The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini three evaluate

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

It is a conflicting time for Apple. On one hand, it is a joyous event for the corporate as a result of its newest iPhones, which are available bigger display sizes than the final, set new gross sales data worldwide; however then again, its lineup of iPads simply skilled its third straight quarterly decline. Coincidentally, this comes only a week after Apple introduced its annual pill refresh, which features a thinner and extra highly effective model of the iPad Air together with a Contact ID-enabled mini with Retina show.

Simply because it is down doesn’t suggest it is out. Giving up on a product class is not actually Apple’s type, and final week, it provided up the Air 2 as exhibit A. The corporate made it clear that making a strong prime-of-the-line pill is on the highest of its to-do listing, so naturally the brand new 10-inch system received loads of upgrades in almost each facet of its design. Curiously, it did not give the mini lineup the identical sort of remedy: The mini three obtained so little love this time round that one of the best information about it’s the truth that final yr’s model is now $one hundred cheaper. Ought to the brand new iPads nonetheless get a spot within the shopper’s backpack? Learn on to seek out out.

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iPad Air 2 assessment

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iPad Air 2 digital camera samples


iPad Air 2


  • Lovely, skinny aluminum design
  • Extremely highly effective A8X chip
  • Contact ID included
  • Upgraded digital camera


  • Battery life might be higher
  • Some will miss the mute change


The iPad Air 2 is Apple’s strongest pill but, and is extremely skinny and lightweight. It is a strong improve over final yr’s Air, and will undoubtedly be one in every of your prime pill issues.

eighty five

iPad mini three


  • Contact ID now comes included
  • Lengthy battery life
  • Good efficiency


  • Solely a few upgrades 
  • Instructions a $one hundred premium over final yr’s mannequin


The iPad mini three is simply nearly as good as its predecessor, however its lack of function upgrades does not justify its worth and locations it behind the Air 2 in specs. Until you’re keen on Apple’s fingerprint sensor and Apple Pay, chances are you’ll need to go for final yr’s mannequin as an alternative.

iPad Air 2

Thinner, lighter, extra highly effective. It sounds rather a lot like final yr’s iPad Air, which was decreased to the thickness of a pencil, however in reality, I am speaking concerning the sequel. At 6.1mm thick, an 18 % lower from the unique Air’s 7.5mm, you will be arduous-pressed to discover a thinner pill; Samsung’s Tab S comes shut at 6.6mm. It isn’t straightforward to construct such a skinny gadget that feels simply as sturdy as its thicker brethren, however Apple nailed it with the Air 2. The brand new slate has misplaced weight, too, however not as a lot because the final one did: Whereas the primary Air managed to lose almost half a pound over the iPad four, the subsequent model solely trims off zero.04 pound (32g) for a complete of zero.ninety six pound (the LTE-enabled model is a number of grams heavier). So, it is lighter, however the change is not anyplace close to as noticeable this time round.

The design language hasn’t modified: The Air nonetheless options an aluminum construct, chamfered edges and the identical footprint as earlier than. However Apple insists that it rebuilt the brand new pill from the bottom up. In any case, cramming higher specs right into a thinner package deal requires some artistic considering. The excellent news is that it appears and feels incredible, and it comes with a no-hole show, higher digital camera, extra highly effective chipset, Contact ID and stronger wi-fi connections. The dangerous information is that some compromises have been made — particularly within the space of battery measurement, which has plummeted from 32.4Whr to 27.three (extra on this later).

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

Apart from being thinner, there are a pair different methods you possibly can inform a brand new Air from an previous one. The primary is the inclusion of Contact ID, Apple’s fingerprint sensor that was launched final yr within the iPhone 5s. It is definitely a welcome function, and one I have been hoping to see on an iPad ever because the iPhone 5s debuted; I can not rely what number of occasions I attempted unlocking my iPad this manner earlier than remembering it does not have this function. What’s extra, Contact ID is much more helpful now than it was earlier than; iOS eight enabled third-get together developer help for the fingerprint sensor, so you should use it to entry delicate account info or passwords. It additionally facilitates on-line funds by means of Apple Pay, however since no new iPad comes with NFC, you will not have the ability to use your big pill at a faucet-to-pay station. (Replace: iFixit’s teardown of the iPad Air 2 reveals that it options the identical NFC module because the iPhones 6.)

