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iPad 2 vs Competition: Specs Don’t Matter to Shoppers



iPad 2The iPad 2 has a faster processor and some other internal upgrades. But most people who will buy an iPad 2 or any other tablet in 2011 simply don’t care about specs. The user experience is far more important than GHz and GB and it’s silly to focus too much on specs when comparing tablet platforms.

Let’s consider the four predominant tablets of 2011, at least those that have been announced thus far. The Apple iPad 2, Motorola Xoom, HP TouchPad and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook are the most talked about tablets in 2011 thus far. I already own the original iPad and Motorola Xoom and have played with the BlackBerry PlayBook quite a bit. The HP TouchPad is the only one out of the lot that I haven’t had a chance to use yet. They are all good devices, but what differentiates them are their unique user experiences. Not specs.

Engadget put together a nice table that compares each of these tablets, which I’ve pasted below. Right up top on line one is the most important ‘spec’ of them all, the OS. Those interested in an Android 3.0 experience aren’t going to shift their attention from a Xoom to the iPad 2 because it has more storage. If benchmarks prove that the iPad 2 is faster than the PlayBook, corporate types aren’t going to scuttle their plans to buy truckloads of the BlackBerry-compatible Playbook tablet.

iPad 2




Platform iOS 4.3 Android 3.0 webOS 3.0 BB Tablet OS (QNX)
Display 9.7-inch
LED-backlit IPS LCD
10.1-inch 9.7-inch 7-inch LCD
Resolution 1024 x 768 1280 x 800 1024 x 768 1024 x 600
Processor 1GHz dual-core
Apple A5
1GHz dual-core
NVIDIA Tegra 2
1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz dual-core
Memory ? 1GB RAM 1GB RAM 1GB RAM
Storage 16GB / 32GB / 64GB 32GB 16GB / 32GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Front camera VGA 2 megapixel 1.3 megapixel 3 megapixel
Rear camera 720 / 30p video 5 megapixel AF with dual-LED flash,
720 / 30p video
none 5 megapixel,
720p video
Cellular radio Quadband HSPA or
3G with free upgrade to 4G LTE 3G and 4G 3G and 4G
WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR 2.1 + EDR 2.1 + EDR 2.1 + EDR
Accelerometer 3-axis 3-axis Yes Yes
Gyroscope Yes Yes Yes
Battery 25Wh 6,500mAh 6,300 mAh 5,300 mAh
Thickness 8.8mm 12.7mm 13.7mm 10mm
Weight 601g (WiFi),
607g (Verizon),
613g (AT&T)
725g 740g 425g

Those who point to one spec (except the OS) or another as to why one of the above tablets is better than the other are missing the challenges of the tablet wars completely.

The other key component in the battle over tablet market share is price. As of today, Apple offers something nobody else does – a tablet that costs $499. The Motorola Xoom is $599 with a two-year contract or $799 without. Some Android fanboys argue that $599 is actually a better deal than the iPad since the Xoom comes with 32GB of storage capacity by default, while the iPad only comes with 16GB. But if you look at the total cost of ownership, the iPad is still the price leader.

One of the most important components of the iPad’s price, even with the 3G option, is that the iPad 2 can be an impulse buy. You can be in and out of an Apple store in minutes. You can even pick up an iPad 2 with 3G and activate 3G whenever you’d like. With the Motorola Xoom you need to sign up for an expensive two-year contract and wait while Verizon runs a credit check. There will be a WiFi-only version of the PlayBook and Xoom down the road, but retailers will have much less incentive to sell it compared to a device that requires a profitable two-year contract.

Over 15 million people are using the original iPad models. I’m willing to bet that far fewer than a million of them can rattle off more than a couple of lines from the iPad’s spec sheet.

Specs matter to geeks and marketers. Specs don’t matter to shoppers.



  1. dethwsh

    03/02/2011 at 10:23 pm

    I don’t think it’s the customer whom don’t care. I think it’s more of a price issue and the manuf. don’t understand price points. Apple has set a price and now manuf. need to realize people won’t pay more then what Apple sets. Apple is supposed to be expensive not these manuf.

  2. GoodThings2Life

    03/02/2011 at 11:03 pm

    Interesting that it’s the iPad that finally gives Apple a price advantage in the tech space, because everything else they sell is overpriced (except last year’s model of iPhone and iPod). More interesting that Motorola opted to overprice the Xoom based on its better-than-the-iPad features but now they’re on more or less equal footing (aside from 4G, but come on– 60% or more of the country won’t see 4G this year). So bottom line, I fully expect Motorola to rethink their pricing soon.

    That leaves things down to two factors– the people who want simple and everyone else that essentially hates Apple or are otherwise compelled for Android.

    I still don’t see the other alternatives– Blackberry and HP– really going anywhere except with existing fans of those platforms which is dwindling for Blackberry and virtually non-existent for HP. Microsoft still has the best 3rd-place option, but they just move too damn slowly to take advantage of it.

