iPad Air 2 review
The iPad Air 2, is thinner, faster and better than ever, but with the launch of an iPad Pro 9.7 it’s received a price cut. Since it’s still one of the best tablets, that’s excellent news. Here’s our Apple iPad 2 review.
Besides the Touch ID fingerprint feature, the screen assembly and uprated processor are the headline features. New cameras are a bonus too. Overall the Apple iPad Air 2 is the best tablet you can buy, even though it’s been discontinued by Apple. Its performance, attention to detail, quality of build and sheer usability still mean it’s a great buy.
The iPad Air 2, is thinner, faster and better than ever, but with the launch of an iPad Pro 9.7 it’s received a price cut. Since it’s still one of the best tablets, that’s excellent news. Here’s our Apple iPad 2 review. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.
In 2014 Apple replaced its full-size Apple iPad Air with the iPad Air 2. The newer model keeps the same essential form – the same height and width, screen size and resolution – but includes some changes that raise it above the original iPad Air. For more on the UK tablet market, see Best tablets of 2016.
iPad Air 2 review: UK price
With the launch of the 9.7in iPad Pro Apple has reduced the price of its iPad Air 2. You can now pick up the 16GB model for £349, and the 64GB model for £429. If you need 4G connectivity you’ll pay £449 and £529 respectively.
Now the iPad Air 2 is effectively discontinued it can be hard to find somewhere to buy it from without going down the second hand route.
However, you can still get some models from Argos and it’s also worth checking the Apple refurbished store where start at £299 for the 16GB model.
iPad Air 2 review: thinner frame
And Apple has taken some things away. Our calipers tell us that’s 1.2 mm of thickness gone. The new iPad is now 6.3 mm thick, against 7.5 mm for last year’s iPad Air.
Replacing the Apple A7 processor is this year’s new chip, the Apple A8 that features in the iPhone 6. Only this time it’s known as the A8X, with unspecified improvements in its performance.
What we do now know however is that the Air 2 packs 2 GB of memory, against 1 GB that’s been installed in every iPad since the iPad with Retina display – aka, ‘the iPad 3’.
Apple claims this processor is 40 percent faster, with graphics 2.5 times better than found in the Apple A7 chip in the first iPad Air.
We put the chip through some tests of raw speed using the Geekbench 3 benchmark tool. With a single core from its three-core architecture, it scored 1816 points; and multi-core mode it scored 4523 points. That’s up on the 1468 and 2658 results from last year’s model.
Graphics performance is harder to put a number to at the moment. GFXBench does a good job of showing framerates with some varied simulated games, but a temporary software issue means the final results are not displayed on screen. We’ll update this when a new build that fixes this is released through the App Store soon.
iPad Air 2 review: Touch ID
Also bringing Apple’s pace-setting tablet up to date is a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, first introduced with the iPhone 5s last year. The Touch ID button feels just like that on recent iPhones. You dab your dab on its little sensor, and the iPad comes to life.
In use this was very speedy, with the screen quickly unlocking in a fraction of a second after we applied our registered fingertip. It’s a handy feature, if not our favourite revision to the model since we don’t have to start and stop the display anything like as frequently as we daily do on an iPhone.
This will be an asset if you’re a compulsive shopper on the iTunes Store though, as you can also authenticate to buy apps and media this way, without the tedious typing of your Apple ID password.
We’ve had a few days to try the iPad Air 2 now. The first impression was very good – as a regular iPad Air user we could feel straight away that this is lighter again. Not much – we’re talking about a reduction of around 20 or 30 g depending on model – and yet this makes the iPad even airier than its ever been before.
iPad Air 2 review: light weight
Some weights-and-measures spec changes can be seen as more useful for marketing purposes. Who cares if a phone is 8 or 7 or 6 mm thick? But in reducing the weight of a book-like computing slate you’ll hold in your hand for long periods of time, any weight loss becomes a bigger deal.
Besides removing a little under an old-school ounce from the iPad, Apple’s also swiped the screen-lock switch. This is the handy little toggle situated just above the volume keys in the top right corner, a button that’s been there since the Mk 1 original iPad of 2010.
If you want to ensure your view doesn’t swing 90 degrees when you’re lying down to read, you’ll need to use the software button found in the Control Center. (See also: Apple iPad mini 3 first-look review.)
iPad Air 2 review: wireless performance
Wireless performance should be much improved, thanks to a move not only to 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but an implementation that again uses two internal aerials to provide a 2×2 MIMO configuration.
Be aware that smartphones sporting 11ac Wi-Fi that we’ve seen are currently using a single antenna, with 433 Mb/s maximum sync speed. A two-stream setup benefits from better reception and multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) radio as well as a theoretical sync speed of 867 MB/s. This will yield improved range besides simply faster data connections.
iPad Air 2 review: cameras
Cameras front and back have been uprated, and the main iSight camera on the back can take panorama shots up to 43 megapixel in size. You can also dabble with slow-mo effects and time-lapse photography. The front FaceTime camera benefits from a new sensor said to give brighter results in lower light.
Main rear camera from Apple iPad 1 iSight camera
Main rear camera from Apple iPad 2 iSight camera
Comparing still images taken with the front-facing FaceTime cameras, iPad Air (left) and iPad Air 2 (right)
As well as the black and white finish options of Space Grey and Silver, you can now get the iPad Air 2 in a gold finish, just like the iPhone. (See also: Apple iPad Air 2 first-look review.)
