iPad Air 2
Massive power at your fingertips with Apple’s new tablet
For many, including us, the iPad Air looked, felt and performed like the iPad we’d all dreamed of since the original in 2010. With such a competent fifthgeneration device, we thought the next generation could only go one of two ways: a minor upgrade in the processors and camera, or a radical new device that once again changes the game. What we’ve ended up with, however, is something in between. The same form factor, but thinner; a generous speed
boost; an enhanced display; and, as predicted, Touch ID. We were by no means left disappointed – these changes harmonise so well we feel the iPad has genuinely stepped up a gear once more.
Thinner than thinner
Squeezing down the slender iPad Air from 7.5mm to 6.1mm wowed folks watching the launch event in October and the difference in reality is obvious in the hand, not just when you place models side by side. That thinness could well set a new benchmark for comfort and practicality. Quite simply, we’re not sure you’d want a thinner tablet at this screen size.
That’s not the biggest boon when it comes to the increasingly compact full-size iPad, though. It’s more the fact that Apple has remedied the terrible screen flex that plagued the first iPad Air. Gone is the hollow sound when you tap, instantly giving you a more refined tablet experience.
Apple explained that the millimetres have been shaved off with a new screen that gets rid of the ‘air gap’ – taking what was three layers of screen tech down to one – and the iPad Air 2 feels stronger as a result. It also reduces the visual screen depth, something that the black surround on the screen accentuated on the original Air. Here, the content feels (and is) closer. The touted improvements in colour and contrast are small, admittedly, but side-by-side with the original Air reveals a subtle improvement, particularly in blends of colour (app icons, for example).
Apple tells us that the new screen is also faster to respond to touches than in previous models, but we saw little difference in practice. Additionally, there’s a new antireflective coating, making this the iPad to own if you’ve ever grumbled over visibility in certain lighting conditions. We found going back to the original Air (and other models) opened our eyes as to how bad reflectivity can be. Here, the screen doesn’t only cope better in bright outdoor conditions, it’s an improvement over previous models with indoor lighting, too. The colours and contrast on the screen seem stronger and less prone to reflections, but this also helps (artificially at least), to improve the viewing angle.
Elsewhere, the iPad Air 2 has made a few cosmetic changes by moving a few of the essential buttons. The volume buttons on the right are placed slightly higher than previous models due to the removal of the Mute/Lock button, which has
We await the apps that will truly show how much of a laptop replacement the new Air can be, but that gap is closing
transformed into a virtual button found in the Control Centre options instead. We thought we’d miss our little round friend, but the virtual option makes a lot of sense and once more typifies the clean Apple ethos that the new iPad exudes on many levels.
The iPad Air 2 might have gone on a diet, but it hasn’t compromised on speed. Though the aesthetic
Gone is the Mute/Lock button found on all previous iPads, to be replaced by a virtual one!
Touch ID and a new gold colour might change the look, but it’s what’s inside that counts.