back to article iPad Air 2: Vulture chews on new Apple tablet

This year’s update to Apple’s full-size iPad looks like a minor one. With headline changes like a Touch ID sensor, a faster processor, and a further reduction in thickness and weight, it is tempting to write off the mods as a little window dressing to raise the iPad’s profile in time for the winter sales fest. Apple iPad Air 2 …

  1. Jedit

    Brighter screen, smaller battery?

    Feels like a backstep to me. Why save 21 grams on the device when you can put in a bigger battery and save 100 grams on the charger?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brighter screen, smaller battery?

      The iPads seem to get more fragile looking. The original iPad was a good solid device, when the contractors replaced the gas main in my road they visited each home and recorded some test details using an iPad. I doubt the current one would last a day.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brighter screen, smaller battery?

        I have got one of these to replace an iPad 3.

        The former feels considerably more solid, it is true, but since the Air 2 is so much lighter it feels like it doesn't need to be as solid. It feels like I am less likely to drop it, and if I do it won't fall as hard, so not really fragile.

        I for one was quite happy with the battery life it has maintained from previous models, and really appreciate the reduced weight.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brighter screen, smaller battery?

        The iPads seem to get more fragile looking.

        There is a video of a German man on YouTube bending the new one. It bends completely screen shatters, but he still manages to operate it... Not too shabby for something fragile

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Brighter screen, smaller battery?

          >The iPads seem to get more fragile looking. The original iPad was a good solid device, when the contractors replaced the gas main in my road they visited each home and recorded some test details using an iPad. I doubt the current one would last a day.

          Well, people who use the iPads in rougher environments have a range of cases to choose from- including some pretty rugged 3rd party designs. People who rarely remove their iPads from a plushly carpeted lounge may choose to keep their iPads unprotected.

          It's up to the user.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: Brighter screen, smaller battery?

      Bigger battery = bigger charger or longer charge time.

      The charger is already at the limit of what USB is designed to deliver (2.4 amps @ 5V), so longer charge time. The iPad Air already takes the thick end of 4 hours to charge off of this higher power unit. Most PCs don't deliver the power to charge them in under 8 hours.

      Bigger batteries aren't always the best solution.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brighter screen, smaller battery?

      "Why save 21 grams on the device when you can put in a bigger battery and save 100 grams on the charger?"

      Maybe because the iPad charger doesn't even weigh a full 100g? I haven't actually weighed mine but it's about two matchboxes in size and really quite light. Fits in a jeans pocket if necessary.

    4. tirk

      Re: Brighter screen, smaller battery?

      With caveat that everyone uses a device in a different way, I'd guess the majority of people use tablets primarily at home and not on the move, compared to phones. So battery life is more of an issue on a phone than a tablet, as the charger is more likely to be handy is the tablet runs out of juice.

    5. bobdylan

      A few Mac thoughts

      I agree, the original ipad was and still is the perfect tablet size / weight ration. Imagine how much more stuff they could have added to that shell instead of needlessly following the crowd by reducing the dimensions. It always amazes me this need to make stuff smaller or faster at the expense of progress or efficiency.

      Think of cars - if they had put a cap on power 10 years ago and said enough is enough, cars would be many more times efficient... for example, a new BMW 520d with the same speed as a 10 year model (ample for most) would be able to reduce emmisions by even more than they have managed.

      I don't want an Imac that's thin on the sides, I never see behind the thing, and it looks the same dead on when I'm working at it.

      Iphone 6plus could be a mill thicker and have twice the battery life. I have one, it's great and the battery life is very good but it could be bigger, thicker etc

      Mac wireless keyboard doesn't need the number pad removed - it's on a desktop so it doesn't need to be small, but it feels like a toy to the professional, especially when working on a £3000 27" imac.

      So Cookjob couldn't get the parts for the Ipod Classic? What's wrong with an SSD? Apple could buy a 120gb for a few dollars...

      I have a nice watch, why would I throw it away to wear that? If I didn't have a watch (which I assume many new gen haven't) then perhaps... but everyone I've spoken to already have watches. One rumour was that Tag were making a version, that it would cost £1000 plus. Now that might be aspirational.

      M-Audio iControl - now there's a thing! Didn't work with Logic 8 - just Garageband. Now it works fully with Logic X on Yosemite - brilliant!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sick of this stupid obsession with thinness.

    Give me more battery life any day.

    1. Mike Bell

      The vast majority of iPad users don't run out of juice within 9 hours (longer than a normal working day). For them, the inconvenience of additional weight and longer charging time would not be welcome. For me, that definitely would not be welcome.

