Android tablets are numerous but few have managed to come close enough to Apple’s iPad 2 to provide a real challenge. Today’s contender, the upcoming Xoom 2 from Motorola, aims to change that.

Will the Xoom 2 win the day, or will it be yet another contender steam-rollered by the iPad 2’s seemingly limitless charm and good looks?

Build & Form
Apple iPad 2 – 241.2×185.7×8.8 mm, 607g
Motorola Xoom 2 – 253.9×173.6×8.8mm, 599g

There isn’t much between these devices in terms of design and build. They are both slim, relatively light and admirably crafted.

The Xoom 2, with its nicely rounded off corners and slim bevel certainly looks as if someone with an artistic eye has had a hand in its design, and the improvements over the previous model are easy to see.

The iPad 2 is no ugly duckling though, and as with all Apple products you can see a lot of thought has gone into the aesthetic of the device.

Winner – Draw

Motorola’s Xoom 2 is powered by a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU clocked at 1.2GHz and also benefits from a ULP GeForce GPU, making it a peach for playing games and enjoying other visual content.

We’d hoped to see more than the requisite 1GB RAM, to give the device more lastability but it’s by no means a deal breaker.

The iPad 2 runs on a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, making it a gnats slower than the Xoom 2. The device’s PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU is perfectly fast and capable though, making gaming a fast, fun experience on the device.

With only 512MB RAM the iPad 2 falls short of what we’ve come to expect from a top-level mobile device. iOS 5 uses what it has very efficiently though, so it needn’t be a huge drawback.

Winner – Motorola Xoom 2

Apple’s iPad 2 features a 0.7-megapixel primary camera which is, to be frank, a massive let down. Performance is weak even in ideal conditions and we’d really hoped to see more from Apple, especially after it gave us all such a treat with the iPhone 4 camera.

The device does capture video at 720P though, and the quality is pleasingly good. The secondary camera, a VGA, isn’t hugely powerful, though it serves its purpose well enough.

The Motorola Xoom 2 is much more the ticket with a 5-megapixel primary camera, with LED flash, geo-tagging and 720P video capture and a secondary 1.3-megapixel offering for video chatting and the like.

Winner – Motorola Xoom 2

Apple’s mobile devices are known for their reliance on the company’s iOS platform, and what a fantastic piece of software it is.

The user-interface is amazingly simple to use, but powerful and highly functional nonetheless, and the amount of apps on offer in the Apple App Store is huge, with over 4000 designed specifically for the iPad 2 and its older sibling.

The Xoom 2 runs version 3.2 of Android, which has been specifically designed by Google with tablets in mind.

The platform is fast, fun to use and offers plenty of customisation potential, as well as flash browsing – which is more than can be said for the iPad 2!

There are a good number of high quality app among the 352,000+ on offer in the Android Market, but if you’re looking for tablet-centric applications you should give Android a wide-berth, as the amount designed for tablets is embarrassingly small.

Both operating systems have their own virtues. Android is much more open than Apple’s software; which is a boon to advanced users, while iOS is much more polished and slick. Overall Apple’s software is the more pleasing to use though, which is what counts.

Winner – Apple iPad 2

The iPad 2 features a high quality 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS TFT display which operates at a resolution of 768 x 1024 and has a pixel density of 132PPI.

The screen performs well and offers a consistently high visual standard, though it does fall well short of the Retina Display technology that you’ll find in the iPhone 4 and 4S.

The Xoom 2’s screen is decent, but doesn’t really offer anything new or special.

It’s responsive, hard-wearing (thanks to its Gorilla Glass frontage) and does the job but when compared the iPad 2 does appear a little flat and cold.

Winner – Apple iPad 2

It’s a draw!

Both of these tablets have a lot to love about them. The iPad 2 is exceptionally easy to use and benefits from Apple’s huge app library, while the Xoom 2 is more powerful and has by far the more pleasing photographic capabilities.

If we were put on the spot we’d take an iPad 2 over a Xoom 2 simply because there is more you can accomplish on the device, thanks to greater developer support. Sure, it may be less powerful but what’s the point of having all that muscle if you’re never in a position to really use it?

What matters is what you want though, and if you’re weighing-up a new tablet then you could do far worse than either of these.


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