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iPad Air 2 (apple.com)
135 points by abhshkdz on Oct 16, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 111 comments

I'm surprised nobody is talking about the Apple SIM which personally I feel is one of the most incredible features they've shipped this year: no more SIM cards, just pick the carrier you want in the Settings app and you're signed up. Fed up with them? Switch carrier in an instant. Going abroad? Switch to a local carrier. Just wow. I really hope they bring this to iPhone.

http://www.apple.com/uk/ipad-air-2/wireless/ (near the bottom, search for "Apple SIM")

With a regular SIM, I can put any SIM from any carrier, and they don't have to be blessed by Apple.

I'm not going to let go this freedom, thank you. I'd rather have a physical operation to do than give even more control to Apple.

There are greater freedoms to protect and care for. :) What's happening here is not a company taking freedom from you. It's that old balance of convenience for the many, or customization for the few who care. For most people, this will mean an increased convenience, more competition, better pricing, easier signup. That's an obvious win, in my book, and clearly a positive innovation for Apple to focus on.

At first I was excited by this feature, but you're right.

Knowing Apple, they are most likely doing this so they can get rid of the SIM slot in future devices. Of course they will tout the slim device and large battery, but it is really all about control.

You could just take out the Apple SIM.

Well you get the best of both worlds. For majority of users, they will just use what ever network that has signed up to be used with Apple Sim.

For those who really want the freedom of using what ever you want, you can always take out the sim. ( Which is a hassle in itself )

You can still do that, just replace the apple sim with yours.

On the other hand I'm grandfathered in to an unlimited data plan, If the Apple SIM isn't a swappable card I doubt I'd be able to get unlimited with it.

For that matter I'm also not seeing verizon listed as a participating provider, which seems to be cutting out a previously supported demographic.

From what I can tell, it's ONLY those US and UK carriers. So, for example, don't come travelling up to Canada :(

If you travel to Canada or anywhere else, you take out the Apple SIM and put in your local SIM.

In the UK only EE is participating (as of now) so you can switch from EE to...EE.

Also -- am I right that this is the first iPad to be able to create a hotspot? This changes the economics of mobile -- you can grab a data plan as you like it and when you like it, and use VoIP calling and so forth.

I wonder if the watch may be able to interoperate with a cellular iPad instead of an iPhone.

> Also -- am I right that this is the first iPad to be able to create a hotspot? This changes the economics of mobile -- you can grab a data plan as you like it and when you like it, and use VoIP calling and so forth.

Nope, existing (my Retina Mini) iPads can do it too.

Thanks for the response. Being able to switch providers AND create a hotspot is pretty damn cool though.

So can I still use a regular sim card? If not, this is truly disappointing, not incredible.

You must be able to - I don't see Verizon listed among supported carriers for the "Apple sim" (or whatever they're calling it), and my current iPhone and iPad won't connect to the Verizon cell network without a Verizon sim.

In the past there were different hardware versions of Apple devices for Verizon and everyone else... I'd hate to see a trip back to that.

Likewise, and I think Apple would agree (better for their margins). I was quite pleased to see that all of the iPhone 6s, regardless of carriers, appear to be the same (at least as evidenced by there being only one version of iOS 8 to download compared to iOS 7 and the iPhone 5/5s)

That's ok until there's a provider that they don't have in their database. This may be a big problem for the smaller virtual operators or calling card outfits.

But apple does update their (baseband?) firmware every now and then, right?

The fastest new processors, whiz bang features, and the boat anchor of 16GB starting memory. At this rate we'll still have new devices in 2020 that start with 16GB.

Yes I know it's a sale tactic to get you to "upgrade" to 64GB and recoup some nice profit margin, but 16 is too low for a lot of people, and 64 is a waste.

Android suffers this a lot. Brand new high end model $650 phone, 8GB of usable space.

What high end android phone ships with 8? The only one I can think of is the old Nexus 4, but being a $299 phone it obviously had to cut corners somewhere. I wouldn't call it high-end either considering its weak battery and lack of LTE support.

I find a lot of phones and tablets are stuck at 16gb, as you mentioned, regardless of OEM. End users don't seem to be making space a priority, instead they just want thinner and sexier, which has led to the problem of low battary capacities, bending issues, and screens that are easily cracked.

