Apple iPad 2014 event rumor round-up: Air 2 and iPad mini 3 specs, price, and release date
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.
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).
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
Apple might move to 32GB storage for the base iPad Air model, 2GB of RAM likelyInterestingly, 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.
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.
Price, release date, and carrier availability
Relase date? Likely, October 24thWe 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.