Apple iPad 2 Lighter Thanks to Thinner Battery: Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

The Apple iPad 2 is even thinner and lighter than its predecessor, thanks to a new battery design.

Apple managed to significantly reduce the thickness and weight of the iPad 2 compared to the first edition iPad by trimming the dimensions of several key components, most notably the battery, an IHS iSuppli teardown analysis revealed. The total thickness of the iPad 2 is 8.8 millimeters (0.35 inches), down 34 percent from 13.4 millimeters (0.5 inches) for the original iPad. The iPad 2 weighs about 600 grams, down 15 percent from 700 grams for the first iPad.

The biggest reduction in thickness came in the iPad 2’s battery subsystem, according to the teardown report. This section in the iPad 2 is 2.5 millimeters thick, a 59 percent reduction from 6.1 millimeters for the first-generation iPad. "This refinement to the iPad design spurred a 10 to 15 percent increase in its iPad 2 power density, which is a measure of battery life relative to the mass of the battery," the report said. "It shrinks the iPad 2’s weight by 5 grams, while still delivering the same battery lifetime."

Another factor contributing to the thinner form factor was the elimination of a stamped sheet metal frame from the display. This slashed the size of the display subsystem to 2.5 millimeters, down 17 percent from 3 millimeters for the iPad 1, the report noted. On the touch screen overlay, Apple has adopted a new glass technology that allows it to reduce the thickness of the section while maintaining durability. The touch screen overlay on the iPad 2 is 0.6 millimeters thick, down 25 percent from 0.8 millimeters for the iPad 1.

"The iPad 2 battery design represents a major shift from the iPad 1," said Kevin Keller, principal analyst for the IHS iSuppli teardown analysis service. "Apple moved from two thicker cells to three thinner ones, flattening out the entire battery structure. The new design also allowed Apple to eliminate an injection-molded plastic support frame from the battery subsystem, further cutting down its thickness."

Physical tests conducted by IHS revealed the iPad 2 glass is more flexible than the glass used in the original iPad, a characteristic of increased durability. The iPad 2 also slightly trims the space between the rear of the display and the top of the batteries. This space now amounts to 1.3 millimeters in size, down 19 percent from 1.6 millimeters in the iPad 1.

"Leveraging its unparalleled design capabilities, Apple has upped the competitive ante on tablet form factors by substantially decreasing the thickness and weight of the iPad 2," Keller said.  "Apple has particularly focused on thickness as a point of differentiation for the iPad 2. Other new tablets coming to market, all of which are about as thick as the iPad 1, now look fat in comparison to the iPad 2. This is likely to cause a scramble as competitors rush to slim down to match Apple."