Apple iPad Air 2 review: Still a great tablet

£349
Price when reviewed

Apple iPad Air 2 review: Still a great tablet

Apple iPad Air 2 review: Display

The screen was great on the original iPad Air, and its vital statistics haven’t changed a jot here. It still measures the same 9.7in across the diagonal, and the Retina resolution of 1,536 x 2,048 delivers an identical pixel density of 264ppi. It looks just as sharp, and the quality is excellent: we measured maximum brightness at 401cd/m2, contrast at 1,019:1 with last year’s Air attaining an effectively identical 410cd/m2 and 1,000:1 in the same tests. Colour accuracy was excellent, too, with an average Delta E of 1.82, and the screen is capable of covering 93.3% of the sRGB gamut. It’s a superb panel.

iPad Air 2 review: On a coffee table

Put the old and new tablets side by side, and you will see differences if you look closely enough. The iPad Air 2’s new anti-reflective coating means that reflections take on a less harsh appearance: where a light might look white when reflected in the iPad Air’s screen, it looks blue here – a little like looking through a pair of sunglasses.

The LCD screen is also now fully laminated to the glass above it, just as it is on the company’s smartphones, and this makes a noticeable difference both to the immediacy of the image and the perceived contrast. Graphics, text and photographs all look closer, more real on this display. Apple has also upgraded the chip that processes the touch input from the screen; it’s difficult to say definitively whether or not this has made an improvement, but we found that tasks such as scrubbing through a video timeline accurately did appear to be easier.

iPad Air 2 review: Bottom half, at an angle

Apple iPad Air 2 review: Cameras and speakers

The trend for people using their iPads to take photos and shoot video doesn’t seem to be going away, so Apple has finally caved in and brought the iPad’s camera into line with its iPhones, at least in terms of resolution. There’s no flash to match the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus’ True Tone flash, nor the superfast phase-detect autofocus, though.

The iPad Air 2’s camera is an 8-megapixel snapper, with an aperture of f/2.4 and a pixel size of 1.12 microns. Inevitably, it produces more detailed images than its predecessor, and larger files, too, but a close analysis of our test shots and video reveals there isn’t a huge difference in quality; images are just as clean in good light, and still look a touch grainy in low light. In fact, the main difference appears to be a tendency for the iPad Air 2 to overexpose images. They look a touch paler as a result, and we found ourselves dialling back in the contrast for most shots we captured.

The speakers aren’t improved, but surprisingly, given the thinness of the chassis, they go just as loud and there’s even a semblance of bass thump. Playing the same music clip on the iPad Air 2 then the iPad Air revealed the main difference is that the former sounds a touch harsher in tone, but it’s nothing to be concerned about.

Apple iPad Air 2

The Air 2’s camera app does boast one significant feature that the original Air doesn’t: a 120fps slow-motion mode. The effect isn’t quite as dramatic as it is on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which have a 240fps mode, but it’s fun to play with nonetheless.

The front-facing camera has also seen an upgrade. It’s the same resolution as on the Air, but has a wider aperture than before. Images captured with it look just as detailed, but with slightly less bleached-out highlights.

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

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