Finally, the moment we’ve been waiting for is here! After plenty of news about services, software, and OS X, Apple’s event has moved into tablet territory. First up, the company is introducing the successor to last year’s already-quite-thin iPad Air, the 6.1-mm-thick iPad Air 2.
Sure enough, that rumored gold color has arrived, finally giving the iPad line the same color selections as Apple’s smartphone lineup.
The new tablet’s screen is now fully laminated, bonding the touch sensor, glass, and LCD panel itself. Paired with an anti-reflection coating, the iPad Air 2’s display should be brighter and more beautiful than ever before.
We also get confirmation of the new A8X SoC, the next generation in the company’s custom silicon. Compared to the first-gen iPad, this new model should see twelve times the processing performance, and a dazzling 180-fold increase in GPU capabilities. Wireless performance also gets a boost, supporting 802.11ac with MIMO.
Using tablet for photography may still be a controversial idea, but that’s not stopping Apple from outfitting the iPad Air 2 with a high-quality shooter, giving the tablet an 8MP sensor with 1.12µm pixels, and a lens setup with an f/2.4 aperture. It picks up some tricks from the iPhone’s bag, like a new slow-mo video mode. The front-facer also sees improvements, now with an f/2.2 aperture and the ability to capture a whole lot more light, for higher-quality shots.
Just as featured in rumors and recent leaks, Touch ID fingerprint scanning is making its iPad debut. While it can be used for Apple Pay authentication, it looks like the Air 2 isn’t getting NFC support for in-store payments, leaving Touch ID to be used for online sales.
For those of you not sure which carrier you might want to go for with the cellular iPad Air 2, Apple’s got a new SIM card that will ship with the tablet, one with the manufacturer’s own branding – and more importantly, it will let you choose from various providers without having to track down a custom SIM for each.
What about pricing? The new iPad Air 2 will start at just about $500 for the 16GB model. Then there’s the 64GB model for $600 and the 128GB for $700 – and these are all the WiFi-only versions. With cellular connectivity, those three price points rise to around $630, $730, and $830, respectively.