Why You Shouldn’t Buy the iPad 2 (and Why You Should Be Glad Apple Still Sells It)

On October 22nd, Apple announced updates to some of their products. Along with the release of OS X Mavericks, their latest version of their desktop operating system, they also announced new versions of iLife and iWork applications for iOS, OS X, and iCloud. New MacBook Pros were also announced.

The expected items, though, were a pair of new iPads. The iPad mini was given a much needed Retina display, while the full size iPad was upgraded and became the new iPad Air, a thinner and lighter 9.7″ iPad. Both of these updates were expected due to news leaks over the past few weeks and were welcomed with open arms.

The Shocker

However, there was a bit of a surprise when it came to what the new iPad line-up now consisted of. Both of those new iPads would be the premium product, while older versions remained on sale. That has been Apple’s MO with iPhones and iPads for years. Yet, while last year’s breakthrough iPad mini made sense to keep in the line-up, the iPad 2 seemed out of place. Why would Apple keep selling this 2.5 year old iPad, one that doesn’t even use the latest Lightning connector?

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Apple’s current iPad line-up

For one, it apparently still sells very well. For many people, the iPad 2 provides everything that a person might need or even want from a tablet. Technophiles may not show any interest in it, but anyone that isn’t tech-savvy who is looking for their first tablet would be more than happy with a new iPad 2.1

Second, by leaving the iPad 2 in the line-up, it gives consumers an option for an iPad that still supports the 30-pin connector and the massive amount of accessories that were created for that connector. But is this a big enough reason for people to buy an iPad 2 when, for $100 more, they can get the new iPad Air?

The iPad 2 was great when it was released. But lacking a Retina display and still using the old 30-pin connector (plus the A5 chip that doesn’t keep quite up to speed with its modern breathren) makes it a poor choice from the current iPad line-up. For identical specs, you can pay $100 less and get the iPad mini. The screen may be smaller, but you’re getting a thinner form factor AND a device with more functionality2 than the older iPad 2.

Add to this the fact that, on Apple’s own website, you can find refurbished 4th generation iPads available for $379. Yes, you can get a newer iPad from Apple’s own website for less than the iPad 2. But if newer models can be purchased for less than $400, why would you want to buy an iPad 2?

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You can get a newer iPad straight from Apple for less than a new iPad 2!

This is why I say you shouldn’t buy an iPad 2. If you have the $399 to spend on it, why not get a newer model? Even the next newest model, the 3rd generation iPad, had a Retina display. While you would still be sporting the larger connector and an older body style compared to the iPad Air, you’d also have a capable tablet with a higher resolution screen.

Even if you don’t buy an iPad 2, however, there’s reason to be happy Apple still sells it. Why is that?

Product Longevity

Don’t you hate buying a product when, months later, it seems like your relatively new purchase is obsolete? Thankfully, while Apple continues to iterate and innovate with hardware, much of the capabilities of their devices come from within the silicon.

iPhone 3G customers may recall a time when their iPhones could not do the now common task of copy-and-paste. Yet, a software update (iOS 3) brought that feature, and others, to their iPhones. They may not have had the latest processor or camera specs, but those iPhone owners were able to get improved use from their devices.

Similarly, Apple has a fairly good track record of supporting older iOS devices. And each time Apple continues to sell an older generation model,3 they also permit the latest iOS software to run on it, albeit with some features likely not supported.4 When the iPhone 4S launched, iOS 5 was also released. The iPhone 3GS, still being sold at the time, was able to get that software update. Neither it nor the iPhone 4 had the ability to use Siri. Yet, each phone still found extended use by its owners.5 Likewise, when iOS 7 was announced this past June, Apple was still selling the iPhone 4. iOS 7 was installable on those older devices, even though Apple removed them from their line up at their iPhone event in September.

The iPad 2 may not be the wisest choice for buying a new iPad. Yet, the fact that Apple is still selling it means that, quite likely, unless new iPads are announced in the spring, the iPad 2 could possibly support iOS 8. Even if it doesn’t, there’s a good chance the third generation iPads and newer will support it. And as iPad and iPhone hardware matures, it’s likely we’ll see more and more generations of iOS devices supporting newer versions of IOS. They may not have the hardware to support all of the latest features6, but they’ll remain up to date nonetheless.

