Apple 2014 iPad event round-up: all you need to know about iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3
Apple's iPad Air 2 (on the left) and iPad mini 3 (on the right)
Apple has just given its iPad lineup a refresh with two new devices: the iPad Air 2, the world’s thinnest tablet, and the iPad mini 3, a tablet… hm, actually, a tablet that has seen almost no change.
What are the new tablets all about, and how do they differ from last year's iPad Aid and the iPad mini with Retina display? Read on to find out.
Apple iPad Air 2
The iPad Air 2 was the headliner of the Apple’s late fall event, and for a good reason: the company has perfected its manufacturing technology, fusing all the elements of the display (the LCD, glass cover, and touch sensor) into one and managing to cut air gaps, in order to arrive at a thinness of just 6.1m (0.24”). This is in fact the world’s thinnest tablet, and it’s also gotten lighter than the already feathery iPad Air.
There are two other big improvements: the Apple A8X chip under the hood, and a new, 8-megapixel iSight camera.
The world's thinnest tablet comes with Apple's new A8XThe A8X chip comes with a 40% improvement in CPU speeds, and a 2.5 times boost in GPU performance, but that is when you compare with the last-gen A7-powered iPad, not with the A8 in the iPhone 6. Apple has managed to cram in an impressive 3 billion transistors in the A8X, 50% more than the 2 billion in the A8.
The iSight camera in the iPad is a tacit admission that there’s nothing wrong with tablet photography. The new, 8-megapixel sensor has an f/2.4 lens on top, and receives software features from the iPhone, like the 120fps slow motion.
The iPad Air 2 now also gets the Touch ID fingerprint sensor with support for Apple Pay, as well as a new gold color option. Just like the iPhone 6, we now have a 16GB version, then jump right into 64 gigs, and finally - a 128GB model. The tablet goes on pre-order on October 17th, and will hit store shelves on Friday, October 24th.
Apple iPad mini 3
The iPad mini 3 is here, but it was a very strange announcement. Apple rushed through the announcement only mentioning the name of the tablet, and little else, and for a good reason: it’s almost unchanged from before.
We have the same 7.9-inch display size with same Retina resolution, same design, and - disappointingly - even the old Apple A7 chip. Camera? It’s the same 5-megapixel one.
In fact, the only major new thing in the iPad mini 3 is the Touch ID fingerprint reader that you can use with Apple Pay. Oh yes, it’s now also available in gold.
At the same time, the price still starts at $399. It’s a strange move by Apple - offering what’s practically last year’s tablet specs at the same price, and even the fact that this largely identical to last year’s iPad mini tablet is getting a new name is weird. What we do like about this move, though, is the fact that last year’s iPad mini with Retina is now getting a $100 price cut, so you’ll have a good reason to consider it at its $299 starting price.