As expected, Apple has announced new iPads at their keynote event today. If you follow the Apple rumor mill then there aren’t really any surprises here: Apple themselves accidentally leaked the new devices through their own iPad manual in the iBooks app earlier this week. Just because it isn’t a surprise though, doesn’t mean these new iPads aren’t damn exciting. Prior to the unveiling of these new iPad devices, CEO Tim Cook went on to tout the success of the iPad in its lifetime, selling more than 225 million of the various iPads since the first one launched in spring of 2010. The iPad also ranks number one in customer satisfaction. Ok, on to the new devices.
First up is the iPad Air 2, the successor to last year’s iPad Air. You may remember the marketing of the original iPad Air showed how thin the device was by having it lay side by side with a pencil, showing that the iPad was actually thinner. For the iPad Air 2, they’ve actually made it even thinner, just 6.1mm thin. According to Apple, that’s 18% thinner than the original iPad Air. Don’t accidentally let it slip through the cracks in the floor!
As for features of the iPad Air 2, it’s pretty much all the things you’d expect. A better screen with less problems with reflections, and Apple has even added an anti-reflective layer to the screen to help with that. The internals come equipped with the A8X chip, which is a custom version of the chip in the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus made specifically for the new iPad. The chip has a 64-bit architecture, 3 billion transistors, a 40% faster CPU and a 2.5x faster GPU. Apple claims the graphics on the iPad Air 2 are 180x faster than on the original 2010 iPad. Coupled with the Metal technology, the iPad Air 2 should be a beast for gaming.
The other new features of the iPad Air 2 are also pretty much expected. It has a better camera with many of the new features available in the iPhone 6 cameras. It has Touch ID which has been a hugely requested feature. It also has the newest M8 chip for tracking your fitness. You’ll also be able to use the new Apple Pay feature with the new iPad, though not in retail stores as it doesn’t have NFC capabilities, but it’ll work for online purchasing, which is cool. All in all it’s an expected, but nonetheless welcome refresh of the already fantastic iPad Air.
The other new iPad model unveiled today is the iPad mini 3, also outed by Apple earlier this week. Apple didn’t spend a ton of time talking about this new smaller version of the iPad, which makes me think it’s basically everything new about the iPad Air 2 just shrunken down in size. I love that Apple has strived for parity between the two sizes of iPad, as when it comes time to choose which one you want to get it only comes down to a matter of size. I’m really hoping there are no major differences in internal hardware or major features between the new Air and the new mini, but since they didn’t really touch on it we’ll have to wait and see. (There are. See update below.)
As for the pricing and availability of the new iPads? For the iPad Air 2, which comes in three colors: Silver, Space Grey and Gold, it’ll cost $499/599/699 for 16GB/64GB/128GB in Wi-Fi versions and $629/729/829 for cellular versions. The iPad mini 3 will be $399/499/599 for 16GB/64GB/128GB for Wi-Fi versions, and $529/629/729 for cellular versions. Both will be available for pre-order tomorrow, October 17th and will start shipping next week. What’s cool is that the original iPad Air and the iPad mini 2 will be sticking around and dropping their prices by $100, and even the original iPad mini is staying put and will start at just $249. That’s a hell of a deal if you’re in the market for a tablet but aren’t quite ready to commit a ton of cash towards one.
So, what do you think about the new iPads? Will you be getting one? Personally, my last new iPad was the original, non-retina iPad mini, so I think I’m more than due for a refresh. I’ll probably be going mini again, but the full size iPad has become so thin and light in the last two years that it makes the decision a bit harder to make.
Update: Apple has updated their website with information on the new iPads, and according to the page for the iPad mini 3, it’s only rocking an A7 processor, not the A8X of the new iPad Air 2. Sadly, this once again means the smaller iPad is playing second fiddle to the larger one, which is disappointing after last year where the two versions were basically identical except in physical size. I guess I’ll be leaning more towards the new full-size iPad then?
[Images via MacRumors]