The Air 2 additionally does not have a mute change, which I did not assume can be an enormous loss till I truly discovered myself making an attempt to make use of it and turning into annoyed extra steadily than I anticipated. Your new choices are to press and maintain the quantity down button or go into the Management Middle and press the mute key; in the event you used the change to lock display orientation, you will want to try this within the Management Middle as nicely. A microphone now sits the place the mute change as soon as was; there’s one other one proper subsequent to the digital camera. This implies the antenna on the highest of the WiFi+Mobile mannequin is not interrupted by mic holes.

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

Inside, the Air 2 comes with a brand new A8X chipset, which I am going to talk about afterward. Briefly, Apple has added one other CPU core, boosted graphics efficiency and doubled the RAM. However it’s additionally adopted the iPhone 6 by including the M8 movement coprocessor, which features a barometer so you’ll be able to monitor flights climbed. Different additions embrace 802.11ac WIFi, which may get you quicker connections (offered you’ve a suitable router); 20 LTE bands, which ought to be greater than sufficient for many worldwide vacationers; and as much as one hundred fifty Mbps mobile obtain speeds in case your service presents it.

iPad mini three

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

Apple’s message for the iPad mini modified dramatically up to now yr. When it debuted final fall, the iPad mini with Retina show was given function parity with the Air. The 2 units have been almost twins, except measurement and a distinction in colour accuracy (which we’ll get into quickly). In the long run, iPad consumers discovered that the hardest choice was which measurement to select. Quick-ahead a yr, and the mini three has been largely forgotten. Even the fourth-gen iPad, which was launched solely eight months after the earlier model with a efficiency increase and Lightning port, seems to be like a much bigger improve.

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iPad Mini three evaluation

Certainly, there’s just one main function change on the mini three: Contact ID. Yep, that is all, until you rely a gold colour choice as an precise function (I do not). In any other case, the hardware is totally similar to final yr’s mini. All the stuff you simply learn (and can proceed to learn) about getting improved on the Air 2? Nowhere to be discovered. The size and design type all stay the identical because the final mini. Whereas Apple says it constructed the Air 2 from the bottom up, the mini three simply looks like an afterthought to make it seem like the mini line hasn’t been forgotten. Properly, it hasn’t been, however it does look unusual that the bigger pill is as soon as once more thought-about the premier choice with the most effective specs. The sudden change in product technique does not add up.

Apple SIM

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

This can be the very first time a SIM card has earned its personal part in an Engadget evaluate. However a brand new sort of nano-SIM card preinstalled within the Air 2 and mini three is value a point out. Buried in the previous few strains of a press launch is Apple’s first point out of a brand new “Apple SIM,” a primary-of-its-type card that allows you to change your mobile service with out additionally altering the SIM card. This comfort is restricted to just some nations and carriers at launch — Dash, T-Cellular and AT&T within the US and EE within the UK — however over time, the number of prepared operators might enhance. It is nonetheless very a lot within the early levels proper now, however the concept is a pure match for an iPad, which does not include a service lock or a contract; individuals will need to change amongst carriers relying on what sort of protection they want and what forms of knowledge plans grow to be out there.

My evaluation models got here with service-branded SIMs, however the Apple-particular chips ought to come preinstalled once they’re shipped. (For those who favor a non-supported service, resembling Verizon, a brand new chip can be offered for you.) There’s nonetheless no approach of figuring out whether or not this can be a proprietary know-how or if Apple is licensing it; if it is the latter, it is potential that the choice will ultimately be obtainable for non-Apple units as properly.


