First Look: Inside the iPad 2

iPad 2 ignites buying frenzy despite having less RAM than competitors.

It was 5 p.m. on Friday when the doors of the Apple Store in Walnut Creek, Calif., a shopping Mecca 30 miles east of San Francisco, finally opened amid cheers. The first iPad 2 customers in a long line that wound around the block had been waiting since 6 a.m.

Early the next morning, long lines began forming at the Apple Store in San Francisco and elsewhere.

There's no question getting inside an Apple Store won't be quick and easy - and neither will be getting inside the iPad 2 itself, according to iFixit, a website that provides free repair manuals and advice forums mostly aimed at Apple products.

[ Got a shiny new iPad 2? Here are 15 best iPad apps you should download right away. ]

iFixit began its teardown of the iPad 2 on Friday, and found that the front glass panel was glued in place. The original iPad's glass panel was held by tabs that allowed the glass to be easily removed. The iPad 2 glass is also thinner (.62 mm) compared to the original iPad glass (.85 mm).

So what does this mean? "It's nearly impossible to open the iPad 2 without shattering the glass," says Miroslav Djuric, director of technical communication at iFixit.

Apparently, iFixit technicians broke the glass because they eventually took a peek inside. Among the components only a geek could love were a similar-sized battery and a 1GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor that appears to have come from Samsung.

More importantly, iFixit was able to confirm that the iPad 2 has 512MB of RAM.

The original iPad has only 256MB of RAM, which critics seized upon as a major shortcoming. Further fanning the flames, Apple didn't specify the iPad 2's RAM during its unveiling or on tech spec sheets. Rumors quickly surfaced that the iPad 2, like the original iPad, only had 256MB.

The iPad 2's 512MB of RAM is still far short of the 1GB of RAM in the Motorola Xoom, Hewlett-Packard TouchPad and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook.

Whether or not the amount of RAM will sway consumers toward one tablet over another is anyone's guess. But if mobile app developers can take advantage of the extra RAM in other tablets and build apps that perform less impressively on the iPad 2, then Apple may have to address the issue.

Early signs of iPad mania, though, show that consumers aren't concerned at all. The iPad 2 went on sale in Apple's online store in the wee hours of Friday morning, and demand quickly outstripped supply. iPad 2 shipping times went from 2-3 business days to 2-3 weeks.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at tkanshige@cio.com

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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