Everything you need to know about the Apple iPad Air 2Although the iPad Air 2 release date is still very much up in the air, the currently unconfirmed tablet is widely expected to land later this year as a direct follow-on to the excellent iPad Air – one of the best tablets of 2013 and the TrustedReviews Tablet of the Year winner.
While Apple is - as you would expect - remaining thoroughly tight-lipped on the matter, recent reports out of South Korea have suggested that component suppliers have already started producing parts for the iPad Air 2 and a possible sequel to the iPad mini with Retina. If accurate, we shouldn't have to wait too much longer for Apple's latest tablet offering.
Exactly what we're waiting for is still shrouded in mystery too. The iPad was on the receiving end of a major redeign last year and as such it looks like the iPad Air 2 will keep changes to the sleek aluminium body to a minimum.
However, even though the look might not change much we should see Touch ID, the fingerprint technology that's done so well for the iPhone 5S make an appearance on the 9.7-inch tablet. A new A8 processor also looks on the cards as well as the potential of the seriously tough sapphire screen we're expecting on the iPhone 6 in September.
We will be updating this page with all the latest iPad Air 2 release date details, leaks, news and rumours as new information emerges. Bookmark it now to ensure you are kept in the loop on all things relating to Apple's next tablet offering.
When will the iPad Air 2 release date be held? That's what we all want to know, and what countless rumours have been pointing to in recent weeks and months. Although an exact iPad Air 2 release date is still shrouded in much mystery, we already have a pretty good idea as to when we can expect the iPad Air replacement.
iPad Air 2 Release Date
When Apple released the iPad 4 in November 2012, just seven months after the release of the iPad 3, many iPad 3 owners felt short-changed, but Apple had a very good commercial reason for launching later in the year.
Tablet sales see a huge spike over the Christmas period and Apple naturally wanted the buzz accompanying iPad launches to be as close to that period as possible. It will be bad for business to move release further from such an key time of the year, and therefore expect the iPad Air 2 to come some time in early Q4 2014 - so late October, early November.
Looking back over past iPad launches, it appears even more likely that an iPad Air 2 release date will be held this November:
iPad release date – May 2010
iPad 2 release date – March 2011
iPad 3 release date – March 2012
iPad 4 and iPad mini release date – November 2012
iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina release date – November 2013
iPad Air 2 release date – November 2014?
Despite multiple reports pointing to a November arrival, some industry insiders have claimed Apple could surprise us with an early arrival.
According to serial Apple rumourmonger and analyst KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple may opt for an earlier release date, perhaps in late Q3. However, with that deadline looming fast, and the iPhone 6 expected to take centre stage during the window, we think Kuo might have got this one wrong.
iPad Air 2: DesignWe’ve already mentioned that it is unlikely that the iPad Air 2 will have too many changes to its design. Apple is on to a winner with the aluminium and glass tablet and any changes will likely be minimal, potentially restrained to making it a little lighter and a little thinner.
This is supported by videos and images of a dummy iPad Air 2 from TLD which show an almost identically sized tablet to the 2013 iPad Air.
As you can see from the pictures above, there are a few differences between the two iPads. The dummy of the iPad Air 2 is a few milimetres slimmer than the, already slim, current version and comes with a singe row for each of the speaker grilles as opposed to the dual rows.
This dummy also gives us a first-hand look of what TouchID would look like on the iPad Air 2.
Watch the full video:
iPad Air 2 Touch IDTouchID was our favourite innovation that Apple brought to the iPhone 5S. Essentially a fingerprint scanner used to lock your phone securely, or buy apps at the press of a button, its brilliance comes from how easy it is to use.
Since you always take a phone out of the house with you, it’s arguably more important to be able to securely lock it than it is a mostly stay-at-home 10-inch tablet. That being said we were still surprised by its exclusion from the iPad Air.
There are plenty of suggestions that the iPad Air 2 2014 will come with Touch ID installed and we’d be shocked if it doesn’t.
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iPad Air 2 ScreenOne way the iPad Air 2 edition might shed some of its thickness is by fusing the display with the front panel, something it started on its iPhone range with the iPhone 4 that was released way back in 2010.
By bonding these elements a few valuable fractions of a millimetre will be saved but it will also provide that almost painted on screen effect the iPhones possess. Purported images of the iPad Air 2’s screen on Dutch website OMT show that it will be a bonded display. There’s no guarantee that the photos they claim to have received from China are real, but it’s one of the more believable leaks we’ve seen. One downside, however, is that if you crack a bonded screen you’ll need to replace both the touch-screen and the display, lowering the iPad’s repairability.
