Apple iPad Air 2

Apple iPad Air 2 review: Still a great tablet

The Apple iPad Air 2 is still a great tablet, although the new Pro models are faster

5
Price when reviewed 
349

Since the launch of the iPad Air 2, Apple has released two new tablets - the larger, 12.9in iPad Pro and more compact iPad Pro 9.7.

These two new tablets aren't designed to replace the iPad Air 2, but to complement it, with support for official keyboards and the pressure-sensitive Apple Pencil, for sketching and taking notes onscreen.

For those who still only want a tablet, the iPad Air 2 remains among the best in the business, however, and the good news is it's now £50 cheaper than it was. If you want to find out more, read our original review below.

Apple is a company that knows its customers better than anyone – and at the launch of the iPad Air 2, it was in no doubt as to what they really wanted from their new iPad. A larger screen? Nope. A lower price? Of course not. How about a base model with higher storage capacity? Not a chance. So what was the iPad Air 2's headline feature? It was thinner. Precisely the feature everyone had been clamouring for. 

In fairness, Apple has made further changes, but it's revealing that this was the feature it chose to lead on at the tablet's official unveiling. Not a faster CPU, nor an improved display or camera, though it has those things as well, but the tablet's astonishing slenderness. With a tablet so good – and still the market leader even a year after its first launch – it seems Apple has decided there simply wasn't any reason to pile on new features.

iPad Air 2 review: Bottom edge, on bench

All the same, with this new update, Apple has most certainly made its flagship tablet better, and the design department hasn't been entirely unoccupied these past 12 months. Aside from the iPad Air 2's slimmer 6.1mm chassis (the iPad Air was 7.4mm thick), and lighter 437g weight (down from 469g), a number of other small changes have been made: the buttons have been redesigned to match those on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus; the speaker grille on the bottom edge is now a single row of larger perforations, not two; and the mute switch has been removed.

While some may mourn the demise of the latter, it's no great loss as it's still possible to quickly mute the tablet by simply holding the volume down key.

For those with a penchant for bling, the iPad Air 2 ushers in a gold version of the tablet. If this sounds a little too ostentatious, never fear; the Air 2 is still be available in silver and grey versions, as before.

Apple iPad Air 2 review: Touch ID

You do have to look pretty hard to see most of the functional differences between this year's Air and the last, but one of the more obvious is the introduction of Apple's Touch ID sensor.

In look and operation, this works in exactly the same way as it does on the iPhone. To initially register a fingerprint, you repeatedly tap your finger to the sensor, then change the orientation of your finger and repeat the process. Once done, the iPad can be unlocked simply by holding a finger to the sensor.

You can also use the sensor to authorise payment for items purchased through the App Store or iTunes, and now that the system has been opened up to third parties, you can use it with other apps, too. Evernote was among the early adopters – you can use your fingerprint to sign in to the app – but there are now others as well, includiong LastPass and Dropbox.

iPad Air 2 review: Touch ID sensor closeup

Now that Touch ID has arrived, the big difference between the current crop of iPhones and iPads is that the iPads have no near-field communication (NFC), so there's no direct support for touch-based payment. This is hardly a great loss, though; we can't imagine that paying via an iPad, even one as slim and light as this, would be particularly convenient.

Continues on page 2: Display and camera quality

Detail

Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical

Dimensions170 x 6.1 x 240mm (WDH)
Weight437g

Display

Screen size9.7in
Resolution screen horizontal1,536
Resolution screen vertical2,048
Display typeMultitouch, capacitive
Panel technologyIPS

Battery

Battery capacity7,340mAh

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz1.5GHz
Integrated memory16/64/128GB
RAM capacity2.00GB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating8.0mp
Focus typeAutofocus
Built-in flash?no
Built-in flash typeN/A
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Other

WiFi standard802.11ac
Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes
Accessories suppliedMains charger, Lightning to USB cable
Upstream USB ports0
HDMI output?yes

Software

Mobile operating systemiOS 8.1

Read more about