Apple has just dropped the iPad Air line and replaced it with the “iPad” line, alongside a new iOS video app, Clips, which allows you to film and edit video clips.
Here, I’ll concentrate on the new iPad and compare it to the now discontinued iPad Air 2 – still available from third-party retailers Argos, John Lewis and Currys. From looking at the new iPad’s specs and new features, early signs suggest the iPad Air 2 actually offers the best value for money.
READ NEXT: Apple iPad Air 2 review
iPad vs iPad Air 2: Price and models
The iPad Air 2 is now discontinued, but you can still find it refurbished on Apple’s website from £299 for the Wi-Fi 16GB model, up to the Wi-Fi and 4G 128GB for £499. You’ll also be able to find leftover stock of the iPad Air 2 through third-party retailers, such as eBay, Argos, John Lewis and Currys among others.
The new iPad (2017), is available on order through Apple’s website for £339 for the Wi-Fi-only 32GB model, going up to £559 for the Wi-Fi and 4G 128GB model. The new iPad is only available in two storage sizes, 32 and 128GB – Apple has axed the 16 and 64GB iPad models.
At a price of £339-559 from Apple, the new iPad’s prices are actually cheaper than the iPad Air 2 was previously. Prior to the release of the new iPad, the Air 2 was priced at £379 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and £589 for the Wi-Fi and 4G 128GB model. In fact, with an additional 16GB of internal storage, tallying up to 32GB, the new entry-level model is significantly cheaper.
The new iPad will be available for order through Apple, from 24 March 2017 at 15:01 London time.
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iPad vs iPad Air 2: Design and build quality
The design and build quality of the two iPads is virtually identical. Both iPads can be found in Silver, Gold and Space Grey colours. They have the same 9.7in display size, metal design, Touch ID, button placement, cameras and ports. The iPad’s aesthetics haven’t changed and won’t be distinguishable until you’ve switched on the tablet.
^Pictured: iPad Air 2
The new iPad is a little thicker at 7.5mm, versus the Air 2’s 6.1mm, although this is barely noticeable. At 469g for the Wi-Fi model and 478g for the cellular version, the new iPad is also heavier than the Air 2, at 437g and 444g respectively. Both iPads have the same 240 x 169.5mm height and width.
We’re not sure why it’s thicker, as Apple still quotes the same battery life on the new iPad, which suggests we’ll find the same 27.62Wh battery in the new version. Before jumping to conclusions, we’ll wait for iFixit to teardown the new iPad – click here to see iFixit’s teardown of the Air 2.
Both the iPads have two speakers. Unlike the iPad Pro’s four-speaker design, the new iPad retains the same audio fidelity as the Air 2.
iPad vs iPad Air 2: Display
Winner: iPad Air 2
Both the iPad Air 2 and new iPad share the same 9.7in Retina display. This means both have a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution with a 264ppi pixel density.
However, the iPad Air 2 one ups the new iPad by incorporating a fully laminated display and anti-reflective coating. These features are essential if you want to look at your iPad in sunlit conditions, and I’m not sure why Apple would remove this from its latest iPad, but rumours suggest it might be linked with repairability.
Apart from the discontinued Air 2, the iPad Pro models and iPad mini 4 still have the coating.
^iPad Air 2 display
iPad vs iPad Air 2: Gaming performance and processor
Winner: The new iPad
This is the only category where the new iPad proves to be ahead by a margin over the iPad Air 2. While the Air 2 has the A8X processor and M8 motion coprocessor, the new iPad has the improved A9 chip and M9 motion coprocessor.
The later chip will give you a healthy boost in frames per second in games, and be more capable with intensive computing tasks. However, if you’re not an intensive gamer, you’ll not notice the difference between the two iPads, where both will be fluid and snappy to use.
READ NEXT: iPad Pro 12.9in review
iPad vs iPad Air 2: Camera
The iPads share the same camera, where both the new iPad and Air 2 have a rear-facing 8-megapixel f/2.4 aperture shooter and a front-facing 1.2-megapixel f/2.2 aperture FaceTime HD camera.
^Pictured: The iPad Air 2’s front camera
iPad vs iPad Air 2: iOS
Winner: The new iPad
Both iPads run on iOS 10, but as with every Apple device, the older the product, the quicker it will stop receiving support.
It will be some time until the iPad Air 2 stops receiving the latest iOS updates, but it’s worth remembering that the new iPad will be able to support the latest iOS for a year longer.
READ NEXT: Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro review – the best tablet ever, at a price
iPad vs iPad Air 2: Is it worth upgrading?
If you already own an iPad Air 2, there’s no point in upgrading to the new iPad. Apple hasn’t really pulled out all the stops with this release, but have upgraded the processor and lowered the entry price of a 9.7in iPad.
If you don’t own an iPad and you’re looking to buy a new one, you’ll have to determine what you’re looking for:
-Pick the iPad Air 2 if you’re on a tight budget or want to reduce the cost of purchase. You can purchase a refurbished one on Apple’s website, or an unused one from a third-party website such as eBay.
-Pick the iPad Air 2 if you’ll be using the tablet in bright sunlit conditions. Its fully laminated display and anti-reflective coating will make its Retina display easier to see.
-Pick the new iPad if you’re a hardcore gamer and want the snappiest experience. The A9 and M9 motion coprocessor will provide a more fluid experience.
^iPad Air 2
There’s no clear winner, but if I were personally buying a new iPad today, I’d lean towards a like-new or refurbished iPad Air 2 64GB Wi-Fi and 4G model, which will set me back £379.
If I were to buy the new iPad 32GB Wi-Fi and 4G model, it would set me back £469. The extra £90 gives me a better processor chip and a shiny new device. However, the new iPad has less storage space and no anti-reflective display – all of which combine to make the Air 2, to me, the better buy.
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