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iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Air: Spec Showdown

The iPad Air 2 is here. In a similar fashion to last year, Apple’s October event managed to mention just about every Apple product (sans Apple TV) and debuted the new fleet of iPads and iMacs.

Apple has also decided to clean house on old iPads. Luckily, the old iPad Airs are staying around for now, but for a reduced price. Is the iPad Air 2 worth paying an extra $100? We compare Apple’s lightweights to find out.

Apple iPad Air 2

iPadAir2

Apple iPad Air

iPad Air Small

Size  9.4 x 6.6 x .24 (in) 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.29 (in)
Weight 0.96 pounds 1.05 pounds
Display 9.7- inch LED 9.7-inch LED
Resolution  2048 x 1536 pixels 2048 x 1536 pixels
Operating System iOS 8 iOS 8
Storage 16, 32, 64, or 128GB 16, 32, 64, or 128GB
Processor A8X chip and M8 coprocessor A7 chip and M7 coprocessor
RAM  1GB 1GB
Camera  Front 1.2MP, Rear 8MP Front 1.2MP, Rear 5MP
Video  Front 720p HD, Rear 1080p HD Front 720p HD, Rear 1080p HD
Connectivity  802.11 ac 4G LTE, HSPA +, Bluetooth 4.0 802.11 a/g/b/n 4G LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooh 4.0
Sensors  Barometer, Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor
Battery  8820mAh, 10 hours of Web use via Wi-Fi 8820mAh, 10 hours of Web use via Wi-Fi
Charger Lightening connector Lightning connector
Marketplace Mac App Store Mac App Store
Price  $500+ $400+
Availability  Pre-Order 17 Now
DT review  Coming Soon 4 out of 5 stars

Power

The iPad Air 2 is powered by Apple’s A8X processor. It’s a close relative to the iPhone 6’s snappy A8 Processor, and boasts 40 percent faster CPU performance than the original iPad Air’s A7 processor. Graphic performance has also received an update in the iPad Air 2, with 2.5 times faster graphics performance, which means you’ll be able to run graphic-heavy games more smoothly on the new iPad Air.

The iPad Air 2 also features an M8 coprocessor, which handles all things motion and pairs well with fitness and health apps. It can even tell the difference between walking, running, and cycling. The coprocessor also measures elevation, distance, and weather. Even though the Air 2 has a new processor, don’t expect to get any longer battery life. Both tablets will run out of juice in 10 hours’ time. The newly released iOS 8 operating system and all of its new features are available on both devices, though the Air 2 comes with it preinstalled.

Design

TouchID — the fingerprint sensor that debuted on the iPhone 5S — marks one of the most major additions to the iPad Air 2. The sensor allows users to unlock the homescreen by placing a finger on iPad Air 2’s home button. Apple’s fingerprint sensor will also grant access to secure apps, allow purchases from the iTunes store, and direct purchasing in apps with Apple Pay.

The iPad Air 2 sports other minor design tweaks including an anti-glare display coating and a slightly more streamlined design. The Air 2’s weight and size improvements, however, are negligible.

Camera

iPad Air 2 has improved iPad Air’s lackluster camera profile by a long shot. The rear 8-megapixel shooter employs Apple’s updated iSight camera — the very same camera found in the iPhone 6, which takes great photos. It’s a major improvement over the iPad Air’s 5-megapixel shooter and iOS 8 will broaden the original iPad Air’s photo features. With iOS 8, both tablets can shoot time-lapse videos, shoot selfies in burst mode, and take gorgeous panorama photos.

Both tablets are also able to shoot video in HD at 1080p, but thanks to the A8X processor, the iPad Air 2 has more potential. The iPad Air 2 will shoot in slow motion and comes with a better signal processor that’ll improve face detection.

Price and Availability

The original iPad Air has dropped to $400 in price, but the iPad Air 2 starts at $500 — just $100 more. Preorders for the Air 2 begins October 17 and the tablet will arrive in stores on October 24. Many other retailers and carriers will offer the Air 2, too, and many have already opened preorders.

Conclusion

The iPad Air 2 is an overall improvement on the already stellar iPad Air but only in subtle ways. It may be difficult to justify the extra premium for a slightly faster A8X professor, TouchID, and better iSight camera. Especially considering the original iPad Air now has now dropped to $400.

However, the iPad Air 2 makes it not such a crazy idea to take photos with your camera. For the photo inclined, there may be no better tablet out there.