Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has made a big deal of its reboot of the iPad range, with a special event held yesterday in Cupertino, California to announce the iPad Air 2 to an expectant public. With the iPad being Apple’s second highest selling product after the iconic iPhone, it is essential for the consumer electronic giant to attract people back to tablets, after something of a slump in sales.
Additionally, Apple will be hoping to convince existing iPad Air owners to upgrade to its successor. The original iPad Air received an excellent critical reception, and was generally considered to be the definitive tablet computer until now. The Air 2 is intended to make serious strides over its predecessor, so let’s consider how successful Apple has been with this aim.
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iPad Air 2 Versus iPad Air Original
In a way, Apple always has the trickiest task of any tech company in this department when it releases new devices, as its previous device always looks good to start with! In this respect, Apple has decided to pretty much stick with the design parameters of the previous iPad Air with the iPad Air 2, but have also significantly slimmed the device down to make it even more mobile.
The Air 2 is just 6.1mm thick, an 18 percent reduction on the already slimline Air, ensuring that this is the slimmest tablet computer in the world. It was a day of firsts for Apple in Cupertino, as the company also announced a new iMac with the world’s first 5K screen for a desktop computer.
The device is also around 8 percent lighter than the previous iPad Air.
There was some speculation before the unveiling of the iPad Air 2 that Apple might opt for a 4K screen for the device. This was never particularly likely, and in fact both display size and resolution remained unchanged from the iPad Air. Thus, the iPad Air 2 is armed with a 9.7-inch Retina display with 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution, which results in a density of 264 pixels per inch.
However, Apple has not scrimped on the display of the device completely, and development in this department has been achieved via a new anti-reflective coating. Apple claims that this innovation reduces glare created by the device by over 56 percent compared to its predecessor. The iPad Air 2 also features fingerprint resistant oleophobic and anti-reflective coatings in common with the previous iPad Air.
This is where Apple are hoping to score significant points with the iPad Air 2, as the new device does feature a significantly more powerful processor, perhaps even more so than was predicted by the analyst community. The A8X chipset featured in the device is also a higher clocked version than that which appeared in both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Although Apple has not spilled all of the beans regarding how its processor and chipset operates, it nevertheless claims that they are significantly faster than those included in the iPad Air. The CPU in the iPad A2 is 40 percent faster than its predecessor, and the GPU 250 percent more powerful. Effectively, this means that the iPad Air 2 will have 12 times the processing performance of the original iPad, and 180 times the graphical capabilities. When you throw the M8 motion coprocessor into the mix as well, it is clear that the iPad Air 2 is a very powerful performer.
TouchID and Apple Pay
When upgrading to a new device, consumers want to know that they are getting something distinct for their money. The big news for the iPad Air 2 in this regard is probably the inclusion of TouchID and Apple Pay. Apple unveiled its mobile payment system in concordance with the unveiling of the iPad Air 2, and as this lucrative market accelerates in the coming years this facility will probably become extremely useful. Indeed, Apple is intending that you will one day wonder how you managed without it.
The iPad Air camera is perhaps not as strong as the one included in the recent iPhone 6, but it does represent an improvement over the previous iteration of the device. The 8-megapixel snapper in the the iPad Air 2 is an upgrade over the iPad Air’s 5-megapixel rear camera, but it is perhaps surprising that Apple hasn’t opted for optical image stabilization.
Apple’s iPhone range is often criticized for what is perceived to be a greed with battery power, but conversely the Apple iPad tablets have been praised for their superb battery life since the release of the original iPad in 2010. Thus, Apple might have felt comfortable in resting on its laurels in this department, and the new iPad Air to won’t deliver any extra battery life over its predecessor. Apple quote ten hours surfing the web over WiFi for the iPad Air 2.
It is interesting to note, though, that the battery in the iPad Air 2 is actually smaller than in its predecessor, and efficiency savings are instead made through iOS 8 in particular. Perhaps some iPad fans may consider this a missed opportunity to extend the battery life of the device in favour of aesthetics.
The iPad Air 2 is the sort of attractive looking, sleek device that we have come to expect from Apple, and additionally is significantly more powerful than its predecessor. Some critics might suggest that more bang for your buck could have been achieved rather than focusing on a slimmer design, but the iPad Air 2 will do virtually everything that the iPad Air did quicker and more efficiently, and is more comfortable to hold and operate into the bargain.