Apple has now officially revealed its new super-slim iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 tablets, but a dearth of real innovation and pointless new features make this the most lackluster Apple launch yet. Here’s why this tablet duo will struggle to appeal to fans and newcomers alike.
Apple’s big launch event in Cupertino unveiled the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 tablets as expected, with each tablet inheriting some of Apple’s already-revealed features such as the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, as well as Apple’s new A8X processor. But with a dearth of innovation and no real crotch-grabbing features compared with predecessors, we can’t see why existing owners or iPad newcomers would be tempted to splash out.
Apple iPad Air 2: A slightly slimmer new model
The iPad Air 2 looks almost identical to the original iPad Air, with the well-familiar metallic design that we know and love and are getting a teeny bit bored with. We absolutely love how slim and light the Air tablets are, but in terms of aesthetics, nothing has really changed through six full-sized tablets and now three mini models. The only real difference is that new gold finish, which maybe would have been great in the 90s.
So the Air 2 is 18% slimmer (6.1mm) and a little lighter than the original Air, but that tablet was already perfectly portable and easy to handle with one mitt, even with stringy child-biceps like ours. So what benefit does shaving a little more off the negligible girth matter?
However, there is some new functionality buried away in there. The new iPad Air 2 tablet now has Touch ID integrated into the home button, so you can unlock the device and pay for stuff online with your fingerprint. It’s a nifty feature and it certainly has its place on the tablet, to prevent your kids from going mental with your credit card, or to keep your data safe if you actually take the iPad out of the house. Definitely good to have, but hardlies upgrade material.
The iPad Air 2’s screen packs the same resolution and appears to be no different to old displays except for a slimmer zero-gap design, which allegedly makes images a little sharper and cuts down reflectivity. Considering how the bright screen on the iPad Air defeated almost any reflections going, that’s nothing to really get excited over. As for making images sharper, Apple has already boasted that it can’t get any sharper than Retina to the naked eye, and we’re not too sure that we’ll notice any difference in sharpness when we compare the iPad Air and Air 2 side-by-side.
Performance has been boosted with the new A8X processor packed inside, which will matter in about two years’ time when technology demands have moved on sufficiently. Until then, you won’t notice any real difference between the iPad Air 1 and 2, except for perhaps the occasional second-long delay on the original Air when performing intense graphical tasks like video editing.
Meanwhile the storage options are now 16GB, 64GB or 128GB, and of course there’s still no memory card slot.
Finally, both cameras have been boosted too. The FaceTime snapper can now record in 720p while the 8-megapixel iSight camera with f/2.4 aperture now has a burst mode for taking tons of shots all at once. It can also record video in super-slow-mo or in 1080p.
Apple spent a lot of time during the iPad launch bigging up this new camera tech, but is it really such an important feature? After all, the only people we usually see taking shots or videos with their iPads tend to be gormless tourists, and frankly it just looks odd. Exhibit A:
With smartphone cameras now reaching ridiculously impressive levels, and proving much easier to handle, we’d be surprised if any of those iSight cameras get more than a token use. However, if you’re an irritating tourist, then congratulations. The new iPad Air 2 is pretty much built for you.
We’re more interested in the improved FaceTime camera, which now captures brighter images, but to be honest we’re already more than happy with the original Air’s excellent front-facing lens for video chats. Unless you live in a cave or enjoy Skyping from trendy basement clubs (who doesn’t?), is it really necessary?
Apple iPad Mini 3: Mostly glossed over
The poor iPad Mini 3 was pretty much glossed over in the Apple launch, covered in around 17 seconds via the following all-encompassing slide. The reason? There’s not much to talk about.
The iPad MIni 3 once again rocks the well-worn usual Apple design and like the iPad Air 2, you now get the Touch ID sensor. The cameras have been updated too, and…that’s about it.
So, should I upgrade to the iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3? And how much do they cost in the UK?
Don’t get us wrong, we’re sure the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 are fantastic tablets. But if you’ve already got an iPad Air or iPad Mini with Retina Display, those tablets are still awesome too, and these new iterations offer so little that it’s not even worth considering, unless you have so much money that you don’t worry about things like how far off pay day is.
If you’re looking to buy yourself a new tablet and fancy an iPad, grab yourself the last generation to save some cash. The one good thing about this launch is, the old tablets are now a decent chunk cheaper. Here in the UK, the iPad Air 2 will cost from £399 while the old iPad Air now costs just £319 upwards. Likewise, the iPad Mini 3 costs from £319 while the iPad Mini with Retina Display costs just £239 upwards. That’s a serious bargain.