I think think we're in the infancy of mobile and wearables. I suspect a big sturdy 6" phone will become the status quo soon enough with a smartwatch companion for notifications. I'm kinda doing this now with my N5 and my Moto 360 and its a great combo. Moving to the N6 with its massive battery and gorgeous screen is a no brainer. Also, constant 24/7 LTE or wifi makes storage much less of an issue, but I suspect it might be an issue for me as I migrate away from using a tablet to just using a phablet and then that 16gb limitation will be painful.

> What high end android phone ships with 8?

None, but they usually ship with 16, sometimes upgradable to 32, and these days often no SD slot. The Nexus 9 is 16/32 with no SD, the Nexus 6 is 32/64 with no SD. The Air 2 and 6's are 16/64/128 (though the 16GB is a bloody sham, especially when the next OS will most likely require even more available space than iOS8's already humongous 5GB for OTA) (it was really funny seeing the proud 47%-a-month-in graph when iOS7 was at 71% a month in: http://fortune.com/2013/10/15/mixpanel-apples-ios-7-hit-71-p...)

No SD I can live with, but max. 32GB on a tablet (where you are like to store larger apps/more HD media) is crazy. My 32GB iPad Mini can be a bit restrictive at times when travelling - 1.07GB TV episodes means I can fit a set of 720p TV w/ maybe enough room to spare for a couple of movies.

Most Samsung devices are 16GB with 8GB left over for installable apps. And don't tell me "IT HAS AN SD CARD SLOT!!" because you can't install apps on them (especially big ones like games)

Yes you can, even on stock Android.

The developer has to set the option to allow it in the manifest when they submit the App however, which not all of them do sadly.

I forgot to put the world always, you can't always put apps on the SD card.

Agreed. 16gb kind of sucks, especially with the OS growing and growing, yet 64 or 128 are completely beyond the way I use my tablet. 32gb is great. I really hope we'll see a 32gb minimum in 2015 next year.

At the same time, there ARE people who don't store anything on their ipad. Like my grandpa. He uses it for mail, news etc on his couch. So it's a bit of a waste to hook up this segment of people with an additional 16gb they'll never touch. And having four different sizes (16,32,64,128) is problematic. At the end of the day though, my grandpa could use a cheap nexus 7 for that type of stuff. The iPad at the end of the day is a very high-end device, yet the entry-level product fills up with the OS, three movies and three large games.

So I'm a bit split on this one. But I think next year the time's ripe for 32gb minimum, again we're talking about the premium-spectrum of tablets here that are replacing some of our laptop/desktop life. Of the 16gb you're usually left with 12-14gb...

The time is already ripe for 32GB base storage, the main reason iOS8 penetration is stagnating (47% after a month, by that point iOS7 had reached 71%) is that the OTA update requires 5GB of free space on the device, not even taking in account the size of the installed OS.

Even those apps can have multi GB caches. Facebook alone is 500MB in extra data on my phone, iMessage has a 1.5GB, etc.

As a counterpoint, I have yet to run out of space on my 8GB total (less usable) Nexus 4, and I don't feel constrained by it. I'll take a cheaper model over more storage any day!

Not sure how updates work on Android but even with delta updates iOS 8 required 5GB of free space. If you have an 8GB iPhone (with the OS already taking about 1GB) you are never getting that thing on there.

5GB are only required for OTA upgrade, you can connect to iTunes and upgrede that way.

I have an 8GB Nexus 7 tablet (although, soon won't...), and maybe it is just me, but despite the improvements on the last release, if you come anywhere near the storage maximum it slows WAY down. Or, maybe it is just bad bit rot, and all Nexus 7 tablets end up like this. Last time I had an iPad (years ago...) they didn't seem to suffer anywhere near as bad in terms of eventual slowdown.

2012? They were notorious for that kind of slow down. Something to do with the chips they used.

Many people who were sporting a 16GB Air model had to delete a fair bit of content and apps in order to free up the huge amount of space the iOS 8 upgrade required. And this was on Apple's then-latest and greatest tablet. So there are already technical issues with keeping 16GB as the baseline, at least if future upgrades will be like the most recent one.

