iPad Air 2 review: The best tablet ever made
- it's thinner and lighter than ever
- the Retina Display is fully laminated
- much greater performance
- better graphics in gaming
- comes with Touch ID
- still has a 10-hour battery life
- has no room for storage expansion
- 16 GB base model storage is very small
The iPad revolutionized the “post-PC era”, a term of the tech industry describing the extension of personal computing to the portable devices that essentially replace conventional computers. In its introduction in 2010, the iPad set the bar for a thin tablet that become the gold standard in the tablet wars. To adapt to the ever-changing technologies and advancements, It underwent many radical changes to its form factor and components that made it even better – if not the best – among the tablets we know today. In its latest version, Apple took many considerations to make it the best with its hardware, software, and the overall user experience that only the iPad could give. This is the iPad Air 2 review, and read on to know why it’s the best tablet for your hard-earned money.
Design and Hardware
Starting with its incredibly amazing design, the iPad Air 2 is unbelievably thin. In fact, it has been thinned out to a mere 6.1 millimeters – it is as thin as the iPhone 6 and the 5th generation iPod touch. It’s wafer-thin profile is unmistakably elegant and speaks of an engineering achievement. The overall footprint has been reduced to its dimensions of 9.4 inches vertically and 6.6 inches across. And because of this extreme form reduction, the iPad Air 2 weighs less than a pound at only 0.96 pounds (approximately 437 grams). What is the reason for the great reduction in its thinness and overall form? The same 9.7-inch Retina Display is now laminated on the glass panel, reducing a normally one more layer of air (air gap) between the glass and the display. Thanks to the fully laminated display on the iPad Air 2, you can view your content with improved clarity, color, brightness and contrast even under the bright sunlight. Glare is also dramatically reduced due to the screen lamination, which helps in getting a clearer view of your content in outdoor conditions.
Apple engineers have realized that even if they made the iPad Air 2 so thin, it can pack a lot of punch on the inside. It features the latest A8X triple-core system-on-a-chip with a 64-bit processor architecture, running at 1.5 GHz. A hefty 2 GB of RAM is also onboard which significantly improves multitasking capabilities of the iPad Air 2. It also has the octa-core PowerVR graphics chip that, together with the A8X, delivers the best possible gaming performance on the iPad ever since the first generation version. Alongside the A8X chip is the M8 coprocessor that helps in offloading low-power and low-intensity tasks that help in conserving power while pushing the envelope in performance. You can definitely notice the zippiness, responsiveness, and fluidity in the interface, thanks to the hugely improved hardware inside. This iPad is definitely a beast when it comes to power and performance.
A new hardware feature is the Touch ID, inherited from the iPhone 5S, 6 and 6 Plus. It gives easy and secure access to the iPad, as well as easier purchase in the iTunes and App Stores. With the recent introduction of the Apple Pay payment system, iPad Air 2 is also able to make secure purchases online by using the Touch ID sensor, even without manually putting in financial information.
With the thin profile of the iPad Air 2 comes a smaller, thinner battery. Yet Apple still claims that the iPad Air 2, in spite of its thinner and smaller battery, is still able to maintain the hallmarked 10-hour battery life. It is true to the word. The iPad Air 2 has been shown to last longer than its estimates, with up to 12 hours of use in wireless connectivity.
The camera is also greatly improved on the iPad Air 2. Previously, the 3rd and 4th generation iPad with Retina Display and the iPad Air had 5-megapixel cameras with backside illumination, autofocus, and auto white balance. They have been good cameras, until the iPad Air 2. This new iPad now comes with an 8-megapixel shooter combined with the same optical technologies as the iPhone 5S. This is the best camera to land on an iPad. It shoots great photos with vastly improved and accurate color gamut, brightness, and saturation. In fact, it is the best camera on any tablet to date. It also features the 120-frames-per-second slow motion video capture and a photo burst mode at 10 frames per second – good for capturing precious moments in slow motion or in making stop-motion animations.
The iPad Air 2 comes with great new features that improves on the previous iterations. It comes preinstalled with iOS 8, the latest version of the iOS mobile operating system. With the iOS 8, it introduced new features to enhance the overall iPad experience. The Camera app now supports burst mode, time lapse video, slo-mo video, and a panorama mode that captures up to a gigantic 43-megapixel neatly stitched photo.
Apps perform amazing on the new iPad. The Mail app looks great on the iPad Air 2 with a tablet-optimized layout. The built-in Maps application now renders 3D imagery with instantaneous fluidity and responsiveness thanks to the much-improved A8X chip and octa-core graphics. Another nice feature to the iPad Air 2 is that it comes with the iWork suite of productivity apps preinstalled. All of these productivity apps – Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet app, and Keynote presentation app – are free and look great on the beautiful Retina Display. Apple promotes its iPad to be a productivity tool with the help of the iWork suite. You can be very productive on the iPad with the full-size keyboard that we have known and love.
Along with the free iWork suite of apps is the iLife suite which also comes free for the iPad Air 2. These include iMovie and GarageBand – apps that help iPad users in their creative work. If you love to make movies, iMovie is the best movie-making software for the iPad. The app performs smoothly on the Air 2, and you can export your creation in full 1080p HD quality. GarageBand helps iPad users to make their musical projects with relative ease, and the results sound great with a wide range of royalty-free sound effects and tracks.
The iPad Air 2 is an excellent tool for connecting with family and friends with its front-facing FaceTime HD camera. You can make a video call over FaceTime or Skype to your friends and family, and you will appear clearer than ever before on the other side. The improved “selfie” camera on the iPad Air 2 is also great for, you got that right, selfies. The Photo Booth app comes with the same set of cool and fun photo effects that will make you and your family and friends crave for more selfies.
Connectivity is top-notch on the iPad Air 2. It now comes with the fastest Wi-Fi protocol, 802.11ac that runs on 5GHz frequency and a theoretical throughput of 3 Gigabits per second. The cellular versions of the iPad also has the most LTE bands of any tablet to date. The iPad Air 2 can deliver LTE speeds anywhere in the world.
The iPad Air 2 comes in three metallic finishes just like the iPhones: silver, gold, and space grey. It also has a slightly different storage lineup like the iPhone 6: the Wi-Fi versions sell starting with 16 GB for $499, 64 GB for $599, and 128 GB for $699. The Cellular versions have a $100 increase from their Wi-Fi model counterparts for every storage increase. 16 GB is a paltry amount for the iPad, considering the hundreds of thousands of iPad-optimized apps on the App Store. In today’s age, you can barely fit a handful of movies or TV shows, a decent music library, and a bunch of photos in a 16 GB configuration. The best option for most users would be the 64 GB version as it has a lot of room for your content today as well as for the future. The 128 GB version is way too overkill for most users, and is specially made for those who put everything on their tablet. There is still no expansion option via any external storage, and there will never be, so choose wisely when buying an iPad Air 2.
The iPad Air 2 is the best tablet your money can buy. With all the great performance, sleek form factor, and amazing features that the iPad can only give, your money has more than its worth on the iPad Air 2. Should you buy this? If you already have an iPad 4 or an iPad Air, your present iPad makes no large difference. But if you look for a replacement for your first generation iPad, iPad 2 or iPad 3, then the iPad Air 2 is the best tablet replacement you will ever get. If you are also new to the iPad world, the iPad Air 2 has got all the bells and whistles to satisfy your inner tech craving. Truly, the iPad Air 2 is thinner, but don’t be deceived by its thinness. It packs a lot of power, performance, and features that are the best characteristics of what a great tablet should be.