Yesterday, Apple revealed the next generation of it full-sized iPad Air, the iPad Air 2 along with its smaller sibling the iPad Mini 3 (with Retina), at its event at Town Hall.
Apple CEO Tim Cook described the tablet as the perfect combination of simplicity and capability. “Beautifully simple on the outside, but packed with tech inside,” he said.
He also touted figures showing that iPad sales were more than sales of computers from any of the top four PC manufacturers over the last 12 months. Phil Schiller, SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Apple, also brought on stage third party developers to help show off new photo and video-editing apps (Pixelmator and Replay respectively) running on the iPad Air 2 that previously would have required a high-end desktop computer to run.
To deliver the aforementioned performance, Apple has upgraded the processor inside the iPad to the new A8X chip, which is a more powerful version of the A8 cup found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. According to Apple, it’s 40% faster and that some apps will run twice as quick. It also claims a 2.5x increase in graphics performance. What wasn’t revealed is whether there’s more RAM in it than the 1GB available on the iPhoandne. Some examination of the parts suggests the RAM has, in fact, been doubled to 2GB.
According to Schiller, the new iPad Air 2 is 56% less reflective than the previous generation. This feat was accomplished by removing the “air gap” between the glass, the touchscreen layer and the panel itself and by adding an anti-reflective coating on top of it. “This is better than any tablet on the market,” says Schiller.
Schiller also showed off the new thickness of the iPad Air 2, a mere 6.1mm. This is 18% thinner than the previous generation and less than half of the thickness of the first generation iPad, launched in 2010 (on left in the above comparison picture). Apple has also managed to trim .04 pounds off the weight of the iPad Air.
Apple has also upgraded the shooter of the new iPad with larger 1.5 micron pixels, slo-mo, time-lapse, burst mode and other software features already available for the iPhone. The front-facing camera has also been upgraded to allow better FaceTime-ing and better selfies.
Another much awaited and much rumoured feature added to the iPad is the Touch ID feature allowing you to unlock your iPad just by touching the home button and giving your fingerprint. This feature can be used to make purchases on the iTunes Store as well as the new Apple Pay, though only via apps. Since the iPad Air 2 lacks the NFC chip needed to use Apple Pay at physical retailers, Apple Pay on the iPad won’t work there (unless the retailer allows you to pay with an app, not by swiping your device over a credit-card terminal).
Apple’s iPad Air 2 will be available in Space Gray, Gold, and Silver starting at just $499 for the 16GB model. Though, like the iPhone 6/Plus storage configurations the next tier jumps up to 64GB for $599 and 128GB for $699.
Where the iPad Air 2 seems to have grown by leaps and bounds over its predecessor, the iPad Mini 3 seems to be just like the Mini 2 repackaged with a new Touch ID sensor and a gold colour option. It was the most disappointing product to be unveiled at the event. All of the internal specifications match its predecessor, but it’ll also be available in Gold. That being said, you can pickup an iPad mini 2 for only $299 now. If you need to have Touch ID or fancy the color gold, you’ll have to shell out $399 for the iPad mini 3.