In Apple’s “biggest step yet,” two new iPad models were previewed Tuesday. The new new iPad – now called the iPad Air – is lighter and smaller where it counts. iPad Air keeps the beautiful Retina display that we’ve come to love and expect, but trims some weight and excess width by removing much of the bezel of the older generations.
iPad mini is now the iPad mini that everyone wanted last year. The newly available Retina display amazingly packs the same number of pixels as the larger iPad Air, and gets a much needed processor bump by including Apple’s new A7 processor previously seen in the iPhone 5s.
Get the full scoop on how tablet computing has changed by reading more below.
There’s an iPad hiding behind there.
Thinner, lighter, skinnier than the previous full-size iPad. The new iPad Air is the iPad killer.
- Weighs just 1 pound
- 28% lighter than older iPad
- 20% thinner than older iPad
- 24% less volume than older iPad
The first noticeable changes of the iPad Air are its size. Nearly half of the bezel has been shaved off the sides – everyone’s favorite tablet has gone skinny. As shown in Apple’s new ads, the iPad Air is as thin as a pencil. Literally. Taking on the overall look pioneered by last year’s iPad mini, the iPad Air is looking better than ever. There’s plenty of changes under the hood, too.
iPad Air is similar to a stretched out iPad mini. The all new aluminum unibody sheds nearly a quarter of the volume of last year’s model. The resulting look is incredibly sleek and, weighing in at just a pound, is something that you can now comfortably hold in one hand. Apple calls it the lightest full-size tablet in the world. They’re right.
The bezel that you’re used to on the prior generations is now gone. The sides of iPad Air are much smaller and so provide less area for a thumb to rest on. Apple’s inadvertent touch recognition system is working harder than ever to allow you to comfortably hold the iPad Air without registering accidental touches.
The incredibly powerful A7 system on a chip (SoC) processor that we first saw in the iPhone 5s is now on the iPad. Desktop class 64-bit architecture means that the iPad Air is closer to a real computer than anything we’ve seen before, except for Microsoft’s Surface. iPad Air succeeds where Surface fails by bringing the desktop power you want to the tablet form factor you need.
Apple’s A7 SoC is insanely powerful and brings increases of up to 2x for processing and graphical performance. The difference from last year’s iPad is not very noticeable in real-world usage except that it now enables you to play power hungry games that couldn’t run on the A6X. Once developers start designing for the new chip, games that visually rival what you see on gaming consoles and desktop PCs will be available in your hands. Infinity Blade III is a great example of the things to come.
Oddly, Apple chose to include the M7 motion coprocessor that we saw first in the iPhone 5s. The M7 brings motion tracking capability similar to a Fitbit or Nike Fuelband to the iPad Air. It will be interesting to see what developers do with this. It’s hard to imagine using the iPad for anything like a Fitbit. The iPhone 5s seems like a much better fit.
The price remains the same as the 4th generation iPads. iPad Air starts at $499 for the 16GB model and goes up from there to $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB, and a whopping $799 for 128GB. Add on an extra $130 for cellular (LTE) models.
Surprisingly, Apple chose to replace just the 4th generation iPad with the Air. The iPad 2 is, astonishingly, still available. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy an iPad 2 for $399 when $100 more gets you the Air. A better deal would be the 4th generation iPad from Apple’s refurbished store – they start at just $379 for 16GB. But seriously… just get the Air.
iPad mini with Retina display
- Weighs 0.73 pounds (up from 0.68)
- Retina display
- A7 processor
- $399 for 16gb (up from $329)
Everything you loved about the iPad mini, but better. Much better. The worst thing about the old iPad mini was its lack of a Retina display. This new model makes it better by throwing in the same number of pixels as the bigger iPad Air, enabling it to show some of the sharpest images of any iPad to date.
The most requested feature for the iPad mini is finally here. Over 3.1 million pixels deliver the crisp text and images that we’ve come to expect from iPads. All of Apple’s newest iPads and iPhones now have a Retina display. I’m not sure how close you’d have to get to the mini to see the individual pixels crammed in there, but it’d probably hurt.
Like the iPad Air detailed above, the iPad mini with Retina display comes with the incredibly powerful A7 system on a chip – an absolutely huge upgrade from the A5 the previous model uses. The speed difference should be immediately noticeable and turns the mini into a capable gaming device. We’re talking about 6x the performance of the old iPad mini.
The new M7 motion coprocessor also makes its way to the iPad Air’s little brother. I’m still not really sure how this will be used and I’m hoping that some third party developers show us its place on the iPad. Imagining an iPad as a Fitbit replacement seems crazy. I just can’t think of any good use for a dedicated motion coprocessor on a tablet.
The iPad mini with Retina display is mostly the same size as the regular iPad. The Retina display is slightly thicker than the old display, and the bigger battery required to power the Retina display is too. This means that the new iPad mini is a bit thicker – 0.29 inches compared to the 0.28 for the non-Retina. Unfortunately, the bigger battery doesn’t deliver any better battery life. It’s expanded merely to keep it at 10 hours with a power hungry Retina display.
Along with a better screen and the bigger battery needed to power it, the slight increase in thickness brings with it a slight increase in weight. The iPad mini with Retina display weighs 0.73 pounds – up from 0.68.
Along with more pixels comes more money, and the new iPad mini is not immune. The new iPad mini brings in a host of much-desired features that kept the previous model from really shining and has a price tag to match. iPad mini with Retina display starts off at $399 (up from $329) for 16GB, $499 for 32GB, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for a crazy 128GB. Add on another $130 for cellular (LTE) models.
Apple’s new iPads are both massive upgrades from their previous versions and there’s no reason other than money to not buy one. Owners of previous generation iPads will appreciate the huge list of new features that the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display offer. You’re getting one, right?