Storage options have adopted Apple’s new policy of removing arguably the best balance between capacity and value, the 32 GB size model. Instead you’re presented with a choice of 16, 64 or 128 GB models.
iPad Air 2 review: battery life
There’s a smaller capacity battery inside the Air 2 – 27.3 Wh compared to 32.4 Wh in the Air 1 – although Apple specifies the same overall battery life of 10 hours of web surfing, video playback or music listening.
We tried a more stressful test than browsing, using looped gameplay from GFXBench to play the T-Rex sequence, 30 times over. This gave an estimated total runtime of 3 hour 53 minutes.
For reference we tried the same test on a year-old iPad Air 1. Both tablets were running the same build of the current latest iOS 8.1 software. Here the first Air posted an estimated total runtime of 4 hour 6 min.
But it’s vital to also look at the performance of both products. Over the length of the test, the first Air could play at an average framerate of 22.9 fps. Meanwhile the Air 2 played at more than twice that speed, recording 48.3 fps. This one test comes close to validating Apple’s claims for 2.5x graphics performance.
iPad Air 2 review: screen
Perhaps the best upgrade to the new iPad Air 2 is to the screen. The specs may look the same on paper, but Apple has now laminated the front glass to the LCD itself, a move that makes the display feel like solid glass again.
It’s also less reflective, whether from that assembly change or maybe some improved anti-reflective coating across the glass.
iPad Air 2 review: UK price
The iPad Air’s UK price starts at £399 for the 16GB model in Wi-Fi only, moving up to £479 for 64GB Wi-Fi (as with the recent iPhones, Apple has removed the popular 32GB storage option, which will annoy some) and £559 for 128GB Wi-Fi. (Latter price corrected after useful post from andy m, Комментарии и мнения владельцев below.)
The 3G/cellular models cost £100 more at each configuration: £499 for the 16GB model, moving up to £579 for 64GB and £659 for 128GB.
For comparison, the iPad Air’s US price starts at 499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, 599 for 64GB Wi-Fi and 699 for 128GB Wi-Fi. The 3G/cellular models each cost 130 more: 629 for the 16GB model, 729 for 64GB and 829 for 128GB.
Apple iPad Air 2: Specs
- Apple A8X processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB / 64GB / 128GB onboard storage
- iOS 8.1
- LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 1536 x 2048 pixels, 9.7 inches, 264 ppi pixel density
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-Band, Wi-Fi hotspot
- 8Mp, 1.2Mp cameras
iPad Air 2 review
The iPad Air 2 is Apple’s sixth-generation tablet, and the sum total of all the company’s insight, experience, and engineering to date. It’s as narrow as last year’s model, yet even thinner and lighter. Its display is as sharp as ever, but now laminated and even better looking. It’s got a camera that, for the first time, takes photography seriously. It connects to even faster networks. And it’s got a processor that’s so advanced and so powerful, it rivals laptops of not so very long ago.
The iPad was forged on the belief that technology alone is not enough. That personal computers had to become even more personal. That holding them in your hands — looking into the vast expanse of apps and the web, and manipulating it all directly, immediately, with the touch of a finger — enabled and empowered something more.
iPhones have gotten bigger and more capable. MacBook Airs have gotten more efficient and more accessible. And even as Apple shows us iPads journeying to the tops of mountains and the bottom of the seas, as they’ve been used to create new art and new enterprise alike — some have wondered how much space truly remains for Apple’s tablet to live and grow between phone and laptop.
Does the iPad Air 2 answer that question? Read on to find out.
- Stunning laminated Retina display with antiglare coating, incredible Apple A8X performance, 8 megapixel camera, optional gold finish, cheaper 64GB and 128GB options, and Touch ID fingerprint identity scanner.
- Unless you dislike Apple or iOS, there’s no downside here.
- Whether you’ve got an older iPad or are contemplating getting an iPad for the first time, the iPad Air 2 is the one you’ve been waiting for.
|Row 0. Cell 1||Row 0. Cell 2||Row 0. Cell 3||Row 0. Cell 4||Row 0. Cell 5||Row 0. Cell 6||Row 0. Cell 7||Row 0. Cell 8||Row 0. Cell 9|
|K48||K94||J1, J2||J65||Row 1. Cell 5||J72||J85||J85||J81|
|iPad 1,1||iPad 2,1||iPad 3,1||iPad 2,5||iPad 3,4||iPad 4,1||iPad 4,5||iPad 4,7||iPad 5,1|
|iPhone OS 3.2||iOS 4.3||iOS 5.1||iOS 6||iOS 6||iOS 7||iOS 7||iOS 8.1||iOS 8.1|
|9.7 inches||9.7 inches||9.7 inches||7.9 inches||9.7 inches||9.7 inches||7.9 inches||7.9 inches||9.7 inches|
|1024×768 (132ppi)||1024×768 (132ppi)||2048×1536 (264ppi)||1024×768 (163ppi)||2048×1536 (264ppi)||2048×1536 (264ppi)||2048×1536 (326ppi)||2048×1536 (326ppi)||| 2048×1536 (264ppi)|
|IPS LED||IPS LED||IPS LED||IPS LED||IPS LED||IPS LED||IPS LED||IPS LED||Laminated IPS LED|
|Apple A4||Apple A5||Apple A5X||Apple A5||Apple A6X||Apple A7||Apple A7||Apple A7||Apple A8X|
