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Five years later, my sturdy iPad 2 keeps plugging along

Joel Mathis | April 29, 2016
Newer iPads might be faster or have higher resolution, but Apple's 2nd-generation tablet keeps getting the job done.

It’s been five years since I bought a then-brand-new iPad 2, and—unsurprisingly—the machine I bought back then now shows every bit of its age: There are cracks in the bezel, scratches on the back, and the 30-pin syncing/charging cable that it came with has some bare stretches of wire that need some electrical tape, probably sooner than later.

Yeah, it might make sense to replace it, trade it in, and flat-out retire it—considering how many iPad models Apple has in its stores today. However, this aging tablet remains one of the most-used pieces of electronic hardware in my household.

My son plays his Minecraft games and watches Netflix Kids when we need him out of our hair. When we’re in the mood for music, we plug it into our stereo and stream the tunes, often from Amazon Prime’s service. And in a pinch, it still serves as a handy e-reader and document tool, good for catching up on books and signing PDFs. I even regularly use it for my work assignments.

I’ve often wondered if Apple didn’t essentially achieve perfection with its 2nd-generation tablet.

Our iPad 2—a basic, 16 GB Wi-Fi-only version, purchased new for $500 in spring 2011 —has proven so useful for so long, that I’ve often wondered if Apple didn’t essentially achieve perfection with its 2nd-generation tablet. Every iteration of the iPad since then has essentially been an update—newer, faster electronics—or a variation in size. But we haven’t had the need to buy another full-sized iPad, since our old reliable is still chugging along just fine.

ipad 2gen 
Credit: Apple

Why the iPad 2?

As it turns out, we’re not the only family getting good use out of our iPad 2. As recently as November, analytics firm Localytics reported that the 2nd-generation iPad was still—four-and-a-half years after its launch—the most-adopted model of Apple’s tablet lineup, commanding 20 percent of the market.

Why has it proven so durable? It’s probably a combination of the way it was built and the way we’ve used it. Here’s a closer look:

It’s deceptively sturdy: The 1st-generation iPad suddenly felt like a ton of bricks when the iPad 2 came out—the younger tablet was as much as a quarter-pound lighter than its predecessor, making it feel fragile. “It’s less than half an inch thick, aluminum and glass,” one Apple message board user wrote in 2012, warning another buyer. “Treat it carefully.”

ipad2corner 228521
Remember how sturdy this thing was?

We’ve had a few cases for our iPad 2 over the years, including a Bluetooth keyboard case, but mostly it’s sat around without protection. Wise? Probably not: Our son was two years old when we purchased the tablet, and he adored it. I can’t count the number of times I watched horrified as my then-toddler grabbed the machine, only to immediately drop it, hard, on the floor. I kept expecting to pick it up with a spider-webbed touchscreen, but often found only minor damage. When cracks started appearing in the bezel, it seemed like it might be time to retire the iPad 2.


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