After it was accidentally leaked out online by Apple itself yesterday, it has officially confirmed that it will refresh both the iPad Air and iPad mini at its press event earlier today.
Both will support the Touch ID fingerprint reader and Apple Pay, bringing them on par with the iPhone. However, since both the new iPad Air and iPad mini do not include NFC, Apple Pay will be limited to just app purchases.
The iPad Air gets a little bit thinner and lighter, thanks to refinements to its anodized aluminum unibody. Hardware-wise, the iPad Air 2 is now powered by its A8X chip, which Apple claims is 40 percent faster in CPU performance, and M8 co-processor. The chip also promises to deliver much better graphics compared to its predecessor.
The camera in the iPad Air 2 is getting a significant upgrade – it is now features an 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.4 aperture and 1.12 micron pixels. It can record in 1080p HD video and in slow-motion, and capture panoramas, burst or time-lapse shots. According to Apple, you can even use it to ‘scan’ and annotate documents.
Battery life remains the same, with Apple saying it will last for 10 hours.
The new iPad mini, on the other hand, didn’t get much of an upgrade compared to the Air. It still uses the A7 chipset and M7 co-processor. It still has the same 5-megapixel iSight camera. And, it still looks and weighs the same. The only thing that separates this to its predecessor – which is still on sale – is the price, storage capacity, and the Touch ID fingerprint reader.
While it seems odd, it does make sense when you factor in the iPhone 6 Plus. It appears that Apple did not want this device to eat into the sales of the 5.5-inch smartphone, especially when the iPad mini launches just one month after the iPhone 6 Plus.
Like the iPhone 6, both devices come out in three colours (gold, silver and space gray) and in three storage capacities (16GB, 64GB and 128GB). The iPad Air 2 starts at $619 (Wi-Fi only 16GB model), and the iPad mini 3 starts at $499 (Wi-Fi only 16GB model). Both will come to Australia later next week.
Full pricing is below.