What's right (and wrong) with the iPad Air

What's right (and wrong) with the iPad Air

Summary: The future of the iPad is in the hands of the iPad Air, but does the redesign have what it takes to hold its own against the onslaught of Android tablets?

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iPad
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This week's Apple event threw out a few surprises. While everyone who hasn't been residing under a rock on Mars was expecting a new iPad, what we actually got was a lot different to what was rumored.

What we got wasn't a new iPad, but a new device, called the iPad Air.

iPad Air
(Source: Apple)

Understand that this is a first impressions piece based on the hardware demonstrated by Apple and the published spec of the device. I will update this piece as soon as the hardware is released and add some hands-on thoughts.

What's right with the iPad Air?

  • New design: The new design, taking a step away from the chunky bezel, has allowed Apple to shrink the iPad Air while keeping the screen size the same. The dimensions have gone from 241mm by 186mm by 9.4mm to 240mm by 169.5mm by 7.5mm. The weight has also dropped from 662g to 478g for the Wi-Fi plus cellular version, which is the heaviest variant, and from 652g to 469g for the Wi-Fi-only variant. In round terms that makes it 28 percent lighter, 20 percent thinner, and the volume is down 24 percent.
  • Smaller tablet, same battery life: Even though the iPad Air is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, the battery still delivers a comparable 10-hour battery life. Apple has achieved this despite the fact that battery capacity has dropped from 43Wh to 32.4Wh.
  • A7 processor: Apple has equipped the iPad Air with the same 64-bit A7 processor as is found in the flagship iPhone 5s handset. This is a 1.3GHz dual-core SoC (System-on-a-Chip) that’s based on the ARMv8-A architecture, and features a built-in GPU. According to Apple it is up to twice as fast and has up to twice the graphics power of its predecessor, the A6. Benchmarks show that it beats quad-core offerings from Qualcomm.
  • Better Wi-Fi: MIMO technology makes is faster and offers better range. With this download speeds can hit up to 300 Mbps, which is double the data rate of the previous-generation iPad.
  • Same pricing structure: The iPad Air will cost you the same as you paid for a comparable iPad.

What's wrong with the iPad Air?

  • New form factor means new accessories: Cases, keyboards, sleeves and so on will all need replacing, adding to the overall cost of the upgrade.
  • 16GB is still the base storage option: Apple charges $100 for a 16GB storage upgrade to 32GB which costs them about $10. This is why Apple hasn’t added more storage to the base model.
  • No Touch ID fingerprint reader: Perhaps Apple is keeping this back for the rumored "iPad Pro."
  • No gold finish: Maybe this is another thing that we’ll see on the "iPad Pro."

Bottom line

The iPad Air looks, on paper at any rate, like a solid upgrade of the iPad lineup. It brings with it a fresh look and a cutting-edge processor that will comfortably keep it ahead of the competition.

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPad

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85 comments
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  • What's wrong with the iPad Air?

    It still runs iOS. An operating system designed for a smartphone, and cheaply upscaled.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • and it now comes with iWork

      .....which is an awful productivity pseudo suite. A joke in fact. Hey Apple please a knowledge that an iPad is nothing more than a money vacuum made to consume medias form iTunes. The surface tablets are completely different in form and factor. The Surface 2 is a rocket and it runs like hell and comes with Office 2013: a good reason to have a descent keyboard.
      gbouchard99@...
      • Load of rubbish

        Microsoft would give its right to have the same success as Apple has had with the iPad.

        We have bought a few Surface's at work to evaluate them. No one wants one, they don't like Windows 8.1.

        They all want iPads, why but it does the job.
        pjc158
        • because the ipad does what that the surface won't?

          If you give employees a choice between a work device and a social media toy don't act suprised when they want something that has more entertainment apps.

          Ask those same employees what the iPad does for them that will make them more productive that using a surface, laptop or whatever else.
          Emacho
          • So wrong

            We employee 6,500 people and those who are using tablets are using iPads through choice for work. They find them easier to use and so what if after work they are used for entrainment. Some people also use keyboards with them.

            Windows 8 does have entrainment apps too, so those people who must use them can also use them socially.

            You are mistaken, just like Microsoft was, that only Windows can be used for work.
            pjc158
          • What work can be done on an iPad?

            Office? Accounting? Finance? Database? Programming? Etc.
            jumbledmess
          • Kidding??

            Email. Documents. Presentations. Real work in other words. Only weenies do finance and programming....
            paddle.
          • Here you go

            my unimaginative friend. http://hrtapps.com/blogs/20131023/

            There is an entire world out there that you haven't considered.
            dhmccoy
          • We have several folks who prefer...

            ...bringing iPads over Windows notebooks to meetings. They use the iPads in the office primarily for reviewing documents and monitoring emails, but some of these same folks are pretty adept at touch typing on an iPad.
            LS650
          • What a load of bull!

            6,500 people don't get to choose, IT and management choose and depending on how long ago you got the iPad's they may not have had choice!
            Try again!
            martin_js
          • True...

            I find it hard to believe all of them would have chosen the iPad. For the moment forget Windows. They all chose Apple over Android? Tablet Androids may not be as popular as iPads but surely some of these folks have Android phones and would have felt more comfortable with an Android tablet.
            robradina@...
          • You avoided the question

            What do the iPads do that Surface will not.

            Everyone knows that an iPad can be pressed into service to get some work done. Arguably it has limitations depending on an employees need to do and in some cases it just can't suit a workers needs.



            Imagine this is you will.

            Go to any business and replace every computer with an iPad, android or windows rt tablet. Do you think that company will still be functioning at the end of the day?

            Now replace every computer with a windows computer/tablet or Macs. I bet the company continues run without any issues at all.


            Leaving the decision to employees to choose between a business class device or some home entertainment tablet that work is purchasing and they can take home with them, don't be surprised when employees choose the option that best suits their personal needs and not their work needs.
            Emacho
          • I agree

            With virtually equal specs, I think the main difference is style, ease of use and of course, entertainment. This comparison supports this theory well i think.. http://versus.com/en/nokia-lumia-2520-vs-apple-ipad-air
            Felix Simpson
          • What a joke !!!

            Can you tell us what that real work you supposed 6500 employes does with their iPad ?

            Let me guest they does CAD, Accounting, technical document editing, developpement, industrial design layout,....
            SylvainT
          • What they does...

            ...is spell checking
            NeuroComp
          • It's about 50/50 for us.

            I've ended up deploying both......because at the end of the day it's an apples to oranges comparison. It boils down to what you're doing in the work place. People who like the gaudy but excellent UX of the iPad (basically, everyone) AND have work that can be done on the iPad, choose the iPad. People who need power end up with the Surface Pro. 8 is a joke of an operating system but the Metro portion can be easily worked around. And I would question the competence of anyone who thinks the build-out of the iPad is superior to the Surface Pro, or visa versa: they're both amazing machines that can't be beat in their market segment. Personally, I spend about 50/50 of my tablet time between them.
            MadBunny
          • Oh MadBunny...

            ... how dare you bring common sense and rationality into a perfectly good argument?
            LS650
          • Is that why they chose the PC 20 years ago?

            Games and more games.
            GoPower
          • 20 years ago?

            They chose the PC because it was cheap compared to other alternatives. Then because of greater numbers, the software followed.

            Remember the clone market and how the standards IBM created enabled folks to upgrade pieces and parts of their computer?
            robradina@...
          • Just because you can't use it for work

            doesn't mean other can't. Time, years in fact, has proven you wrong. What's next, you're going to say "But I can feed a horse hay!".
            dhmccoy