The Blog

New iPads! (A Buyers Guide)

As expected, on October 16th, Apple announced the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. So, what makes them different from last year’s models, and more importantly, if you’re looking for a tablet, should you get one of the cutting edge new ones or just get an older model at a cheaper price? Read on and all your questions should be answered. Or just skip to the TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read) section at the end if you’re chomping at the bit for answers.

iPad Air 2

Last year’s iPad Air was quite a jump as far as the iPad was concerned. The 64 bit A7 processor it was given was a great boon and definitely a turning point as far as the processing power of the iPad was concerned. Probably the most noticeable upgrade though was the fact that the weight was lowered to an incredibly light 1 pound.

So the iPad Air 2. What’s the deal? Well, the ad they used to introduce it at the Apple conference put its reduced thickness in the limelight. And yes, they did reduce the weight too! By a startling 0.04 pounds! *Audience gasps*. And many will be wooed by Apple’s addition of the highly requested Touch ID button, which is awesome. It’s especially great for those who use 1Password thanks to iOS 8’s new third party extensions.

So is the Air 2 just a thinner Air with Touch ID? Many claim that it is. But the A8X processor that Apple gave it is pretty big (not physically, figuratively) if you ask me. It delivers 40% more processing power than the A7, and that’s not even taking into account the “X” part of its name, which represents the improved graphics performance, which clocks in at 2.5x that of the A7. So what does this mean in practical terms? Well it’s awesome if for no other reason than it allowed the Pixelmator team to unveil an iOS counterpart to the popular Mac graphics app (which you can read about in my Pixelmator blog post). And let me tell you, Pixelmator on iPad isn’t just a little “draw a heart and write your name” image editor. It’s impressive. And the A8X plays a pretty big part in the graphics capabilities it’s bringing to a tablet.

So is it worth getting an Air 2 over an Air? Well, the Air dropped in price by quite a bit, and it’s still an impressive machine so it’s still quite a good option. But if you went for the Air 2, you would be getting pretty significant upgrades for your money. Either way, you can’t really go wrong.

iPad Mini 3

Ten inch (9.7 inch) screen too big for you? Well, Apple did release a new iPad mini last week. But if you’re looking for major improvements over last year’s model, well, there’s not many. Basically they took the iPad Mini 2, gave it Touch ID and added a gold version. The processor is still the same A7 from the iPad Air and the Mini 2. Does that mean the Mini 3 is junk? Not really. The A7 is still a very fast chip and the Mini 2 was an impressive machine in the first place. But basically, you have to either really like gold, or really want Touch ID to spend the extra bucks to get the Mini 3 over the 2. Not that Touch ID may not be worth it, just know what you’re getting.


iPad air 2 upgrades

  • 18% (0.6mm) thinner
  • 0.04 pounds lighter (who cares)
  • 40% faster processor
  • 2.5x faster graphics


iPad Mini 3 upgrades

  • Gold version
  • Touch ID
  • It’s called iPad Mini 3 instead of iPad Mini 2