The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

The Air 2 has the identical 2,048 x 1,536 decision as all of the Retina iPads which have come earlier than it; Retina HD doesn’t exist within the pill lineup. However as I discussed earlier, Apple was capable of trim down the iPad through the use of a laminated, optically bonded, no-hole show just like those used on the iPhone and even the Microsoft Floor tablets. Not solely does the brand new panel save vertical area by eliminating any gaps of air between the show layers, however it additionally makes the display considerably much less reflective. That is meant to scale back the quantity of glare hitting the display, whether or not you are studying in direct daylight or watching films beneath harsh fluorescent lights. I am joyful to report that it really works as marketed; I used to be capable of learn textual content and take a look at pictures a lot better on the Air 2 than the earlier model. Tapping on the display additionally does not really feel as hole on the brand new pill because it did on final yr’s. Nonetheless, Apple appears to have achieved this on the expense of white stability, which appears barely colder than on the primary Air.

For the iPad mini, I’ve a confession to make. As I reviewed final yr’s mannequin, I praised the show for its excessive pixel density and attractiveness — and in some ways this nonetheless rings true a full yr later — however I did not catch a obtrusive distinction between it and the unique iPad Air’s show: The colours on the mini with Retina show have a narrower gamut than the Air, so the hues are flatter; they merely do not present the identical sort of punch that the Air does. That was one thing I did not need to miss once more, so I took a better look to see if Apple had corrected something on the mini three, or if the colour gamut would stay constant amongst all three units within the collection. In case you did not prefer it earlier than, anticipate to see extra of the identical; any modifications in colour accuracy are extraordinarily minor, because the Air lineup continues to supply a greater expertise right here than the mini. The under picture exhibits the distinction between the Air 2 and the mini three shows.

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

iOS eight.1

iOS eight.1 is the third replace to Apple’s new cellular OS in simply over a month, after a bug repair that was instantly adopted by one other repair to right the issues launched in that preliminary replace. The refresh was made obtainable to each suitable iPhone and iPad yesterday, and the brand new iPads will include it preinstalled, bypassing the prolonged obtain and set up course of.

As a result of the Air 2 and mini three each use Contact ID, they will reap the benefits of the most important new function within the replace: Apple Pay. However since they do not have Close to-Subject Communication (NFC) chips put in, you possibly can’t do faucet to pay; you’ll be able to solely use the service for on-line funds. This is not an enormous difficulty, since most individuals will choose utilizing their telephones (or Apple Watch) to purchase stuff in shops; it would be a lot simpler to whip out my pockets and swipe my card than take an iPad out of my bag to make use of faucet-to-pay.

Apple Pay is not the one profit you get in eight.1. Within the preliminary iOS eight launch, the corporate oddly neglected the Digital camera Roll. You would nonetheless see all the photographs you took in your telephone or pill, however when you have been utilizing iCloud and had a number of units, there was no option to inform which photograph or video was taken on which product. This week, it is again within the Albums tab.

With eight.1, you will additionally get to beta check the iCloud Photograph Library, which uploads and shops your assortment o’ reminiscences as a way to edit and share them from any of your Apple units. When you’ve got lower than 5GB in your album and do not need to pay something, it is undoubtedly value doing. When you’ve obtained greater than that, you will have to pony up some money with a purpose to retailer all of it: 20GB prices a greenback per thirty days within the US; 200GB is $four; 500GB is $10; and 1TB is $20.

Lastly, eight.1 allows a number of the Handoff and Continuity options I mentioned within the iOS eight evaluation, akin to sending and receiving textual content messages in your Mac, and Prompt Hotspot, which makes it attainable to routinely tether your pc to your cellular system. These options have been introduced as a part of iOS eight in June, however wanted Apple’s new desktop working system, OS X Yosemite, to work correctly.

