The "1-Minute" Review
- Potential issues with bending
- 16GB base model not worth the price
- No real improvement in battery life
When the iPad first arrived on the scene it took the world by storm and basically brought the idea of tablets into the mainstream. Now, Apple is facing tough competition from other manufacturers and has seen their sales flatten out in the past couple years. Apple is hoping to regain some of their lost momentum with the release of the iPad Air 2. At first glance, the iPad Air 2 doesn't look much different from the iPad Air. It has the same proportions, polished beveled edges and layout of ports, speakers and buttons. The biggest physical change is its incredible thinness. It is 18 percent thinner than the original Air and lighter. The Verge states, "If there is anything magical about this new iPad it is this, this feeling of impossibility." Still, there is one disadvantage of Apple's push to thinness and that’s the Air 2's build quality. While it does come with the same aluminum chassis as its predecessor, reviewers were able to bend it very easily though they add that it bended back into place afterwards.
Apple was able to achieve this thinness primarily from the new optically-bonded display that eliminates the air gap between the actual display and the top glass. This technology isn't new for Apple as it has been on every iPhone since the iPhone 4 and the iMac has had one for some time. Still, experts praise the incredibly vibrant colors, deep blacks and excellent viewing angles. TechRadar adds, "Pictures really come alive when viewing on the iPad Air 2, markedly so compared to its predecessor." Apple also boasts that the bonded display combined with an anti-reflection coating reduces glare by 56 percent. While critics were able to view it in bright light situations, they still had noticeable glare when reading in the sunlight.
The biggest update is to the Air 2's internal hardware. It comes equipped with Apple's latest A8X triple core 1.5GHz chip and 2GB of RAM. Experts call it "screamingly fast" and state that it is able to handle a number of processor intensive tasks and games. Unsurprisingly, benchmark tests place it above even the iPhone 6. Battery life is equally impressive considering how thin the device is. Critics were able to get almost two days of light to moderate usage before needing to charge and around 11 hours during battery draining tests. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the 16GB internal storage for base models. Most reviewers suggest foregoing the base and spending the extra for the 64GB model as many apps take up a lot of space. As with previous iPads, the Air 2 comes with a WiFi only and WiFi and Cellular options.
Apple has also boosted the Air 2's camera from 5MP to 8MP. While it doesn't have the same optical image stabilization technology of the iPhone 6 Plus, the specs still match up closely. When experts tested out the camera they noticed that it is able to pick out colors quite well and can compensate for a dark room without enabling HDR mode. It also comes with a new burst mode, which allows users to snap photos in rapid succession and pick the best one from the gallery. Still, they note that while the resolution and pictures are slightly better than previous iPads, it wasn't much better than the original Air.
Although the iPad Air 2 might not necessarily be revolutionary, it still is an improvement over Apple's other tablets. Engadget states, "It may not be a brand-new design, per se, but its thin frame helps keep the tablet looking sleek and exciting..." Ars Technica was a bit more pointed in its assessment stating, "...it can juggle more tabs, load more Facebook…But this could have been the statement device for a productivity-minded iOS, and we're left wondering when Apple will make that specific statement."