We should’ve seen this coming. After the unveiling of the original iPad Mini nearly a year ago, it should’ve been a signal to the technology community that the inevitable was about to happen. And it finally did. In Apple’s recent fall event, the Cupertino computing giant finally unveiled its latest iteration of the iPad, the iPad Air. And literally, the new iPad is like a big brother to the Mini.
Both now sport the same new design philosophy. And with this year’s iPad Mini refresh, both now sport a Retina display, run on the same A7 chip and backs on the same iOS7 operating system. Now with the Black Friday season soon approaching, and the Christmas sale just righ around the corner, a handful of questions bother the average consumer. Is the iPad Air a great buy? Should I upgrade my aging iPad? Should I make the jump from Android to iOS? Here we help you answer those questions.
As with almost everything Apple creates, the iPad Air is simply gorgeous. Joining aluminum and glass has continuously worked for the company for the better part of the past decade, and the iPad Air continues the legacy.
The iPad Air weighs in an impressive 469grams, a full 181grams lighter than the previous generation. Its dimensions are also smaller at 240mm x 170mm x 7.5mm, thinner by 1.9mm compared to its predecessor. All-in-all, these numbers translate to a 43% thinner bezel, 28% weight reduction and 20% thinner, thus continuing Apple’s longstanding legacy of evolving its products to becoming thinner, lighter and faster without compromising anything in terms of design and performance.
Speaking of performance, the iPad Air rocks the same A7 chip that powers the iPhone 5S and the new Retina display iPad Mini. According to Apple, such configuration gives you 2x more CPU performance and 2x more graphics performance than its predecessor while giving out 10 hours of battery life. For the average consumer, what this means is you’re getting top-of-the-line 64bit performance while retaining if not improving the battery-savings capacity the iPad line has been known for.
In actual usage, the iPad Air lives up to all its design hype. It is really easy to use by one hand, despite having a thinner bezel like the iPad Mini. It is also easier to carry around, while the Retina display is, as always, a pleasure to look at.
However, the lightness Apple touts as one of the differentiating factors of the new iPad Air isn’t really that much especially during prolonged uses. On this regard, the new iPad Mini wins, although for a full-sized tablet, you can not ask for a more perfect balance of performance and portability than what the iPad Air offers.
If you already own an iPhone or a previous generation iPad or iPad Mini that runs iOS7, then you should know what to expect from the iPad Air in terms of out of the box software. As expected, the interface is very fluid and responsive, something that even Android’s latest KitKat iteration would very much envy. As usual, the Apple App Store boasts of more than 475,000 tablet optimized apps that will surely extend the functionality of your iPad any way you want.
Making things even better, every purchase of an iPad Air now comes with a free download of Apple’s iWork and iLife suites. That’s a total of six free premium apps: Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Garageband, iPhoto and iMovie, all optimized for use with the iPad Air and its 64bit architecture.
OK. So here comes the really, really hard part. From what we talked about above, the iPad Air is truly great, both in terms of design, raw power and software performance. Its very sexy and slim, thanks to more power efficient internals. Just like the iPad Mini, the iPad Air sports a great unibody refresh that improves on the already impressive look and feel of the previous generations of iPads. Battery life is great, as is the spanking new 64-bit A7 processor. iOS7 also looks great even on the enlarged display of the full-sized iPad, with great productivity and creativity apps given away by Apple.
As such, if you are a first time tablet buyer, wanting to try the device that revolutionized the mobile computing industry, the iPad Air will not leave you disappointed and should very well make you appreciate what tablet computing is all about.
If you already own a tablet computer, be it on Android or iOS, things gets a bit tricky. Personally, given all the upgrades and improvements on the iPad Air, if you currently own an iPad 3 or 4, then the incremental improvements in speed and weight should not be enough to justify shelling out at least $500. But then, that’s just me, being poor and all. However, if you’re an Android tablet user, looking to switch to iOS, the iPad Air is a great buy provided you are willing to give up some of the freedom that comes along with Android.
Lastly, if you’re on the market for a really portable tablet, to be taken on the road and will be used mainly for gaming or watching videos or surfing the web, then the added portability of the iPad Mini with Retina display might just be enough for you, and I suggest you try to wait a couple more weeks before deciding.
However, if you want a full-sized tablet experience, from the world’s leading innovation and design company, with amazing battery life and superior future-proof capabilities, then the iPad Air is indeed the next best thing for you.