The iPad Air and iPad mini 2 are a tough act to follow, but Apple is back nonetheless with two new tablets for 2014. Let's break down the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, to see how their features and specs compare.
The iPad Air is a ridiculously thin tablet. At 6.1 mm (0.24-in), it's 19 percent thinner than the iPad mini 3.
Otherwise the two size up exactly as they did last year. That means the iPad Air 2 is 20 percent taller and 26 percent wider.
The new iPad Air also shaved some grams/ounces off of its weight. Despite being much bigger, it's only 32 percent heavier than the iPad mini 3.
No big design changes, as both tablets have very familiar-looking aluminum unibody shells.
This is the first batch of iPads that you can buy in gold.
No changes from last year here, as the iPad Air 2 still gives you 51 percent more screen than its baby bro does.
Apple is standing pat with resolution this year too. Both tablets have 2,048 x 1,536 Retina Displays.
This could be a big upgrade for the iPad Air 2, as Apple says that its anti-reflective coating can cut down on glare by 56 percent.
Apart from the new gold color option, the Touch ID sensor appears to be the only difference between the iPad mini 3 and 2013's iPad mini 2 (formerly known as the "iPad mini with Retina Display").
We're looking at the same three storage options on both iPads. They follow the iPhones 6 and 6 Plus in jumping straight to 64 GB in the second storage tier (that's US$100 cheaper for 64 GB than last year's iPads gave you).
Apple says that the iPad Air 2's A8X chip is 40 percent faster – with a 250 percent faster GPU – compared to the A7.
Apple didn't announce the clock speed of the iPad mini 3's A7 chip, but we think it's a pretty safe assumption that it's clocked at the same 1.3 GHz as the iPad mini 2.
The iPad Air 2 is the first iPad with 2 GB of RAM. At least in theory, this should have backgrounded apps and browser tabs needing to reload less often when you return to them.
Apple is estimating the same 10 hours of web use for both new iPads.
With an 8 MP sensor, the iPad Air 2's rear camera is moving closer to what you'd see in the iPhone (at least on paper).
Next week Apple will roll out Apple Pay, its Touch ID-based payment service. The new iPads will both play nicely with the online portion of Apple Pay, but not the physical version. This is because a) the iPads don't have the necessary NFC chips and b) few people lug iPads around with them while they're shopping.
Both iPads launch with iOS 8.1, which is set to roll out to all recent iOS devices next week. In addition to all the iOS 8 updates, 8.1 brings back the Camera Roll, and enables Apple Pay and Continuity (for better synchronization among Apple devices).
The new iPads go up for pre-order on October 17, and launch next week.
The new iPads sit at the same price points that we saw with the pair of iPads that they're replacing: $500 for the Air 2 and $400 for the Mini 3.
This is, however, the first year that I would recommend taking a long, hard look at the discounted models from last year. With the iPad Air 1 dropping to $400 and the iPad mini 2 dipping down to $300, that's two great tablets for $100 cheaper than they were a week ago. The Mini 2 is especially worth a look: apart from the lack of Touch ID, it's identical to the iPad mini 3.
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