Review: Apple iPad Air 2 | iLounge

Review

Review: Apple iPad Air 2

A-
Highly Recommended

Company: Apple

Model: iPad Air 2

Price: $499-$829

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Phil Dzikiy

Pros: A thinner, slightly lighter version of Apple’s 9.7” iPad, which was already impressively thin and light in last year’s iPad Air. New 8MP rear iSight camera also adds burst mode shooting and slo-mo video recording. New display with anti-reflective coating improves off-angle and outdoor viewing. Louder and better stereo speakers improve upon those in iPad Air. A more powerful processor becomes obvious during startup, loading of larger apps, and improved smoothness in games. Recharges faster than prior models. Modern 802.11ac now offers higher-speed wireless connectivity. Higher-capacity 64GB and 128GB models sell for $100 less than prior iPads. Apple SIM card included with Wi-Fi + Cellular versions gives some users greater choice between data plans.

Cons: Smaller battery causes a significant drop in battery life, falling hours behind the previous iPad Air (and earlier iPads) in certain tests. Rear camera, though improved, lags behind iPhone 6/6 Plus. Though thinner, the footprint may still feel too large for some users. Claimed screen color and sharpness improvements are questionable at best.

Apple has firmly established the iPad Air 2 ($499-$829) as the definitive flagship of its tablet line. Last year, there was ambiguity — some were justifiably willing to sacrifice screen size and color accuracy for comfort in the iPad mini with Retina display — but the introduction of the newest iPads has made it clear. The iPad mini 3 received scant upgrades, little more than a new gold color option and Touch ID. By comparison, the iPad Air 2 has a thinner body, better display, improved cameras, and faster processor compared to its predecessor, among other upgrades. Even with a larger “iPad Pro” believed to be arriving sometime in 2015, it’s obvious that Apple is setting up iPad Air 2 as its “main” iPad now.


Following the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple has removed the 32GB capacity option for the iPad Air 2. As before, the entry-level Wi-Fi 16GB option sells for $499. After that, it’s 64GB for $599 and 128GB for $699 — both capacities $100 cheaper than they were for the iPad Air upon its release last year. While some have questioned the necessity of the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the iPads, they’re still around at a $130 premium, selling for $629 (16GB), $729 (64GB), and $829 (128GB).


In the following pages, we take a closer look at the new features of the iPad Air 2: the new body, cameras, processor, and display. We also conducted battery tests to see just how much of a difference the iPad Air 2’s smaller battery makes when compared to its larger predecessor—and there are major changes. Will the new features represent a definitive upgrade over the prior iPad Air? Are there any unforeseen drawbacks? Read on for the answers to these and many more questions.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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