I had the same problem with my gen 4, until I plugged it into my Mac and it did the upgrade with no problems at all. It's not exactly a crippling issue (versus, for example, my three times and now permanently bricked Nexus 7, which needed to be reimaged using command line dev tools after borking itself with auto-updates).

16GB is fine for, say, schools and enterprise (it's effectively ~11GB usable if it's like my gen 4). It's hopeless if you want to use it to handle photographs, movies, or lots of games. The next step up (64GB) isn't even an option for the Google 9 (say).

Most (non-nexus) android phones have SD card slots though.

I see that Monument Valley is the "beautiful app" that both Google and Apple are showing off for their devices.

[1] http://www.google.com/nexus/new/images/nexus6/N6-moreeveryth...

[2] http://images.apple.com/v/ipad-air-2/a/images/overview/apps_...

Shame it took 10 minutes to complete it for me. Not sure it was value for money but it looked and felt good.

OT: This video came up in the unity subreddit this morning. Making of Monument Valley.


Edit: removed time code, but they go into detail about the visual pipeline around the 30min mark.

Anyone know what the bottom-left app is? It seems to be a puzzle game.

That's Monument Valley.

Oh, cool. I thought that referred to one of the photo apps.

Any info about the amount of RAM? They should've bumped it to 2GB. No words about it during presentation, not a single mention in tech specs on apple.com site.

If this new iPad still has 1GB of RAM, it's a dealbreaker for me. Lack of RAM causes Safari to reload webpages from inactive tabs, which is a HUGE flaw. It really hurts websurfing experience and I think websurfing is one of the primary purposes of iPad.

Yeah, no mention of it anywhere - not even indirect. It really is a problem for majority of the people trying to get things done with it.

I got a Note 2014 edition with 3GB RAM and though there were initial software hiccups I have stuck with it - rarely do my Chrome tabs reload, background audio die or my RDP session end randomly. Alt+Tab and everything is instantly there. With the latest updates it has become quite smooth - I would say better than the iPad with simple tweaks. Plus I have a uSD slot to throw my music on.

If you are looking for even a semi replacement laptop - you could do much better with Android tablets - Note or Nexus 9 if you prefer stock and don't need the stylus.

Agreed, web reading is a huge usecase for me, the biggest one by far, and the one in which I'm most bothered by performance changes. I couldn't care less to get a few frames faster or -5s loading times on some game, or shooting faster photos with my camera on a tablet. I care about browsing, and I have exactly the same issue with reloading webpages.

In fact, it's why I use safari over Chrome because Chrome is much worse for me in that regard, despite using Chrome for everything else on every other device and disliking Safari generally. But it's the least bad with having to reload webpages.

After a quick search, it seems that Air 2 still has 1GB of RAM



If more apps on Air 2 are 64-bit than on Air 1, the memory consumption with Air 2 would be more than that with Air 1. In case the RAM size stays the same, Air 2 could see more page-in/page-out, especially when you keep lots of chrome tabs open or other tasks on...

But perhaps different user groups have different usage patterns that fit different hardware configuration, and Apple might know it very well...

This was a huge problem on the original iPad. I still don't understand why Apple skimps on the RAM.

Less RAM more battery life. Less RAM bigger margins.

Two pretty good reasons.

I am not sure if a single stick of 2GB DDR3 RAM would consume much more power than a sinlge stick of 1GB RAM...At least on a PC, the difference seems to be negligible (such as indicated in http://www.buildcomputers.net/power-consumption-of-pc-compon...)...

Assuming ipad Air 2 has roughly the same power consumption as Air 1 (32.5 w), even if 2GB memory consumes twice the power than 1GB (on PC a DDR3 stick, which has much greater capacity, would be 2~3 w), comparing to the power consumption of CPU and screen, still the power consumed by memory is only a small fraction of the whole...

Well, I am not quite familiar with this energy aspect...Perhaps some experts here could provide more insight or pointers?

When the iPad is just laying around you can turn of the screen, the cpu, and the gpu, you can't turn of the ram. So while the power consumption of the ram might be negligible when the iPad is in use, it might be the majority when it isn't. So for usecases where the iPad is only used for a few minutes every hour double the ram might cut the battery lifetime by a third.

Also I'm pretty sure the 32.5 watt power consumption represents the maximum, otherwise that thing would overheat without a fan.

