A new year means a new iPad, and here we are with another model ready for consumers to take home. Is the latest iteration Apple’s best, and does it have what it takes to survive the onslaught of tablet competitors heading its way?
It’s hard to believe, but it has actually been a little over four years since Apple decided to remake the tablet computer in a way that actually succeeded, with the result being the iPad.
We’re several generations in now, and in this latest version — what is essentially version six of the 9.7 inch Apple tablet — we’re seeing some updates that on paper will look more like evolutionary ones thanks to the changes in processor and such.
There’s a new iPad every year, though — sometimes two per year — and this time, there’s a new processor inside the Air 2, with a slight deviation on the A8 found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in this model, called the A8X. Like the iPhone models, this is a 64-bit chip that works alongside a motion coprocessor called the M8.
Storage in the tablets echoes what it does in the new phones, too, so there’s no 32GB model anymore, rather a choice between 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB with no upgradeable storage in either.
Apple’s latest version of iOS runs here, with iOS 8 included on the iPad Air 2 out of the box.
Wireless technology also follows suit from the phones with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 included in both of the main models, though there are variants with cellular as per normal with Apple, and these work with 4G LTE on Category 4 and below in this country. GPS is also included, as is assisted-GPS (A-GPS).
Cameras are included as well, with an 8 megapixel shooter on the back — no flash — and a 1.2 megapixel camera on the front, each capable of shooting video, though Full HD on the back and standard HD (720p) on the front.
This sits under a 9.7 inch screen In-Plane Switching screen running a resolution of 2048×1536, delivering a tablet friendly Retina equivalent for the iPad at 264 pixels per inch, with a gap-free screen just like how Apple is using on its iPhone models.
The body housing this technology changes a little as well, keeping with the aluminium material for construction, but putting it on a slight diet with a thinner body, bringing the tablet from 7.5mm down to 6.1mm, while the weight is cut down a good thirty grams from 478 to 444.
Apple’s Lightning charge and data transfer dock is also included, found at the bottom of the tablet, while a 3.5mm headset jack sits up top.
Three buttons can be found on the iPad Air 2, with a power button along the top on the right, volume buttons (two, technically), and the main home button on the front of the tablet, which now features Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner, a first for the iPads.
The mute switch is now missing from the iPad, though, found in the previous iteration, but missed this time around.