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The first iPad launched 5 years ago today, see how much it has changed

by Todd Haselton | April 3, 2015April 3, 2015 1:00 pm PDT

The first iPad hit the market five years ago today, and it changed everything. Apple wasn’t the first company to launch a tablet, others had been down that road, but it was the first company to create a product with mass appeal. By 2012, just about two years later, Apple controlled nearly 60 percent of the tablet market, despite new competition from Android OEMs. As of this past June, Apple has sold more than 200 million iPads.

In an effort to celebrate the launch, we thought it might be fun to take another look at the original iPad, in addition to the latest model, the iPad Air 2, to see just how far the iPad has come in five years.

The original iPad with Wi-Fi launched on April 3, 2010, shortly before the 3G model hit a few weeks later on April 30. It packed just 256MB of RAM, a Cortex A8 processor clocked at 1GHz, a 9.7-inch 1024 x 768-pixel display, didn’t have any cameras to speak of and was a half of an inch thick.

The iPad Air 2, by comparison, packs a much sharper 2048 x 1536-pixel display, an A8X chip, 2GB of RAM (8x that of the original iPad), an 8-megapixel camera, a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, support for the latest Wi-Fi and LTE networks, a fingerprint reader, up to 128GB of storage and, of course, iOS 8 which offers much more than the original software on the first iPad, putting all of that hardware to good use. Even more impressive – the iPad Air 2 is half as thick as the first iPad, measuring in at 0.24-inches thick.

The original iPad, once dismissed by some critics as merely a larger iPhone, eventually wound up in classrooms and businesses around the world, serving not only as a media machine but a full-fledged computer. It kicked off a revolution in the industry, too, and consumers now have choices from hundreds of Android and Windows tablets. We can go back and forth on what the best tablet is today, but there’s no dismissing that the iPad started something incredibly special that resulted in more choice for everyone.

While sales of the iPad have slumped during recent quarters, Apple is expected to eventually release its rumored iPad Pro, which may usher in a new age of iOS tablets, perhaps with a deeper focus on productivity and multitasking, and with the largest display on an iPad to date. And that begs the question: where will we be five years from now, when the iPad has been on the market for 10 years?

One can only imagine, but Moore’s law would suggest we’ll be far beyond what we have today.

Apple - iPad Apple - iPad Air 2
Display Size 9.7-inch, 768 x 1024 pixel display (132 ppi) 9.7-inch, 1536 x 2048 pixel display (264 ppi)
Resolution X 768 1536
Resolution Y 1024 2048
Display Type LED-backlit IPS LCD LED-backlit widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
Operating System iOS 3.2 (at launch) iOS 8.1 (at launch)
Processor 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 A8X chip with 64‑bit architecture and M8 motion coprocessor
RAM 256MB 2GB
Storage
  • 16GB
  • 32GB
  • 64GB
  • 16GB
  • 64GB
  • 128GB
External Storage No No
Main Camera (Back) N/A 8MP
Secondary Camera (Front) N/A 1.2MP
Networks
  • GSM/EDGE: 850, 900, 1800, 1900
  • UMTS/HSDPA: 850, 1900, 2100
  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900)
  • GSM/EDGE
  • LTE: Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 38, 39, 40, 41
  • UMTS/​HSPA/​HSPA+/​DC‑HSDPA: 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Bluetooth 4.0
Battery Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music: Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using 3G data network Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video, or listening to music: Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network
NFC No No
Connectivity
  • 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • 30 pin connector
  • 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • Lightning
  • Touch ID
Sensors
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Barometer
  • Three-axis gyro
GPS
  • A-GPS
  • Digital compass
  • A-GPS (cellular model only)
  • Digital compass
  • GLONASS (cellular model only)
  • iBeacon microlocation
Height 9.56 inches (24.28 cm) 9.4 inches (23.88 cm)
Width 7.47 inches (18.97 cm) 6.6 inches (16.76 cm)
Depth 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) 0.24 inches (6.1 mm)
Weight 680 g (23.99 oz) 434 g (15.31 oz)
Colors N/A Gold, Gray, White
Supported Audio Formats AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
Supported Video Formats H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats H.264 video up to 1080p, 60 frames per second, High Profile level 5.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
In The Box N/A N/A

Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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