    • Roberto

      03/03/2011 at 12:50 am

      I disagree somewhat with your conclusion about the the 2 factors of people who want simple or people who hate Apple. I think a more important factor is does it do what you need it to do. Real world example. For a trade show a few months back, nice lady walks into her booth with a stack of 5 I-pads. It was for a makeup company. What she wants to do is have customers come into the booth sit at couches and browse their web site for products and how to use the makeup for different looks. Turns out about 75% of their web site uses flash based applications. I-pad shows about 25% of the web site and big green arrows for everything else. Needless to say this lady was not happy at all or with me until i was able to explain that I-Pad didn’t support flash. To make it worse she happen to have a Droid phone and pointed out to me she was able to get full web functionality on that, but not the I-Pad. So for functionality is going to drive her decision in the future.
      I will say it is about time they put mirror capability on it. I have plenty of horror stories about that too.

      • GoodThings2Life

        03/03/2011 at 1:42 am

        I completely agree, and I’m sorry you felt I suggested otherwise. It is, however, precisely why people have always avoided Apple in the past… their closed nature is by design a self-imposed limiting factor. Most of their users don’t care though. They’re able to do what they want, it’s simple to do it, and everything else is “irrelevant.”

        Windows and Android, on the other hand, gives you all the features and flexibility of the world… and in reality, they’re both incredibly usable environments on their own. Their openness, however, adds complexity because OEM’s throw on so much junk that people don’t need.

        It comes down to the experience and functionality people want, which is what I said before– you either want Apple because it’s easy, or you’re everybody else that wants to get something more.

        • Roberto

          03/03/2011 at 2:46 am

          Oh no problem. I would agree with you on the functionality about Apple being easy for sure. Just as a side note, I have been in the presentation business for more years than I care to admit, but funny enough Doctors as a whole were dragged in to the PowerPoint era and hated not having real “slides” (and quite of few of them still hate it), but seem to have completely jumped on to the I-Pads and love them. As one Dr. told me, they are so easy to use. Of course what he doesn’t say is someone else sets it up for him and he just uses the end product, but for some things the I-Pad does work well.

  3. Anonymous

    03/02/2011 at 11:15 pm

    iPad 2
    Back camera: Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still camera!!!
    720P specs is 1280×720 16:9 aspect ratio does this mean the iPad 2 camera captures 1280×720 pixels its only .92MegaPixels

    Front camera: Video recording, VGA up to 30 frames per second with audio; VGA-quality still camera
    so 4:3 aspect ratio 640×480 a shade over .3 MegaPixel

    So the iPad front camera is as good as my iPod 4 and its back cameras is just a little better then the iPod. Seems if you want Apple and quality and specs one will get and iPhone 4 or wait for the iPhone 5.

    I do care about specs user interface stability and openness. While I love my iPod for it solid and found Air Share for working with PC files. I can also put up with iTunes and the iPod broken Web feature for its a pocket device. I don’t care to type into forms that Safari doesn’t support or that much of the QuickTime content can’t be played and Flash will not be supported for it so convent to carry.

    I will never buy an iOS tablet for the Web should useable on a device that size and I don’t think Mobile Safari ever support the Web well. Perhaps some day apple will port OSX Safari to their tablets.

  4. Getyoid

    03/03/2011 at 1:52 am

    specs dont matter????? huh? Sorry. But only 64G max RAM for the iPad2? No thanks. I’ll pass. I have 4 movies that take up 50G alone. Then music? Pictures? Video from the camera? Nah. Not worth 850 dollars when I can get a 6GB RAM Intel i5 with 1T hard drive for less than $850, and its a real computing device.

    • Getyoid

      03/03/2011 at 1:59 am

      meant 64G “storage”. Sorry but its pathetically tiny storage.

    • Alex

      03/03/2011 at 6:10 am

      RAM or Memory is what makes the thing fast. You must mean 64GB of storage. G alone means mobile internet version like 3G or 4G………….just fyi.

    • Gary

      03/03/2011 at 11:14 pm

      I am guessing this was your attempt at trolling. You can’t seriously expect anyone who has more then a 3rd grade education to really believe you want to put your blu-ray rips onto a device with a 9.7″ screen.

  5. Lee

    03/03/2011 at 5:30 am

    I agree with you about some specs, but there are some that are important to UE (User Experience), and there are some (missing) features that can have large impacts on UE.

    For UE (User Experience) the missing relevant specs are weight size and battery life.

    If it wasn’t for battery I would prefer using a windows 7 tablet, despite how many apps are released I still feel handicapped on iOS/Android based systems.

    With size and weight I prefer a 7 inch tablet or maybe an 8 inch, I like the fact I can still toss my Galaxy Tab in my Jacket pocket and have on my dash or sun visor as GPS replacement. I think there is a lot of people who feel the same.

    And while the HTC Flyer lacks the specs of the others (no dual core or Honeycomb), I am really interested in having a real stylus as an alternative means of input. And if I’m not mistaken it’s “palm rejection” is really a software issue with the fact that the Android SDK doesn’t support a separate input device.

  6. Larry

    03/03/2011 at 7:08 am

    Sadly outside the dual core processor in itself, every other hardware on the iPad 2 is already outdated. Same hardware on an Android tablet would be considered substandard including its 3G only connectivity.
    I think my phone 5 years ago had a higher megapixels camera than the iPad 2. People who say specs don’t matter are the same people who think iPhone 4GS is 4G capable because it says 4G in the name. I never get tired of hearing that one from iPhone owners.

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