Apple announces iPad 2 – so how did our predictions stack up?

And just like that Apple makes the “magical” iPad first generation feel old, heavy and slow. The new iPad 2 sports a even more minimalistic design with tapered edges, a flat back and some better guts. Here is the rundown:

The bigger news is what is found on the inside however – the new device runs on a latest generation “A5” dual core processor, which apparently almost doubles application performance, but more importantly gives much, much better gaming performance. The iPad also now gains two cameras – one standard rear facing cam that cam record HD video, but also a front facing camera for use in Facetime and Photobooth (maybe now Skype will make a decent iPad application?). A gyroscope also finds its way into the iPad. All of these new features have not changed the iPad into a power hog – Apple still claims a 10 hour battery life.
The iPad is thinner this time round – only 8.8mm, which makes it even thinner than the iPhone 4, which is still one of the thinnest smartphones around, and weight has dropped by 15%. Doubt that will silence the Kindle fanboys, it is still nowhere near Amazon’s e-book reader. It still retains the steel chassis, but this time round it gets the option of a white bezel around the display, which actually looks quite good.

Apple also showed off its new cover for the iPad dubbed the “Smart Case” – essentially a flap that covers the front of the device that folds into a stand for easy typing or video watching. But somehow they made the case function brilliantly – its contains magnets that automatically aligns itself perfectly with the device, but also attaches using magnets. Opening the cover also switches the iPad on, closing it switches it off – an idea I guess they got from Blackberry right? Now the explanation might not explain exactly how cool this cover works – look at the video:

How cool is that?!!!?
This morning BandwidthBlog posted its predictions for the iPad 2 – so lets see how we did:
Improved form factor: Yes. But not really rocket science eh?
Double the memory: Unknown. We just dont know yet – but knowing iFixit, we will get the teardown soon enough. Competitors now ship with 1 Gigabytes, so lets see if Apple decides to follow suit.
Camera(s): Yes. Both front and rear. Rear records HD video, but no details yet on megapixels. Both front and rear cams record at 30fps.
More speaker power: Well, they did not give it stereo speakers, and we also dont know yet if the speaker is louder this time round.
Dual Core processor: Yup. And graphics is improved.
Support for GSM and CDMA networks: Currently it looks like Verizon iPads will sell seperately, so I do not know if it will sell as one device with an option to just switch between GSM and CDMA.
What we did NOT expect to be announced:
Retina display: Nope, did not happen.
128GB of storage: Did not happen.
A white iPad: I admit defeat. While the overall device is still silver, the bezel now has a white option.
A smaller 7 inch iPad: No go.
We were sketchy about these:
SD Card slot: Boo Apple – still an add on device. Not cool.
Dual Dock connector ports: Nope.
A “œSmart Bezel“: Nope, but the display does switch off if it gets covered by the new smart case. Few details still – does it function with a magnetic switch, or is it a standard proximity sensor?
What we also expected:

iOS 4.3: Yeah, it was announced. Expect it on 11 March. Includes new Airplay features, and the new Personal Hotspot feature.
iOS 5 Roadmap: Nope – guess Apple is keeping that for the WWDC conference.
So now the next question is how does one get one of these bad boys? Core will probably take a while to get it, because Apple did not include it in a list of countries which is getting this month already. Hopefully they do not take another 10 months this time round. If you are hasty however – there services that can ship the iPad 2 to you right here in sunny SA.
(Update: iPad 2 has been launched in South Africa)