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Should You Upgrade to the Apple iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display?

Should You Upgrade to the Apple iPad Air?

With the release of two new iPads, the question of whether to upgrade or not once again becomes a pertinent decision. Whether you're contemplating a 9.7-inch iPad Air or a 7.9-inch iPad Mini with Retina Display, we've got the answers. First up: upgrading to the iPad Air.

Upgrading to the Apple iPad Air...

Key Features of the Apple iPad Air
  Apple iPad Air
Processor
  • A7 dual-core 1.4GHz processor with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
Operating system
  • Apple iOS 7
Memory
  • 1GB RAM
Display
  • 9.7‑inch / 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264ppi / Retina display / LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology / Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
Camera
  • 5-megapixel iSight Camera / Autofocus / Five-element lens / Hybrid IR filter / f/2.4 aperture / 1080p HD video recording
  • 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD Camera (720p HD video)
Storage
  • 16/32/64/128GB
Connectivity
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi‑Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth v4.0
Battery
  • 8,827mAh
Dimensions
  • 240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm
Weight
  • 469g (Wi-Fi) 478g (4G LTE)

As it's name suggests, the key features of the new iPad Air are its slim build and reduced weight. It also receives a 64-bit A7 processor (the same as the one found in the iPhone 5S) and a new design that closely resembles the flat backed iPad Mini. Those hoping for an upgraded camera and a fingerprint sensor will have to wait at least another year.

...From an Original iPad or iPad 2

The iPad Air is the perfect upgrade choice for owners of the original iPad or iPad 2. According to Apple Marketing Chief, Phil Schiller, the iPad Air is eight times more powerful the original iPad thanks to its 64-bit A7 processor. You'll also get to enjoy its gorgeous 2048 x 1536 pixels resolution Retina Display without any increase in weight or size (unlike those that upgraded to the third and fourth generation iPads). You'll also get to enjoy improved dual cameras, and access to Siri.

...From a Third- or Fourth-generation iPad

For those with a third- or fourth-generation iPad the choice is a little more difficult. While the iPad Air is 2mm thinner than both models, it's easy to forget that both the iPad 3 and 4 were actually 1mm thicker than the old iPad 2, so the size reduction is really more a case of Apple getting the iPad back to where it should be. Having said that, at 183g lighter than the fourth-gen iPad, it is quite a lot lighter, and if you want a Retina Display in a 9.7-inch device, shedding any of that bulk and weight will definitely be appreciated.

In terms of processing power, while the 64-bit A7 processor with M7 motion coprocessor certainly has lots of potential for future apps, right now, there are still limited choices on the 64-bit app front. Do note that Apple is keeping the 32-bit iPad 2 and iPad Mini as part of its lineup, so your 32-bit devices won't be obsolete any time soon. 

Unless you're particularly keen on the new look and colors, not much else has changed with the iPad Air. The rear camera remains the same 5MP shooter found on both the third and fourth-generation models, while the front-facing camera is the same 1.2MP model found on the fourth-gen iPad. 

All things considered, we would recommend waiting another year if you're currently holding onto either a third- or fourth-gen iPad. While the A7 processor is certainly more powerful, the full benefits of its 64-bit architecture are yet to be seen, and the size reduction isn't actually that drastic (don't be misled by the 'Air' name - there are thinner 10-inch tablets out there, such as Sony's 6.9mm Xperia Tablet Z).

...From a non-Apple tablet

If you have an Android or some other type of non-Apple tablet and want to move over to the iPad, now is a great time. The iPad Air is the first Retina Display-equipped iPad that doesn't suffer from any extra weight or bulk (compared to the original iPad and iPad 2) and it's also the first to get onto Apple's 64-bit processor architecture, ensuring that it will stay relevant for at least a few years.

If you're considering switching, it's worth noting that Apple is also the only manufacturer that has apps specifically designed for its tablet devices (there is no difference between Android apps, as they scale to different screen sizes to suit both smartphones and tablets).

Pricing and Availability

If you've made the decision to upgrade, the iPad Air will be available in Singapore on 1st November.

Apple and it's official retailers will be offering the following recommended retail prices:

  Apple iPad Air
(Wi-Fi)

Apple iPad Air
(Wi-Fi + 4G LTE)

16GB $688  $870 
32GB $828  $1008 
64GB $968 $1148 
128GB $1108 $1288