Apple iPad Air 2 review: His Airness

His Airness

GSMArena team, 17 November 2014.

9.7" laminated Retina display

The new Apple iPad Air 2 display is fully laminated, meaning its components (LCD, touch sensor and cover glass) have been molded into one and now have an antireflective coating that Apple claims will make this screen the least reflective ever.

The iPad Air 2 has the same screen size as the first ever Apple tablet, 9.7" of diagonal. The resolution has remained the same four generations in a row, 2048 x 1536px that break down to around 264ppi. Now, that's not quite the same as the 284ppi of the 8.9" Google Nexus 9, the 288ppi of the 10.5" Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 or the 324ppi of Apple's own 7.9" iPad mini 3 but is still more than good enough, viewed at an arm's length.

Apple iPad Air 2 Apple iPad Air 2 Apple iPad Air 2
Apple iPad Air 2 display

Here's what the iPad Air 2 display looks like under a microscope.

The Apple iPad Air 2 showed solid numbers in our dedicated display test. Compared to its predecessor it offers a slightly decreased brightness at both 50% and 100% but also a slightly higher contrast ratio, which could be accredited to the new laminated display.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPad Air 0.19 181 968 0.53 508 964
Apple iPad Air 2 0.16 171 1045 0.44 458 1048
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 0 210 0 382
Apple iPad mini 2 0.2 167 835 0.56 450 804
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 0.17 208 1197 0.52 705 1361
Google Nexus 10 0.26 223 859 0.5 443 878
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet - - - 0.45 484 1076


Battery life test

Apple made the iPad Air 2 thinner and thus it has a smaller battery compared to the original iPad Air. But the result hasn't hindered battery performance too much. The video playback test showed an almost exact score. Web browsing was 1 hour worse compared to last year's model and generally behind the competition.

Web browsing

  • Apple iPad Air
    12:49
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    12:22
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
    12:05
  • Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
    11:46
  • Apple iPad Air 2
    10:05

Video playback

  • Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
    12:53
  • Apple iPad Air 2
    11:41
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    10:47
  • Apple iPad Air
    10:10
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
    8:25

Still the iPad Air 2 boasts respectable numbers, especially from a device so thin.

If you are interested how these results compare to other tested devices, check out our battery life test result table.

Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The Apple iPad Air 2 has much better connectivity thanks to some key advancements in chipset radios and Wi-Fi technology. First off, the new iPad Air 2 retains the MIMO technology (with dual antennas for better signal) and comes with Wi-Fi 802.11ac support that's more than twice as fast as before - up to 866 Mbps.

The Wi-Fi+Cellular iPad Air 2 has gained a speed increase too, now supporting up to 150Mbps of LTE downlink and support for a total of 20 LTE bands in all model variations.

Apple has designed its own SIM solution as well, dubbed Apple SIM. It allows a single carrier-agnostic SIM to connect to AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the US and Everything Everywhere (EE) in the UK depending on your initial setup (and contract, of course). The solution has seen resistance from some of the carriers though so don't expect it to work as advertised just yet.

Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and EDR is here and, complete with Wi-Fi, facilitating Apple's AirDrop, which can share docs and files across iOS devices and the latest Macbooks with OS X Yosemite. Using AirDrop for transfers to non-Apple certified devices is a no-go.

AirDrop is available in every share menu throughout the iOS 8.1. You can send pictures, videos, App Store and iTunes links, Notes, Maps links, all kind of files from file managing apps (i.e. Filer, Flash Drive, Air Disk, etc.), Office docs, and more. If there are people with an active AirDrop service around you, they will automatically appear in the dedicated AirDrop field. You just mark your files, select the recipient and hit the send key.

AirPlay can wirelessly stream your iPad Air 2 screen to an Apple TV, HDTV or compatible audio systems.

Regular USB mass storage isn't available but there's a workaround using the iTunes computer software. You can store whatever files you want on the iPad, but those are only made available to the app that you've dropped them onto. Good thing is you are not restricted to files compatible with the said app and you can simply drag & drop files that you would download on another computer later on.

The iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular has a built-in A-GPS receiver with GLONASS support, but the Wi-Fi only tablet does not have it (this is standard for iPads).

Apple is continually improving its Find My iPad service. The iOS 7 update brought the so-called Activation Lock. This will not only protect your personal data but will also make your iDevice inoperable once wiped, unless you enter your Apple ID. This means the stolen or lost iGadgets will be of no use to thieves or finders. Of course, this protection is not bulletproof and experienced hackers will have a ball with your iPad, but this might as well make your Average Joe think twice about keeping the iPad to themselves.

Reader comments

  • Momo

I have this model since it’s just launched. And I don’t feel a need to upgrade to a newer model coz this one still kicking strong.

  • Munish madnawat

It is a iPad made of metal but it is very light and Siri is a special feature I have the latest model

  • Berxikutd

Had Ipad air 2 since aug 2014 always updated latest software and still going strong...still recommand