's iOS 5 that customers are really after. That as-yet announced operating system will likely be Apple's best answer to Google Android 3.0 "Honeycomb." iOS 4 was great for 2010. But in 2011 with Honeycomb on store shelves, it falls short.
When Apple acquired online music-streaming service Lala, some wondered what the company had planned. Reports speculated that it would become a key component in Apple's cloud efforts and bridge the gap between the Web and its hardware. But after Apple closed Lala down, no one has heard a thing about it. With the iPad 2 introduction, Apple didn't mention any cloud functionality. It's unfortunate.
Sorry, No SD Card Slot
One of the biggest issues with the iPad 2 is that it lacks an SD card slot. While the iPad 2 is equipped with hard drives ranging from 16GB to 64GB, even that capacity might not be enough for some users and some applications. The only simple way to transfer content to and from the device for storage management purposes is through the USB cable that comes with the iPad. An SD card slot could simplify backup and storage management and make the iPad 2 even more appealing. Too bad it isn't in it.
Apple Must Have an Issue with USB
Aside from the lack of an SD card slot, Apple has also decided against including a USB port in the iPad 2. For its part, the company says that its proprietary connector should solve that problem for customers. But a USB port could open up a world of possibilities, including giving users the ability to have more storage, transfer content to and from the device, and much more. A USB port would have made the iPad 2 more usable.
A Worthwhile Camera
Although it's nice to see Apple add dual cameras to the iPad 2, the company left out one key detail about the device's camera when it announced the tablet: It only features a 1-megapixel rear camera, according to reports. Considering the Motorola Xoom has a 5-megapixel camera, it's easy to see why some might believe the iPad 2 falls short in some key areas.
Apple has a real problem with Adobe. And by the looks of things, the company won't be delivering Flash support to its browser at any point. But Flash is integral to the experience of surfing the Web, no matter what Apple believes. The more people who keep going to Flash-based sites, the more they're going to wish for support. Try as it might, Apple can't single-handedly kill off Adobe and Flash.
A Larger Display
Apple's iPad 2 comes with the same 9.7-inch display of its predecessor. Although it's not a big deal, it's worth nothing that many competitors, including the Motorola Xoom and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab, boast 10.1-inch displays. For Apple, the difference might be negligible. But for consumers who are trying to get work done on a tablet, having extra screen real estate is always preferred. It's why devices like the 5-inch Dell Streak have failed where tablets featuring larger displays have succeeded.
A Real Advantage over the Xoom
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage on March 2, he needed to convince customers who have been sitting on the fence about buying a tablet to opt for the iPad 2 over the Motorola Xoom. But considering the iPad 2 lacks several key features that the Xoom offers, most notably an upgrade to 4G in the near future, it's hard to see how the iPad 2 trumps the Xoom in any way. Going forward that could prove to be an issue for Apple.