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Apple iPad Air: Is it WORTH the price?

Last updated on: October 24, 2013 15:53 IST

Apple iPad Air: Is it WORTH the price?

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The iPad Air is without doubt the most powerful tablet that money can buy, and that’s no small feat. The sad part is that there's not much else at the price it’s being offered.

Apple has recently announced two new models of its highly successful iPad line, with the new iPad Air and iPad Mini 2.

The former takes its naming convention from Apple’s highly successful MacBook Air while the latter is the follow-up to the successful 7-inch tablet.

As expected, both devices created a furore especially the iPad Air with its new lightweight design and the inclusion of Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor that debuted in the iPhone 5S not too long ago.

The question, as always when it comes to new iPad models is whether it’s worth the upgrade from your previous devices. But the iPad Mini 2 represents an interesting wrinkle in Apple’s plans, about which we’ll discuss as you read along.


Photographs: Robert Galbraith / Reuters

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Design

The iPad Air, as stated before, is Apple’s lightest 9.7-inch tablet to date coming in at 469 grams for the Wi-Fi version and 478 grams for the 3G version.

Compare this to the fourth-gen iPad’s weight at 650 grams and the difference becomes more obvious.

It’s also impossibly slimmer, measuring 0.29 inches in thickness while its predecessor measures 0.37 inches.

In terms of design and build, this is still the same iPad that you’ve come to know and either love or loathe.

There’s no denying the premium look with its cool aluminium shell, and the bezel surrounding the display has been reduced by 43 per cent, thus ensuring more screen real estate.

The device is easier to hold for extended periods of time, thanks to its reduced weight, and using it with one hand is also an easily achievable goal.

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Photographs: Apple.com

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Specs

Apple’s iPad Air features the new A7 CPU, which debuts the new 64-bit architecture to tablets. This also features an M7 motion coprocessor for better graphics rendering.

In terms of display technology, the iPad Air features a 9.7-inch Retina Display. This means a 2048x1536 resolution, ensuring 264 pixels per inch with an oleophobic coating that ensures lesser fingerprints.

The inclusion of IPS technology means you won’t have a problem with viewing angles either.

With the new A7 CPU, you can expect performance that is up to eight times faster than the fourth-gen iPad and even against most modern tablets like Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Sony Xperia Z Tablet, it excels.

The problem arises when you compare the iPad Air to the iPad Mini 2’s specs. Both tablets have the same new additions -- the same A7 CPU and the same Retina Display -- but the iPad Mini 2 costs less when you compare different storage and cellular options.

Obviously the only real benefit is the iPad Air’s weight and larger screen. Decide for yourself whether that’s worth the additional price.

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Camera and battery life

It’s worth mentioning that the iPad Air doesn’t include Apple’s new fingerprint sensor, nor does it do much to upgrade the rear camera.

The 5 megapixel iSight camera is still good for most pictures and boasts improved low-light photography. It’s still capable of face detection, auto focus, HDR and has an f/2.4 aperture.

At least the 1.2 megapixel FaceTime HD camera delivers excellent 720p video as usual, with a backside illuminated sensor and face detection.

Battery life with the device is also a bit hard to judge, especially since Apple hasn’t revealed the overall capacity of the same.

At the very least, the company promises that it will be able to deliver up to 10 hours of life, similar to previous iterations. Battery life on the iPhone 5S with the A7 CPU is also similarly strong so there shouldn’t be any concerns as to whether iPad Air will be capable of hitting the 10-hour mark.

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Features

As stated, there isn’t much different with the iPad Air except for its weight and the internal technology. The interface is the usual iOS 7, making this the first iPad to launch with the interface. As a result, Apple has taken to redesigning software such as iPhoto, iMovie, Keynote and GarageBand to better suit the technology and interface.

iOS 7 features many new additions to the interface including a new notifications menu, a reworked multi-tasking menu and a revamped aesthetic style making it more akin to Android. It’s not terrible, though it will take some getting used to for rabid iOS 6 users.

Overall, it suits the iPad Air quite well and we look forward to seeing more Air-specific apps on the App Store.

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Tags: WORTH

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Verdict

The iPad Air is without doubt the most powerful tablet that money can buy, and that’s no small feat. The sad part is that it isn’t much else at the price it’s being offered.

When it launches, the iPad Air 16 GB will retail at $499. Consider that you could get the same specs on the iPad Mini 2 for $399 and it looks like an even harder decision.

The iPad Air’s price goes as high as $929 for the 128 GB, 3G version and the iPad Mini 2 retails at $829 for its 128 GB, 3G version.

It boils down to what you expect from your tablet. If you’re already a proud owner of a fourth-gen iPad, then there’s very little reason to upgrade aside from the improved performance.

The new 64-bit architecture isn’t going to be out-dated any time soon and it will take some time before we see any features or apps that truly take advantage of the A7. If you’re looking to upgrade and don’t mind a slightly smaller screen, then the iPad Mini 2 is a better option in terms of price (though even it is much costlier in comparison to its predecessor).

However, if you’re looking for the best iPad that money can buy and crave a lightweight behemoth of a tablet, then the iPad Air will more than suit your needs. It would have been great if Apple had changed or added more, but for now, the iPad Air is the flagship for the company and brand.

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