Apple introduced the fifth generation of its full-sized iPad on Tuesday, renaming its tablet the iPad Air. The new offering bumps up the speed and performance while slimming the bezels to give the iPad a sleeker look.
The iPad Air sports the same 9.7in Retina display as its full-sized predecessor, but it has a much smaller bezel around the screen – 43 percent thinner than the previous generation, according to Apple. Overall, it’s 20 percent thinner than the fourth-generation model. And at 454g (down from 771g), it’s lighter than before as well.
During Apple’s special media event, senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller called it, “the lightest full-sized tablet in the world”.
The iPad Air incorporates the new 64-bit A7 chip first seen in the iPhone 5s, with the same M7 co-processor. Apple says the new processors deliver twice the CPU and graphics performance as the iPad with Retina display that came before it – all the while retaining the tablet’s 10-hour battery life.
The iPad Air also takes advantage of faster 802.11n Wi-Fi thanks to MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) support with multiple antennas. It also had expanded LTE support for more countries around the world.
Apple also touted both improved FaceTime (front) and iSight (rear) cameras, plus the addition of dual mics for better Siri and audio capture.
Both Wi-Fi and LTE models of iPad Air will start shipping on 1 November in 42 countries (including Australia). It will be the first iPad launch ever where China will be included in the first round of roll-outs (though customers in China, Hong Kong and Macao will only be able to order the Wi-Fi version). The Air will come in silver/white and space grey/black colour choices, costing the same as the iPads it replaces. For Wi-Fi models that’s $598 (16GB), $699 (32GB), $799 (64GB) and $899 (128GB). For Wi-Fi + Cellular models, that’s $749 (16GB), $849 (32GB), $949 (64GB) and $1049 (128GB). The iPad 2 remains in Apple’s lineup at $449 for a 16GB Wi-Fi version and $598 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular version.
Apple also announced new cases for the iPad, at $48 for polyurethane and $89 for leather, including Product Red versions of each.
by Jonathan Seff, Macworld