Digital camera

I will be the primary to confess that I am not the goal demographic for a pill digital camera. I used to make enjoyable of the entire concept of taking footage with a ten-inch gadget, however clearly it is a development that is not going away, as a quick go to to any theme park, vacationer attraction, live performance or Vegas sidewalk will show. So, I can not blame Apple for catering to this rising group of people that want a big viewfinder. The iPad Air 2 is a main instance of this. Whereas the mini three does not achieve improved imaging capabilities, the Air 2 steps as much as 8MP decision (versus 5MP within the Air) and has a brand new Picture Sign Processor (ISP) as a part of the brand new A8X chipset. On the software program aspect, the brand new digital camera comes with Burst Mode, in addition to sluggish-movement video seize in 720p at 120fps. There’s nonetheless no LED flash on entrance or again this time round, nevertheless.

Gallery | seventy two Photographs
iPad Air 2 digital camera samples

General, the development intimately is clear, and imaging is noticeably higher in a number of different areas as nicely. The white stability is barely improved; colours are slightly extra correct; and harshly backlit pictures aren’t as blown out as they have been on the earlier Air. And though the f/2.four aperture is identical on each cameras, the brand new ISP manages to filter out extra noise in low-mild conditions; it nonetheless will not catch as a lot errant mild because the iPhone, nevertheless. Apple additionally says the 1.2MP FaceTime digital camera ought to do a greater job of decreasing noise, however I could not see any actual distinction in aspect-by-aspect comparisons.

(You possibly can see full-res photographs taken by the Air 2 digital camera right here, and samples from the unique Air may be discovered right here.)

Efficiency and battery life iPad Air 2 iPad Air iPad mini three NVIDIA Defend Pill Geekbench four,510 2,646 2,470 three,423 Basemark X 29,518 15,231 14,839 TBD 3DMark IS Limitless 21,659 15,536 14,595 30,970 SunSpider (ms) 303 404 439 463 GFXBench Manhattan Off/onscreen (fps) 32.four/24.6 SunSpider: Decrease scores are higher.

Strap in your seat belts, youngsters — the iPad Air 2 is speedy. The irony isn’t misplaced on me as I say it, provided that we appear to say the identical factor with each new iPad. Certainly, the Air 2 matches that invoice completely: It is predictably extra highly effective than its predecessor, because of the A8X chipset inside, however there is a bit extra to the pill’s oomph this time round. Apple’s making a leap from a twin-core processor to at least one with three cores; the CPU is clocked at 1.5GHz, a 100MHz bump from the unique Air; the L2 cache doubled from 1MB to 2MB; and it additionally comes with 2GB of RAM, twice as a lot as the previous few iPads. It is no shock, then, why the corporate is boasting a forty % increase in CPU efficiency and a rise in graphics prowess by an element of two.5.

So sure, the iPad was highly effective earlier than, and it is much more so now. Apple says the brand new chip is optimized for apps and video games that use Metallic, a framework that removes plenty of the overhead that will get between a developer and the GPU. It additionally takes benefit of 3D graphics processing and different superior computing capabilities. The A8X will improve the efficiency of each app no matter whether or not or not they use Metallic, however I targeted extra closely on apps and video games that do.

One such app was Replay, a video spotlight device featured in final week’s keynote. The app takes photographs you’ve got curated out of your photograph library and places them right into a cool montage-like video; you possibly can add music, textual content and different results to provide some additional pizzazz to your Fb slideshow of the household journey to Disneyland. The A8X confirmed its chops when it was time to save lots of and render the video; I did the identical actual video on each iPad Airs (iPads Air?), and the unique wasn’t even midway by means of the job when the Air 2 accomplished the duty.

