- Screen doesn't reflect much
- Great performance
- Ultra-slim design
- Improved camera
- Battery life a little lower
- 16GB version storage too low
What is the iPad Air 2?Apple made the tablet of the year with the iPad Air. Slim, light and speedy it also came with the best app selection via the App Store.
It's a tough act to follow, but Apple has come up trumps with the iPad Air 2. It's slimmer, lighter and faster, while the screen innovations are just what we’ve been looking for. The focus is on improving the user experience, not just packing as many pixels as possible into the 9.7-inch screen.
The most talked about new feature on the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 is, of course, Touch ID. You can now use your fingerprint to unlock your iPad. It’s about a lot more than that, though. Touch ID on the iPad Air 2 is all about Apple Pay and making it easy for you to purchase securely online at the touch of a button.
Watch the iPad Air 2 video review:
iPad Air 2: DesignLast year's iPad deservedly won plaudits for its sleek aluminium design. It’s an ergonomic tablet that also looks and feels premium.
Apple has, by and large, kept the same design for the iPad Air 2, which is no bad thing. But it's managed to improve on that design in some key aspects.
The iPad Air 2 is ludicrously thin at just 6.1mm, and light, too, at 437g. That’s a whole 1.4mm slimmer and 32g lighter than last year’s Air. It’s not an unhealthy skinny, though – the Air 2 is rock solid. There’s no paper-like film of plastic you might find on some other thin tablets. Instead the aluminium back feels strong and robust, with a slight grain that makes it easy to grip.
There has been one casualty in Apple’s pursuit of a supermodel body. The iPad Air 2 is the first iPad without a mute/rotation-lock switch. It’s a sacrifice we’re not too upset by. You can still easily mute the Air 2 by pressing the volume down button for a second, and lock the screen rotation via the settings menu.
Other than that, the controls are similar to previous models. You get the volume buttons on the right edge and the power button at the top – easy enough to access and use.
The Lightning port for charging and data transfer is at the bottom, flanked by the stereo speaker grilles. It’s not the best location for the speakers, as you can muffle them with your hand while holding holding the iPad Air 2 in landscape mode. We’d prefer front-facing speakers like the ones on the Nexus 9.
There’s been a new colour added to the space grey and silver versions – gold. It’s not too bling, though. The back is a light gold, almost champagne, and the front bezels are white. Our favourite colour remains the space grey.
Now to the additional feature we’ve already mentioned – Touch ID.
iPad Air 2: Touch IDTouch ID is Apple’s fingerprint scanner. It works by securely storing your fingerprint on the device, so you can unlock the iPad Air 2 with a simple touch. It’s super-slick but it’s less of a boon on the iPad than it is on the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Phones are unlocked a lot more often and are used one-handed, so it’s a neat feature on the iPad Air 2 rather than a game-changing one.
Where Touch ID makes a lot more sense on the iPad Air 2 is that Apple has now allowed developers to hook into it. So these days you can secure all your data on Evernote, for example, behind the peace of mind of your unique biometrics.
Apple’s key reason behind adding Touch ID it to its latest tablets, though, is Apple Pay. Unlike on the iPhones, which come with NFC, you won’t be able to use an iPad to tap and pay in a physical store. Where Apple Pay does impact iPad use is with buying things online.
Add your credit card details to the iPad Air 2 and you'll be able to use Touch ID to make purchasing dead simple. There are some limitations, though. Currently Apple Pay only works via apps, so you won’t be able to make purchases through a browser.
The other problem is that it’s not yet available in the UK unless you have a US credit card you can connect to it. This should change rapidly as retailers clamour to join up to Apple Pay and make it as easy as possible for you to part with your cash online. Although we've already seen some major US retailers refusing Apple Pay in favour of a rival payment system.
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