How to tell the difference between an iPad 2 and iPad 3?

by Iain Dawson

Yes, there are many differences between the iPad 2 and iPad 3 in terms of functionality, but at first there is no clear easy method to differentiate aesthetically. The original iPad's chunky exterior or the iPad 4's Lightning cable socket give them away but the iPad 2 and 3 are almost identically from the outside, until you look closer...

On close inspection there are a few differences, some easier to spot than others, however below we have listed some handy ways to determine what model of iPad you are using:

Size of the rear-facing iSight camera

There were a number of major upgrades between these two models, but one of the biggest was the bump in rear-facing camera from a measly 0.7MP 960x720 pixel effort to the more substation, yet not mind blowing, 5MP, 2592x1944 pixel effort for the iPad 3, and you don’t have to turn it on to notice the difference! Just take a peek at the lense; the iPad 3 camera should be a similar size to the camera of any iPhone that’s still worth having in your pocket, while the iPad 2 camera in miniscule in comparison.

Still not got it? But still want to figure it out using the camera? You could get your ruler out (the iPad 2 camera is around 5mm in diameter with the iPad 3 camera is closer to 7mm) or you could simply turn your device out and checkout the quality of the images, if you feel that confident! It's probably better looking fo features such as autofocus, Geo-tagging, touch focus and face detection that come with the iPad 3, rather than accessing an image with the naked eye.

Break out your ultra accurate scales or measuring device

There are minuscule differences is both size and weight too, but nothing you'd easily notice without pretty accurate measuring tools. The iPad 3 being tiny bit (0.6mm to be exact) thicker and a barely noticeable 51g heavier than the iPad 2 (55g for the cellular edition). However if you do fancy breaking the measuring tools out the table below should identify, which device you have:

  iPad 2 Wi-Fi iPad 2 3G iPad 3 Wi-Fi iPad 3 4G
Thickness 8.8mm 8.8m 9.4mm 9.4mm
Weight 601g 607g 652g 662g

If you’re unsure if your device is Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and cellular just look for a black plastic bar at the top centre on the back of your iPad - if you have this you have a cellular model. Cellular devices will of course also have a SIM tray - this is found at the top of the right side of the iPad when looking from the back.

The geeky way - model number and the likes

Of course Apple devices all have unique identifiers on the back too, so if you fancy getting the magnifying glass out or straining your eyes to read these tiny digits you can see a number of things you can identify your iPad from. Below is a handy wee table for you to look up (please note these are from UK models and may vary worldwide):

  iPad 2 Wi-Fi iPad 2 3G iPad 3 Wi-Fi iPad 3 4G
Model A1395 A1396 A1430 A1416
Serial (last four characters) White16GB - DKPH32GB - DKPJ64GB - DKPK
Black16GB - DFHW32GB - DFHY64GB - DFJ0
White16GB - ?32GB - DKNW64GB - DKNY
Black16GB - ?32GB - DFJ264GB - DLXG
White16GB - DVD132GB - DVD264GB - DVD3
Black16GB - DJ8T32GB - DJ8R64GB - DJ8V
White16GB - DVGK32GB - DVGL64GB - ?
Black16GB - DVGG32GB - DVGH64GB - ?
EMC 2415 2416 2578 2498
FCC ID BCGA1395 BCGA1396 BCGA1430 BCGA1416
IC 579C-A1395 579C-A1396 579C-A1430 579C-A1416

Alternatively you can type your Serial or IMEI (both available on back of you iPad or in the Settings>General>About menu of your device if you don’t fancy the eye strain) into Apple’s model checker.

Turning your iPad on

Yes there a number of ways to identify your specific type of iPad by turning the device on and playing around with it too, but most of these require either a degree of knowledge/experience with the other device or a bit of time to play around. Yes the upgrade to Retina Display with drastically increased pixel count on the iPad 3 means the screen is more vibrant, clear and colourful than that of its predecessor, but this is something that’s difficult to notice without the poorer screen to compare.

The iPad 3 also had a bump in performance, but it’s not substantial enough to notice without running both models side-by-side and let’s face if you have both models just looking at which has the smaller rear-facing camera is by far the easier identifier.