Face Off: Apple iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom


The iPad 2’s Smart Cover is pretty sweet, though it only protects the screen and not the entire tablet’s surface. We like the simplicity of the magnetic attachment, the auto-sleep function, and the cover’s origami-esque versatility. It’s a stand, it’s a cover, it’s a handy grip, it’s a floor wax! The Xoom’s default case is awkward to use and a little bit ugly. Even when compared to Apple’s cover for the first iPad it falls flat.

As for docks, Motorola impressed us with the Xoom’s Speaker HD Dock, whose sound quality and volume blew us away. We like that it includes HDMI output as well. The iPad 2’s standard dock is simple and minimalist — no surprise there — but does at least allow charging and syncing though the 30-pin port.

Apple offers several other accessories, including VGA and AV Adapters (for HDMI). However, these cost $29 and $39 extra, where the Xoom’s HDMI output it built-in.

Both Motorola and Apple make Bluetooth keyboards for their tablets that match the aesthetic of each and are easy to pair.

The problem for the Xoom is that third-party accessory makers flock to Apple products with much more gusto than they do to other devices. There are dozens of cases, covers, stands, keyboards and more accessories for the iPad 2 already. So far there are only a handful of accessories made for the Xoom outside of Motorola’s offerings.

Winner: iPad 2

The sea of readily available accessories, plus Apple’s well-crafted Smart Cover, cover puts the iPad 2 over the top.

Pricing and Value

Counting 3G versions available from both AT&T and Verizon, there are 9 different iPad 2 models on the market.

iPad vs Xoom Pricing


Storage Connectivity Price Connectivity
16GB Wi-Fi $499

32GB Wi-Fi $599 Wi-Fi $599
64GB Wi-Fi $699

16GB 3G (AT&T or Verizon) $629

32GB 3G (AT&T or Verizon) $729 3G (Verizon Wireless) $599 with two year-contract, $799 without
64GB 3G (AT&T or Verizon) $829

The Xoom comes in two versions: 3G/4G (with upgrade) and Wi-Fi only. The only storage choice is 32GB.

The Wi-Fi only versions of both tablets cost the same for the same amount of storage, but the iPad 2 offers more options with a 16GB model starting at just $499 and a 64GB version for $699. The 32GB Xoom for Verizon costs more unsubsidized than the same iPad 2, but Motorola’s offering will have 4G in the (hopefully near) future, while the iPad 2 won’t have that option. But, once again, Apple provides more choices, not only with other storage sizes but with carriers as well.

Carrier Data Plans
Verizon Wireless 1GB for $20/mo 3GB for $35/mo 5GB for $50/mo 10GB for $80/mo
AT&T 250MB for $14.99/mo 2GB for $25/mo

If you live in an area with good AT&T coverage, AT&T’s data plans offer more gigabytes for your buck than Verizon Wireless.

Winner: iPad 2

The Xoom is on a par price-wise when you’re talking about the same amount of storage, but only the iPad 2 starts at a very affordable $499 and is available through multiple carriers.

Motorola Xoom vs. iPad 2

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  1. pjs_boston Says:

    Funny, my impression of the videos taken on each device show that the iPad is better than the Xoom for taking video in both low light and bright light conditions. The color balance on the Xoom looked wrong and the footage looked consistently overexposed. Was any objective criterion used to judge the video quality?

    From my experience with a generation 1 iPad, page loading speed is the most important aspect of the web browsing experience. These tablets are not PC’s, so web page rendering speed is not measured in milliseconds but in many seconds. Slow page loading is a serious usability hiccup on any ARM based mobile device. I’d have to give the browser category to the iPad, simply because it loads pages so much faster than the Xoom.

  2. Bob Says:

    Nice review! I do take exception to the browsing category. You gave the Xoom the win based on the fact it has flash, even though it is 3-4 times slower than the iPad? I’d go for speed and less animated ads any day.

  3. Sammy72 Says:

    You can keep the rear camera on both of these things. I’ll never be the dork holding up a tablet to take a picture!

  4. PTtilted Says:

    This is the second review I’ve seen that gives the UI edge to XOOM. Ridiculous! The UI should not be a distraction.

    You lost me at “Using Android 3.0 requires a small learning curve compared to iOS”

    Consumer FAIL – Nerd WIN!

  5. OpinionatedYouth Says:

    So… the iPad wins in being a toy, but when it comes to being useful the Xoom wins?

  6. JuJu Says:

    The web browsing loading speed was not fairly tested. The Xoom had flash enabled and was actually loading more content than the iPad 2. Other test results on the net have shown that both the iPad 2 and the Xoom are very close (1 or 2 second differences) in webpage loading times.