Yes, I agree that even if every other component is put into sleep, the memory would still drains the energy; and no matter how slow that process is, if not recharged, there will be a time the battery finally runs out.

But the thing is, it looks like there is not much difference between a single stick of 1GB RAM and a single stick of 2GB RAM in terms of the power consumption rate. This is indicated in this article http://www.buildcomputers.net/power-consumption-of-pc-compon... ; well, it's for desktop RAM but I would assume tablet RAM will behave similarly, as seen from other tablets that upgraded from 1GB to 2GB.

From the user experience perspective, if there is no noticeable penalty -- the physical size and the power consumption are the same for 1GB and 2GB RAM, then why not just put in the one with larger capacity, for a better user experience? (and possibly much better for those of heavy multitasking tendency).

Is that because 2GB is much more expensive than 1GB, for tablet RAM? I could not find any tablet RAM price information through googling -- it's not for retail to individual consumer but only sold in batch to manufacturers...

It is so disappointing that the iPad Mini 3 did not get the A8 upgrade.


Sneaky! I was assuming the brother pads had the same chip. Can't get a mini now.

The A8 isn't a huge improvement over the A7, and the A7 was a collosal jump in performance, still more than good enough IMO. I mean there are people out there using A5 processors and the A7 is 4-5X faster. The A8 is only about 30% faster at best than the A7.

Absolutely amazing device, but also wholly unexciting.

That's completely okay, but I'm left with this feeling 'there's nothing to see here, nothing to discuss'.

Curious to see the new screen on the Air 2 in the store, though. Might be a significant difference.

As for the mini 3... that's just a mini 2 (2014 version). Literally no change except the fingerprint scanner. I'd call it the '3', too, just to prevent confusion, but it's utterly unremarkable otherwise versus the '2'.

There's no mute switch, so thats something

From the Compare page http://www.apple.com/ipad/compare/, it looks like the "iPad Air 2" is the first iPad to carry a barometer as an additional sensor. I missed the keynote, did they discuss this? Doesn't seem as usable as a step-counter since it's in a tablet, how does Apple intend to use the barometer for this tablet?

Also, is there a single Technical Specifications page for the iPad Air 2? I can't find a list of sensors in the device, outside of the linked Compare page.

Edit: Here's the full specs page: http://www.apple.com/ipad-air-2/specs/

My guess is for location services to provide better altitude accuracy than with GPS alone. That can be used to figure out if your on or below an overpass, if your on the second floor of some building etc and take elevation into account when exercising.

Personally I'll certainly use it as I'm a private pilot :)

They mentioned the barometer but only briefly.

Did the iPhone 6 get a barometer sensor too?

Yes-- both the 6 and 6+

What's really sad is that the iPad mini 3 is an iPad mini 2 with a TouchID sensor. Looks like I'll be saving $100 and getting a mini 2.

But you can get the 3 in GOLD! Gold, Jerry... Gold!

Edit: Okay, some people are a little sensitive about the lack of new iPad mini features or don't get the reference. It's from Seinfeld. And it's worth noting that Gold is an option now, since apparently gold models are selling well for Apple.

That's so odd. I guess their A8 yields aren't quite up to snuff yet.

Also no NFC chip. It would have been nice to have some nice point-of-sale capability for merchants who current use square or something similar.

Surprised to see that the Nexus 9, announced yesterday by Google, can compete almost exactly with this device toe-to-toe (minus the storage options, in which I believe Apple wins).

Usually Apple always seems so far ahead.

Also minus the apps. I never found any apps close to Garageband, iMovie, iWork etc. on Android when I had an Android tablet.

I consider MS Office on Android and iOS to be superior to iWork. It's definitely not something I consider to be anywhere close to a deciding factor on 'app quality' for either ecosystem.

I never found any apps close to Garageband, iMovie, iWork etc.

I have all three of these apps on my iPad. I recently removed iMovie, and never touch Pages choosing to instead use superior options (where there are also superior options on Android). Garageband was interesting for a while (and it is a superlative implementation), but hasn't been intentionally opened by anyone in the family in many, many months.

They are good apps, but I doubt they're within even the top 100 most used apps across platforms. They aren't compelling for the average user.

I'm curious as to what word-processor on Android (or Mac, or Windows) is superior to Pages. I think that's a pretty hollow claim. Make no mistake Pages is flawed, but it seriously kicks word-processing butt.

