iPad 2’s New 32nm SoC Improves Battery Life Over 2 Hours

The lower priced iPad 2 that Apple introduced upon the release of the 3rd generation iPad in March has a new, more energy efficient processor that can increase battery life by over two hours compared to the “original” iPad 2, AnandTech reported Friday. The “new” iPad 2, designated “iPad 2,4” uses a 32 nanometer SoC (system on a chip), compared to the 45 nanometer SoC on its predecessor.

Apple's iPad LineupApple’s current iPad lineup, including the “new” iPad 2 with a 32nm A5 SoC (source: AnandTech)

The Samsung-sourced chip grants benefits to both Apple and consumers. From Apple’s perspective, the new SoC gives Apple the ability test out the 32nm process, likely to make its way into the next iPhone, on an existing architecture with lower volume, minimizing risk in the event of complications. It also helps lower manufacturing costs. 

For consumers, the chip performs at the same level as the “original” iPad 2, while providing better battery life and cooler operating temperatures.

In a Wi-Fi web browsing test, the 32nm iPad 2 scored 11.7 hours of battery life, compared to 10.1 hours for the 45nm version, an increase of 1.6 hours or 15.8 percent.

Under a processor-intensive gaming test using Infinity Blade 2, the 32nm iPad 2 nets 7.9 hours, compared to 6.12 hours for the 45nm iPad 2, a 1.78 hour increase, or 29 percent. A less stressful gaming test, Riptide GP, has the 32nm version reaching 8.82 hours compared to 6.77 hours for the 45nm iPad 2.

Finally, with a video playback test using 720p H.264 content, the 32nm iPad 2 gets an astonishing 15.7 hours of battery life compared to 13.3 hours for the 45nm version.

iPad Battery Life Comparison
Chart by The Mac Observer from AnandTech data.

This increased battery life is accompanied by lower operating temperatures, with the 32nm iPad 2 reaching a maximum temperature of 33.2 degrees Celsius compared to 34.2 degrees on the 45nm iPad 2 and 41.9 degrees on the warmer-running 3rd generation iPad. 

With such a significant increase in battery life, the 32nm iPad 2 may be useful for individuals who don’t need the 3rd generation iPad’s faster graphics performance or the improved resolution “retina display.”

Unfortunately, as AnandTech points out, the 32nm iPad 2,4 is difficult to find, with Apple and many of its partners still selling leftover stock of the 45nm iPad 2,1. There’s also no way to tell what version of the iPad 2 is in the box without opening it and running system benchmarking and profiling software like GeekBench.

Availability may improve over time as the original stock of 45nm iPad 2’s run out but, for now, if you’re in the market for an iPad 2 make sure the retailer you purchase it from has a good return policy in case the model you pick up isn’t 32nm.