News by Luke Jones on Thursday October 16, 2014.
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Apple today launched the new iPad Air 2, the company's latest tablet flagship that arrives amid declining sales and a slate market that is more competitive than ever. However, while Apple's iPad business is declining, it is only mirroring the general tablet trend as a whole and the outgoing iPad Air has comfortably maintained Apple's position as the company to beat in this niche. Can the iPad Air 2 continue to do that, can it dominate ever better competitors, and can it help to breathe new life into the tablet market as a whole?While the iPad Air 2 is not the drastic overhaul that the original version was, Apple has continued the ethos set out by last year's model. It says it on the tin, this device is meant to be light, and to feel almost non-existent in hand. The iPad Air 2 nails that pretty easily by being just 6.1mm thin and it weighs just 437 grams (Wi-Fi version), so it gets the Air part right. This is not the lightest slate ever, in fact the HTC Nexus 9 launched yesterday is lighter (325g in case you?re wondering), but Apple is saying this is the slimmest tablet on the market. I am sure we could get into the rights and wrongs of that and I am sure people will fill up comments sections naming other thin slates, but the fact is the iPad Air 2 is svelte and it is eerily light in hand. The overall design language is unchanged from last year, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as the large iPad is still probably the best looking, and more importantly feeling, slate on the market. We know by now that Apple can do premium, and the IA2 feels expensive and looks it too. Apple should be commended for keeping the dimensions of the Air 2 the same as the first, but somehow managing to make the device 1.5mm thinner. The device also retains the 9.7-inch IPS LCD Retina display from the Air, but this time the panel has been coated with an anti-reflective laminate to cut down on glare outdoors. Like last year's model, the iPad Air 2 is 64-bit, but in this instance it gets a bespoke Apple A8X modified chip that is good for some rapid performance. Of course, Apple does not like to dress up specs, so performance tests and such have not been discussed by the company. The big thing here is the addition of Touch ID, although the iPad Air 2 is lacking actual NFC connectivity. Whipping out a 10-inch tablet to take snaps is hardly the cool thing to do, but photography in this form factor seems here to stay, so Apple thought it may as well give it a good shot. With that in mind the iPad Air 2 comes with an 8 megapixel iSight rear snapper that now has such features as slow motion capture and Burst Mode. Around front there is a 1.2 megapixel FaceTime lens that does nothing more than serving to get the job done. Apple is also talking up a new SIM card that tracks down LTE bands from different carriers and networks and switches between them. The company's website does a better job of explaining it that I can, so take a look at what Apple says about this feature, which is of course limited to LTE only iPad Air 2 devices:
One SIM. Many options. The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you - with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.This feature is supported by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint in the US, and EE in the UK. Like all iPads, the Air 2 comes in three price tiers: 16GB ($499/£399), 64GB ($599/£479) and 128GB ($699/£559) -- add $130/£100 to make them LTE instead of Wi-Fi-only. Pre-orders start tomorrow, and they'll ship at the start of next week.
Luke Jones is the Managing Editor at MobileBurn.com and is the person you need to speak to about the content on the site. Luke studied creative writing at degree level before carving out a reputation as a freelance tech writer. He settled here at MobileBurn, where he reviews devices and contributes to the news, as well as overseeing the site's content and direction.