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Should you upgrade to the Apple iPad Air?

|December 7 2013 |Tablets, Apple iPad, Editorial


iPad Air_2

Every year, when Apple launches a new iPad, existing iPad owners are faced with a tough decision -”is it time for an upgrade?”. The iPad has been around since 2010 and has seen four generations before the iPad Air, not including the iPad Mini. Apple's most advanced processor and an ultra-lightweight body certainly make it the most tempting iPad yet. To make it easier for you, we've discussed the benefits of upgrading to an iPad Air in relation to each of the previous-gen iPads.

But first, here's a quick overview of the iPad Air's main features.

  • The thinnest iPad to date, it measures just 7.5mm in thickness

  • It weighs just 478g, making it 28 percent lighter than the previous iPad

  • The iPad Air runs on a 64-bit A7 chip, making it twice as fast as the iPad 4 while maintaining the 10 hour battery life

  • It uses MIMO wireless technology, using two antennas instead of one. This translates into faster Wi-Fi speeds and better network coverage

  • Apple's entire Productivity suite of applications – Keynote, Pages and Numbers – are free with the iPad Air. iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand are also included as built-in apps

  • The iPad Air has been built to take advantage of iOS 7's design and functionality. All pre-loaded apps have been reconfigured to 64-bit, making them faster and more efficient.

  • AirDrop is a new iOS 7 feature which allows you to wirelessly share files with other iOS 7 users.

  • Goodbye Black and White; the iPad Air is available in refreshed color options of Space Gray or Silver.

iPad


iPad 1

If you're still using the original iPad, you definitely need to upgrade. The first-gen iPad has been outdated for a while; not only does it not support iOS 7, it doesn't even run iOS 6! Because of the obsolete operating system, many apps don't even work on the original iPad. Add to that, it has an underpowered chipset and GPU and lacks any camera. Upgrading to an iPad Air would be a no-brainer.

If price is a constraint, first-gen iPad users can even consider switching to the iPad 2 or iPad Mini – both of which offer significant improvements and are running the latest iOS 7.

iPad 2


The iPad 2 is a vast improvement over the first iPad, with 1GHz dual-core A5 chip, front and rear cameras and 512MB of RAM. Plus, the iPad 2 received the iOS 7 update, so it will continue to receive support from Apple for at least another years.

Even so, iPad 2 users who upgrade to the iPad Air will see some significant changes. For one, the display. The iPad 2, like the original iPad, has a 1024x768 pixel screen. The iPad Air's Retina Display with a 2048x1536 resolution effectively doubles the number of pixels, making it sharper and more vivid. In terms of processing power, the iPad Air is 4 times as fast as the iPad 2, in addition to offering better cameras and LTE support.

If your iPad 2 functions as a basic multimedia device with some light browsing and app usage thrown in, you can wait until next year to make a switch. But if you're a power user, the iPad Air makes for a great upgrade.

iPad 3


iPad 3

The iPad 3 was the most short-lived iPad, replaced by the iPad 4 just 8 months after launch. But in terms of tech specs, it brought some vast improvements over the iPad 2. It was the first iPad to feature a Retina Display, and updated the iPad 2's 0.7MP camera with a 5MP shooter capable of 1080p video recording. The iPad 3 featured a A5X chipset, which was pretty much identical to the iPad 2's A5 chip, but added a quad-core GPU to support the Retina display.

The main difference between the iPad 3 and iPad Air is weight. The iPad 3 was slightly heavier than the iPad 2, weighing 662g. This makes it 184g lighter than the iPad Air – a very noticeable drop. The A5X is also quite sluggish in comparison to the blazing fast A7 64-bit CPU.

That said, the iPad 3 has a decent spec sheet and is likely to be supported by Apple for a while longer, so unless you're looking for a major graphics boost, there's no need to upgrade to the iPad Air just yet.

iPad 4


There are barely any differences between the iPad 4 and iPad Air, apart from the 64-bit A7 chip and slimmer build. The iPad Air is quite capable of handling intense graphics and is well suited to handle iOS 7. Display, camera and connectivity are all on par, making the differences too minimal to qualify for a switch.

The only reason we could think of upgrading from an iPad 4 to an iPad Air would be if you're a frequent traveller who can benefit from a lighter tablet, in which case you could also make use of the free iWork productivity suite that's bundled with it.

So, will you upgrading to the new iPad Air? Share with us in the comments below.

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