      The iPad is designed to be held and moved around. So light is good. Light is very good.

  3. phuzz Silver badge

    Right, so my mum wants one of these for christmas. She doesn't keep a lot of music or films etc. so she was hoping to get away with the 16GB version.

    How much of that 16GB is taken up with the OS out of the box?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You have 12GB available.

    2. ColonelClaw

      I'm not 100% sure, but last christmas I bought my 72 year old dad a 16gb Air, and since then he's barely added 2GB of files to it (mostly applications), so it's been absolutely fine. He uses it constantly, primarily to browse the web/read email/listen to the radio etc. I did ask him before I got it if he wanted to put music and films on it, but he has no interest in that.

      Personally my iPad is permanently on 63.9 out of 64GB used, but I'm a massive geek and he isn't.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


      Are there any grandchildren?

      I've just had a look at the memory on my (rather full) 64GB version. I've got some chunky games on there, taking up around 1GB each. I was just looking at the 3.5GB that Baldur's Gate wants the other day! But my guess was correct. The Lego Star Wars and Lego City game are 1GB each. And another 500MB for the CBeebies app. So a few grandchildren playing with it might easily knock out 1-5 GB.

      In which case, don't forget the photos. Still a couple of gig of photos and another couple of games, still doesn't get anywhere close to 12. I've got 22GB of music on mine, which is the biggest memory hog.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        16GB would be fine in the scenario described, but as mentioned it can fill up quite easily if you install games or videos

        1. NogginTheNog

          16 or 64 gig

          Of course the crucial point is that you have to make these estimates up front, as there's NO WAY to increase the amount of onboard storage afterwards. Major PITA!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      iOS8 is quite big, so this is a good question

      from what I can gather from users, including the fact that some people report capacity = 114GB, available space =110GB (seems that the OS reserves some future update space, as there were problems/complaints to the mothership this time due to freeing the update space, or it could just be the old 1MB = 1024KB)


      iPhone 5c 8GB + iOS8 = 4.2GB available space

      iPad Air2 16GB + iOS8 = 12.2GB available space

      iPad Air2 64GB + iOS8 = 55.6GB available space

      iPad Air2 128GB + iOS8 = 110GB available space

      according to this some of the Apple apps aren't automatically installed on a 16GB device, e.g. you have to choose to install the free Pages (265MB), Numbers, Garageband (594MB) etc so that gives some freedom for the smaller devices.

      I have both an iPad1 32GB and an iPad2 with 16GB, I do often have to dock & swap-out games for kids on the 16GB device - using the still awful iTunes - but it is do-able, I have managed to live like this for a couple of years. For my mum, once the suitable App eco-system was set-up, she does live within 16GB.

      Apps vary in size from: The SIMS is 593MB, The Elements 1.53GB, Broken Sword 595MB, Plants vs Zombies HD 147MB, Facebook 67MB, Mahjong 43MB, BBC iPlayer 33MB, Kindle 39MB, Tune-in Radio Pro 22MB, SkyNews 17MB...

    5. steamrunner

      My parents have just got a 16GB one and, if I recall correctly, with just a tiny number of extra apps installed, it was showing about 13.4GB free space.

  4. Semtex451

    From here

    I can see an increasing contrast ratio between Richard and his fellow Reg Hacks

    Amazeballs or something.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But does it bend?

    Missing test?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But does it bend?

      Pretty sure that if you applied the up to 150 pounds of pressure those tests were applying EVERY tablet made will bend and/or snap.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fillip glass

    Three paragraphs later my mind applies the brakes, and says "You've just been e-mailing your classical musician sister-in-law. Something resonates. Back up, back up ... Yup. Very good."

    How many of these throw-away references do I miss?!


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fillip glass

      Two. You miss two references in every article you read, and there's no way of knowing what they were either. The whole human race has this trouble too. We all miss two references in everything we see or hear. I've just missed two references in this and I wrote it! So two. Remember that. There might be a quiz later.

    2. davemcwish

      Re: Fillip glass

      There's also the branded meal replacement product

  7. Hellcat

    Battery life without the BS?

    I've had a quick re-read but still seem to be missing how that reduction in battery size impacts the usable life. Does the new CPU, plus advances generally in power efficiency mean it's not required, or do you get less fondling between trips to the wall wart?

    It's one thing to give us lots of benchmarking scores, but to miss off the typical charging cycle times is criminal!

    1. DaveMcM

      Re: Battery life without the BS?

