|Style & Handling|
|Touch ID||Can be pricy|
|Powerful processor||Quite similar to original iPad Air|
|Great design||No microSD card slot|
Verdict: The iPad Air 2 may well be the best tablet in the world, but we still wish it was more of an improvement over last year’s model.
The iPad Air was a truly brilliant tablet, taking the already almost unbeatable iPad 4, slimming it down, making it lighter and adding a lot more power. Essentially Apple has done the same thing again here in the move from the iPad Air to the iPad Air 2, but the differences are smaller and a trick is never as impressive the second time around.
That doesn’t mean the iPad Air 2 isn’t a great slate though. Read on for our full thoughts.
There’s a 9.7 inch 1536 x 2048 IPS LCD display on the iPad Air 2, giving it a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, which isn’t bad but isn’t great either, especially as the iPad mini 2 and mini 3 have the same screen resolution leading to a far higher pixel density given their smaller size.
But it’s a bright, vibrant display with brilliant contrast and good colour reproduction and it even has an anti-reflection coating which does exactly what it says on the tin- gets rid of pesky reflections which can otherwise ruin the viewing experience.
It’s not a big change over the iPad Air’s screen, which is the same size and resolution, but colours look slightly more accurate and the anti-reflection coating is new.
The design of the iPad Air 2 is quite similar to that of its predecessor, with a slim aluminium body and a glass front. It’s a good look and it’s better than ever here thanks to a super slim 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm build. The iPad Air 2 has also shed a bit of weight, coming in at just 437g, which is certainly light for a tablet of this size.
All in all it’s a very good looking slate, in fact we’d say it’s the best looking tablet we’ve ever seen, though only by a slim margin as the iPad Air looks remarkably similar.
A 64-bit Apple A8X chip hums away inside the iPad Air 2 and this is the latest and greatest processor that Apple has yet put in an iOS device, one-upping even the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with their A8 processors and substantially improving on the A7 chip found in the iPad Air.
It’s fast, powerful and is likely to stay that way for a long time. If you want a future-proofed slate, this is it.
It also supports 3G and 4G if you opt for a cellular model, so you can enjoy high speed internet even when you’re away from home and there’s no Wi-Fi.
There’s an 8 megapixel camera on the back of the iPad Air 2 and that makes for quite an improvement over the 5 megapixel snapper found on the original iPad Air.
It’s capable of snapping fairly detailed photos with good colour reproduction and can even just about cope in low-light, though obviously there is some loss in quality.
It can also shoot 1080p video at 30fps and there’s a 1.2 megapixel camera on the front. It’s not a match for the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus in the photography stakes, especially as it doesn’t have the full range of features and modes found on Apple’s handsets, but for a tablet it’s surprisingly good.
There’s only one major new addition here and that’s Touch ID. It allows you to unlock your tablet simply by placing your fingertip on the home button, so it’s faster than entering a PIN or password and it works well, with failed readings being very rare.
With the help of Apple Pay the same thing can be used to authorise purchases from the App Store or from apps themselves, which again is a lot faster than entering a password and almost as secure.
Then of course there’s iOS 8, which is the other new addition, though it’s less notable because previous models can simply download it.
The iPad Air 2 has a battery life quoted for around 10 hours of multimedia use. Whether or not it lives up to that will largely depend on exactly what kind of multimedia you use. Music will carry it well beyond ten hours while with Wi-Fi browsing and watching videos you should see around 10 hours from it, but browsing over 3G or 4G or playing demanding games will drain it somewhat faster.
In all usage cases though it’s got some of the best battery life around, at least as far as tablets go, matching the iPad Air’s life despite being slimmer and more powerful.
There’s a choice of 16, 64 or 128GB of storage with the iPad Air 2 and as there’s no microSD card slot we’d strongly suggest at least 64GB, which sadly drives the price up from £399 to £479, which certainly isn’t cheap, while 128GB will cost you £559 and opting for a cellular model can push the price all the way up to £659.
Other than the 3G and 4G which you get with a cellular model, you can also look forward to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, with those latter two appearing on all versions of the iPad Air 2.
The iPad Air 2 is a brilliant tablet, of that there’s no doubt and we’re a whole lot more enthusiastic about it than we are the iPad mini 3, but to a lesser extent it suffers from many of the same problems, namely that it’s entirely too similar to its predecessor.
So much so that it’s debatable whether it’s worth upgrading from the iPad Air, but for anyone on older Apple hardware or new to the ecosystem this is a great buy and absolutely one of the best tablets around, with a powerful processor, a good screen, great battery life, a stunning design and the ease of use expected from an Apple product and emphasised by Touch ID.
iPad Air 2 Review SpecificationDimensions : 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm Weight: 437 grams Screen size: 9.7” IPS LCD (1536 x 2048) Screen Resolution: 1536 x 2048 display resolution Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 264 Processor: Dual core application processor RAM: 1 GB TBC On-board Memory: 16/64/128GB Camera: 8MP (rear) 1080p@30fps, (1.2 megapixel front-facing) Operating system: iOS 8 Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ No Battery capacity: TBC Colours: Silver, Gold, Space Grey Launch Date: Out Now Price: £399