The iPad Air 2 is now available across the globe, and we got our hands on one today. We have unboxed the device, checked out the new features, compared it in action to the first iPad Air, and captured it all on video for you to enjoy.
The first thing you notice about the iPad Air 2 is the feel in the hand with a surprisingly lighter structure. The tech specs show the iPad Air is is just 0.04 lbs lighter than the iPad Air, and yet there’s a significantly noticeable difference. Part of that feeling can be attributed to the 6.1mm thickness, which is 18% thinner than the iPad Air, and you notice every tenth of a mm. It seems Apple can’t make an iPad any thinner without just shipping an interactive piece of glass. The numbers don’t indicate much difference, but the real world feel shows a markedly different device that will be easy to appreciate on day to day use.
The screen is the next piece you notice, as everything just seems brighter, and crisper on the iPad Air 2. It’s the same resolution, but since Apple combined LCD, touch sensor, and glass into one layer, you’re actually closer to the pixels. It’s easy to spot the difference when looking at both devices next to each other, and the iPad Air 2 also includes new anti-reflective technology. Apple claiming anti-reflective is one thing, but actually seeing it in person is quite another, as they definitely delivered on their claims. Whether you’re inside under bright lights mounted on the ceiling, or sitting in direct sunlight outside, it’s easy to see how much less reflective the iPad Air 2 is. After using the iPad since 2010, trying anti-reflective screen protectors to no avail, it’s easy to appreciate just how much clearer everything is, even in direct sunlight.
After getting to use TouchID on the iPhone 6, I have come to really value its usefulness, and it’s great to have on the iPad now. It’s just so much more convenient to make digital purchases, while at the same time offering security that I never implemented on an iPad before. It’s tough to test the new A8X chip without a benchmark test, but those numbers don’t necessarily tie into real world use. Therefore, I loaded up NBA 2K15 on both the iPad Air 2, and iPad Air, and ran them side by side. The load times were identical, but the iPad Air 2 had a noticeable improvement in frame rate for the basketball action to flow silky smooth, even though the iPad Air never seemed to hesitate that much before. Finally, the iPad Air 2 includes a new 8MP camera, which is the same from the iPhone 5. It’s easy to see the difference as the viewfinder isn’t filled with noise to let the iPad fill in as a camera when that’s the only device you have.
After just a couple of hours of impressions, it’s easy to appreciate all of the new features of the iPad Air 2 to significantly enhance the usability of iPad that I didn’t think was possible with how good the first iPad Air is. I also got the gold color, and am equally surprised how good it looks.