A new dock connector does not a worthy upgrade make, something Apple quickly discovered following the shaky reception given to the 4th generation iPad which the company launched late last year, however, now it looks as though a suitable successor has finally emerged in the form of the newly unveiled iPad Air.
Tim Cook again took to the stage to announce the second wave of iOS 7 devices for 2013. Alongside the new flagship tablet, an upgraded version of last year’s iPad Mini also showed face, complete with Retina Display.
The new iPad looks to blend more of the latest design traits instigated by the likes of the iPhone 5, 5S and first iPad mini. On the whole the body is thinner (at 7.5mm) and lighter, around 28% lighter than its rather hefty predecessor in fact. The bezels around the 9.7-inch Retina Display have also been trimmed down so that the screen really takes centre stage.
The same high quality fit and finish we always expect from Apple is available in spades on the new iPad Air. The aluminium back plate features light rounding along the edges and corners, whilst the front features a diamond-cut chamfer around the glass bezel. Apple says that the new design should also retain its rigidity, so as infrequent as you’d like them to be, should your iPad Air take the occasional tumble, it won’t bend and break on the first drop.
One key element that we were surprised didn’t make the cut was the Touch ID sensor which appeared on the iPhone 5S. Instead hardware controls remain relatively unchanged from previous iPads, with the centrally positioned connector at its base, power/lock key on top, volume rocker and sleep toggle on the side and Plain Jane home button underneath the display.
On the inside the processor receives a respectable boost, making use of the same, shiny new A7 chip that saw on the iPhone 5S. This paired with iOS 7 means that the iPad Air is also able to enjoy the benfits of that new 64-bit architecture. Storage options remain the same as before with 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and mammoth 128GB capacities on offer.
iOS 7 has already made its tablet debut as an OTA upgrade for existing iPad users, so there’s little in the way of truly new functionality with the new iPad, nonetheless it still is one of the slickest looking mobile operating systems around, with smooth transitions and newly updated apps including the iWork suite, looking perfectly at home on the slick new hardware.
Phil Schiller promised that markets including the US, UK and China would be first to get their hands on the new iPad Air when it arrives November 1st with prices starting at £399 for the 16GB WiFi-only model, rising up to £739 for 128GB WiFi/4G LTE model.
The iPad Air is available in Space Grey or Silver and Apple also unveiled a range of new Smart Covers and Smart Cases to complement its new slate, with covers priced at around £35 and cases a somewhat eye-watering £65.
Will you be picking one up?