Apple announces iPad Air: Here's what you need to know

Apple announces iPad Air: Here's what you need to know

Summary: Apple announced the long-awaited fifth-generation tablet, the iPad Air, at a media event in San Francisco, California. Here's the run down of what you need to know.

TOPICS: Apple, iOS, iPad
(Image: Apple live stream)

Apple on Tuesday lifted the lid on its latest creation, the fifth-generation tablet, the iPad Air.

Chief executive Tim Cook took to the stage at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, California, along with other senior executives and vice presidents, to announce the fifth major refresh of its popular tablet since it first launched in 2010.

In spite of the leaks, the rumors, and the speculation over the past few months, Apple still held it together to lay out a few surprises.

"We designed iPad to be the best tool for the things you do so often," Cook said. "But we could never have imagined the ways in which our customers are using them."

The new iPad Air lands in silver and white, and space grey. The tablet has four storage versions: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB.

The new tablet is priced at $499 for the 16GB, Wi-Fi version, and $629 for the 16GB, cellular version.

As a result, the new iPad Air replaces the full-sized fourth-generation iPad. 

The device ships on November 1, and will be available in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, France, Germany, and now China, among more than two-dozen countries.

The tablet will also come pre-installed with the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7, which was released on September 18.

Here's what is being served up in the iPad Air:

New design; thinner and lighter: The 9.7-inch Retina display comes with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. It also lands with a narrower side bezel. At just 7.3 millmeters thin, it's about 43 percent thinner than the fourth-generation iPad. The tablet is also lighter, at just 1 pound in weight, or 28 percent lighter than its predecessor. 

64-bit A7 chip: Following on from the iPhone 5s, the world's first 64-bit mobile phone, the iPad Air will now land with the next-generation processor. With over 1 billion transistors, it has 56-times the processing power in the new processor, according to Apple, which can make some apps run as much as five-times faster. The chip also comes with an M6 motion coprocessor.

(Image: Apple)

Faster Wi-Fi: Now up to twice-as-fast networking, Wi-Fi will run up to 300Mbps. The device also supports MIMO, and uses two antennas to deliver faster and more reliable speeds. iPad Air also supports Bluetooth 4.0.

Expanded LTE support: iPad Air is now supported in additional countries and regions with the addition of more LTE band support.

Improved battery: Despite its thinner and lighter design, the iPad Air will still land with 10-hour battery life on a single charge.

Better 5-megapixel camera: iPad Air lands with a 5-megapixel iSight camera that supports 1080p high-definition video. It also comes with dual microphones for better calling, and an improved backside illumination. The front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera supports 720p high-definition video calling.

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPad

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  • Ummmmmm....

    Big deal...
    • Yeah, disappointing.

      Only the front camera was improved. The back camera is the same 5 megapixel garbage they've had for a couple years. They just added a better light. What a letdown.

      No fingerprint sensor. No 8 megapixel camera. It's another year of the boring thinner, lighter, faster repetition. They basically did the minimum hardware upgrades everyone expected. Latest CPU. Latest WiFi chip. Latest LTE chip.

      Really, the only mildly exciting thing was the fact that they're including all of the iWork apps. Even that's of debatable value.
      • And what's up with that lame 64 bit OS stuff?

        Even mentioning 64 bit OS is kinda lame.. I mean everyone has a 64 bit Uh... They don't???

        No one else has a 64 bit OS???

        Apple is the only one???

        Oh.. Um.. Well...

        Oh Yeah?!?!?!? Well you Apple fans are doody heads... So there!!!

        Who cares about the best user experience!!! The true test of anything is faster specs and bigger cameras... When it comes to men it all about the motion of the ocean, but when it comes to cameras, bigger is better.

        And what's up with that lame battery life? Doesn't Apple know that most of us work 27 hours a day in the frozen tundra and we can't be bothered to go find an electrical outlet... Sheesh!!! Everyone else can get way more battery life out of their 64 bit wannabe tablets!!! er.... um.... 32... 32 bit tablets... Sheesh!!!
        • Replace the battery

          Of all the items in an iPad / iPhone, the one everyone eventually needs to replace is the battery. So I'm pleased they FINALLY put a removeable back on the iPad. Hey, the 3rd party companies will offer a different back, allowing user to upgrade to a bigger, thicker battery if they wish.

