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Apple announces iPad Air 2 & iPad Mini 3; online order starts today

By Ng Chong Seng - on 17 Oct 2014, 3:28am

Apple announces iPad Air 2 & iPad Mini 3; online order starts today

 

Apple’s on a roll. A month after announcing the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (which then went on sale shortly after) and the Apple Watch, the company is back to announce more new products.

As expected, one of the things to take centerstage this time round is the iPad. Or more specifically, the iPad Air 2. As always, thinner, more powerful, and more user friendly is the storyline here. The tablet trades the A7 chip in its predecessor for a faster A8X chip (with an M8 motion co-processor). Like the A7, the A8X is a 64-bit chip, but it now has 3 billion transistors, and is 40% faster CPU-wise, and 2.5x faster GPU-wise. Like the new iPhones, the iPad Air 2 gains a Touch ID fingerprint sensor/home button.

While the screen size remains at 9.7-inches with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, because the new laminated display component is thinner, the iPad Air 2 is 18% thinner than its predecessor, coming in at 6.1mm, versus 7.5mm for the first-gen iPad Air. It also has an anti-reflective coating, which Apple claims to be the first for a tablet display.

The iPad Air 2 again comes in Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + LTE versions. Wireless 802.11ac with MIMO (up to 866Mbps) is now supported; so too is 150Mbps LTE connectivity. In the camera department, there’s a new 8MP iSight camera (with F2.4 aperture) at the back. Along with iOS 8.1, it’s capable of 43MP panorama photos, and have modes for burst, time-lapse, and slo-mo shooting. And on the front is a new 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera that now has a larger F2.2 aperture. It sports improved face detection, and the ability to do burst shooting (great for selfies), single-shot HDR photos, and HDR videos.

Last but certainly not the least, the iPad Air 2 will come in space gray, silver, and gold color options.

The iPad Air 2 comes in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage options. The Wi-Fi versions go for S$688, S$828, and S$968 respectively, while the Wi-Fi with cellular versions go for S$868, S$1,008, and S$1,148 respectively. You can order them online starting October 17, 2014.

 

iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini line also sees a refresh with the introduction of the iPad Mini 3 with Retina display. Unlike the iPad Air 2, we’re seeing more modest changes here. As far as we can tell from the published specs, compared to last year’s iPad Mini with Retina display (now simply called the iPad Mini 2), the key addition on the iPad Mini 3 is Touch ID. The design, the processor, the cameras, and the wireless and cellular features look to be the same as those found on its year-old sibling. Of course, it has followed the iPhones 6 and the iPad Air 2's path, and now comes with a gold color option.

Same same, but different.

The iPad Mini 3 comes in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage options. The Wi-Fi versions go for S$548, S$688, and S$828 respectively, while the Wi-Fi plus cellular versions go for S$728, S$868, and S$1,008 respectively. You can order them online starting today as well.

Finally, Apple says that it'll continue to sell last year's iPad Mini 2 and the first-gen iPad Mini, as well as the first-gen iPad Air, alongside the new iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2 announced today.

 

iOS 8.1

iOS 8 has been released for just about a month with tons of new features; and now, we’re looking at iOS 8.1 that’s slated on drop next Monday, October 20. Sure, it’s a point update, but there are improvements and new features to look forward to.

 

For a start, iOS 8.1 brings support for Apple Pay (sadly, rolling out in the U.S. only at the moment), and sees the return of Camera Roll. iCloud Photo Library will also be in iOS 8.1, though only as a public beta. With iCloud Photo Library, you’ve quick access to all your photos and videos, with all of them in their original format and resolution. Of course, this works with iCloud, which offers free 5GB of online storage from the get-go. If that isn’t enough (especially in this world of 128GB iPhones), you can pay Apple for more iCloud storage. There’s a 20GB tier for US$0.99 per month, as well as a 200GB tier for US$3.99 per month. For power users, there are more tiers that go up to 1TB.

So, do you like the new iPads? Would you buy it or the Nexus 9?