Apple’s new iPad Air 2 is finally official and, despite it not being much of a surprise, the device is still really impressive. It’s thinner, sports an optically-bonded display, and even comes with an improved A8X chip, which Apple says blows away the performance of any other technology used in its earlier devices. Oh, and it also sports Touch ID, bringing the convenience of online Apple Pay (no retail use) to even more people across the globe.
Most attention will be focused on the iPad Air 2’s design, which is thinner than ever before. In fact, two iPad Air 2s stacked on top of each other are still slimmer than one original iPad. It just goes to show how far Apple’s engineering prowess has come over the years. The iPad Air was already thin enough, but the concept of “too thin” just isn’t something Apple understands. And by all accounts the slimmer profile of the device makes a huge difference.
Because the iPad Air 2 is so thin, Apple has created a neat illusion that makes you believe you’re holding a screen and nothing more. Of course, the large-ish bezels are still in full display, but your thumb has to hold onto something. This is, without a doubt, one of Apple’s more impressive designs, and even though the designs are largely the same, you get a sense that the iPad Air 2 is definitely a leap over the previous generation—not huge, but certainly noticeable.
The other story here is Apple’s improved A8X chip, which the company said was built specifically to power the new iPad Air 2. Performance over the last generation Air is significantly better, while the jump in graphics means developers can create more beautiful apps and games. Apple touted Pixelmator on stage this afternoon, and what you can do in terms of media editing is certainly impressive. No better than what you’d get on a computer, of course, but certainly pretty darn good for a tablet.
Apple’s iPads are always fast, so you can bet your butt the Air 2 will scream through apps and other tasks without an issue. The update in technology might not necessarily be pushing the direction of full on iPad replacement, but if you need some extra power on the go, the Air 2 will be a reliable companion.
Apple also made it a point to talk about the iPad Air 2’s new updated 8-megapixel camera. No matter how you slice it, people look silly holding up their tablets up to take photos, but if you really must insist on partaking, Apple is definitely addressing that crowd. The company showed off some example photos during its presentation, and they looked decent enough. Not the quality you’d get using the company’s iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus but, again, if you really must insist on using your tablet as a camera, it’ll certainly get the job done. The front-facing FaceTime camera has also been improved.
This is clearly Apple’s most complete big iPad yet, featuring a better design, better internals (including better Wi-Fi), Touch ID and incredible thinness. There’s not much more to say beyond that. This is still an iPad, just better than what we’ve seen before. For a lot of Apple fans, that’s enough to warrant an upgrade. We’ll find out just how improved the iPad Air 2 is when it launches at the end of next week.