      I've had mine a week or so now and haven't noticed any reduction in usable battery life compared to the iPad 3 it replaced - if anything I've actually been using the Air 2 slightly more that the 3 as it is so much lighter and easier to carry around with me.

      It wasn't mentioned in the article (or if it was I missed it) but pricing wise there have been reductions above the 16Gb base model as the 32Gb is no longer an option so the 64Gb is now at the old 32Gb price and the 128Gb is at the old 64Gb price.

    2. Richard Brenner

      Re: Battery life without the BS?

      We don't know the TDP of this new A8X ARM processor versus the old A7, but the downscale in process size to 20nm from 28nm is probably the main reason why the new Air 2 sips less power. And thereby gets away with the smaller battery without sacrificing anything significant in battery life.

      As to charging times I didn't measure this but would guess it's around 3 hours now, a bit less than the original iPad Air which as someone else commented is in the region of 4 hours from a flat battery.

      To be honest, unless you're going to play games on it solidly you will get days of life between charges, even a week or more. So by the measure of the ratio of runtime:charge time, it's pretty damn good!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Balanced review of an Apple product !

    What a nice change to see this on The Register.

    I agree with some other commentators - considering the smaller battery, what is the actual battery life under normal use (browsing, facebook app, a bit of gaming) ? Also, assuming no photos or video will be captured, is the 16GB model vialble as a PC replacement for say a distant relative with no PC skills ?

    1. Mike Bell

      Re: Balanced review of an Apple product !

      I've had mine about a week, and its battery life is very similar to that of previous iPads. i.e. pretty good.

      I have never, under any circumstances, seen my iPad's battery reserves drift below 30%, and that's been after a lot of use, without charging up the night before.

      Unless you are insanely joined to your iPad for 9 hours or more in the day, battery life is not an issue.

      Assuming no photos or video or music, 16GB is probably quite adequate for general use. As a tool for communication with a distant relative, plenty enough.

  9. JDX Gold badge

    Specs - blimey

    Considering how big a jump the Air was from the 4 (and the 4 from the 3 and the 3 from the 2) it's pretty impressive to get such a performance jump at roughly the same power usage.

    It's pretty mind-blowing how powerful a modern tablet is; these newest ones must surely have reached the point of being comparable with a low-mid-range desktop, or at least a PC a few years old. The sheer grunt of CPU/GPU means they really can do pretty serious stuff.

    1. Hellcat

      Re: Specs - blimey

      That's part and parcel of the hardware industry. compare power usage for the latest x64 CPUs and they're massively more efficient.

      But are they limited by their OS?

      If you compare this one with the oldest that will still run iOS8, what can this one do that the older ones cannot? I understand it will probably open apps a bit faster, and framerate in games etc is better, but is it limted to just doing things a bit quicker?

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Specs - blimey

        What can an i7 CPU that a 486 cannot? I can write code that will compile equally well for either.

        While I agree that for the majority of apps and the OS itself, this makes no real difference:

        1)If a game would previously run at 10fps and now at 20fps, that means before it was unusable and now it is fast enough to be fun. So whole new types of effects and so on can be used which simply weren't possible before.

        2)Similarly, increasing the speed increases the range of applications you can run on the device which require real-time perfromance and cannot be allowed to skip. Games are one obvious example but similarly real-time audio/video applications such as guitar effects modellers, etc

        71% isn't "a bit faster" either.

      2. steamrunner

        Re: Specs - blimey

        There are some specifics. For those of us with iPad 3's, there's no support for Airdrop or the Continuity features. Otherwise, yes, it's just a bit slower (and heavier!)...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see another patent trial...

    The Samsung Tab S already has its fingerprint reader in the Home button. Lawyers must be crying Revenge!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I see another patent trial...

      Considering the Tab S came out a year after the iPhone 5S, probably not...

      Besides, that one requires swiping your finger over, rather than simply touching the button like the iPhone/iPad, so they don't even operate the same way and would be covered by different patents (since "fingerprint reader in a tablet/phone" is not something you can patent, only the particular method with which it was implemented)

  11. phil dude

    some strange questions...

    1) does anyone know if someone has ported android to this? Just curious as to how optimized apples software is to their platform...

    2) Does anyone know its LINPACK rating?


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yay - death to glossy

    I haven't got an iPad but this gave me hope:

    "There’s an extra anti-reflective coating on the surface now which goes a long way to answering the age-old criticism of all and every glass screen – the glare from reflected ambient light."

    Maybe our laptop screens will get some antireflective love now.

