The world is no stranger to underwhelming sequels, but it's fair to say that the Apple iPad 2 is one of the better follow-ups to a smash hit, thanks to its dynamic design and fantastic features.
When the iPad 2 was first launched way back in March, 2011, it's fair to say that it was met with mixed reviews. Part of the indecision likely stemmed from the fact that the first Apple iPad was such a success - now that time has passed, it's fair to say that a refurbished Apple iPad 2 is a hero in the tablet market, thanks to its dazzling design, exceptional battery life and the inclusion of FaceTime.
Although tablet enthusiasts may look back at the specification of the iPad 2 and be a little underwhelmed, you must remember that this device is a product of its time. In more than some respects the overall design of the tablet and its functionality was way ahead of its time at launch, meaning a refurbished iPad 2 can more than hold its own on today's market.
It's undoubtedly the design of the iPad 2 that stands out the most, while continuing to blaze a trail for Apple's most recent, premium tablet releases. This is characterised by a minimalist 8.8mm thick form factor and the use of brushed aluminium, which contribute to a sleek and elegant frame that's an impressive 0.6mm slimmer than the original iPad. Despite lacking a little bit of grip, the iPad 2 is comfortable in the hand and beautifully balanced, minimising the risk of dropage and making it easier to capture portrait shots.
Like most older tablets and all iPads (apart from the Mini 2 and 3), you can purchase either a Wi-Fi Only iPad 2 or a device that comes with Wi-Fi and a Cellular plan. With the former, you can only connect to data and browse the Internet if you're within range of a viable Wi-Fi network (which is obviously a problem if you intend to use your tablet while on the move).
In the case of the latter, however, you'll find that the iPad 2 will have a SIM-like slot that mirrors a smartphone and enables you to connect to a cellular data network when one is in range. This definitely provides greater flexibility, and enables you to choose a viably priced product that suits your precise needs.
In addition to its superb design, the iPad 2 boasts outstanding build quality with zero bend and an incredible level of robustness. This has become Apple's trademark down the years, and in many ways buying an iPad is akin to investing in a Honda S2000 or a Porsche Boxster in terms of quality assurance.
The superbly built iPad 2 also offers no flex or unexpected warping, even when put under excessive amounts of pressure or accidentally (and often unfortunately) sat on. This is an important design feature when buying any premium piece of kit, as it guarantees its longevity and ensures that you receive the maximum bang for your buck.
Perhaps the most glaring issue with the iPad 2 is its camera, but this should perhaps not come as a surprise given the launch date of the device and the fact that this is often a secondary feature on any tablet. To this end, Apple has installed a 0.7MP rear camera in the iPad 2, with this lens capable of capturing basic shots but struggling to offer discernible definition, crisp edges or eye-catching colour contrasts (particularly in low light). However, the front-facing VGA camera at least allows for FaceTime video calling capabilities, while boasting 30 frames per second video recording functionality.
While the 6,930mAh power pack may seem small when compared with contemporary tablet batteries, it delivers relatively excellent performance and is more than adequate for extended periods of moderate use.
In fact, the 25 watt-hour rechargeable lithium polymer battery can sustain 10 hours of power from a single charge, which is important given that you'll most likely be using your device for gaming and streaming content. Most importantly, you're unlikely to get caught short when using the iPad 2, so this is still a tablet that you can rely on.
We're told that you should never judge a book by its cover, and this especially true when comparing older and slightly worn paper-backs to shinier, hard-cover alternatives. This is definitely the case with the iPad 2, as while this may be a little less advanced than later Apple devices, it deserves recognition as a beautiful and functional tablet in its own right.