The sixth version of Apple’s full-size tablet has gone from rumor to reality. A new processor will make it the speediest iPad yet, and this will be the thinnest tablet on the market.
The iPad Air 2 has been designed around an Apple A8X processor, an enhanced version of the one used in the iPhone 6. This is a 64-bit chip, and Apple promises its CPU will be 40% faster than the A7, and the GPU will up to 2.5x faster.
The company pointed out that its newest tablet will have a CPU that’s 12 times faster than the one in the first-generation iPad, released in 2010.
During today’s unveiling, Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasized how slim the iPad Air 2 will be: 6.1 mm, which is just under a quarter of an inch. This makes less than half as thick as the original iPad.
This reduction in width was accomplished by bonding the components of the device’s touchscreen together, removing a slight gap between the touch panel, LCD, and screen cover present in earlier versions. Apple says this will also remove internal reflectance, sharpening the picture. In addition, the company is adding an anti-reflective coating to the display.
After launching last year in the iPhone, Apple is finally bringing Touch ID to the iPad. This means the company’s latest will have a fingerprint scanner built into the Home button, so users can unlock it with a swipe their finger. Third-party apps will also be able to make use of this feature.
However, Apple is not adding NFC support to the Air 2, so it won’t be usable as a virtual credit cars at point of sale machines.
Apple has improved the camera in the iPad Air 2. It’s now at 8 MP, with 1.2 micron pixels and an f/2.4 aperture. It will be capable of taking 1080pHD video, as well as slo-mo and time-lapse video.
The front-facing camera will let in 80% more light. Its face-detection software has been improved, and support for burst selfies is being added.
The second-gen iPad Air will be able to transfer data more quickly over advanced Wi-Fi networks, thanks to support for 802.11ac with MIMO. Apple is also adding more LTE bands to the 4G models, which will be able to transfer data at up to 150 Mbps.
It will come running iOS 8.1, an updated version of this operating system that’s being released to support Apple Pay on the iPhone 6.
As its name suggests, the iPad Air 2 will be an enhanced version of last year’s model, not a redesign. The screen will remain at 9.7 inches and 2048 x 1536 resolution, for example, and the have the same basic look. This means that many accessories designed for the previous version will be useable with the new one. However, the decrease in width and the changed location of the microphone means that quite a few cases will need to be redesigned.
Pricing and Availability
Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the iPad Air 2 tomorrow. The company says shipments will begin arriving by the end of next week, though it didn’t give a specific date.
A 16 GB, Wi-Fi-only version will sell for $499. There will be no 32 GB version, so the next option will be a 6 4GB one at $599. A 128 GB model will be $699. Adding LTE to any of these will increase the price by $130.
The original iPad Air is staying in Apple’s product lineup. A 16GB, WiFi-only version will sell for $399.