  13. Wibble

    Upgraded from iPad v1

    The iPad 1 has been left behind on iOS 5, so the move to iOS 8 is interesting; seems like lots of bling and things flying all over the place, thankfully this can be turned down in the Accessibility options (reduce motion). I'm not sure it really is any better than iOS 5; the application switcher is a lot slower and more intrusive.

    I don't have a SIM yet; need to get to a shop (yeah, I could order one over the intarwebs, but if you don't use the shops, you'll loose the shops...). The damn thing keeps prompting me to set up a "Cellular data plan", which is just annoying and it seems you can't turn it off.

    Without the case it's too slippery to hold. Wasn't impressed with Apple who shipped the case & iPad separately a couple of days later. The iPad leather case doesn't fold particularly well as there's only 2 folds and it slips flat if you nudge it (the iPad 1 case is much more effective).

    All in all, it's a much faster and less crashy than the iPad 1, but pretty much does the same thing -- and still crashes when browsing. It's a little lighter (600gms over 880gms), but so what. The screen's a bit better being retina, but the screen on the iPad 1 was very good. To be honest, the iPad 5 (aka Air 2) is an incremental upgrade.

    Disappointed that it still crashes, also I'm not overly enamoured with iOS 8 - seems like they've replaced skuomorphism with irritating popups.

    The 'killer feature' and main reason for the upgrade is the Touch ID which means I can use a much stronger password.

    7 / 10

  14. TWB


    For quoting battery capacities in watt-hours.

  15. Gareth Perch

    Time to upgrade

    I currently have an iPad 2 16GB, which I managed to persuade work to buy for each of my team when it first came out (and which I bought from them for £80, when I left a couple of months ago), so it doesn't owe me anything.

    I'm running a fresh (not restored from backup) install of iOS 7, which keeps me waiting occasionally, particularly on my chosen database app (MyStuff2). It now takes 5 to 7 seconds just to update a field in a record from a drop down lookup list, which means 15 to 30 seconds per record (for comparison, every update is of course instantaneous in Excel on a laptop). Swiping between MyStuff2 and Safari often results in MyStuff2 reloading entirely from scratch (another 10 seconds, then you have to find where you'd left off). I assume this is due to memory constraints - I often get the same issue when switching between tabs on Safari (incredibly annoying if you're filling in a form or posting on a forum and want to reference data from another tab). Safari also sometimes crashes when there's too much going on on one tab.

    It's finally time for an upgrade, with a faster processor and more memory. "Disk" space hasn't really been an issue so far - I've still got 2GB+ left after all this time and I don't use it for music, as I use my iPhone 4 (a freebie replacement for my old iPhone 3G) for that. The only video I use is for offline viewing with Plex, which doesn't happen very often (planes and trains) and doesn't take up much space for a few TV show episodes. I know that 16GB won't be enough on a retina display, so I'll be going with iPad Air 32GB (Black Friday or refurb from Apple) or Air 2 64GB on Black Friday if I can wait. I'm also looking at getting a refurb (if Apple ever get more stock - other shops don't seem to realise / care that their refurb prices are now the brand new price from Apple) 16GB iPad Mini 2 for my mum (since the Mini 3 isn't an upgrade to the Mini 2, unless you want Touch ID).

    I gave away my old iPhone 3G to my friend's 7 year old daughter. The battery still lasts ages with no SIM / wifi only and they save it as a special treat for long car journeys. I expect I'll do the same with the iPad 2 (at some point between her recent 8th birthday and Christmas), as she's wanted one ever since she saw mine (even though I'd just given her a laptop!)

    The battery life, (which still qualifies as "remarkable" on my iPad 2, down slightly from my original assessment of "magical" when I first got it) portability and touch display are probably the reason most people seem to prefer a tablet these days, since the iPad came out - and got it right. I haven't been blown away by Apple's incremental upgrades, but Android never really felt right for me, so I'm sticking with Apple for now. Conversely, Apple's OSX doesn't float my boat (the hardware's nice though - and equivalent spec / quality PC's aren't really any cheaper - so I build my own) so I'll be sticking with Windows 8.1 on my PCs, then I guess Windows 10 (apparently 7 ate 9?)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we expect to see some minor tweaks during next few weeks? What do you think?

    There are several post around internet and youtube/vimeo, which shows a design fault that causes a screen distortion when keeping on a right hand. The back cover push internal parts against the lcd module and an increasing pressure is affecting the screen and causing distortions spots.

    For example about distortions:








    and so on..

    A sound vibration is another thing that can be very annoying....

    Can we expect to see some fix? Or do i wait for Air 3? Im not going to spend money for a prototype... Air1 was terrible, not going to buy a tablet that has several design faults!

  17. smithwilliams

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