Apple Announces iPad 2: Thinner, Cameras, Dual-Core Processor [UPDATE]

Apple announced the iPad 2 Wednesday at a media event in San Francisco. The new device is thinner, features front and rear-facing cameras, and has a new dual-core processor Apple is calling the A5. The company also said it features a 10 hour battery, and that the 3G version will run on both Verizon (CDMA) and AT&T (GSM) networks out of the box. Oh, and there’s a white option that will be available on day one.

White iPad 2

The device is a third thinner than its predecessor, a stunning achievement in the 10+ months since the original iPad was introduced. It’s 8.8mm, down from 13.4mm, which is thinner even than the iPhone 4, which is 9.3mm thick. It weighs 1.3 lbs., down from the 1.5 lbs. of the original device.

Apple also added HDMI out to the iPad 2, via an optional $39 adapter for the Dock. This feature supports up to 1080p out, it supports rotation, and can charge your iPad while you are using it in this fashion. Even better, it works for all apps (as opposed to just video or images or Apple apps).

The rear-facing camera is capable of capturing 720p video, while the front-facing camera is VGA quality only (a curious choice considering the introduction of FaceTime HD cameras on the new MacBook Pro models). iPad 2 will also support FaceTime, though not the sending of FaceTime HD calls, as the front-facing camera is 800 x 600 (VGA-quality).

The new iPad features the same resolution, 1028 x 768, as the original, which runs contrary to some rumors and supposed leaks that were circulating. What is new, however, is LED backlighting for the device. LED offers better colors and lower power consumption, which likely helped in extending the battery life of the device.

Apple is keeping the pricing of the original device, as well as the same storage levels of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB priced at US$499, $599, and $699 for the WiFi-only models. Models equipped with 3G capabilities will be priced at $629, $729, and $829.

Apple said it will ship on March 11th. The company has updated both the iPad site and the Apple Store to include more information for the new device. Currently the Apple Store offers no pore-order information.

[Update: This article was updated with photos and additional details. - Editor]

iPad 2