Apple launched the iPad Air 2 last month as the company’s new flagship tablet, replacing the iPad Air as the top dog in the Apple slate lineup, but is the iPad Air 2 a worthy purchase? Is the older iPad Air still worth taking advantage of?
The iPad Air 2 remains largely unchanged from the previous generation as far as looks are concerned, save for the new Home button which now comes with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is probably one of the biggest features on the new iPad.
The iPad Air 2 is also lighter and thinner than the iPad Air, mostly thanks to Apple getting rid of the “air gap” in the display that has existed on every iPad model before this. With that air gap gone, the tablet can be thinner and also reduce light glare. The front glass and the actual display are now bonded together, just like the Microsoft Surface, allowing Apple to make the device thinner without sacrificing a lot of internal space.
Of course, the flagship tablet come with performance improvements across the board, including the new A8X processor, which is a 64-bit chip that offers 2.5x faster GPU performance and 40% faster CPU performance than the A7 processor that’s in the iPad Air. The iPad Air 2 also comes with the new M8 motion processor, just like in the iPhone 6.
However, are these upgrades and new features worth a $100 difference in price? If you’re having trouble deciding which tablet to buy, here are some things to keep in mind when you go to make a purchase.
If You Want the Best Performance…
Without a doubt, if you want the iPad that will offer the best performance, the iPad Air 2 is the tablet to choose, as it comes with the latest components. The A8X is the latest processor from Apple and the iPad Air 2 is the only iPad that sports it. As mentioned, it’s 40% faster than the A7 processor in the iPad Air and also has 2.5x the graphics power.
However, while Apple says that the iPad Air 2 is almost twice as fast as the iPad Air, don’t think that you’ll actually get twice the performance. Apps won’t load twice as fast and the tablet won’t boot up twice as quickly. In fact, we bet that if you play with an iPad Air 2 and then switch to an iPad Air, you probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference in performance.
Of course, putting them side-by-side and taking both tablets through a series of test would tell you that the iPad Air 2 is a bit faster, but under normal everyday use, the difference is negligent.
However, if you’ve never bought an iPad before and if this is your first time entering the iPad realm, this makes the iPad Air 2 a no-brainer, as you’ll want the latest iPad if you’re buying one for the first time.
If Price Is the Most Important Factor…
For most consumers, price is the most important factor, and this isn’t too surprising. In that case, the iPad Air costs $100 less than the iPad Air 2, so the older tablet will naturally be the one to go for if price is the leading factor.
The iPad Air 2 starts at $499, while the iPad Air 2 starts at $399. That’s a $100 difference in price, which may not seem like much when you’re talking about spending a few hundred dollars as a whole, but that’s a big chunk when you think about it.
The iPad Air is arguably the best deal out of the two tablets, considering it still comes with a great processor and a great-looking Retina display for just $399. Its A7 processor is still top notch and the new thinner design over the 4th-generation iPad is still very much relevant.
Buying last-generation products isn’t for everyone, but it’s a terrific way to save money by still getting something that performs really well, even if it’s just a smidgen inferior to the latest tablet.
Is Touch ID or a Gold Color Option Important?
Besides the obvious performance upgrades made to the iPad Air 2, the only other differences between the new tablet and the iPad Air is the Touch ID Home button and a gold color option.
If one or both of these features is huge for you, then the iPad Air 2 might be the tablet to get, but it’s important to stress that if the only reason you want to buy the iPad Air 2 is because of the Touch ID sensor or gold color option, we’re not quite sure if those features are worth an extra $100.
We said the same thing about the comparison between the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2, noting that Touch ID and a gold color option is not worth $100.
So even if you really want Touch ID on an iPad, but that’s all you’re really wanting, it might just best to sacrifice that feature and use that $100 towards something else.