Apple has unveiled the much-anticipated iPad 2, promising a device that is twice as fast as its predecessor.
The product, announced by Steve Jobs himself in a rare public appearance since his latest medical leave, is also one third thinner and 15% lighter than the original iPad.
The iPad 2 will begin shipping in the US on March 11 and internationally on March 25 - originally to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the rest of North America and 21 European countries. Apple said it plans to launch in “many more countries around the world” in coming months.
Apple said that for the US launch it will provide versions compatible with both AT&T's GSM and Verizon's CDMA 3G networks.
It will use a new dual-core A5 processor, and be powered by iOS 4.3. The base version will have 16GB of memory, scaling up to 64GB on the highest-end model. It will come in black and white from launch.
It will use the same screen as the original iPad, but use new graphics processing capabilities that Jobs said promises a ninefold speed boost.
As expected, the device will come with two cameras, including a front-facing one capable of recording 720p HD video.
The base model will have an RRP of $499 in the US, the same as the first iPad. To coincide with the launch, prices for the original models have been shaved by $100, Engadgetreported.
Commenting on the fact that the iPad 2 will hit the shelves less than a year after the first, Ovum analyst Adam Leach said that “in such a fast moving market Apple is forced to release new versions of its hardware to stay ahead.”
But Apple's first-mover advantage should help it enjoy a market lead over Android until at least 2015, when devices based on Google platforms overtake those on Apple's iOS by a margin of 36% to 35%, he added.
Jobs used his appearance to take some shots at rival entrants into the tablet market, stating that the companies were “flummoxed” by the iPad and stating that 2011 will be the year of the iPad copycats.