The first reviews for Apple’s new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 have arrived, and are largely positive as expected. However, some reviewers are disappointed by what they say are only incremental improvements made to the iPad mini over previous models.
The new iPad Air 2 has been able to impress owing to the inclusion of the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and the speed of the device, which is powered by a 1.5Ghz A8X triple-core processor and 2GB RAM. The tablet is reportedly significantly faster than not only the original iPad Air, but also the latest iPhone 6.
According to benchmark data released by Primate Labs, the iPad Air 2 is more than 55 percent faster the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the multi-core benchmark, while the new A8X chip makes the device 68 percent faster than the A7-powered iPad Air, MacRumors reported.
The faster processing power of the iPad Air 2 was the focus of a review written by Nilay Patel of The Verge, who said that the new tablet is “ridiculously fast -- noticeably faster to load web pages and launch apps than my iPad Air, and it has so much graphics headroom that I'm eager to see how game developers take advantage of it.” Patel was also impressed by the iPad Air 2’s “vibrant, sharp display that looks almost painted on.”
On the iPad mini 3, which is identical to its predecessor except for sporting the Touch ID, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn wondered if the addition of the fingerprint scanner would be enough to warrant the iPad mini 3’s price tag. The new iPad mini starts at $399 and goes up to $729.
“It's a disappointment, and not because Apple released an average tablet instead of the miniaturized super tablet I'd been hoping for,” Bohn wrote. “No, it's a disappointment because for the past year there was one "best" tablet, the iPad, and you could pick the smaller one if you wanted. This year bigger, it seems, is better again.”
Walt Mossberg of Re/code was among the reviewers underwhelmed by Apple's iPad lineup this year. Although Mossberg praised the new iPads as the best tablets Apple has ever made, he voiced concern that “for average users, they represent only a modest evolutionary improvement over last year’s models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year.”
Mossberg also lamented the lack of “a higher-resolution screen, a bigger screen, a changed height or width, longer battery life, a snap-on keyboard, or a lower base price” for the iPad Air 2. According to him, the new iPad Air strengthens his view that “the iPad is the best full-sized tablet, but this latest iteration isn’t much of a leap.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern considered the iPad Air 2 a good upgrade for users of models older than last year’s iPad Air. Stern was impressed by the Touch ID, the device’s slim 6.1mm chassis and its high-resolution screen, but was disappointed by the lack of multitasking capability.
“The iPad Air 2 pushes forward in all the ways you’d expect Apple’s tablet to. The blend of screen, build and app quality make it the best full-size tablet you can buy,” Stern wrote. “But it doesn’t move ahead in one area where some of us have been waiting (desperately) for evolution: true multi-tasking, going beyond the one-app-at-a-time functionality.”
For the iPad mini 3, Stern suggested that users should opt for the iPad mini 2 instead of buying the new version because the only improvements Apple has made to the device is the addition of Touch ID and a new gold color option. According to her, the iPad mini 3 is hardly worth paying the $150 premium over its predecessor.
Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch, who called the iPad Air 2 more portable and powerful, wrote that the device “is the best reflection of what a tablet likely means to users currently, though – it’s a big-screened slate with a gorgeous display… There’s no question that if you’re in the market for a tablet, this is the best one available today.”
Here are some more notable reviews of the new Apple iPads: