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LeapPad 2 vs. 3 – which of these child-friendly tablets works the best?

If you have young kids and want to keep them entertained, you might consider giving them a tablet – but, with understandable hesitation. As a plus, your child gets some interesting child-friendly apps and games to keep them busy, but a major negative is the expense involved when buying these tablets.

With that said, there are alternatives you can get specifically for them, instead of giving them your iPad or expensive tablet and risking damage. That comes in form of the LeapPad 2 and 3, which provide a high-quality experience that the usual tablet will give you without the risks of damage. Both also have their own ecosystem for the apps, while coming in a packaging that your child cannot break easily.

What are the differences between the LeapPad 2 and LeapPad 3?

LeapPad 2
LeapPad 3
Dimensions (inches)
0.59 x 8.54 x 5.94 (slightly smaller)
1 x 9.5 x 6 (slightly larger in size)
500 MHz
1 GHz
Battery life
8-9 hours
7 hours
Battery type
Removable AA (uses four)
Non-removable Li-ion battery

What are some of the differences between the LeapPad 2 and 3?


While the LeapPad 2 does its best to provide quality visuals and graphics, we cannot term the screen as retina-quality, and the viewing angles are not the best we have ever seen. The graphics are limited, though it still showcases child-friendly media like storybooks and cartoons easily.

It includes two cameras; one just above the screen and a two-megapixel one at the back. None of them have amazing photo quality, but that is not their purpose anyway – they can still take some quick pictures. There are many apps available though, although the pricing varies across different apps. The best part about these apps is their allowance for encouraging literacy, numeracy, and creativity (particularly in younger kids), thanks to the Leapfrog Connect Learning Path section – but it is annoying to see that the apps primarily cater to the American market alone.

The touch screen in the LeapPad 3 is the greatest improvement, because it easily registers movement. However, it still has the issue of low resolution, which makes the display seem grainy at times. Another major change is the use of an in-built Li-ion battery instead of the four AA batteries that the LeapPad 2 uses, along with a charger and USB cable.

In the design front, we prefer the LeapPad 3, due to the ease of use as it registers movement more efficiently, and also due to its rechargeable battery design.

Performance and hardware

As for the hardware of the LeapPad 2, we do not have too many complaints, although the touchscreen will really require the stylus to be responsive (which it has issues with sometimes). It runs on a 500MHz processor, has a battery life of 8 to 9 hours, and the performance can operate simple videos and 2D games, but the motion can be slow at times. The good thing is that you can use rechargeable batteries. The package comes with four AA batteries, and the company also sells an optional charger.

On the other hand, the LeapPad 3 runs on a 1GHz quad-core processor – even though it still tends to load at times. It also comes with a front-facing speaker and 2 megapixel cameras (one in the back, the other in the front). The battery life is shorter though, coming in at 7 hours.

The LeapPad 3 will allow you to set up 3 user profiles and personalize them, and the user interface is easy to navigate. Each app will include voice instructions that also play automatically. The only disadvantage is the lack of extensive apps that you have to buy separately, but the most noteworthy in-built apps are Photo Fun (allows kids to edit photos for fun), Pet Chat, and Pet Pad Party (both Pet apps allow peer-to-peer play with other Leapfrog devices).

We prefer the LeapPad 3 here as well, since it has a greater efficiency to stylus movements, although we do not like the lack of a variety of apps.

How can we compare both the LeapPad 2 and 3?

LeapPad 2 – Overview

Coming in a pink-purple or green shade, this feels like both a tablet and toy, with the screen surrounded by thick plastic in all directions. It has two handgrips/battery covers on both sides, and a chunky D-Pad at its bottom.

You can control it through a stylus, which you can slot into its recess on the right side and it is tethered to the tab to prevent your child losing it. The tablet is quite thick, which makes sense when you look at it from their perspective – it is easier for a child to hold, and is quite strong.

Both the LeapPad 2 and 3 have their own OS, which is simple, colorful and bright. In the LeapPad 2, each child using it has their own profile, where they can access all the apps they have. The major issue we have here is the lack of on-board Wi-Fi, which means you will need to use the downloadable Leapfrog Connect software to synchronize, download, purchase, and browse apps.


  • Easy to use and manage
  • Solid construction quality
  • Very affordable


  • Apps do not cater much to older children
  • Expensive


View price on Amazon


LeapPad 3 – Overview

Like the LeapPad 2, the LeapPad 3 is also built to handle the abuse from younger children – it has a shatter-proof screen, is durable, and very easy for a young child to hold. One of the things we noted about the design is the placement of the buttons on the side, which makes it difficult for younger kids to accidentally switch off the device. It also uses a stylus for operation, although the stylus is crayon-size, more responsive compared to the LeapPad 2, and has a mesh tip to prevent damage.

You will enjoy using the Parental Controls though, as you can adjust the child’s profile by changing the learning levels based on age. While children cannot buy the apps, they can include them in their wish list, then you can check them out and buy them.


  • Includes rechargeable batteries
  • Faster CPU
  • Wi-Fi capability
  • A faster CPU processor
  • Vast library of apps
  • More storage to handle downloads


  • Lacks a card slot to add storage
  • Expensive
  • Batteries are non-removable


View price on Amazon


Conclusion: So what is better? The LeapPad 2 or LeapPad 3?

Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages, but we see that the LeapPad 3 is the better choice because of its bigger screen (that is more higher-resolution), as well as rechargeable battery, and Wi-Fi capability.

About Mary Crane

Mary Crane
Mary Crane is a businesswoman and her passion for kids is so immense that she came up with a small fun place filled with bouncing castles, small trains with racks, and all the fun things just for kids to have some fun over the holidays and during the weekends. She is a strong advocate of developmental play and understands the effects of the lack of play in the growth of a child. According to Crane, encouraging play in a child helps them grow, and teaches them how to interact with other people at a young age; they also learn to share and make decisions as they grow. Mary Crane is a freelance writer and a mother of one.

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