It is clear that the A8X could make an enormous distinction over the A7 in lots of areas, however I did not see as drastic a efficiency enchancment with present video games that use Metallic. I attempted a number of, corresponding to Asphalt eight, Seashore Buggy Racing, Trendy Fight 5 and Epic Zen Backyard. As anticipated, I skilled fewer body skips, smoother play and quicker load occasions, all of that are almost givens anytime there is a increase in graphics capability. And the Air 2 is a winner for this alone. The one draw back was that I noticed the identical variety of high-quality particulars within the A8X throughout gameplay as I noticed within the A7. When evaluating the 2 Airs aspect by aspect, I noticed the identical reflections in puddles, blazing fires, different characters, falling buildings, exploding helicopters and different parts. Nonetheless good, however not an evening-and-day distinction. The enhancements on this space weren’t as noticeable as I might anticipated, however hopefully A8X-optimized video games will come out quickly that push the chip’s graphics capabilities to the restrict.

The benchmarks sided with Replay when it comes to efficiency. I noticed large bumps in check scores on Geekbench three and Basemark X (almost double that of the Air), in addition to a 6,000-level improve on 3DMark. I additionally notched a 25 % lower in SunSpider, which was the bottom rating I’ve ever seen on any cellular system (SunSpider scores are like golf — the decrease the higher); lastly, I used to be additionally impressed by the onscreen and offscreen GFXBench outcomes. Nevertheless, whereas the iPad continues to be among the many strongest tablets available on the market, it is received some critical competitors; the NVIDIA Tegra K1-powered Defend Pill crunches some numbers that surpass the Air 2’s scores, with others getting extremely shut.

Pill Battery Life iPad Air 2 eleven:15 iPad mini three thirteen:forty five Microsoft Floor 2 14:22 iPad Air thirteen:forty five (LTE) Apple iPad mini 12:forty three (WiFi) Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch) 12:30 Apple iPad mini with Retina show eleven:fifty five (LTE) Apple iPad (late 2012) eleven:08 (WiFi) Apple iPad 2 10:26 Samsung Galaxy Word Professional 12.2 10:04 Apple iPad (2012) 9:fifty two (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE) Acer Iconia W4 9:50 Nexus 7 (2012) 9:forty nine Microsoft Floor RT 9:36 Toshiba Encore eight:forty five Sony Xperia Pill Z eight:forty Sony Xperia Z2 Pill 7:fifty seven Nexus 10 7:26 Dell Venue eight Professional 7:19 Samsung Galaxy Notice 7:18 Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15 Samsung Galaxy Tab Professional eight.four 7:thirteen Samsung Galaxy Tab three 10.1 6:fifty five

A thinner profile comes on the expense of battery measurement. The brand new Air’s is 5.1Whr smaller than the previous one, however Apple nonetheless guarantees that you’re going to get the identical 10-hour battery life as a result of the A8X is extra energy-environment friendly. Actual-life use exhibits that the unique Air nonetheless guidelines the roost; after a day of heavy use, I sometimes went to mattress with round 20 % left within the tank. In the event you’re solely utilizing it reasonably — say, for informal content material creation or consumption — you must get just a little over two days. In our video check, during which an HD film performs by way of the lifetime of the battery, the Air 2 squeezed out eleven hours and quarter-hour, considerably decrease than final yr’s Air and about an hour in need of the Samsung Tab S. That stated, I am utilizing the WiFi+Mobile model, so needless to say the WiFi-solely choice ought to get longer outcomes. On the flip aspect, the mini three truly improved in battery life during the last mannequin, getting almost 14 hours of video earlier than dying.

On the plus aspect, the loudspeakers have improved. In aspect-by-aspect checks with the unique Air, the sequel’s audio system produced even louder and fuller sound than its predecessor, which got here in useful whereas listening to podcasts and streaming music round the home.

The competitors

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

As ordinary, the brand new iPads are available WiFi-solely and WiFi+Mobile choices, with the WiFi-solely fashions starting at $499 for the Air 2 and $399 for the mini three. In each instances, the bottom fashions have 16GB of storage. In the meantime, the mobile choices begin at $629 for the Air 2 and $529 for the mini three. When you want extra storage — and given how a lot out there area is required simply to replace your units today, I strongly advocate it — you will want so as to add an additional $one hundred to get 64GB of storage and $200 for 128GB. As with the brand new iPhones, the iPads are not provided with 32GB.