|800MHz ARM Cortex-A8||1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9||1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9||1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9||1.4GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s)||64-bit dual core Apple A7 Cyclone (ARM v8)||64-bit dual core Apple A7 Cyclone (ARM v8)||64-bit dual core Apple A7 Cyclone (ARM v8)||64-bit triple core Apple A8 Cyclone 2 (ARM v8)|
|PowerVR SGX535||PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP2||PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP4||PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP2||PowerVR quad-core SGX554MP4||PowerVR G6430||PowerVR G6430||PowerVR G6430||PowerVR GX6650?|
|none||none||none||none||none||M7 Motion||M7 Motion||M7 Motion||M8 Motion|
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|802.11a/b/g/n||802.11a/b/g/n||802.11a/b/g/n||802.11a/b/g/n||802.11a/b/g/n||802.11a/b/g/n MIMO||802.11a/b/g/n MIMO||802.11a/b/g/n MIMO||802.11a/b/g/n/ac MIMO|
|aGPS||aGPS||aGPS, GLONASS||aGPS, GLONASS||aGPS, GLONASS||aGPS, GLONASS||aGPS, GLONASS||aGPS, GLONASS||aGPS, GLONASS|
|Ambient light, accelerometer, compass||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope||Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, barometer|
|30-pin Dock||30-pin Dock||30-pin Dock||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning|
|9.56 inches (242.8 mm)||9.5 inches (241.3 mm)||9.5 inches (241.3 mm)||7.87 inches (199.9 mm)||9.5 inches (241.3 mm)||9.4 inches (238.8 mm)||7.87 inches (199.9 mm)||7.87 inches (199.9 mm)||9.4 inches (238.8 mm)|
|7.47 inches (189.7 mm)||7.31 inches (185.7 mm)||7.31 inches (185.7 mm)||5.3 inches (134.6 mm)||7.31 inches (185.7 mm)||6.6 inches (167.6 mm)||5.3 inches (134.6 mm)||5.3 inches (134.6 mm)||6.6 inches (167.6 mm)|
|0.53 inches (13.5 mm)||0.34 inches (8.6 mm)||0.37 inches (9.4 mm)||0.28 inches (7.1 mm)||0.37 inches (9.4 mm)||0.29 inches (7.4 mm)||0.29 inches (7.4 mm)||0.29 inches (7.4 mm)||0.24 inches (6.1 mm)|
|1.5 lbs (680 g)||1.33 lbs (603 g)||1.44 lbs (653 g)||0.68 lbs (308 g)||1.44 lbs (653 g)||1.0 lbs (454 g)||0.73 lbs (331 g)||0.73 lbs (331 g)||0.96 lbs (437 g)|
|6600mAh||6930mAh||11560mAh||4440mAh||11560mAh||8820mAh||6471mAh||6471mAh||6471mAh | N/A|
|Black||Black/White||Black/White||Black/White||Black/White||Space gray/Silver||Space gray/Silver||Space gray/Silver/Gold||Space gray/Silver/Gold|
|Wi-Fi: 499, 599, 699Cellular: 629, 729, 829||Wi-Fi: 499, 599, 699Cellular: 629, 729, 829||Wi-Fi: 499, 599, 699Cellular: 629, 729, 829||Wi-Fi: 329, 429, 529Cellular: 459, 559, 659||Wi-Fi: 499, 599, 699, 799Cellular: 629, 729, 829, 929||Wi-Fi: 499, 599, 699, 799Cellular: 629, 729, 829, 929||Wi-Fi: 399, 499, 599, 699Cellular: 529, 629, 729, 829||Wi-Fi: 399, 499, 599, 699Cellular: 529, 629, 729, 829||Wi-Fi: 499, 599, 699, 799Cellular: 629, 729, 829, 929|
iPad Air 2 design
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus arrived in new, blank-but-for-embossing packaging, but the iPad Air 2, like the iPad mini 3, has kept its photographic art front and center — well, side and center. All that’s visible on the box design is the thinner-than-ever profile view of the new tablet.
“iPad Air” is still printed on the side, but there’s no “2” to disclose its version. Included in the box is a power adapter, Apple Lightning to USB cable, SIM removal tool (for cellular models), and Apple’s typical information booklets to help new users get started with their device.
Last year, the original iPad Air redefined what it meant to be a full-sized tablet. Narrower and thinner than ever before, that translated directly into a lighter and more usable device. It looked and felt like an iPad mini — one that somehow managed to contain a 9.7-inch display.
This year, the iPad Air 2 redefines redefinition. And though it may not be narrower this time around, it’s again thinner and lighter — ridiculously so, at this point.
It’s still 9.4 inches (240 mm) high and 6.6 inches (169.5 mm) wide. It’s only 0.24 of an inch (6.1 mm) thin now, however, and 0.96 of a pound (437 g) light — 0.98 of a pound (444 g) for the cellular model.
That’s 0.05 of an inch (1.4 mm) and 0.04 of a pound (32 g) less than the original iPad Air, and 0.29 of an inch (7.4 mm) and 0.54 of a pound (243 g) less than the original iPad.
Especially when you consider the display and chipset wrapped up inside.
Externally, aside from weight and thinness, the iPad Air 2 looks much the same as the original iPad Air, save for the Touch ID sensor integrated into the Home button. There’s no curved glass as there was for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, nor is there plastic piping for the radio antennae — the cellular iPad still has a large plastic patch across the top. The iPad Air 2 is still part of Apple’s current design language; it’s just no longer at the bleeding edge.
It is, however, joining the gold standard.
That’s right. Now, in addition to the silver and space gray finishes, Apple is introducing the same gold hue currently available for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Whatever hesitation the company had at shipping that much gold in 2013, they’ve gotten over it this year.
It’s… a lot of gold. But it’ll no doubt appeal to those who want their gold iPhone and tablet to match, or simply want the most blinged-out iPad possible.
