Apple iPad 2's Thinner Thanks to Design Tweaks, New Tech: Report

Apple's iPad 2's thinner design is due to tweaks to its battery design, some removed elements, and some new glass technology, according to IHS iSuppli.

Apple's weight-loss regimen for the iPad 2 included redesigning the battery structure, adopting some new technologies, and eliminating one key part.

That's according to a March 16 report from analysis firm IHS iSuppli, which conducted one of its high-profile teardowns of the next-generation tablet. According to that report, the slimming-down of the iPad 2's battery assembly was a key reason for the tablet's newfound slimness.

"The iPad 2 battery design represents a major shift from the iPad 1," Kevin Keller, principal analyst for the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service, wrote in a March 16 statement. "Apple moved from two thicker cells to three thinner ones, flattening out the entire battery structure." The redesign increased the tablet's battery density, in turn helping the iPad 2 to deliver some 10 hours of battery life.

Also, Keller added, "the new design also allowed Apple to eliminate an injection-molded plastic support frame from the battery subsystem, further cutting down its thickness." Apple further shaved down a bit of area between the display and the top of the battery assembly.

In order to trim the iPad 2 down to 8.8 millimeters in thickness-a 34 percent reduction from the original iPad's 13.4 millimeters-Apple also eliminated a stamped sheet-metal frame, adopting instead a "new glass technology" that allowed it to reduce the thickness of the touch-screen overlay while maintaining a sufficient degree of toughness.

"Apple has particularly focused on thickness as a point of differentiation for the iPad 2," Keller wrote. "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."

While Apple has not yet released official sales figures for the iPad 2's first weekend of release, a selected number of analysts believe the company sold between 500,000 and 600,000 of the tablets. In a March 8 research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted that the iPad 2 will sell 1 million units faster than its first-generation predecessor-which took 28 days to reach that mark-thanks, in part, he added, to the device's availability in a broader collection of retail stores.

On March 14, the iPad 2's first day of wide release, eWEEK toured three Apple stores in Manhattan and found similarly long lines at each. Across the country, Apple's retail partners-including Best Buy, Walmart, Target, AT&T and Verizon-reported shortages and outright sellouts of the tablet.