iPad Air Australian Hands-On: What Sorcery Is This?

When we first heard the name for Apple’s new iPad during the live blog, we’ll admit it sounded a little silly. How much lighter could it be, anyway? Today we found out exactly how light it is, and the Air branding has never been more fitting.

This thing is insanely light and thin for a 9.7-inch tablet. It appears that Apple set out on a mission to make sure that this thing wouldn’t referred to as “the big iPad” ever again. It looks a lot like the iPad Mini these days, what with its chamfered edges, matte finish and thin bezel, and we rather like that.

We decided to check out just how thin the unit was, and placed it next to the First-Generation iPad Mini and the new iPhone 5s and found that it's roughly 1mm thinner than the iPhone, but about the same thicker than the iPad Mini. Regardless, that's super-impressive.

Compared to the iPad Mini:

Compared to the iPhone 5s:

The iPad continues to support the same 9.7-inch Retina Display, but the guts have changed somewhat from the last model. Peel that beautiful panel back and you’ll find a dual-core, 1.3GHz Apple A7 chip, a quad-core GPU and your choice of between 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options.

That new chip means the whole experience has gone 64-bit, and as we explained in our iPhone 5s review, the ARMv8 architecture that the new A7 chip runs on allows for the 64-bit upgrade, and in the long run it allows for more RAM to be addressed under the hood. We’re talking like 4GB of RAM, which is 4x more than the iPhone 5s has right now for example, but that’s not the most immediate benefit. The new 64-bit upgrade will mean that the A7 chip will be able to process computations and numbers faster than ever, so that complex tasks are dealt with faster.

While that might not mean much to a normal person, it means good stuff in the long run for faster apps and speedy task completion.

What’s also surprising about this new iPad is that Apple is quoting the same amount of battery life. The Air will supposedly keep cranking for 10 hours, which is super-impressive considering that there’s less space than ever in the enclosure.

Our first impressions, despite Mark Serrels’ opinion, is that Apple is onto a winner here.

We’ll bring you our full review of the iPad Air shortly.

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