The designer's guide to the iPad Air and iPad mini 2

iPad air

There's a whole host of new features on the iPad Air

Yesterday saw the announcement of two new Apple products - the iPad Air and the iPad mini 2. So, what can these new gadgets offer designers? Take a look at these top new features of both products, as well as an in-depth review of each.

It has a smaller bezel

Previous iPads have had quite a large bezel - the area between the edge of the screen and the edge of the device. The iPad Air has a bezel that's 43% thinner than before and this means that while the screen remains the same 9.7 inches, the overall size of the device is smaller.

This is great news because a bezel is essentially wasted space, you can't do anything with it. So Apple moves a step further towards a device that is all touch screen and nothing else. The front panel is otherwise much the same, sporting a simple Home button.

It's gone on a diet

Advances in battery and processor technology have meant that the battery, which makes up most of the physical bulk of an iPad, has been shrunk. As a result the iPad Air is only 7.5mm thin, which makes it 20% thinner than the previous model.

Combined with a more regular shape compared to the tapered back of the last iPad, this should make for a more comfortable experience when holding it for long periods such as when reading books. It's also lost weight, weighing just 1lb. Apple says this makes it the lightest full size tablet on the market.

It uses the A7 processor

Apple debuted the A7 system-on-a-chip in the iPhone 5S and it's an absolute monster, providing blazing speeds while being surprisingly power efficient. It's a 64-bit processor, which paves the way for more advanced applications and better performance.

As an example, the brand new Garageband for iOS will let you run 32 tracks if you have a 64-bit chip, but 16 on a pre-A7 model. Interestingly there's no "A7X" as we might have expected. Apple supercharged the A6 processor for the iPad 4 and called it the A6X, but clearly feels the A7 is powerful enough for its newest iPad.

It has the M7 motion coprocessor

Also inherited from the iPhone 5S is the new M7 motion coprocessor. This is a clever but of hardware that's able to interpret advanced signals received from the iPad's gyroscope, GPS and other hardware sensors.

It can receive this data independently of the main processor, saving power as it doesn't have to wake the iPad's main chip. The M7 can tell apps whether you're walking, running, sitting or driving so that they can adjust their behaviour accordingly. Another potential application is indoor tracking and mapping.

It doesn't have Touch ID

Perhaps surprisingly, the iPad Air hasn't gained the same Touch ID fingerprint scanning technology found in the new iPhone 5S. There could be many reasons for this, which at the moment are all purely speculative until Apple tells us, which it won't.

It could be an issue of keeping costs down, or it could be that people don't take their iPads around in public nearly as much as they do their iPhones. We'd expect to see Touch ID introduced at some point, but clearly that's going to have to wait for a while.

iPad mini 2 with Retina display

iPad mini 2 with retina

The second installment of the smaller iPad

It has a better screen

The iPad mini 2 with Retina screen measures in at exactly the same size as the year old iPad mini. The 7.9-inch display does come with a resolution boost, with the many rumors that the iPad mini 2 would get a Retina display proving to be bang on the money.

With the Retina technology on board, the new iPad mini comes with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 meaning that it has a Full HD display. This doubles the original iPad mini's 163ppi to 326ppi.

It has more storage

The iPad mini 2 with Retina comes in the standard 16, 32, and 64GB models that we HAVE seen before. What's more, Apple now offers the new iPad mini 2 in a 128GB model.

It has a better camera, sort of

Those hoping for an upgraded camera sensor on the iPad mini 2 with Retina are out of luck. It seems that the 8MP rear sensor that has been bandied about was in fact just another rumor, with Apple choosing to stick with 5MP snapper that currently sits on the back of the original iPad mini.

The front-facing FaceTime camera has had a look at, though, with it now matching the iPhone 5S for clarity - that and its dual mics should make video chatting a lot more pleasant.

It will cost you

When it comes to pricing, the multitude of options means a multitude of prices. Prices start at £319 (US$399, AU$479) for the Wi-Fi only 16GB versions, with it being an extra £100 (US$130, AU$150) to get 4G connectivity.

It comes better connected

Apple has updated the LTE connections in the iPad mini 2 with Retina, meaning that it comes with extended 4G support. It has also taken a look at the Wi-Fi connections, as the iPad mini 2 with Retina now comes twice as fast, with Mimo.

[via Techradar]

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