But for any iOS device owners who have purchased an iPhone or iPad in the past 2 years, you’ll be okay using your device for at least another year with updates galore. If Apple will support a device from March 2011, yours should be supported, too.

  1. iPad 2 owners may feel differently when comparing their tablet performance on iOS 7 versus what they used to have on iOS 6, but new customers undoubtedly wouldn’t notice.  

  2. iOS 7 on the iPad mini supports Airdrop, for example, though on the iPad 2 it does not. 

  3. For example, Apple continued to sell the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 when the iPhone 4S was launched. 

  4. This isn’t just a matter of Apple wanting people to upgrade. Sometimes, the features introduced simply can’t be supported on older hardware without degraded performance. Apple’s goal is not to just pack in features but to give a great user experience. At times, this means some devices can’t get every new feature. 

  5. The iPhone 3GS went on to support even the latest version of iOS 6. Thus far, iOS 7 is supported on devices as far back as the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 

  6. Touch ID, 120 fps HD video recording, etc 

What I Expect From Apple’s Presentation Tomorrow

This year has been pretty light in terms of Apple presentations. Thus far, we’ve had the Worldwide Developers Conference which took place in June. As expected, it was mainly a software oriented day. There, we got a preview of OS X Mavericks, the Mac Pro, and got to see an unveiling of iOS 7. We also learned about iWork for iCloud, a great way to use iWork in the browser on all major platforms.

Then, on September 10th, Apple unveiled two new iPhones: the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. While they played center stage to the event, we also were treated to the release of iWork and (most of) iLife apps1 for free on the App Store (for newly activated iOS devices).

On October 22nd, Apple is holding another event. Rumors about what we’ll see have been rampant on the web. I thought I’d share what topics I personally expect to see touched on from the event and how likely I think we’ll see it.

iPads (Definitely)

It has been a year since Apple released the iPad (4th Generation) and the iPad mini. The iPad update came just six months after the release of the third generation model and, honestly, caught quite a few people off guard. It did, however, bring the relatively new Lightning connector to the iPad line, thus given the latest iPad models the smaller connectors.

Both the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini showed a new design, with an aluminum body with chamfered edges. This year, the full size iPad is supposed to be given that same design. If the leaks are to be believed, this will also make the iPad thinner and lighter. If so, I definitely am excited for this. While the 9.7″ iPad is my personal preference (great for both content creation and consumption), a lighter model would increase the usability of the device. It would make it easier to hold in many positions, especially when laying in bed.

The iPad mini, meanwhile, is to keep the same design as last year but possibly may include a Retina display. I think the Retina display is the only way the iPad mini can really be advanced this year, and I am expecting to see that tomorrow. Supposedly, including such a display would add a bit of thickness to the iPad mini, but such a change would likely not be a big deal.

Internally, the iPad has typically had the latest processor found in the new iPhone model for that year. Thus, I would not be surprised to see an A7X chip in the fifth generation iPad. This would be the same 64-bit A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s but with extra graphics power. Such a chip would bring 64-bit capabilities to the iPad (a great future-proofing move on Apple’s part) and likely the capability for Touch ID, letting us secure our iPads with our fingerprints.

To keep the battery life on the iPad mini, however, I’m not expecting it to receive the A7X. Instead, I’m leaning more towards an A6X. It currently powers the fourth generation iPad and does a fantastic job. It would definitely be capable of running a Retina display, and presumably the power usage would allow the iPad mini to stay mini while providing the power needed to up the display.

Summary: New iPad 5 with slimmer design and A7X chip; iPad mini (2nd generation) with Retina display and A6X chip

OS X Mavericks (Definitely)

In June, Apple gave us a preview of the next release of OS X, Mavericks. Since then, developers have had beta access to the first non-cat OS X release. The last beta release, on October 3rd, was a Golden Master release, meaning that the public release is soon to follow.2

Tomorrow, Apple should be announcing when Mavericks will be publicly available. It could be as early as tomorrow, though part of me thinks later in the week might be a better guess.

I personally am looking forward to Mavericks, as it will bring us some nice new enhancements to OS X. Timer coalescing and App Nap should help reduce CPU and power usage. As someone that likes to study ePub documents on the go, I am glad that iBooks is coming to the Mac. Finally, I’ll be able to study magazines and books and then sync those notes and highlights to my iPad. A new built in Maps app will let users bookmark locations and routes and then send these to their iPhone when they’re ready to go. Nifty!