  7. K. T. Bradford Says:

    @PTtilted, a few things:

    1. Nerds are consumers, too.

    2. There’s nothing wrong with being a nerd. Nerds are awesome.

    3. If a product causes you to add another wrinkle to your brain, to gain more knowledge and open up experiences to new things, that is not a fail. If it was, humans would have never learned written language or discovered fire. (Not in that order, necessarily…)


    On video quality, the YouTube versions don’t display the difference as well, but the raw video files do. That said, if you’re only ever going to upload to YouTube the iPad’s output may be good enough. But since yu can use the tablet to cut and even throw the videos up on an HD screen, you don’t want to look at the result and go: ew.

  8. lrd Says:

    Hey, Apple sold more iPAD 2′s in the 1st hour than Motorola Xoom’s did in the past month.

    The iPAD 2 could turn out to be Apple’s killing machine:

    1st it will kill the Galaxy & Xoom. Pretty much a given already.

    Then the Playbook. In the meantime, notebooks and maybe PCs too. Acer just issued a warning.

    And then it will do in HP’s tablet and you might as well count the phones too because they’re not going anywhere with just a different logo on them.

    And finally, the iPAD 2 killing machine will do in Google (no more copycat products- per Steve Jobs).

    Hooray for the iPAD 2!

  9. i told u so.com Says:

    until the touchpad is released that is, for now we’ll let Apple take down the inferior products. :)

  10. Roger Mercer Says:

    You left out the most important factor: Which has the highest “joyful and sheer delight to use” quotient? I’d be shocked if iPad did not win that one by a landslide.

  11. OpinionatedYouth Says:


    Tablets will not be taking over notebooks and PCs anytime soon. They simply don’t have the power, and more importantly, tablets are toys. They don’t offer to people anything they can do on another product. They are more or less fancy toys that can browse the internet and use apps your phone can.
    It’s going to be a while before the tablet because a product that takes more importance then the notebook or pc.

  12. Mugsy P Says:

    Of course the Ipad2 is the clear winner as it should be. What’s scary for apple is how good the Zoom actually is. It does beat the original ipad in many ways. Which was its main competition. With 4G the zoom will blow away the ipad2 in website loading speed. Plus the included hardware ports at no extra charge are a plus. Apples answer to this is “there’s a dongle for that!” In terms of value it depends on needs. Though def. Not an ipad2 killer. The Zoom is an excellent alternative and for a first time product very compelling indeed.

  13. Dr. Video Says:

    The color in Xoom’s camera is so off that you won’t be using that for shooting any video either. Did you configure the colors to be like that or is it hardcoded? Also: Does Android still require you to use Task Manager? That’s a no-deal for me ever since I bought the iPhone: automatic task management is a must-have.

  14. XoomRightToTrashHeap Says:

    So, Xoom wins the “Software” category with it’s amazing array of 30 apps? All the bells and whistles of Android 3.0 means squat if there are no apps to download and use.

  15. DSz Says:

    The ipad screen is physically bigger in area than the Xoom (45.2 sq. In. Vs. 43.6). The Xoom has 30% more pixels (higher pixel density).

  16. Bud K. Says:

    Interesting review. I’m not sure the XOOM won the browser category for, in part, having Flash. Really? I thought Flash was “coming at a later date.” Also, you mention software. Where? And as far as the interface goes, how good is it if it can’t charge and sync at the same time? I learned long ago that when it comes to tech, it’s the here and now that counts. The blue sky stuff many times never arrives. Look at the crop of tablets that were slated (pardon the pun) for last year. How few actually came out.

  17. Geese Says:

    Ipad users, you can tell who you are. I don’t like Apples closed ecosystem on its products. I like to do what I want with my product and you can’t do that with Ipad unless you hack it. It’s nice but not for me, I prefer and Android tablet and lets so who wins the race. 24 months from now when the smoke clears I believe the tale of the tape will be different, just like cellphones.

  18. Lawrence Says:

    I think the article missed a few important issues:

    1. Expandability – iPad does not have memory card slots. When you travel and wish to view your photos, you must bring with your laptop and use iTunes to upload your photos to iPad. For the Xoom, you can use a micro SD card insert it to an adapter as a micro SD card into your camera.

    2. Big Brother – please view Computerworld’s review: http://blogs.computerworld.com/17901/eight_reasons_the_motorola_xoom_beats_the_ipad
    Apple treats their customers as pirates and must go through its big brother iTunes.

    3. Interface with PC – once you connect your USB with the PC, it is almost instant that you will see the drive and again, iPad needs iTune for interface. It is so slow and not user friendly.

    4. Email/Contact Sync – If your contacts, calendar and email are all resided at gmail, then Xoom is your choice. However if your stuffs are at Microsoft Exchanger Server, Honeycomb is not your choice. For those who has multiple contact files and many folders, the Honeycomb O/S is very difficult to navigate around folders (even though it has improved quite a bit). There’s still problems on sending emails via the Honeycomb email software – sometimes it does not work.

    5. User Interface Response Time – The Xoom is still not as smooth as the iPad. This is very obvious when moving an icon from one location to another location. Some very simple application or games’s responsiveness is slower even than the Galaxy Captivate (same app).

    In general, I think it all depends on the user, what points are more important. For myself, I think expandability and big brother are the most important issues.

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