My point was that they are incredibly high quality.

Sure, but for someone using Facebook, LinkedIn, the web browser, gmail, Google Maps, and so on, the fact that one platform has Garageband and the other doesn't is meaningless, regardless of how well built of an app Garageband may be is.

Sorry I don't think I'm being clear enough. My point was that app quality in general for iPad is higher than app quality for Android tablets. Garageband was an example of one of those apps.

I feel the same way about the iPhone 6 and 6+. It seems like they looked at the Galaxy s4 and note 3 and just decided to copy them.

Looking on the Apple website, there are now _5_ different iPad models to choose from.

Sounds silly but it feels so un-Apple to have that many different variations of one product line.

Completely agree - I mean there has to be a good amount of people inside Apple who have brought this up already. Maybe they ran the numbers and decided all these options are better than fewer options?

I'm counting 22 variations of the iPads for a customer to choose from - http://www.apple.com/ipad/compare/

>> "Sounds silly but it feels so un-Apple to have that many different variations of one product line."

That's a good thing. They're delivering the best hardware and software, why not leave old versions around to make it more affordable for people who can't buy a new device every year? Remember Jobs talked about wanting to change how kids read books and got educated etc. well if you only have the latest models at the highest prices only kids with parents will have access. I like it and I don't think it's too confusing. The power in each is good so the differentiation is mostly price and screen res which is easy enough for people to grasp.

What's with ditching the 32GB options?

They did the same thing with the new iPhones.

I'm no Apple insider, but my hunch is that 32GB is right in the sweet spot of what most people probably realistically expect to use. So, basically, they could easily give you the 32GB in the baseline model, but they know that if they do that, they'll be leaving a lot of money on the table because there isn't a stark difference for a large percentage of users between 32GB of storage and 64GB. 16GB on the other hand is a different matter.

The fact that so many people are complaining about this is probably a sign that, if that is indeed the reasoning behind the lack of 32GB model, it was a smart choice from a profit perspective.

As calculated as the Nexus-muting "leak".

If you check the pricing, what they've done is lower prices of the expansions $100 over what they were before, but somehow left the base models at 16 GB. Yesterday $600 got you 32GB and an A7 processor, while today gets you 64GB and an A8x.

So the better question is: how is Apple getting away with selling a 16GB option for $500? It's not really that much space, especially when you take the OS and the space necessary to download updates into account.

Most of the people with 16GB models don't even use 50% of the available space. All they use the storage for is photos and videos.

I think it's more that they can't ditch the 16G option for some reason.

If they had a 32G entry option less people would buy the 64G one.

They always offered updates in 100$ steps, and price wise the 64G is where the 32G would usually be. If they really kept the previous logic, the 16G would have been gone and the lineup would start at 32G, or we'd still start at 16G but the 128G would be 100$ higher than it is now.

That's on this basis that I was thinking, they couldn't get themselves to start the lineup at 32G. I guess it's the same pressures at play as for the 8G iPhones.

Sigh, I love the performance improvements, just wish they had made a larger format one. Can't wait for the ifixit guys to tear it apart. Looking at all the "air" in my old Thinkpad 750C reminded me of how far we have come in terms of making these things practically a single slab.

This is a generally unimpressive upgrade, though I have become addicted to Touch ID and will upgrade my iPad for that specific reason. Touch ID, the iOS UX, and the massive app ecosystem are Apple's competitive advantages these days. For this and probably next year, they will be enough to keep billions of dollars rolling in and the launch day lines long. I think without some real innovation in the next two years though, the tide may start turning.

I like the mix of units on the front page: "6.1mm, 0.96 pounds". I guess the general US public can't really grasp small fractional sizes or thousandths?

"I guess the general US public can't really grasp small fractional sizes or thousands?"

The fractional sizes would get weirded and weirder as they get smaller.

1mm is ~1/32 (5/128ths is a really close approximation, but let's assume nobody is that crazy).

Right now it's ~1/4 of an inch Let's say they reduce the size 1mm.

Now which sounds better: 5.1mm, or 7/32 of an inch (or 13/64ths, which is more accurate)

434g would seem like a reasonable way to express the mass of the thing too.

