iPad Air 2
It's even thinner and lighter than last time around and to a noticeable extent. The screen is better, with more vibrant colours, it's more powerful thanks to its A8X processor and the battery life holds up just as well. It even benefits from Touch ID and Apple Pay and while these features aren't as exciting here as they are on phones they're still nice to have. Performance
The 64-bit A7 processor introduced on the iPhone 5S was altered to provide a power boost to last year’s iPad Air. Called the A7X this chip was similar in performance to the A7 – up 5-10% in our benchmark tests.
This year Apple has gone further and designed a processor specifically for the iPad Air 2. The A8X has a tri-core CPU running at 1.5GHz and a quad-core graphics processing unit coupled, for the first time, to 2GB of RAM.
If we play Specs Top Trumps the iPad Air 2 looks a shadow of top-end Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and its 2.3GHz quad-core processor. Don’t let that fool you, though. The iPad Air 2 is the most powerful tablet we’ve ever tested – and that’s including Nvidia’s Shield Tablet that packs the great new Tegra K1.
And while the processor is key to that performance, Apple has also ensured that iOS 8 can make the most of it. Metal lets developers take full advantage of the quad-core GPU, while the new iOS programming language, Swift, means apps can hook into certain features such as Touch ID.
Some observers have even compared the iPad Air 2's performance to a desktop PC. In some respects they’re right. The A8X processor performs a few tasks faster than PCs just a few years old, but the question is: do you need all that power? If you intend to use your iPad as a productivity device then you’ll appreciate it. Even if you don’t, you may find yourself using it more as a laptop replacement than you anticipated.
During the launch of the Air 2, Apple showed off a video-editing app called Replay that lets you create slick-looking videos with ease. The iPad Air 2 powered through the edits.
There are clear benefits to be had from the extra performance, but let’s see how it stacks up against the competition.
The iPad Air 2 scores an excellent 4,509 on Geekbench 3. To put that in some context, the next fastest tablet we’ve reviewed, the Nvidia Shield, scored 3220 – that’s 40% faster. That also makes the iPad Air 2 almost 70% faster than the iPad Air. That’s some impressive work in just a year.
And the wins keep coming with a 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited score of 21,797. That’s 33% higher than the Shield and almost 50% better than the first-generation iPad Air.
The iPad Air 2 is astonishingly fast – so fast, in fact, that you might not know what to do with all that power. Not that we’re complaining, of course. The extra grunt means that this is a tablet you can use for more than just checking out the latest memes and Facebook. It future-proofs the Air 2 to some degree.
There’s also been an upgrade to the co-processor, now called the M8. This handles all the sensor data from the iPad Air 2, such as the accelerometer and the new barometer. The reason that Apple favours a co-processor is that it uses much less power than the main processor, helping the battery to last longer.
In short the iPad Air 2 really is the complete package and while you can always find things to niggle about there are no significant flaws. In the time since the original iPad Air launched everything else is still struggling to match it and yet Apple has managed to raise the benchmark higher still. Everyone else really has their work cut out if the iPad Air 2 is going to be unseated from the number one spot. The new iPad Air gets an improved A8X processor, better rear and front-facing cameras, an even thinner and lighter design, an anti-reflective screen, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and more built-in storage at higher configurations than last year. But The Air 2 isn't a big change from last year's iPad in terms of overall function; battery life remains the same, although its battery life is already pretty good. Audio playback via speakers makes the thin metal body resonate more than before. The Bottom Line The iPad Air 2 is a nice refinement and finesse of last year's model, with a bevy of tweaks, enhancements, a much faster processor, and the welcome addition of Touch ID. Simply put: it's still the gold standard for tablets.
Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 8.1 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Triple-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 7340mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP $349.95 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S
Samsung has been pouring a lot of effort into making a really decent iPad rival, and that strategy has seen some hare-brained decisions (such as launching the Tab Pro in January 2014, and then replacing it a few months later with the Galaxy Tab S).
But, apart from annoying anyone that's already bought into the Tab Pro range, this strategy has finally yielded a brilliant tablet in the shape of this Super AMOLED-shod Tab S duo. Available in both 8.4- and 10.5-inch screen sizes, Samsung has taken the best of its OS and technology ability, fused them with the best display on a tablet and created something pretty special. Performance
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is, generally speaking, very smooth and slick. The kinks and jerkiness we detected in the Tab Pro 8.4 are mostly absent, though the Tab S 8.4 doesn’t zip along quite as smoothly as the Snapdragon powered Galaxy S5.
