It's a little thinner. It's a little lighter. It's a whole lot faster. All of this makes the iPad Air 2 both more of the same and better than ever.
The form-factor didn't change since last year's redesign, but even though the iPad Air 2 is slimmer than its predecessor, Apple didn't sacrifice battery life. The company claims up to 10 hours using Wi-Fi, and in three battery rundown tests I averaged 10 hours and 14 minutes of continuously watching a 720p video.
The camera is good enough that you might actually use it. Oh, and Touch ID gives it parity with the iPhone lineup, as well as enabling online-only Apple Pay — at least for now. (Don't forget, iFixit found an NFC chip tucked inside. Apple wouldn't put one in for nothing, right?)
It's a looker
The new gold color is lovely. But I wish you could choose the color of the front bezel, because the bezel on the gold iPad is white. I've used a couple of silver iPads with while bezels, and I just think videos and photos pop better when framed with black — especially letterboxed video, since those bars are black. But the Touch ID button looks splendid in gold, it must be said.
I do miss the switch, which you could previously designate to lock the rotation or mute the iPad's sound. Now you need to swipe up to engage the rotation lock in Control Center, and mute the volume either with the slider in that same Control Center, or by holding down the volume-down button.
Apple did shave 20 percent off the thickness of the iPad Air 2 compared to the last version. It's just 6.1mm thick. It feels more like a thin magazine than a tablet. At 0.96 pound for the Wi-Fi version, the weight isn't dramatically lighter than the previous iPad Air, which weighs an even 1 pound, but if you're transitioning from a larger iPad (the 4th generation and earlier), you'll definitely notice how much lighter this is.
Its weight seemed to disappear in my handbag, only slightly heavier than an iPad mini (0.73 pound). I held it with one hand for long reading sessions (turning pages with my other hand) without getting tired.
The other most noticeable difference is the antireflective coating on the screen. It's much easier to see in bright sunlight than ever. I brought it to an outdoor concert on a completely cloudless day, and my son happily played Toca Boca apps all day with the brightness all the way up. I'd still love a couple more notches of brightness for the sunniest conditions, but you can really see what's on screen, and that's a big improvement.
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