Apple’s New iPad 2: Thinner, Lighter, Cameras and More

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You’ll also be able to use the iPad 2 as a personal Wi-Fi hotspot if you’ve got one of the 3G-enabled models. Camera-specific apps such as Photo Booth and FaceTime have been added as well.

And finally, the iPad 2’s mute switch can be configured to act as a screen rotation lock instead. Two new apps will be available at launch, too: iMovie for iPad ($5) and GarageBand for iPad ($5).

Version 4.3 of iOS will be a free upgrade for iPads, 3rd and 4th generation iPod Touch devices, and AT&T versions of the iPhone. Verizon’s iPhone runs a slightly different version of iOS (4.2.6) than AT&T’s (4.2.1) so it’ll be interesting to see if, when and how the Verizon version gets upgraded.

Analysis

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So we’re looking at a slightly thinner and lighter design, a dual-core processor, two cameras, two colors, and two options for cellular connectivity.

Other than that, the screen appears to be the same and, aside from apps that use the cameras, all the other software enhancements should be available for the original iPad on March 11 with the free iOS 4.3 upgrade.

The 33% thinner design (0.35 inches thick versus 0.5 inches thick) certainly looks nicer than the original, but the fact that the weight has only been reduced by 0.2 pounds probably won’t make it feel noticeably lighter.

This isn’t going to be a must-have purchase for most iPad owners, but those who have been anxiously awaiting cameras or who find the original iPad to run too sluggishly may be lined up at Apple stores on March 11. The addition of the optional Verizon connection may appeal to some people, too.

Perhaps the bigger issue is that what appears to be an incremental upgrade to the original iPad will almost certainly fuel growing rumors of yet another iPad version to be unveiled in time for the holidays. Wait even longer or buy now? That’ll be the question on a lot of people’s minds.

More on TIME.com:

Today’s iPad 2 ‘a Ho-Hum Update’ Compared to iPad 3?

The iPad 3 Rumor Mill Has Already Started Churning

Bad Idea: Steve Jobs May Show Up at the iPad Event Tomorrow

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