The processor behind this is Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa (5420), which is in eight core chip with four ARM Cortex A15 CPUs clocked at 1.9GHz, and four lower-power ARM A7 cores at 1.3GHz. It’s right up there with the most powerful processors on any Android phone or tablet, scoring 904 in Geekbench’s single-core test, and 2,669 in the multi-core. Even accounting for Samsung’s reputation to boosting benchmarks with high performance modes, it’s clear this is a very powerful device — it’s only slightly slower than Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and OnePlus One.
It’s a slightly less impressive performer in the graphics department, though it’s still more than powerful enough to run even demanding games smoothly. It scored 13,518 in the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited test, whereas the latest phones are getting close to 20,000 these days. It’s only a few thousand points less than the iPad mini 2, though, and you’re unlikely to find any games that won’t work on it. As with most phones and tablets at present, the Tab S has more processing power than it really needs.
The battery life is great, the screen has to be seen to be believed (and is excellent for media and internet viewing, which is really the point of a tablet) and the price is on a par with the rest of the industry. Well done, Samsung.
$349.99 VS Apple iPad Air The Air is a tangible upgrade over the previous, fourth-generation iPad, no longer in production and so banished to the annals of history. The new iPad slots right in where its predecessor left off, priced at $499 for a lowly 16GB, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB, and $799 for the maximum 128GB configuration. The iPad Air delivers more performance and comparable battery life in an attractive and impossibly thin-and-light package. An improved front-facing camera makes FaceTiming look better, and the Retina Display still looks great.
But, The Touch ID fingerprint scanner, introduced on the iPhone 5S, is sadly absent here, meaning you’ll still have to type in a passcode with every unlock and a password with every purchase. Starting at $499 for 16GB, it’s still expensive compared with the competition. Performance: The iPad Air shares the same processor with Apple’s flagship phone, albeit with a slight bump in clock speed. While the 5S runs at 1.3GHz the Air runs at 1.39GHz. It can achieve this because of the increased space and improved heat dissipation of the Air compared to the much smaller iPhone 5S.
Indeed, before we go into the detail about performance it’s worth noting that the iPad Air manages to keep its cool with consummate ease. Even when running intensive 3D games and apps for hours it barely breaks a sweat and, therefore, neither do your hands.
In practice, the iPad Air is blisteringly fast. Apps open instantly and games like Infinity Blade 3 look sumptuous and run smoothly. The benefits of having a SoC means that the GPU can be used to tackle compute tasks, which makes video editing and compute intensive apps, like AutoCAD, show no hint of slowdown.
The iPad Air performs 59% faster than the iPad 4 in the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited CPU and GPU test and 91% faster in Geekbench 3 tests. The Peacekeeper browser test, which assesses web browsing performance, shows that the Air trounces its predecessor by being more than twice as fast. It's also faster than the stonking Snapdragon 800 processor on the likes of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and Google Nexus 5. We're talking matter of degrees here, but the difference is there all the same.
Battery life: Battery life on the iPad Air is quoted at "Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music". We would say that's actually not a bad estimate, although the drain was closer to 2% every 10 minutes in general use, which equates to around nine hours' use.
Standby time is much, much better though. We found that we could stick the iPad Air in a bag, taking it out for the commute and messing about with on the sofa at home, for at least three days before it began to get low on battery.
In fact, the only real task that killed it was connecting to our amplifier via Wi-Fi while simultaneously streaming music to the same device through Bluetooth. It's doing things like this that make you realise that this is the kind of thing that we envisaged at the turn of the century, a tablet that has the brains and connectivity to do all the tasks we could want.In terms of connectivity, we've already mentioned the excellent Wi-Fi performance (in terms of distance from router, rather than improved speed) through the Multiple In, Multiple Out (MIMO) technology.
4G bands are now covered throughout the globe, and low power Bluetooth is also on board as well, making it an incredibly well-connected device.
The bottom line: Functionally, the iPad Air is nearly identical to last year’s model, offering only faster performance and better video chatting. But factor in design and aesthetics, and the iPad Air is on another planet. It’s the best full-size consumer tablet on the market. Specifications
Display type9.7 in
Dimensions (WxDxH)6.6 in x 0.29 in x 9.4 in
Weight1 lbs Price:$479.00