Apple iPad Air 2: What We Think We Know

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Apple’s sixth full-size tablet is expected to hit store shelves in the next few weeks, and many of the details have already come to light.

Coming This Month

Apple iPad Air 2 Press Invite

Apple iPad Air 2 Press Invite

Apple, of course, hasn’t said anything about when the successor to its flagship tablet will be on the market, but today the company invited journalists to an event on October 16, which is widely expected to be the unveiling of the next iPad.

Whatever the exact release date turns out to be, this model has the potential to offer better performance than its predecessor, while keeping the current model’s stellar battery life. It could also be more secure and some versions will be cheaper.

An Update Not a Redesign

The device is generally referred to as the iPad Air 2 because it’s believed to be an improved version of the current model, instead of a significant redesign. This is in line with Apple‘s general practice of changing the design of every-other model.

For example, the iPad 4 has the same form factor as the iPad 3, but was followed by the much thinner and smaller iPad Air. If the trend continues, that means the iPad Air 2 likely won’t have a significantly different casing size, or a new screen size or a change in resolution.

Faster Apple A8 Processor

A highlight of the first-generation iPad Air is its 64-bit Apple A7 processor, giving the device the power to run desktop-level software. The iPhone 6 debuted last month with a new A8 chip that offers a 25% improvement in CPU performance and a 50% improvement in graphics, according to Apple. The iPad Air 2 will almost certainly include this processor.

That said, there has been speculation that this tablet will have a A6X chip – one that has even better graphics performance.

More RAM

All of the iPads released in the past few years have had 1 GB of RAM. Despite Apple’s efforts to make iOS intelligently handle active applications, the Safari browser is regularly forced to delete background web pages from its cache and reload them when the user switches back in order to save room.

Apple iPad Air 2 Leaked Image

Apple iPad Air 2 Leaked Image

The word on the street is that the iPad Air 2 will see an increase to 2 GB.

Thinner Display, Thinner Casing

Images supposedly of a pre-production screen for Apple’s next full-size tablet show its glass covering chemically bonded to the LCD display. This change would allow the screen to be marginally thinner than the one in the iPad Air, while also offering slightly wider viewing angles. Apple has been using this technique on its phones for years.

Rumors indicate that this will bring about a slight decrease in the thickness of the iPad Air 2, which is bad news for those who would like to  continue using iPad Air cases or other accessories.

Touch ID Fingerprint Scanner

After Apple added a fingerprint scanner to the iPhone 5s last year, many were surprised that the iPad Air didn’t have it as well. Since then, analysts and rumormongers alike have predicted that biometric security will come with Apple’s next full-size tablet.

Apple Touch IDTouch ID allows users to swipe their fingertip over the Home button to unlock their device or authorize purchases. The idea is to encourage more users to lock their phone or tablet, as many find it burdensome to enter a passcode every time they want use their device.

Apple added NFC support to the iPhone 6. It’s possible the company will forgo this change in its tablets, as this type of device typically isn’t seen as a potential wallet replacement.

iOS 8

Apple introduced iOS 8 last month. Highlights include Continuity, which enables iPads and iPhones to work much more closely together, and a greatly improved Notification Center.

The iPad Air 2 will undoubtedly debut running iOS 8. Whether Apple will have fixed the many bugs that plague this new version before then is an open question.

Price

The electronics giant has maintained the price of its full-size tablets since 2010. If that continues, then a Wi-Fi-only Apple iPad Air 2 with 16 GB of internal capacity will cost $500.

AnalysisContrary to its previous practice, Apple didn’t make a 32 GB version of the iPhone 6. Instead, it sells a 64 GB version at the same price it once asked for the 32 GB model. The 128 GB version of the latest iPhone also sells for less than expected. If Apple does the same with its sixth-gen iPad, then a 64 GB version Wi-Fi-only model will sell for $600 and a 128 GB one will go for $700.

Adding built-in 4G should increase these amounts by $130.

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