The fifth version of Apple’s full-size tablet has just been unveiled. The iPad Air will be a bit smaller and lighter than than its predecessors, and will include a much faster processor.
The announcement, which came at a press event in San Francisco, revealed a number of changes that will add up to the biggest revamp of the design since Apple put a Retina display in the iPad 3.
As had been rumored, the upcoming model will be a bit slenderer than earlier versions by reducing the size of the casing on either side of the display. This won’t affect the size of the screen however: this will stay a 9.7-inches and 2048 x 1536 (QXGA).
Given its new name, it’s no surprise the thickness and weight has been trimmed too, down to 7.5 mm and 1 pound.
One of the most important changes in this upcoming computer is deep inside: a 64-bit Apple A7 processor. Benchmark tests have shown that this chip has twice the CPU and graphics performance of its predecessor.
Those who buy this device will get free copies of Apple iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) as well as the company’s iLife Suite (iPhoto, iMovie, and Rock Band).
The iPad Air is not going to include the biometric scanner that recently debuted on the iPhone 5s. There also won’t be the keyboard cover that appeared in some rumors.
Apple has improved the front- and rear-facing cameras on this tablet, but without increasing their resolution.
Price & Availability
The Apple iPad Air is going to debut on November 1. It’s maker is not yet taking pre-orders, nor has it said when or if it will start.
Like its predecessor, a Wi-Fi-only version with 16GB of built-in storage is $500, a 32GB one is $600, a 64GB one is $700, and a 128GB is $800.
There will be versions of each of these that can connect to 4G LTE networks. Adding this feature will increase the price by $130
Apple is keeping the iPad 2 as a budget option — it will continue to sell for $400. The iPad 4, on the other hand, is being discontinued.
The iPad Air is going to become Apple’s flagship tablet, but it almost certainly won’t be its best-selling one. That honor is likely to belong to the iPad mini 2, which was also unveiled this afternoon.