The brand new iPads aren’t the one present on the town. Google’s Nexus 9, which comes out in two weeks, will doubtless be a robust performer because of its NVIDIA K1 chip, a 2.3GHz twin-core processor with sixty four-bit help. (That is the “Denver” variant of the chip contained in the NVIDIA Defend, so the Nexus 9 ought to sustain with the Air 2.) Apple acquired a pleasant head begin on sixty four-bit help when it launched the A7 chip final yr, so it’s going to take a while for builders to take full benefit of their newfound talents. The baseline, WiFi-solely Nexus 9, which incorporates 16GB of inner storage, will go for $399; this places it as strong competitors towards the mini three, though its display measurement is true in between the mini and Air. There’s additionally the Sony Xperia Z2 Pill, which is now going for round $460 and packs loads of punch, and the Samsung Tab S, which comes with an octa-core chip and 3GB of RAM for a similar worth because the Air 2.

The mini three may even quickly need to compete towards Sony’s Z3 Pill Compact, an eight-inch waterproof slate that’s now out there for pre-order. It is 6.4mm skinny and comes with a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 3GB of RAM, however you are additionally paying for the additional options: it is priced beginning at $499, which is a good quantity larger than Apple’s already excessive-priced choice.

In case you just like the smaller type issue, however do not love the worth, there’s additionally the Defend Pill, which comes with the aforementioned K1 chip and is accessible beginning at $299; it is extra gaming-minded than your ordinary Android pill, nevertheless it’s a implausible performer that soundly beats out the mini three. There’s additionally the Google Nexus 7, which was discontinued, however nonetheless out there on Amazon and different retailers for round $200. And eventually, final yr’s iPad mini with Retina show is now $one hundred cheaper at $299, whereas the unique mini is $249. Nevertheless, that $50 distinction additionally means you lose the Retina show; it is undoubtedly well worth the cash to go together with the upper decision. Likewise, the unique Air is now $399, $one hundred cheaper than its successor.


The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review

Within the wake of dire gross sales, the Air 2 is strictly what Apple wanted to maintain the lineup recent. It will not be a model-new design, per se, however its skinny body helps hold the marquee pill wanting glossy and thrilling, and the additional burst of efficiency ensures that it stays among the many strongest tablets available on the market for the subsequent yr. It might use a bit of assist with battery life in comparison with the Air, however it’s nonetheless an enchancment over the iPad fourth-gen and older. Most significantly, the Air 2 looks like Apple hasn’t given up on the pill type issue, even when it is experiencing a dip in gross sales.

That stated, I am unsure the place the mini three matches into Apple’s technique. Because the solely hardware enchancment to the brand new slate is Contact ID, the mini lineup is not on par with the Airs; it is now a second-class pill citizen. I really like Contact ID, and I favor the display measurement of the mini, nevertheless it’s not value paying an additional $one hundred for Apple’s fingerprint sensor until you employ a ton of passwords or need to make plenty of on-line Apple Pay purchases. It is nonetheless a fantastic performer, however I can not assist however marvel if the mini lineup can stay related at its worth level — particularly now that 5.5-inch iPhones are much more moveable and nonetheless supply a big display.

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<a href=””> Apple iPad Air 2 </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”” title=”Apple iPad Air 2 evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Evaluations four </a>
  • Costs
  • Discussions
  • Type issue Pill
  • Working system iOS (eight)
  • Display measurement 9.7 inches
  • Storage sort Inner storage (sixteen GB, Flash)
  • Most battery life As much as 10 hours
  • Dimensions 9.four x 6.6 x zero.24 in
  • Weight zero.ninety six lb
  • Introduced 2014-10-sixteen

see all specs →

9common consumer score
  • Options 9
  • Show eight.5
  • Battery life eight
  • Ease of use 10
  • Storage capability 9
  • Design and type issue 10
  • Portability (measurement / weight) 9.5
  • Sturdiness eight

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