The original iPad Air had a great display. At 2048-by-1536 pixels and 264 pixels-per-inch, it was Apple’s third — and best — revision of the iPad Retina panel. It also had an excellent color gamut, including deep, rich reds and purples. What it wasn’t, however, was laminated.
Unlike the iPhone, which switched to laminated displays in 2010, the iPad has always had three separate layers for its screen, multitouch sensors, and LCD panel. That created air gaps between the pixels and the glass, and light reflecting off those gaps created screen glare.
With the iPad Air 2, those three layers have been fused into a single layer. That eliminates gaps as source for potential glare. The company has also added an all-new, all-custom antiglare coating. The result is something far more usable in direct light — be it incandescent or florescent — at home, work, or school, or in outside sunlight.
Apple pegs the reduction in glare at 56 percent. The real difference is that it becomes usable in places where previous generation iPads just wouldn’t be as functional, like when reading outdoors.
It may not be as technologically advanced as the new Retina HD panel found in the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, but at 9.7 inches, it’s incredibly impressive.
The pixels no longer seem to be floating somewhere beneath the glass. Now they seem painted inside it. It’s like opening a window and seeing the world — the real world.
Apple A8X chipset
Last year Apple introduced the Apple A7 system-on-a-chip (SoC), their first generation 64-bit ARMv8 beast of a processor, and used it to power not only the iPhone 5s but the original iPad Air as well.
It wasn’t just that Apple — a computing company — brought 64-bit netbook-level power to phones and tablets; it was that they did it before dedicated processor companies and fabs like Qualcomm and Samsung. They caught the industry so unprepared, so flat-footed, that now Apple is shipping their second generation 64-bit mobile processor while others are still struggling to ship their first.
Some might argue that it doesn’t matter. And for web browsing and email, perhaps it doesn’t. But when it comes to pushing forward state-of-the-art mobile computing and enabling desktop-quality computing in our s and on our laps today, it matters a great deal.
It matters even more on the iPad Air 2: Not only has Apple once again created a next-generation processor, but they’ve used an X variant. First introduced with the iPad 3 in 2012, the X originally stood for the extra graphics muscle needed to drive the first-ever 2048-by-1536-pixel Retina display. This year, the X stands for more.
Touch ID and Apple Pay
If you owned an iPhone 5s and an iPad, your procedure for unlocking your tablet probably went something like this: Place your finger on the Home button, wait 6 seconds, realize there was no Touch ID sensor, curse, and then press down and enter the passcode — yes, like an animal.
This year, to unlock an iPad Air 2, you can place your finger down on the Home button and smile as Touch ID takes care of the rest.
Apple’s biometric fingerprint identity sensor implements a sophisticated — and rather interesting — system. When the capacitive ring around the sensor detects the presence of a finger, a high-resolution lens reads it. Once a fingerprint is read, it’s converted to a mathematical hash and the original image is destroyed. That hash is then transited to the secure enclave on the Apple A7 chipset and compared with the fingerprints registered there. If a match is found, the secure enclave releases a “yes” token. If no match is found, it releases a “no” token.
That system lets Touch ID do quite a few things for you: authenticate and unlock your iPad; open your password manager or banking app; authorize payments on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store; or, newly-added, pay for goods online via Apple Pay.
LTE and Wi-Fi
Despite its slim form-factor, the iPad Air 2 is jam-packed with connectivity. Apple has upgraded the iPad’s Wi-Fi to the 802.11ac standard, which offers speeds of up to 866 mbps when connected to a compatible base station. Thanks to dual antennas and multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO), that’s twice as fast as the 433-mbps 802.11ac Wi-Fi available on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
In addition, there are multiple cellular improvements: Apple offers support for 20 different LTE spectrum bands now, with connection speeds of up to 150 mbps.
In practice, the iPad Air 2 flies, even when you’re not surfing on an ac-compatible network. A years-old AirPort Express churned out an acceptable 25.85 mbps upload, 11.84 mbps download from a 20 mbps Comcast connection; my local coffee shop offered TK.
On T-Mobile’s 4G network, the iPad Air 2 offered a surprisingly speedy 16 mbps download average with 3 mbps upload; on T-Mobile’s Boston LTE network, the connection ranged from 60 to 68 mbps download with 13 mbps upload.
On Rogers in Montreal — which doesn’t yet offer LTE Advanced — the iPad Air reached between 60 and 80 mbps.
Internally there are rumors of a speed-boost as well — a PCIe bus. What that really affords Apple right now, however, is hard to say.
Of course, speedy cellular connections aren’t the only thing the iPad Air 2 offers in the way of LTE service: Its perhaps biggest new feature in that arena is the Apple SIM. If you purchase a cellular-enabled iPad Air 2, it comes with the company’s new multi-carrier SIM: With it, you no longer have to decide before you buy your tablet which network you’d like to use it on. (Mostly. We’ll explain in a sec.)
The SIM supports three networks in the United States: ATT, Sprint, and T-Mobile. (In the U.K., EE is Apple’s sole launch partner.) Each has a variety of plans you can choose from, including ones that hook up to an already-existing phone contract, and you can cancel the pre-paid plans at any time and switch carriers.
iPad Air 2 cameras
In the past, the iPad‘s rear-facing camera has never been its strong suit. Whereas Apple’s iPhone models often have their latest-and-greatest camera features put on a pedestal during announcements, the iPad’s cameras felt like an after-thought, designed more for the casual FaceTime chat than mobile photography.
But even with low-level hardware and terrible sensors, users took to iPad photography. They snapped landscapes with their iPad 2 models, used the cameras to augment apps, and so much more. And with the iPad Air 2, Apple has recognized this use case — and embraced it.
