First look: the new Apple iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 (video)

20 Oct 2014

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Last week Apple reinvigorated its iPad line-up with two new devices – the Apple iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 – which both feature Retina as well as Touch ID.

The new machines launched alongside alongside Apple's new 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display, and prove that eventually Apple’s Retina technology will be ubiquitous across the entire Apple line-up.

The iPad Air 2 has the distinction of being the thinnest iPad ever made at only 6.1mm of thickness.

The display consists of an LCD screen, a touch layer and a micro thin layer bonded together to create a single component with no air gap.

A new A8X chip build has been built specifically for the iPad Air 2 which is 2.5 times faster than the previous A7 chip for the original iPad Air and boasts 180 times faster graphics performance.

The new tablet computer devices both sport Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology and come in the same gold, silver and space grey configurations that launched with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus a month ago.

The screens are protected by a new anti-reflecting coating that Apple officials said will not rub off over time.

The new 9.7-inch iPad Air and 7.9-inch iPad mini 3 also come with Apple’s newest FaceTime camera technology which allows users to record and transmit HDr video.

The devices – powered by iOS 8.1 – are compatible with the Continuity features of OS X Yosemite which became publicly available.

For example a new feature called Handoff lets you start an activity on one device and pass it on to another when your iPhone or iPad are on the same network.

iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi models will be available for a suggested retail price of €509 inc VAT (€413.82 ex VAT) for the 16GB model, €609 inc VAT (€495.12 ex VAT) for the 64GB model and €709 inc VAT (€576.42 ex VAT) for the 128GB model. iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a suggested retail price of €629 inc VAT (€511.38 ex VAT) for the 16GB model, €729 inc VAT (€592.68 ex VAT) for the 64GB model and €829 inc VAT (€673.98 ex VAT) for the 128GB model.

iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi models will be available for a suggested retail price of €409 inc VAT (€332.52 ex VAT) for the 16GB model, €509 inc VAT (€413.82 ex VAT) for the 64GB model and €609 inc VAT (€495.12 ex VAT) for the 128GB model. iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a suggested retail price of €529 inc VAT (€430.08 ex VAT) for the 16GB model, €629 inc VAT (€511.38 ex VAT) for the 64GB model and €729 inc VAT (€592.68 ex VAT) for the 128GB model.

First impressions

First look at the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3

No doubt in terms of sheer firepower the iPad Air 2 is the most impressive of the new devices with its own specially designed processor and super thin 6.1-inch profile.

The iPad mini 3 feels slightly bulky by comparison even though it has the smaller screen.

Either way, the fingerprint recognition tool feels perfectly right on an iPad and both devices are super fast.

They also look the part, overtaking rival devices from Samsung in the looks department thanks to the new metallic finishes and super slim profile.

Apple is on to something with its assertions that the iPad screens make them the best view finders in the market today, outside of fully-fledged SLR paraphernalia.

The new 8MP iSight camera can be used to take large panoramas of up to 43-megapixels as well as take burst mode photos and capture time lapse videos and users can now take slow motion pictures for the first time on an iPad.

Some of the time-lapse videos shown in the demos in Berlin last week – including a balloon fair somewhere in the US as well as George Clooney’s wedding cortege down the Canal Grande in Venice – are impressive to watch.

Stay tuned for a full review of the iPad Air 2 in the coming days.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com