New iPad's VGA front camera and Apple's history of holding back from perfection

Summary:I can't wait to see the display on my new iPad, but am a bit disappointed that the front facing camera is only VGA quality. Will there always be just one more thing missing from new mobile products?

I'm excited to finally see the display on my new Verizon LTE iPad tomorrow, but as I look at the reviews that went live last night and think more about the new iPad I can't help but notice Apple, and many other manufacturers, always seem to leave out one or two things that could have made the device near perfect. I'm not talking about technology and features that are futuristic, but functions and hardware that is available today on other devices. Android smartphone manufacturers do a better job of including the latest technology, but many offer incremental updates (slight increase in camera resolution, bump up in processor speed) every couple of months and flood the market with device models that confuse the consumer.

I have never used my iPad 2s rear camera, but I do use the front one for Skype and FaceTime so I am confused why Apple thought they had to significantly improve the back camera while leaving the front facing camera a simple VGA model. Most Android devices have 1.3 megapixel or higher front facing cameras and the BlackBerry PlayBook has an excellent 3 megapixel model that results in very high quality video chat sessions through their application and service. I would like to have seen Apple launch this new iPad with a 2 megapixel or higher front facing camera, wouldn't you?

Looking back through the recent history of Apple's iPhone and iPad products, here is my take on holdbacks made when the technology was readily available at the time of the launches. Keep in mind for the average consumer these are minor issues, but there always seems to be something where Apple could have stepped up and given us "one more thing." These same kind of issues were present in the iPod history.

  • Original iPhone: No 3G when it was readily available on other phones
  • iPhone 3G: 412 MHz processor, 2 megapixel camera, no voice control
  • iPhone 3GS: 3 megapixel camera with VGA video
  • iPhone 4: VGA front facing camera limited to WiFi only FaceTime use
  • iPhone 4S: No 4G LTE or fast HSPA+ (limited to just 14.4 Mbps speeds) and no increase in screen size.

  • Original iPad: No cameras, 256 MB RAM
  • iPad 2: Same 1024 × 768 resolution display, VGA FFC, lame rear camera
  • New iPad (iPad 3): Limited VGA FFC

I have several Apple products, an iPhone 4S, iPad, couple of MacBook Pros, and find the hardware and user experience to be excellent. Apple innovates on things like display quality and the user experience. Apple computers and devices have been in my life since 1989 and I will continue to buy them in the future. I think my 2009 MacBook Pro was near perfect at launch and there is nothing I wanted more in the device at the time. However, I sure would like to have an iPad or iPhone that didn't have me wishing Apple would have gone just a bit further and offered a complete product.

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Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Mobility

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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