That might be a very difficult thing to do, though, if the iPad Air 2 comes with a sapphire screen. We've already seen plenty of demos that show the sapphire screen that the iPhone 6 may have is nigh on indestructable. However, sapphire screens are pricy and while Apple might be able to hide the cost on the smaller screen iPhone it might struggle to do the same with the iPad Air 2. There's a lot more screen to manufacture and the tablet market is arguable more competitive than the phone one.
While we should see some changes to the screen technology it’s very unlikely that we’ll see an increase in screen resolution. There has been no change to the 2048x1536 resolution since the iPad 3 and the fact is there is not a huge amount of additional end-user benefit to be had from cramming even more pixels into a 10-inch screen. What we should see once more is better colour accuracy and potentially higher brightness levels if the screen improvements we’ve seen from the iPad 3 to the iPad Air continue.
Any hopes that Sharps IGZO technology will be used seem to have been quashed, though, which is a shame. IGZO panels offer better energy efficiency and allow for an almost bezel-less design. According to latest reports, Apple is saving a move to the IGZO technology for the long off iPad Air 3.
iPad Air 2 Specs, Performance and CameraWe’ve never had an iPad release without a CPU power boost to its ARM processor and we’re likely to get one with the iPad Air with some rumours pointing towards a quad-core A8 system on chip (SoC) that will replace the dual-core A7. The A7 is a very fast processor. Many scoffed when Apple described the A7 as "desktop class" when it launched the iPhone 5S, but independent tests by AnandTech show that it bears more similarities to Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips than to CPUs designed for mobile, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon range. In fact, most of the power is held in check to conserve battery life, and by the 1GB of RAM.
There’s plenty of flip-flopping from analysts as to whether the A8 SoC that could power the iPad Air 2 will be made by Samsung, which has made Apple’s A processors for years, or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Recent rumours suggest that this shift to TSMC may be down to low-yield manufacturing problems Samsung is experiencing with the A8, but we’ve been hearing that Samsung would stop producing chips for Apple for years. It still has not happened, and it doesn't really matter to users who makes the chip.
Regardless who finally ends up making the A8 we’d like to see better power efficiency from the processor and more RAM on the iPad Air 2. The former would allow for higher clock speeds without negatively impacting battery life, while the latter would make the most of the powerful SoC.
Latest rumours from China suggest that the A8 processor that the iPad Air 2 will come shipped with will remain dual-core but be clocked at a much higher speed, 2GHz as opposed to the 1.3GHz on the iPad Air.
Rumours suggest that a rear camera upgrade is also on the cards. Going from 5-megapixel to 8-megapixel means picture quality will be improved, which is a boon for those who care about rear cameras on tablets (we're sure there are some people who do). The 8-megapixel camera will likely by the same or similar to that found on the iPhone 5 rather than the 8-megapixel one found on the iPhone 5S.
Ideally, we’d like to see an upgrade to the 1.2-megapixel front facing camera so low-light video call quality is improved. Reports from China suggest this may get a bump up to 1.5-megapixel.
iPad Air 2 PriceOne way that Apple could really surprise us and that is by dropping the price of its flagship tablet range.
Stiffening competition from Samsung and its plethora of tablets and Amazon, with the Kindle HDX 8.9, means that Apple may need to compromise its revenues to ensure it keeps market share with the iPad Air 2.
A price drop is possible, suggests analyst Ming-chi Kuo. We could, potentially, see the iPad Air 2 go from £400/$500 as it is now to £329/$400, putting it in line with the Kindle although a smaller price drop is more likely.
This would follow a trend since Apple reduced the price of the entry-level MacBook Pro and MacBook Air recently.
ConclusionsTablets are getting to the point of diminishing returns from a usability perspective. How much more can a tablet, limited to touchscreen controls, do than it currently does? How much difference does it make if the screen gets much better? Will an extra few hours of battery life or a much speedier processor make that much difference to the end-user? While we’d like to see Touch ID on an iPad it won’t revolutionise the experience.
With the growth in tablet sales showing signs of slowing down and plateauing and with competition ever growing it may well make more sense for Apple to make the iPad Air 2 more competitive in terms of pricing and focus its research on finding the next big thing outside of tablets. Did someone say iWatch?
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