The Air 2’s camera may not have all the bells and whistles of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it’s a major improvement from previous models: It comes with an 8MP rear camera sensor (3264-by-2448 pixel resolution) that can also shoot 1080p HD video; a new low-light friendly sensor and a larger f/2.2 lens aperture for the front-facing 1.2MP/720p video FaceTime HD camera; and the image processing chops to make everything look spectacular.
iOS 8 on the iPad Air 2
The iPad Air 2 ships with iOS 8.1, the first point-release update to Apple’s 2014 mobile operating system. It includes updates to Messages and Photos, a predictive keyboard and contextual Spotlight, improved Mail and Safari, Family Sharing options and Continuity workflows, and Extensibility, which allows for interactive notifications, custom keyboards, custom sharing and action options, custom photo filters and effects, widgets, iCloud Drive, and custom storage providers.
There are also new frameworks like HomeKit for home automation, manual camera controls, Touch ID authentication for third party apps, SpriteKit, SceneKit, and Metal for games, and a new programming language called Swift.
As big a design update as iOS 7 was, iOS 8 is an even bigger functional update.
The iPad Air 2 comes with FaceTime, Calendar, Photos, Camera, Contacts, Clock, Maps, Videos, Notes, Reminders, Photo Booth, Game Center, Newsstand, iTunes Store, and App Store built-in, as well as the new Tips, and iBooks and Podcasts which move from App Store to default status.
On 64GB and 128GB models, Apple is also pre-installing the iWork and iLife apps — Pages, Keynote, Numbers, GarageBand, and iMovie, as well as iTunes U.
You can also get a ton of apps from Google, Microsoft BlackBerry, and pretty much anyone and everyone you can imagine. Over 675,000 iPad-optimized apps are now available on the App Store, and there are new arrivals every day.
Thanks to Touch ID, you can also use password managers, banking apps, and, with Apple Pay, shopping apps more quickly and conveniently than ever before.
Thanks to the Apple A8X processor, you can use them more creatively and productively as well. And for games, well… is more eye-poppingly a thing?
iCloud and AppleCare
Every iPad Air 2 comes with iCloud, which lets you transparently backup and restore your data to and from Apple’s servers. iCloud also lets you re-download anything you’ve bought on iTunes, the App Store, or the iBooks Store, including music, movies, TV shows, apps, games, and iBooks.
iCloud Drive makes files from any app available to any other compatible app and iCloud Photo Library (still in beta) looks to make photos and videos part of the core iPad operating system experience.
iCloud offers 5GB a month for free, with 0.99/month options for 20GB, 3.99/month for 200GB, 9.99/month for 500MB, and 19.99/month for 1TB.
Apple Stores, especially when combined with iCloud, whether extended by AppleCare or not, provide remarkable customer support for iPhone 6 Plus owners. Apple specialists can help you test a phone to make sure it’s what you want, help you set it up, teach you how to use it, and if anything goes wrong, help you fix it. It’s a feature not always included on competitive checklists but anyone who’s ever needed to avail themselves of it knows just how important a feature it is.
The iPad Air 2 is not only thinner than the original iPad Air, but includes Touch ID in lieu of the traditional Home button. That means, while accessories like Smart Covers and Lightning cables will work with this year’s model, cases as well as anything that blocks the fingerprint reading capability of the sensor will not.
Manufacturers will update quickly, but check and double-check before buying anything to make sure it’s compatible with the iPad Air 2.
Pricing and Buyers’ Guide
The iPad Air 2 comes in three capacities, 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, and in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Cellular models.
The Wi-Fi models cost 499, 599, and 699 respectively. The Wi-Fi Cellular models cost 629, 729, and 829 respectively.
16GB will almost certainly prove too little for all but the lightest use cases, including education and enterprise that buy in volume and use few apps or web apps. However, 64GB and 128GB pricing is now 100 less than it was last year, making the larger capacity options cheaper than ever, and absolutely something worth considering.
Apple currently has 5 different iPads on the market — iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad Air, and iPad Air 2. The names are similar, the price points sometimes overlap, and the different specs and feature sets might not always be clear. That’s why we make our buyers’ guide:
iPad Air 2: The Bottom Line
The story of Apple is one of mainstreaming computing technology — making it more accessible and more inclusive in more ways for more people. The iPad has been an important part of that story. While it’s nowhere near as powerful as a top-of-the-line desktop, it can still be just as empowering. An iPad may not do everything a traditional computer can, but there are folks who use an iPad to accomplish tasks they never could on a traditional computer.
Mainstreaming creativity and productivity is something Apple started doing with the iPad 2 and their “We Believe” campaign in 2011. The message got lost amidst Retina and LTE improvements in 2012, but was re-embraced with the original iPad Air and “Your Verse” in 2013.
And it’s something the company continues now. Apple’s choice to showcase Pixelmator and Replay at the iPad Air 2 announcement was no accident: It’s yet another signal that powerful apps can not only exist on the company’s tablet, but for some endeavors, exist better than their desktop counterparts.
Yes, iPhones have gotten bigger and more capable. Yes, MacBook Airs have gotten more accessible and more efficient. But there’s space between them, and arguably that space is now better occupied by a 9.7-inch iPad.
You can still read your email or surf the web, enjoy videos or your music collection, read iBooks or play games on your iPad Air 2. But now you can do much, much more as well. Given the processing power and RAM included in the package, maybe much more, soon, as well.
Some may argue that iOS on the iPad Air is now a limitation, and in that vein, iOS 8 has made some strides to improve user complaints: Apple has already added inter-app communication with Extensibility and multi-device workflows with Continuity. There are indications the company might add support for multi-window apps in the very near future as well.
