While Apple is currently busy with their slightly depressing iPad sales figures for the sixth quarter in a row, the iPad itself is stronger than ever, and by a huge spec margin. The iPad Air 2 scores as well on Geekbench tests as an early 2011 MacBook Pro.
Even better, Apple doubled the iPad’s RAM, which should mean that you’ll be able to keep more than three Safari tabs in memory at the same time.
In all seriousness, the embargo has lifted and the early reviews are very positive. Nilay Patel, the Verge:
Pick up an iPad Air 2 and you’ll immediately understand why Apple pursues that thinness with such single-minded zeal. It’s so, so thin: 18 percent thinner than the older Air, and even slightly lighter. It’s hard to believe that there’s a computer back there, let alone a computer as powerful than the laptop computers of just a few years ago. If there is anything magical about this new iPad it is this, this feeling of impossibility. The Air 2 makes the original iPad look and feel archaic, like a horrible monster from a long-forgotten past.
It’s decidedly iterative, but the display seems to be significantly improved. It’s now laminated, which I’m sort of surprised hasn’t happened before.
What’s different about the iPad Air and Mini this year is that they are different. Last year, Apple made a big point about how the Air and Mini were identical aside from the size of the display.1 This year, the Mini simply gets a gold model and Touch ID. That makes the $299 iPad Mini 22 the bargain of the century. Touch ID is really, really nice, but it isn’t worth $100 to me. You may disagree.
The iterative iPad improvements this year combined with several lacklustre quarters for the product aren’t going to give investors much confidence in its future, but I still think there’s a place for it. The hardware improvements in the Air 2 will hopefully make way for powerful software enhancements in the future. It’s not going away any time soon; Apple has just had its priorities elsewhere for the past year, and it shows.
Though, reviewers found the display gamut of the Mini to be much, much lower and the SoC to run slightly slower, but never mind that. ↩︎
Apple sorely needs a better way of differentiating iPad models, especially if they do, indeed, launch the large 12.9″ model next year. Imagine a lineup in 2016 that consists of iPad Mini 3, 4, and 5, iPad Air 2, 3, and 4, and iPad Air Plus 1, 2, and 3. Maybe they’ll give people a free aspirin when they enter a retail store to make their selection. ↩︎