Summary: OS X Mavericks release date, likely this week.

MacBook Pros (Likely)

It’s been over a year since the MacBook Pro (non-Retina, that is) was updated. Given the upgrade the MacBook Air received this year, it’s likely we’ll see the MacBook Pros also brought up to speed. If so, they likely will get Intel’s Haswell chip and, like the Air, improved battery life as a result. The MacBook Pro with Retina may also get this update. (I’m more interested in the former, as I’m not ready to shell out for a ‘next generation MacBook Pro’ yet).

Summary: MacBook Pros with Haswell chip, improved battery life

iPods (Not Likely)

The iPod, formerly Apple’s top product, has typically seen updates in the fall. However, given how the iPhone and iPad have both eclipsed the music players, I don’t necessarily expect to see any new iPods. I wouldn’t be shocked, but I think it is more likely that we’ll see iPod updates next year.

Apple TV (Likely, But…)

Word has gone around that there is an Apple TV update coming. I think the safest bet is that it’s just a small spec update for the TV box. The current Apple TV runs an A5 processor internally. While Apple still is selling devices running the A5, I think they may want to put either an A6 or, maybe, even an A7 in the Apple TV.

I don’t think we’ll hear about any other big change for Apple TV, but I also think Apple’s plan isn’t to create a full TV but, rather, to change the way we experience television and use our TVs by means of the Apple TV box. If so, I wouldn’t be surprised with them putting in an A7 chip. Why? Because I see Apple opening up Apple TV for app developers. iOS 7 includes game controller support and has added APIs for game development such as SpriteKit. Could Apple be a major player in the console wars with Apple TV? I think it’s a likely scenario.

Summary: Apple TV update with either A6 or A7 processor

iWatch (Doubt It)

I doubt Apple’s mythical high-tech wearable will make a debut tomorrow. Samsung may have struck first with their launch of Galaxy Gear, but Apple doesn’t need to quickly fire back to make a difference. Apple will reveal products when they’re ready to, and I think there is more to be gained for them by perfecting any such product that quickly reacting to Samsung’s unveiling.

So, with this list put together, now we wait until tomorrow to see how close I was. What about you? What do you think we’ll see tomorrow?

  1. iPhoto and iMovie; Garageband is still $5… for now. 

  2. Apple released another build on October 20th, which also is a Golden Master release. 

My Adventures In App Development (Part 1: The Beginning)

I hate saying that I’m relatively new to app development, but I am. I had originally moved into the Apple ecosystem in 2009 with somewhat of a desire to develop applications. At the time, however, I was spending most of my development time on websites. App development seemed like a much more daunting task.

Over the years, I would occasionally open up Xcode with the intent of creating some kind of basic iPhone app. Each time, though, it seemed like such a different beast than what I was used to. (The MVC model wasn’t a stranger to me, but I didn’t have a lot of experience with it at the time.) I’d add in a few buttons and views, type up some code, but I couldn’t get myself to really dive into it.

One thing I’ve come to really love using since I first got my first iPhone in 2009 is Evernote. I use it to store notes about almost anything, from guitar tab to food recipes. For a while now, I’ve also stored different ideas that come into my head. As I put more and more ideas down in writing, I was able to get a better idea of what I wanted to do.

Two breakthroughs helped me to really push forward in app development, however. The first was making use of video tutorials online, especially on iTunes U, that helped me to really learn and understand Objective-C and iOS app development. Finding an iOS development course is a big plus, as it is just like being in a class where you are taught how to develop for the iPhone and iPad. It definitely beats just reading documentation and following along in a book.

Second was the latest iOS release, iOS 7. As soon as I saw the new look and feel of iOS unveiled at WWDC, as well as reading about the new APIs built into the release, I became excited for development again. In fact, I hadn’t felt this excited about it before.

It was with iOS 7 that my interest was aflame again. Since June, I’ve been pushing forward and working on several ideas. I’ve not been so excited about iPhone app development as I am now. I have a few projects on the burners and, as they get closer to release, I’ll start sharing some information about them, either here or via my business site (which will be updated soon). I’ll also document my travels as I learn more about Objective-C, Xcode, and developing for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.