Keeping the desktop experience off of mobile, however, has been the key to the iPad’s success to date. For the vast majority of people, complexity isn’t a feature, it’s barrier. Continuing to evolve iOS and providing more advanced options for those who seek them out, while keeping things simple, approachable, accessible, and usable for everyone will no doubt be the key to the iPad’s future.
iPad Air 2. ЕЩЁ НУЖЕН?
So, all that said: Should you pick up the iPad Air 2?
If you have the original iPad Air, unless you really want the better processor or camera, or the gold finish or cheaper 64GB or 128GB storage options, you’re still fine for what’s likely years to come.
If you have an iPad 2 or iPad 3, or if you’re still considering your first iPad, you should strongly consider the iPad Air 2. This is the one everyone’s been waiting for.
Georgia Dow, and Anthony Casella, Ally Kazmucha, and Derek Kessler contributed to this review.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in comparison review
Apple currently sells two mid-size iPads: the iPad Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. But which is best for your needs? Our iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in comparison review compares the two tablets’ build quality, design, features and specs, and helps you pick the best option
The iPad Pro 9.7 is considerably more expensive than the Air 2 (direct comparisons aren’t possible any more, because there are no overlaps between the two devices’ storage offerings, but the Pro is £60 more at each point than the Air 2 was at launch), yet there are so many significant improvements that we reckon it’s worth it. As usual, however, this depends on your individual needs and tastes. If you’re into iPad photography, the greatly superior camera specs and range of photographic features makes the Pro 9.7 a better choice. Detail is better in overcast conditions, and the rear-facing flash lets you shoot in low light; there’s 4K video; selfies are far sharper, and can be lit using the Retina flash feature; you can create animated wallpapers with Live Photos. For designers and other creative types, having access to the excellent (if costly) Apple Pencil stylus will be a major plus, and the 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard, while harder to type on quickly and accurately than its 12.9-inch sibling, is a nice option for business users. (We suspect that Logitech will release a more usable keyboard for the Pro 9.7 in the near future, so if your need isn’t urgent it might be worth hanging fire for the time being.) The Pro’s processor is quicker, which doesn’t mean much right now but will allow you to run processor-intensive apps and graphically demanding games for years to come, at the same time as Air 2 owners are seeing their tablet start slowing down. Those who have light use in mind (email, browsing the web, simple games etc) should be absolutely fine with an iPad Air 2, and would do well to save the extra cash.
Which is the best mid-size iPad: the iPad Air 2 or the iPad Pro 9.7in?
Apple currently sells two mid-size iPads but, slightly confusingly, they have completely different branding. The iPad Air 2 is 18 months old, and the iPad Pro 9.7in is brand-new, but physically they’re virtually identical; we have to look inside for the differences. Don’t worry, mind: the differences are significant.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7: Differences between the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro 9.7in
Physically, the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro 9.7in are difficult to tell apart: in terms of external design they’re matched to the nearest gram and tenth of a millimetre. The Pro 9.7 loses a few marks for its rear-facing camera lens, which sticks out at the back (much like the camera on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus). But that relates to a more significant difference, which is that the Pro has a much more advanced camera setup.
Apple has added a flash to the rear-facing camera (the Pro 9.7 remains the only iPad to include a flash), while its front-facing camera gains the Retina flash feature, which lights up the screen as a respectable improvised flash substitute. The Pro’s cameras themselves are rated at 12 megapixels and 5Mp respectively (rear- and front-facing), compared with the Air 2’s 8Mp and 1.2Mp offerings. We’ll compare the performance of these cameras in due course.
The Pro 9.7 also gets Live Photos – a neat if quite niche feature whereby short snatches of video are captured before and after still photos so they can be animated; 4K video (up from 1080p); a 240fps slow-mo option (up from 120fps) as well as the option to shoot 120fps slow-mo at 1080p, up from 720p; 63Mp panoramas (up from 43Mp); auto HDR; and a focusing feature Apple calls Focus Pixels.
The Pro 9.7’s processor (A9X) is one generation more advanced than the Air 2’s (A8X). And this resulted in noticeable advantages in our lab speed tests, even though you won’t see much real real-world difference for the time being – not until app developers release software that’s designed to harness the latest Apple hardware.
The Pro 9.7, like the larger 12.9-inch Pro, is compatible with the Apple Pencil stylus, and it has a discreet, barely noticeable connector port on its lefthand edge that allows you to attach and power the Smart Keyboard, or a third-party equivalent. These two options, while they can be expensive (the Apple Pencil and 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard cost an extra £79 and £129 respectively) make the Pro 9.7 a far more appealing option for business and creative users.
And, while for some buyers this won’t be a priority, audio performance is vastly enhanced. The Pro 9.7 has four speakers (two at the top, two at the bottom), compared to the Air 2’s two, and can fill a small room with warm, immersive sound that makes watching films or listening to music a pleasure. The Air 2’s audio output is thin in comparison – previously, we would always have recommended buying separate wireless speakers if you want to use your iPad as portable music device, but the Pro 9.7’s enhancements make this unnecessary.
Lastly, the iPad Pro 9.7 is available in pink (Rose Gold), as well as the three colours (silver, gold, Space Grey) offered for the Air 2.
Let’s look at each of these areas in a little more detail.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in: Screen
The screens of the iPad Air 2 and Pro 9.7 are the same in most respects. They are both Retina displays (to understand the significance of that proprietary marketing term, see What is a Retina display, and are they worth the money?) and both have a resolution of 2048 x 1536 and pixel density of 264 pixels per inch. In terms of sharpness they should be identical.