Ah, but then you're mucking with the advertising. 0.96 pounds seems so much lighter than 434 grams, right?

A similar thing happened to A&W [0] with their "1/3 pound" burger selling fewer than a competitor's "1/4 pound" burger — effectively because "3" is less than "4" and fractions aren't for everyone.


what I find crazy is machinists converting between fractions and decimal to work. i can't imagine how many mistakes must have been made because of that.

Machinists don't use fractions (in my experience). They just use thousands of an inch.

We're selective in our use of the metric system here in USA, and therefore Americans will generally have an intuitive sense for how big metric units are for some measurements but not others. If you say 5mm or 1L, no problem. If you say 250km or 22kg, not so much. Americans have an intuitive sense for long distance in miles, small volume measurements in teaspoons or cups, distances in inches, feet, and miles. But micro distances in mm are generally okay, largely due to things like nuts and bolts being largely metric, and the proliferation of beverage containers in 1L and 2L bottles and engine displacements measured in liters give us a hand there.

Maybe it was intended for the Canadian audience, where metric for length, and imperial for weight, is common?

American here: we all were taught the metric system at least as far back as the early 1970s in elementary school, and I'd say even we don't know why the heck we still see the old English system in use.

We might've been taught the metric system, but I think most Americans don't have the intuitive feel for the units in the way that we do for the English ones.

Though, it is a bit more complicated, at least for me. For example, if I'm weighing small objects/quantities, I definitely prefer grams and have a fairly good sense of how much of something there is if given a weight in grams. But larger weights, like people, etc., I use pounds. I know that a kilogram is 2.2 pounds, but if you give me a weight in kilos, I still have to convert it to pounds for it to be meaningful to me in a real world sense.

YMMV, though.

The same is true for something short in length. I understand intuitively what a millimeter is but start talking in meters for example measuring someones height and I have to do a conversion.

mm makes it sound small

we don't understand grams or kg as a daily measure so we have no idea what .435kg feels like.

A large glass of water, exactly 435 cubic centimeters of it.

I don't understand why they continue to omit the LED flash for the camera. Theres no reason to leave it off.

i thank the evil lords of screen production issues for the iPad air 2 to remain with the same resolution.

Damn, i had a look at this "Size classes" feature a week ago and i REALLY didn't feel like recoding my 40-screens iPad app during the next two weeks. Now i'll have a year, which feels much better.

Careful examination of the specs reveal the iPad Mini 3 is basically an iPad Mini 2 with touch ID, and less expensive memory options. It doesn't have the CPU, screen, thinness, or improved camera. It's kind of like the iPad 3 which was replaced by the iPad 4 within six months. There may well be an iPad Mini 3S or somesuch early 2015.

My guess is the rumored screen production issues for the Air 2 led to the Mini 3 being a less ambitious update.

It might get more ram, although I doubt it. Seems like the only unknown factor still.

Good point. It does create some very interesting price points. The iPad Mini 2 at 16GB is a really good deal (and definitely worth $50 more than the iPad Mini 1). Similarly, the iPad Mini 3 at 16GB is a terrible deal, but the iPad Mini 3 at 64GB is a much better deal than the iPad Mini 2 at 32 GB. I think Apple has actually done itself a bit of a disservice here -- they should probably have done something like: iPad Mini $229, iPad Mini 2 $299, iPad Mini 3 32GB $399, iPad Mini 3 64GB $499. Instead they have a bunch of SKUs that will just confuse people.

But I suspect that they'd planned to roll out an A8X iPad Mini 3 with the new screen and had to pull back from that plan, and this is where they ended up.

I frankly find it amazing that Apple can ramp up stuff this effectively, year after year. Consider that they're building a bazillion new screens in a new way and shipping it to a bazillion customers who are going to complain about the smallest defects.

Help me. I want to care about this. But what does this model have that will make a substantial, observable improvement over my—say—iPad 3?

I have an iPad 3, and I bought my father last year's iPad air. The speed difference is large. 802.11ac wifi is also a big deal. With the new one, it's even faster, and touchID is nice. Plus it has the iPhone 6 camera which is truly one of the best mobile device cameras out there.

4-5x the CPU performance, huge improvement in GPU performance, thinner, lighter, better battery life, better wireless connectivity.

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