Apple releases iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3

Rick Otto

Apple today held a special event.  At the event they updated their iPad lineup by introducing the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.

iPad Air 2

The newest iPad Air is now thinner than ever measuring just 6.1 mm thick.  It weighs just 0.96 lbs.  It still has the same 2048 x 1536 Retina display but the screen was updated in other ways.  The display originally consisted of 3 layers.  It has now been fused into one layer.  This helped make the display thinner but also gives better contrast and greater colors.  There's also an antireflective coating added to give a screen that is 56% less reflective. 

The new iPad Air now has a faster processor, the A8X.  The A8X is based on the A8 processor that is in the new iPhone 6. The new processor is based on 64-bit architecture and has a 40% faster CPU and 2.5x faster graphics.  It also has the M8 motion processor which includes a barometer.  It has up to a 10 hour battery life.  It no longer has the rotation lock/mute switch that was available on earlier iPads. 

The updated iPad Air now includes TouchID.  Because of this Apple says that it can now be used with Apple Pay.  Yet it doesn't have a NFC radio built in.  What this means is that the iPad Air can't be used in a physical store for an Apple Pay purchase.  Yet due to having TouchID it can be used for online purchasing using Apple Pay.  It's clear that the iPhone is better suited for in-store transactions since you will likely have your iPhone with you while in a store but your iPad may remain at home or in the car.

Apple has also updated the iSight rear-facing camera on the iPad Air.  The 8 MP camera now has advanced optics and an improved sensor.  There's also new features such as panorama, slow-mo, time-lapse videos, and burst and timer modes.  The FaceTime HD front-facing camera is also updated.  It now has an updated sensor and larger pixels allowing for better performance in low-light conditions. 

The iPad Air 2 has updated Wi-Fi capabilities.  It now supports the latest 802.11ac specification.  If you purchase the Wi-Fi + Cellular model it has a updated LTE technology. 

In addition to Silver and Space Gray the new iPad Air 2 is also available in Gold.  Just like with the iPhone 6 it's now offered in 3 storage options, 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB.  The 16GB version is priced at $499 while the 64GB version is now priced at $599 and the 128GB version is now only $699.  If you prefer the version with LTE each model is $130 extra.

iPad Mini 3

Apple also today released the iPad Mini 3.

The iPad Mini 3 has many of the same features as the iPad Air 2 except for few that were left out and are only available on Apple's top iPad.  The iPad Mini 3 is also now available in Gold in addition to Space Gray and Silver.  It also now includes TouchID.  This means that like the iPad Air 2 the iPad Mini 3 should work for online based Apple Pay transactions but not in-store Apple Pay transactions.  The Wi-Fi has remained 802.11n but it's possible we'll see 802.11ac arrive in this model next year.  The iPad Mini 3 is powered by a 64-bit A7 processor.  The rear-facing iSight camera is a 5 MP camera. 

The new iPads are available for preorder on October 17.

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