But there’s one enhancement that should set the iPad Pro 9.7’s screen apart from its predecessor: a new (optional) feature called True Tone. This is designed to adjust the screen’s colour output to account for environmental light conditions.
True Tone is subtle in effect, but sitting at a desk under electric light in late afternoon with the iPad Pro 9.7 and the iPad Air 2 side by side, our reviewer could easily tell that True Tone was gently warming things up and increasing the amount of yellow in the screen’s colour output – a kind of watered-down version of Night Shift. And of course you don’t need to worry about this feature: you just get a slightly better and more context-appropriate screen performance.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in: Processor power
Thanks to its latest-generation A9X processor chip, the iPad Pro 9.7 is much quicker at general and graphical processing than the Air 2 (which has a previous-generation A8X chip). Here are the speed benchmark scores achieved in our test labs by the two mid-size iPads.
GeekBench 3 speed benchmark scores (version 3.4.1, iOS 9.3.1, higher is better):
iPad Air 2: 1,841 (single core), 4,604 (multicore) iPad Pro (9.7in): 3,076 (single core), 5,257 (multicore)
GFXBench OpenGL (version 4.0.10, iOS 9.3.1, average of three tests per device, higher is better):
iPad Air 2: Manhattan onscreen: 1,709 frames, 27.6fps Manhattan offscreen: 2,226 frames, 36fps T-Rex onscreen: 2,684 frames, 47.9fps T-Rex offscreen: 3,440 frames, 61.4fps
iPad Pro (9.7in): Manhattan onscreen: 2,099 frames, 33.8fps Manhattan offscreen: 2,895 frames, 46.7fps T-Rex onscreen: 3,342 frames, 59.7fps T-Rex offscreen: 5,870 frames, 104.8fps
iPad Air 2: 83.757 iPad Pro (12.9in): 144.37
As these results show, the Pro 9.7 is faster than the Air 2 by a clear distance across a range of metrics… in theoretical testing. But this doesn’t mean you’ll notice a significant difference in real-world performance – not for a while, at least.
The most demanding tasks – extremely graphically ambitious 3D games, video and photo editing, and other processor-intensive apps – will start to tax the iPad Air 2 as more and more apps are released with the A9X chip in mind, but for the time being the Air 2 is quite capable of running any app on the App Store.
Think of the Pro 9.7, instead, as future-proofing. As a device that’s been around for 18 months less time, it should expect to be able to run the most demanding apps, and install iOS updates, without any noticeable slowdown for about 18 months more than the iPad Air 2. Sadly, we’d expect our iPad Air 2 to start tangibly slowing down this year.
If you need your iPad to be able to run the most demanding apps for years to come, the iPad Pro 9.7 is a better choice. If you’re willing to upgrade again next year, or if your iPad plans are limited to light use – browsing the web, reading emails, playing graphically simple games – then that A9X chip is probably overkill, and you can afford to compromise with the iPro Air 2.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in: Cameras
The Pro 9.7 has a superior photographic setup to the Air 2, and indeed to any other iPad, with better-specced front and back cameras and numerous additional features.
The Pro 9.7’s back and front cameras are rated at 12 megapixels and 5Mp respectively, compared with the Air 2’s 8Mp and 1.2Mp, and the newer iPad gets a flash (on the back camera) and the Retina flash feature (on the front). We’ll test out Retina flash in a moment.
The Pro 9.7 also gets Live Photos, 4K video recording (up from 1080p); slow-mo at 240fps (up from 120fps) and the option to shoot 120fps slow-mo at 1080p (up from 720p); and 63Mp panoramas (up from 43Mp).
In some of our test shots – ones taken in the most favourable conditions – there wasn’t a noticeable difference between the two devices’ camera performance. But when conditions became more overcast, the Pro began to demonstrate clearer, sharper detail and better contrast (in zoomed-in sections of the pictures):
So much for the rear-facing camera. But differences were more pronounced when we compared front-facing cameras – the Pro’s front camera is much sharper. And having a flash, or a feature that approximates a flash at any rate, is a huge convenience. Here’s an idea of what you can expect from Retina flash, compared with the Air 2’s unflashed effort:
If you rely on an iPad for camera work (we tend to find it rather inconvenient, size-wise), then the Pro 9.7 is right up your street.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in: Weight and dimensions
Physically the iPad Air 2 and Pro 9.7 are virtually identical. They weigh precisely the same, their dimensions are precisely the same. Both devices are magnificantly slender and convenient to tote around. They can be easily held in one hand, although you’ll need two to use them.
Once upon a time (way back in 2014) we were very slightly concerned about the robustness of this super-thin design, but after getting used to that 6.1mm chassis we can confirm that the iPad Air 2 is no delicate flower. It hasn’t bent at all during – and barely been scuffed by – 18 months of almost non-stop use. We’re confident that the Pro 9.7 will prove similarly tough.
One negative point: that high-powered camera lens sticks out a bit at the back of the Pro 9.7. (This isn’t an issue with the Air 2.) If you lay the Pro flat on its back, particularly on a hard surface, then one corner is raised up awkwardly, and the lens scratches against the desk if you push it around. If you encase your iPad in a cover, however, this won’t be a problem.
iPad Air 2 – быстрый обзор в 2022.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in: Accessories
In a move that will be highly significant to some potential buyers (particularly creative and business users) but trivial to others, Apple has made the iPad Pro 9.7in compatible with the Apple Pencil stylus and Smart Keyboard (in a smaller size).
The former is an unqualified joy: the Apple Pencil, while costly by most standards, is about the best stylus any iPad owner can get their hands on. It feels good and natural in the hand (although it took us a while to get used to its balance), lag-free and attractively designed.
