Apple iPad 2014 event rumor round-up: Air 2 and iPad mini 3 specs, price, and release date


It’s official: Apple has spoken to its faithful media and revealed that it will indeed hold a second event nearly a month after the iPhone 6, this time to give us a glimpse at its new iPads, more details about Apple Pay and likely - present us with brand new iMacs, and why not something more.

The big focus of the event for mobile enthusiasts will undoubtedly be the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3. Apple is following a yearly routine of unveiling its new tablets in October, and this year is no different. However, after equipping all iOS devices with identical chips last year, this year, we expect to see a slightly different hardware on the new iPads, as leaks have shown a slightly different, Apple A8X chip powering them. Not just this, expectations are also for both getting the Touch ID fingerprint recognition sensor, as well as updated cameras.

Design: the new thinnest tablet on the market


After a major redesign of the iPad Air last year that was based on the rounded edges and design lead of the iPad mini, we don’t expect to see any major changes in the looks of neither tablet. The iPad Air is already one of the lightest devices on the market and with the reduction in bezels from last year, it’s also fairly compact for its screen size. There will be one change, though: Apple is expected to use a laminated display (the cover glass is manufactured as a single piece with the LCD) which will further reduce the thickness of the iPad Air. This will allegedly result in a 0.5mm thinner profile, reducing the overall thickness of the iPad Air to an iPhone-esque 7.0mm. The change will allegedly be enough for Apple to claim that the Air is the new thinnest tablet on the market.

The iPad mini 3 is also expected to get a similarly thin profile, but otherwise retain the design style of the original.


One addition is expected to come to the looks of the two new iPads, though: a gold color option, just like the one on the iPhones. This will bring a three-color palette to the iPad series: gold alongside grey and silver. Finally, there is a little design tweak on both iPads - the mute/orientation lock switch is gone (allegedly because of the thinner sizes).

Display


After last year’s update to the iPad mini, both iPads now come with high-resolution ‘Retina’ displays boasting 2048 x 1536 pixels. This results in a pixel density of the whopping 324ppi for the 7.9-inch iPad mini Retina and 264ppi for the 9.7-inch iPad Air, so we do not expect to see a further boost in resolution.

Turning over to colors, the original iPad Air was pre-calibrated very accurately, with the white point at around 6800K, just very slightly north of the reference 6500K value (higher values indicate a colder, bluish tint). Greyscale accuracy on it is excellent, and this also translates in overall pleasing color, within the industry-standard sRGB color gamut. We’d be happy to see Apple stick with this successful formula in the new iPad Air 2nd generation.

The iPad mini, on the other hand, had some issues with its colors: it fell short of covering the full sRGB color gamut, resulting in colors that look a bit muted. The white point is a bit further north, and color accuracy while decent, is not as good as on the iPad Air. That’s the area we hope to see Apple really improve on with the iPad mini 3.

Interface, Touch ID and support for Apple Pay


With iOS 8 powering both tablets, there is little in the interface that won’t already be familiar to iPhone users. The biggest change is the expected Touch ID sensor on both tablets - having a finger sensor means that iPad users will likely be able to use their tablets with the new Apple Pay cashless payment system.

Performance and Storage: Apple A8X coming, 16GB storage option might go away


Both iPads are expected to ship with a tweaked version of the latest Apple A8 chip - the A8X. Apple has been the first to adopt a 64-bit architecture, outpacing Android by years in this transition, and it's also adopted an ARM architecture license, so that it just uses the instruction set, while designing the CPU core all by itself. The new Cyclone core in the A8 is a 6-wide machine with single-core performance that ranks on top of the charts as well, and we expect to see it in the A8X as well.

We took a quick look at the new Cyclone CPU and ImgTec's GX6450 GPU in a separate Apple A8 performance review, and in the new iPads we expect a slight boost in CPU clock speeds thanks to the increased thermal limit of the larger chassis. Sustained performance should also see some benefits (better heat dissipation in the iPads allows the processor to run longer at higher clock speeds without throttling).

Interestingly, Apple is expected to actually double the RAM in the iPad, so that both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 feature 2GB of RAM. That will definitely make the two more future proof.

Best of all, rumors speculate that Apple might have decided to ditch the 16GB iPad model altogether and instead move to a 32GB/64GB/128GB iPad lineup. This rumor applies for the iPad Air 2 in particular, while the iPad mini 3 might still come with a 16GB option.

Camera


Tablet photography is a topic of separate discussion, but fact remains that people use their tablets to capture images and videos every once in a while, and having a good camera is an important requirement. Both the original iPad Air and the iPad mini 2 featured a 5-megapixel main, iSight camera, as well as a 1.2-megapixel front shooter for selfies. In the new 2014 iPad lineup, Apple is expected to give a boost to the rear camera and increase the sensor to an 8-megapixel resolution with increased detail. We've also seen Apple move to a wider, f/2.2 aperture lens on the iPhone 6 lineup, and we would not be surprised if it introduced a similar lens for its iPads.

We have not heard any rumors about a higher-res front camera, but whispers say that there will be an upgrade in that department as well as the new front shooter will add support for FaceTime HD (720p) video calls.


It’s worth noting that Apple has integrated a lot of the iPhoto editing functionality in the stock photo app, so you can easily make some nice edits right there. Such light image and video editing is something that’s definitely more pleasing to do on the larger iPad screen.

Battery


Battery has long been one of the strongest sides of Apple’s tablets, but as competitors narrow the gap, Apple is so far sticking with the successful 10-hour battery formula. If there are changes to battery capacity, we don’t expect them to have a huge effect on the iPad battery longevity. Let us also remind you that the iPad Air and iPad mini Retina scored a very respectable ~8 hours and 40 minutes on our battery life test that runs on smartphones and tablets alike.

Price, release date, and carrier availability


Apple is expected to host the unveiling of the new iPad Air and iPad mini 3 on October 16th, and given that it adheres strictly to its Friday release schedule, we can be almost certain that the new iPads will appear on store shelves on the next Friday, October 24th.

We see no reason why Apple would change pricing for its tablets either: the iPad Air 2 price is expected to start at $499 for the basic Wi-Fi-only model, while the iPad mini 3 is likely to cost $399.

Apple is also offering 4G-enabled versions of iPad models for a $130 premium over the corresponding Wi-Fi version, and those will certainly support bands for all major US carriers.

Related phones

iPad Air
  • Display 9.7 inches
    1536 x 2048 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP (Single camera)
    1.2 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A7
    1GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB,
  • Battery 8820 mAh
  • OS iOS 12.x
iPad mini 2
  • Display 7.9 inches
    1536 x 2048 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP (Single camera)
    1.2 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A7
    1GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB,
  • Battery 6471 mAh
  • OS iOS 12.x

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