“The best tablet money can buy”
The Apple iPad Air was, by all accounts, one of the best tablets ever made. So, making a successor that lives up to people’s expectations is no easy feat. But, with the iPad Air 2, Apple seems to have pulled it off.
The first iPad Air which came out in 2013 was a brilliant device. It built on all the positives of the iPad 4th Gen – it felt nice to hold, had a thin body and was extremely light. It was available in a variety of storage options and had one of the best displays ever seen in a tablet. So how can Apple possibly improve on a device that was pretty great?
With the iPad Air 2, that’s how!
Design wise, it looks pretty much the same as the previous model. However, it is slightly slimmer – at 6.1mm – and weighs 437g – which is extremely light – and has the usual buttons and the lightning port. One thing conspicuous by its absence is the mute switch, which I had found to be useful. The biggest addition, of course, is the Touch ID fingerprint reader which can be used to authenticate your identity to unlock your device, pay using Apple Pay, etc.
Apple has always had a consistent pricing policy when it comes to the iPad, and things remain the same with the Air 2. Price depends on the connectivity and storage options and ranges from $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only version to $829 for the 128GB LTE model.
The iPad Air 2 runs on iOS 8.1 which is an extremely stable and powerful platform. It includes Apple Pay which allows you to pay for all sorts of purchases (including apps) without entering your credit card details. Instead, authentication is done using Touch ID. Even though the iPad Air 2 doesn’t support voice calling, it can connect with an iPhone using Apple’s Continuity feature, allowing it to place and receive calls over the phone’s network.
So What Do We Know So Far?
It looks like Apple has put considerable thought into the iPad Air 2, and while the design hasn’t changed much, the tablet doesn’t feel like an update released for the sake of one. The new iOS has plenty of major and minor changes which make it more user-friendly and stable. While the iPad has never been the cheapest tablet in the market, considering the features on offer and the value of the Apple brand, this device doesn’t feel overpriced.
The new Apple A8X triple core SoC makes the iPad Air 2 more powerful than the last iteration. It is clocked at 1.5GHz, which is 100MHz faster than the Air. The chip’s L2 cache has also been doubled to 2MB making it more responsive. The A8X is coupled with 2GB RAM and the company claims that CPU performance has increased by 40%.
Graphics performance has also been optimized considerably with apps and 3D games given special attention. The 8-core PowerVR GXA6850 GPU is paired with an Apple M8 motion co-processor. Games like Beach Buggy Racing and Asphalt 8 load faster and play better, when compared to the iPad Air.
- Touch ID fingerprint scanner
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Ambient light sensor
- Dual microphones
- Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyroscope.
The Air 2 has a Retina display just like the Air with a resolution of 2048×1536 and a pixel density of 264ppi. The display is optically bonded and there is no gap for air between the different layers. This not only helps make the device slimmer, but also cuts down on screen glare. Even if you are reading or watching movies in direct sunlight, the display is much clearer than tablets which don’t use this technology.
Tablet cameras have never been known for their awesomeness. But, Apple has tried to improve things.
The Air 2 comes with an 8MP sensor at the back (the Air had 5MP) with works with an Image Signal Processor (ISP) that is part of the new A8X chipset. It has a burst mode and the ability to take slow motion videos at 120 fps in 720p. However, there is no LED flash at the back. The 1.2MP front cam is perfectly adequate for FaceTime and other similar applications.
Even though the iPad Air 2 has a smaller battery than the previous model, Apple claims that it will still last for around 10 hours because the software is more efficient. While it does last for 10-11 hours, the 7,340mAh power unit won’t last you as long as the Air.
- Great design
- Touch ID
- Powerful A8X chipset
- Better screen
- Improved camera
- Slight dip in battery life
- No mute switch
- Not a major improvement
With the iPad Air 2, Apple has managed to freshen up their tablet lineup. While the design may not be brand new, it is thinner, more powerful and has enough new features to keep customers interested. It remains the device its competitors hope to emulate.