All done with the iPhone 6 now, yeah? Good, as it’s time to look forward to Apple’s new iPads instead. The iPad Air, introduced last October, was a significant change for Apple’s tablet line, which (while making it slightly easier to imagine what to expect from the next model) makes it more difficult to guess what ground-breaking changes could be in store. Apple gets its money worth from redesigns, and it may be too early for anything dramatic.
But the rumours are starting to trickle in! Ahead of an expected launch this week, this page is your hub for everything related to the iPad Air 2, its little brother the new iPad Mini with Retina Display and (whisper it) maybe even the iPad Pro. We’ll be updating all the information here as new details emerge, so keep this page bookmarked, and keep clicking back for more.
What Will The iPad Air 2 Look Like?
With last year’s iPad Air being a significant change for the iPad design, expect any iPad Air 2 to be more iterative in its construction. It may be slightly lighter, and slightly thinner (made possible perhaps by using an integrated display), but the iPad Air already approaches a design so thin and minimal as to be difficult to shave very much more off its build. And with the iPhone 6 seemingly taking its design cues from the iPad Air, it’s not even as if there’s much there to crib from the smartphone on this outing.
What is likely to change is the Home button, integrating for the first time Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner according to numerous leaks.
The one really intriguing rumour in regard to industrial design springs from an alleged third-party case leak. Pictured below, it shows a hole just above the space left for existing volume keys:
Take it all with a massive pinch of salt, but some have suggested this could be a space for an LED flash, until now missing from the iPad line, or even a laser-assisted focus, as seen in the LG G3.
Finally, there’s the suggestion that, like the iPhone line, the iPad Air 2 will be offered in a gold chassis option. Taiwan-based accessory maker Yi Lin Enterprises, posted the following image to Weibo:
What New Features Will The iPad Air 2 Have?
It’s been long rumoured, but with the iPhone 6 ushering in Apple’s Apple Pay payment system, TouchID is likely finally ready to come to the iPad. Plenty of leaked shots have showed off the alleged new tablets with fingerprint scanners in tow.
Will Apple Pay come to the iPad Air 2? That’s an interesting question — pulling out a tablet is nowhere near as convenient as whacking out a phone to make a payment with. While the security tech is there, the actual form factor probably isn’t appropriate. You may still see it appear in the new iPad Mini, but don’t be surprised if Apple doesn’t push it heavily in the iPad Air sequel.
However, you may still see the new iPads get NFC chips, just like the new iPhones. While Apple appears slightly reluctant to open up the full capabilities of NFC initially, it’d be a great feature to have on any iPad Air 2. Aside from pairing speakers with the devices wirelessly, the larger screen of the iPad makes it a good match for many NFC peripherals — everything from stylus pens to Skylanders-like toys for the kids.
What Will The iPad Air 2’s Specs Be Like?
Have you seen the iPhone 6? If not, go give it a look — its internals will almost certainly make up the basis for any iPad Air 2, just as the iPhone 5S paved the way for the original iPad Air.
Though only paired with 1GB of RAM in the iPhone 6, the A8 chip is a pretty powerful processor, despite being just dual-core. A 64-bit beast, it’s using two billion transistors, is 25 per cent faster, 50 per cent more efficient and 13 per cent smaller than its A7 predecessor. It’s manufactured using a 20nm process as opposed to the A7’s 28nm process.
Screen size and resolution is unlikely to change — 9.7 inches and 2048 x 1536 respectively. What could get a bump up, according to ET News, is the rear camera’s capabilities, rumoured to be jumping from 5MP to 8MP. An increase in camera megapixel count would also add credence to the afore-mentioned laser-focus rumour, too — though you’d wonder why it wasn’t first seen in the newest iPhones.
And What About The iPad Pro And New iPad Mini With Retina Display?
Things have been suspiciously quiet on the iPad Mini front, though it would be very un-Apple like to leave the smaller slate out in the cold at the launch. Indeed, a source speaking to Bloomberg stated that “A new version of the 7.9-inch iPad mini is also entering production and will probably be available by the end of the year.”
In terms of specs, just like with the iPad Air 2, you can be certain that the iPad Mini with Retina… er… 2 will finally get a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, and would likely get an A8 processor internally too. A rumour from the Taiwan Economic Daily News pointed towards the next iPad Mini being 30 per cent thinner than the current model. That’d leave it as just 5.25mm thick — which seems impossibly thin and highly unlikely.
One rumour that refuses to die is that Apple will be introducing a larger, business orientated iPad Pro. It’s said to have a 4K resolution, and measure up at 12.9 inches. It’s still a bit of a long-shot, but with Apple recently opening up to the idea of larger devices, it’s not impossible. But without a market precedent that proves super-large tablets can be a success, it’s unlikely. That of course hasn’t stopped a few oversized leaks — take a look at this one from Chinese social network Weibo, alleged showing off the chassis for a super-sized iPad:
When Will The iPad Air 2 Release Date Be?
This is a bit easier to predict. According to the Daily Dot, the iPad Air 2, as well as a refreshed iPad Mini tablet, will be launching at an event on October 21st. Though Apple hasn’t confirmed a date for any alleged event yet (it usually holds out until a week before its date), it’ll be just a day shy of an whole year since Apple last showed off new iPads, and revealed OS X Maverick’s release. The 21st of October seems a solid guess.
If that unveiling date ends up being accurate, an instore date ten days later is usual Apple custom. Landing perfectly on Friday 31st October (Halloween! Spooky!), that seems a pretty safe bet as to when you’ll need to be setting your tent up outside the Apple Store.
How Much Will The iPad Air 2 And New iPad Mini Cost?
For the most part, unless Apple introduces any crazy technology, expect this to remain the same, across the board. So for the iPad Air that would be £399 for the 16GB, £479 for the 32GB, £559 for the 64GB and £639 for the 128GB versions. That goes up to £499, £579, £659 and £739 respective of storage size for the 4G versions.
For the Retina iPad Mini, they’re priced at £319 for the 16GB, £399 for the 32GB, £479 for the 64GB and £559 for the 128GB Wi-Fi only editions. For 4G-enabled options those prices rise to £419, £499, £579 and £659 respectively.
(Australians: At the moment, £1 gets you $1.85. Add a bit of Apple tax, and you can probably reliably double each of those numbers.)
There’s no precedent for the iPad Pro to go on, but of course expect it to be more expensive than the iPad Air.
However! If the recent iPhone 6 / iPhone 6 Plus pricing and storage space structure is anything to go by, that 32GB option may be disappearing altogether.
Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone — so check them out if you need another Giz fix.