Apple’s latest launch has released new versions of both the iPad and the iPad mini just
in time for Christmas. Santa – you have been warned! But what does this launch really
mean for us the consumers?
Apple Leaks its Own Launch
Apple’s usually tightly-controlled media machine managed to scoop itself on the launch
of the iPad Air and iPad mini. An update to the iOS 8 iPad online user guide showed
pictures and details about the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 a day before Apple’s
official launch event. Those pictures confirmed much speculation about the two new iPads – revealing two
new versions that are nearly identical to their predecessors.
iPad Air 2
So what has changed for the iPad Air 2?
New features include: Touch ID. The new colours: it’s available in Gold, Silver and
space grey. There’s the continuity with other devices on iOS8. A better camera. A
faster chip. And the display.The most hotly-trailed change is the new thinness – the iPad Air 2 is just 6.1mm thick.
This is half the thickness of the original iPad and significantly thinner than the 7.5mm-
thick iPad Air 1. The dimensions of width and height remain the same, however. And
whether the thinness really makes a huge difference to users remains debatable –
especially after the concerns of bendgate!
The iPad Air 2 features a new processor chip, the A8X – a souped-up version of the
iPhone 6’s A8. Apple says its three billion transistors deliver a 40 percent faster
performance in most apps when compared with the iPad Air 1’s A7 chip and up to 2.5
times the graphics performance.
While Air 2 does give the iPad Touch ID, it does not come with NFC, so iPad Air 2 users
aren’t going to be using their devices to make Apple Pay payments. Only time will tell
how useful the touch ID will prove to be as App developers come up with ways to
leverage the technology.
The display is updated to Apple’s new zero air gap screen, which it claims reduces
screen reflections by 56% for clearer, brighter images.
The camera gets a significant upgrade on the iPad Air 2 – offering Apple’s new 8MP
iSight camera with a f/2.4 aperture plus 1080p video recording and 720p slo-mode
video capabilities. It also has panorama, burst and macro modes too. How many of us
actually use our iPads to take photos remains a question of course… however, for face
time users there is a new camera on the front, with a f/2.2 aperture and a HD
resolution with HDR built in.
So, in summary, if you’re a heavy gamer, a photographer or want high-definition face
time then iPad Air 2 will be well worth the money. But if, like most of us, you use your
iPad to surf Facebook, send emails and watch the odd film, you won’t see much
difference between the Air and the Air 2.
iPad mini 3
The iPad mini 3 doesn’t offer quite the same upgrade on the iPad mini 2 as the iPad Air
2 does on the iPad Air 1. It does offer the new gold colour way and the Touch ID but it doesn’t have the latest
processor or the improvements to the camera or new thinness of the iPad Air 2. The
main differentiator between the iPad mini models is going to be the memory capacity –
the new iPad mini 3 comes in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB variants, whereas the iPad mini
2 will still be available but only in 16GB and 32GB.
More Choice for Consumers
Apple will continue to sell the earlier versions – both versions of the iPad Air (1 & 2)
and all three versions of the iPad mini. The different memory specs mean direct
comparisons are difficult to make, but it does spread the appeal over a much broader
section of the market. The iPad mini 1 will retail at £199 – which is a great price for an
Apple tablet. If Apple really is making a play to grab a bit of the middle market action
as well as dominating the high-end range of the market, then this will be bad news for
Samsung which is already facing pressure at the other end of the market from budget
manufacturers such as LG and Lenovo.
Please if you have anything to add let us know your thoughts with a comment below.