iPad Air 2 reviews

iPad Air 2

With the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 set to go on sale later this week, the embargo has been lifted for major tech publications to post in-depth reviews of the new iPads. We have rounded up some of the most interesting remarks about the new iPad Air 2.

Walt Mossberg of Re/code:

So when Apple brought out new iPads last week, and I had a chance to test them over the past four days, you might think I’d be pretty excited about them — but I’m not. They are, in most respects, the best iPads ever made. But for average users, they represent only a modest evolutionary improvement over last year’s models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year. [..]

[..] In fact, in one key metric, battery life, the Air 2 actually regressed from the original Air. In my tough battery test*, it lasted 10 hours and 37 minutes, exceeding Apple’s 10-hour claim. That’s quite good, better than most other tablets. But in 2013, the original iPad Air turned in the best tablet battery life I’ve ever seen on my test: 12 hours and 13 minutes — about 90 minutes longer. [..]

[..] Overall, the new model reinforces my view that the iPad is the best full-sized tablet, but this latest iteration isn’t much of a leap.

Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal:

No, we aren’t at the point where it feels like you’re holding a feather, but there is a substantial difference between grasping the 0.96-pound Air 2 and any of the earlier iPads with one hand. I even noticed a difference between it and last year’s original Air. Apple has squeezed down the svelte case so much that it feels as if you’re holding nothing but a screen.

The iPad Air 2 is also far more manageable than Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5, and its premium aluminum build and soft curved edges top Samsung’s slimy, dimpled plastic cover. [..]

[..] The new Air’s display addresses one of my biggest complaints about previous iPads: You can finally see the screen outdoors. A thinner display with an anti-reflective layer means unless the sun is really beating down, there’s no need to pitch a towel tent over the screen while sitting by the pool. 

In my outdoor test, the Air 2 beat last year’s Air, Samsung’s Tab S and Amazon’s previous Fire HDX, displaying a more even balance under both sunlight and shade. Outdoors, it only loses to a bona fide e-reader like the Kindle Paperwhite. But you’ll still have to crank the brightness all the way up to see the screen in the sun, which will run down the battery faster. 

Harry Mccracken of Fast Company:

The weirdest fact about the iPad Air 2 is that Apple isn’t publicizing (or even acknowledging) one of its best new features. The tablet now has 2GB of RAM, up from the rather cramped 1GB allotment in the original iPad Air. (Some competitors, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, have even more.)

Doubling the RAM means that the iPad can keep more apps and browser tabs in memory without having to reload anything. That results in a speed boost which which is very apparent as you hop between apps and load new web pages. [..]

[..] When I ran the Geekbench performance test–which reports that the A8x has three cores of computing power–I got multi-core results which were around twice as fast as those for the dual-core iPad Air from last year. But as usual, the quicker chip is less about turbocharging existing software than it is about letting developers build ambitious new apps.

Nilay Patel of The Verge:

The Air 2 has a vibrant, sharp display that looks almost painted on. Apple says the new antireflective coating on the Air 2 reduces glare by 56 percent, but I didn’t really notice it making a huge difference; you definitely can’t use it in bright sunlight.

[..] Inside the iPad Air 2 lies Apple’s new A8X chip, which is a variant of the A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with additional graphics capabilities. It’s ridiculously fast — noticeably faster to load web pages and launch apps than my iPad Air, and it has so much graphics headroom that I’m eager to see how game developers take advantage of it. [..]

[..] There’s no question that the iPad Air 2 is the best iPad ever made. It’s also the best tablet ever made — its incredible hardware and enormous ecosystem of apps offer a commanding advantage over the competition. But it’s not Apple’s best product; it’s not the company’s most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price. It’s mostly just thinner.

David Pogue of The New York Times:

It must be darned hard coming up with a new tablet model every October. In any case, the list of incremental improvements keep the iPad Air 2 at the front of the state of the art. It’s a glorious, fast, beautiful, tablet, edging ever closer into laptop-replacement territory. And with the impressive iOS 8 and Apple’s universe of online services behind it, this iPad will light up a lot of faces under the 2014 Christmas tree.

Brad Molen of Engadget

A thinner profile comes at the expense of battery size. The new Air’s is 5.1Whr smaller than the old one, but Apple still promises that you’ll get the same 10-hour battery life because the A8X is more power-efficient. Real-life use shows that the original Air still rules the roost; after a day of heavy use, I typically went to bed with around 20 percent left in the tank. If you’re only using it moderately — say, for casual content creation or consumption — you should get a little over two days. In our video test, in which an HD movie plays through the life of the battery, the Air 2 squeezed out 11 hours and 15 minutes, significantly lower than last year’s Air and about an hour short of the Samsung Tab S. That said, I’m using the WiFi+Cellular version, so keep in mind that the WiFi-only option should get longer results. [..]

[..] On the plus side, the loudspeakers have improved. In side-by-side tests with the original Air, the sequel’s speakers produced even louder and fuller sound than its predecessor, which came in handy while listening to podcasts and streaming music around the house.

Now that the iPad Air 2 reviews are in (in case you were waiting for them), let me know if you plan to buy it.