Additional testing done by Alvin Soon.
Let's get this out of the way: The iPad 2's camera doesn't take great photos.
To be fair, it probably isn't meant to. Apple is mainly marketing the cameras for FaceTime functionality as even the form factor isn't ideal for photo taking. The back-facing camera's resolution is a mere 960 x 720 pixels, less than one megapixel! Most of the mobile phones on the market today would fare better.
On our standard resolution chart test, the iPad 2's camera managed – at best – 600LPH (lines per picture height) horizontally and vertically. To put that into perspective, the iPhone 4 manages to capture almost twice as much detail, at 1200 x 1000LPH horizontal and vertical and a larger image at 2592 x 1936 pixels (5MP effective). An average compact camera manages around 1400 to 1600LPH. In the following shots below, we give you a comparison of test shots of the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4:-
It's not just the iPhone 4's imaging results that beat the iPad 2's, but it's also in other aspects such as ease of use, faster and more accurate auto-focus, and finally the phone is certainly much easier to hold.
While Apple has added cameras to the iPad 2, they're certainly negligible as photographic tools, except for when you just have no other camera around and you really want to nail that shot. Which is just as well, we shudder to imagine crowds on the streets holding 10-inch electronic slabs up to take pictures with. Besides, in this day and age, a mobile phone without a camera is hard to come by and it's very likely anyone and everyone totes a mobile phone.