          What's that- still a sealed unit...?
          • Still waiting for eventually to happen

            I've had four iPhones and three iPads and never once needed to replace the battery. File this with no physical keyboard and no SD card slot under "things nobody cares about".
          • nobody - or just you?

            A card slot is often mentioned as desired by tablet buyers. It would be especially
            useful if accompanied by file transfer capabilities.
          • Really only by its competitors

            I have yet to talk to a iPad owner who called this an issue. I think Apple sees the Cloud as a better solution, this is yet to be seen.
          • with all due respect

            it sounds like you replace your gadgets so frequently that the battery never wore out.
            that is ok with me, I do too, but serviceability is important don't you think?
          • Replaced units still in use

            Replacing an iPad with a new one doesn't mean the old one is no longer in use with a lasting battery. I have had three iPads as well and to this day known have needed a battery replacement. This includes the original iPad which is still being used by my son.
          • Are there any tablets

            With a replaceable battery?
        • Best User Experience

          That's a subjective thing, not an objective one.
          Michael Alan Goff
        • "Apple is the innovator!" propaganda yet again

          Lenovo has had 64 bit phones and tablets available in China for a while now.

      • Apple Stingy

        I agree with you.Apple are totally stingy with their fans and give a crap hardware
      • Camera improvements?

        Are people really using the iPad thhaaat much as a camera? It looks retarded when people are snapping photos with a huge iPad. I don't think thats an area that is that important on an iPad. Getting the size down a significant amount (width/height and depth) and the weight is much more important and better WiFi and faster. The 64 bit OS stuff is probably just a step towards the future when they drop the bomb and make OS 11 that runs on iPad and Mac or something.

        The fingerprint sensor should have been I agree but probably its a cost thing. I am sure it will be in the next release. I love my fingerprint scanner!!
        • Retarded

          If "looking retarded" is the reason for not doing something then that's really retarded. :P

          I have an older Samsung 7" tablet that's also a phone (non-US version) and I take lots of pictures with it. The camera is crap and it's 3MP, but you do learn to work around the major weaknesses, and you know not to bother at all if lighting is anything less than daylight. But a *GOOD* 5MP camera on a (small) tablet would be a huge deal for me.

          (Never mind that it has professional applications; e.g. data collection on a tablet that requires taking a picture of something. If that 'something' is either small or at nighttime then you can forget about it.)
          Han CNX
      • Who the hell takes pictures with their tablet?

        If you Google "idiots using their iPad's for selfies" you'll see... I've never used my camera on my tablet because I have a camera and a camera on my phone. I'd rather have them spend money on the rest of the device, I'd even pay to have a better SOC and do away with the camera...

        So you focus on the camera but totally waltz past SOC?

        Example: The A7 is an ARMv8 CPU - nothing like that exists in Android (yet) - It's the future and will be on every Android device launched next year - at 1.4GHZ it beats all the 1.9 - 2.2 GHz Exynos/Snapdragon competitors... Wow, no innovations there.

        This race for specs is an absurd one - There is more to life than specs/price... Lexus/Mercedes/BMW/insert luxury brand will do the EXACT same thing a Ford will do but people will pay more for intangible things like:

        Much better Tablet Apps (speaking from experience) on iOS vs Google Play
        Much better UI experience (speaking from experience) - This is an opinion, I know.
        Much better build quality (speaking from owning two Nexus 7 that have been replaced 4x in total due to screen separation, Bluetooth fail, and total device failure ) vs iPads that have been Toyota reliable.

        I'm all wrong though - please keep putting lipstick on that pig and telling us it's better
      • Camera

        You don't know if it's the same camera. It's still 5MP, but not all 5MP cameras are alike.

        But yeah, if it's the same garbage that was in the iPhone 4 (!) [The 4s already had 8MP] then I'm not buying it.
        Han CNX
    • Yea to bad

      Bummer because you can't do anything more with it than the previous versions. Full Windows OS in a solid state tablet, well that's exciting.
      • Exactly HOW successful has full Windows desktop been on tablets?

        Oh, that's right--the original iPad outsold ALL full Windows tablets ever made. I don't deny that there can be some uses for a full desktop OS on a tablet, but they're few and far between. RT8 is a FAR better choice, but you guys all hate the one thing that really works from Microsoft.
        • RT8 vs. 8Pro

          Other than be ARM based and modestly better battery life, what does the RT version of Windows do that the Pro version won't?

          If RT works, as you say, by inference the pro version works as well plus offers full desktop app compatibility. So it must work too... eh?