Just as the iPad 2 was an improvement over the original, the third generation iPad is better than its predecessor. Sometimes, however, iPads from the same generation are superior to those made earlier in the product life cycle, according to AnandTech.

In March, Apple debuted the third generation iPad. At the same time, the company announced the iPad 2 16GB would remain, but at a lower price, $399. Surprisingly, these newer second generation tablets are better than the originals.

The fourth and latest product model of the iPad 2 (known as iPad 2,4) includes not only a lower price tag but also a new 32nm processor, which is “significantly smaller and more efficient” than those on previous iPad 2s.

The iPad 2,4 replaced the iPad 2,1, which was Wi-Fi only. Other iPad 2s models include the 2,2 (GSM) and 2,3 (CDMA).

Revised iPad 2 Lineup

Revised iPad 2 Lineup

The new processor “results in an overall 16 percent increase in battery life during Web browsing and as much as a 30 percent boost when playing games.”

So how do you find these iPad 2,4 models?

Currently, there is no way to identify an iPad’s exact model, at least by looking at the box. Unfortunately, even by opening the box, finding out whether the unit is unique is difficult.

The only way to truly know is to power up the iPad and then download and install the Geekbench utility. Using the app, you’ll find the tablet’s model number, OS, processor, and memory. If your tablet model is identified as iPad 2,4 and it has iOS 5.1 preinstalled, you’re in luck. The original iPad 2,1 had iOS 5.01 preinstalled.

The New iPad 2,4

The New iPad 2,4

32nm A5 in iPad 2,4 (Source: Chipworks)

32nm A5 in iPad 2,4 (Source: Chipworks)

It’s nice knowing Apple is improving the iPad 2, even as it focuses on the third generation model. Still, we think it would be wise for Apple (or their vendors) to advertise this fact with consumers. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Wouldn’t you like to know if the iPad 2 you’re looking at is better than the one your friend bought last year?