The Smart Keyboard, or at least this edition of it, is less of a home run. In the 9.7in size it’s quite hard to type on accurately, and we prefer the experience with the 12.9in model. Still, it’s better than the onscreen keyboard – and indeed than other iPad keyboards we’ve tried in this size – and therefore a solid option.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in: iOS 9 (and beyond)
Finally, both iPad Air 2 and Pro 9.7 will come with iOS 9 preinstalled if you buy them now, and both receive a full complement of its features – with a couple of exceptions.
The point of interest here is that the iPad Air 2 is one generation older than the iPad Pro 9.7, and consequently one rung further down the iOS ladder. It’s likely to get access to iOS updates for around a year to 18 months less time than its newer cousin.
For iOS 8, the iPad 1 couldn’t run it at all, the iPad 2 and 3 got most of the features, and the iPad 4 and later got the lot; for iOS 9 in 2015, the iPad 2 and later were again able to join in the fun. But for iOS 10, expected to be unveiled at WWDC in summer 2016, it’s possible that some of the older tablets won’t be able to get the update at all, and more iPads will miss out on features. Each year, owners of older iPads nervously wonder if they’re about to stop getting iOS update support.
iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7in: UK price
The iPad Pro 9.7 is much more expensive than its older sibling, but starting at a higher base storage allocation exaggerates this difference somewhat. It costs:
- £499 (32GB, Wi-Fi)
- £619 (128GB, Wi-Fi)
- £739 (256GB, Wi-Fi)
- £599 (32GB, cellular)
- £719 (128GB, cellular )
- £839 (256GB, cellular )
You can buy the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro 9.7 direct from Apple ( iPad Air 2 | iPad Pro 9.7in), or from third-party retailers including John Lewis ( iPad Air 2 | iPad Pro 9.7in). We advise shopping around; take a look at our Best iPad Air 2 deals UK and Best iPad Pro 9.7in deals UK for buying advice.
iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Air 3: Differences You Should Know About
Recently, Apple introduced the third generation of the iPad Air. The previous version of the iPad Air was released back in October 2014 and was sold at Apple’s retail stores until March 2017. Then the iPad Air went on a two-year hiatus until 2019.
The official name of the third-generation iPad Air appears to be iPad Air and it is also referred to as iPad Air (2019), but to make things easier to understand I will refer to it as the iPad Air 3 throughout this article.
Here is an overview of the iPad Air 2 vs. the iPad Air 3 to help you understand the differences:
The iPad Air 2 was the first iPad to have the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The dimensions of the iPad Air 2 is 9.4 inches height x 6.6 inches width x 0.24-inch depth. And the iPad Air 3 is slightly different at 9.8 inches height x 6.8 inches width x 0.24-inch depth due to the difference in display size (more on that below).
The Wi-Fi version of the iPad Air 2 has a weight of 0.96 pounds compared to the iPad Air 3’s one pound weight (Wi-Fi version).
The iPad Air 3 still uses the Touch ID fingerprint reader rather than Apple’s Face ID facial recognition security system just like the iPad Air 2. And the iPad Air 3 still has a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio.
For charging, the iPad Air 3 still uses a Lightning connection so you should definitely keep your extra Lightning cables around. Some consumers may be thrilled by this, but others would have preferred USB-C.
In terms of sound, there are two speakers at the bottom of the iPad Air 3 (like the iPad Air 2). The iPad Pro 10.5 — which was released in 2017 — has better sound as it is powered by quad speakers.
The iPad Air 2 has a 9.7-inch display (2048×1536 resolution at 264 ppi) whereas the display of the iPad Air 3 has been bumped up to 10.5-inch (diagonal) with a 2224×1668 resolution (264 ppi). With the 10.5-inch display, the new iPad Air actually seems like a lighter version of the iPad Pro.
Inside of the iPad Air 2 is the Apple A8X system-on-chip with 64-bit architecture and Apple M8 motion co-processor. And the iPad Air 2 has 2GB of RAM.
The iPad Air 3 has been bumped up to A12 Bionic with 64-bit architecture and the M12 motion co-processor. This makes the iPad Air 3 about three times more powerful than the iPad Air 2.
The front-facing camera on the iPad Air 2 is 1.2-megapixels at 720p (f/2.2 aperture) and the rear camera is 8-megapixels (f/2.4 aperture).
The rear camera on the iPad Air 3 is essentially the same as the iPad Air 2, but the front-facing camera has been significantly bumped up to 7-megapixels (f/2.2 aperture).
The iPad Air 2 is available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB options. And the iPad Air 3 is available in 64GB and 256GB capacities.
The iPad Air 3 is available in silver, space gray, and gold, which is the same as the iPad Air 2.
Smart Keyboard Compatibility
The Apple iPad Air 3 is compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard cover and the first-generation Apple Pencil (not the second-generation Apple Pencil). This gives the iPad Air 3 a leg up on the iPad Air 2. To power the Apple Smart Keyboard, iPad 3 has a Smart Connector.
The iPad Air 2 has Bluetooth 4.2 built-in. And the iPad Air 3 has been upgraded to Bluetooth 5.0.
The price of the iPad Air 3 is set at 499. This was the same starting price of the iPad Air 2.
10.5-inch Retina display with True Tone and wide color; A12 Bionic chip; Touch ID fingerprint sensor and Apple Pay
Apple iOS 8; 9.7-Inch Retina Display; 2048×1536 Resolution; A8X Chip with 64-bit Architecture; M8 Motion Coprocessor
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