Changing a review score on TrustedReviews is not something we do often or lightly. In the case of the iPad Air 2, though, we felt it was necessary to increase the score to demonstrate that it is the best 10-inch tablet on the market and to reflect the TrustedReviews Tablet of the Year award it won in 2014.
Sometimes when we review a product we are guilty of looking at the horizon – looking at what’s coming soon. I had one eye on Google’s latest tablet when i reviewed the iPad Air 2, but the Nexus 9 didn’t live up to the hype. In addition the more we’ve used the iPad Air 2 the more we’ve come to appreciate it’s design, screen and power. This is the reason that we’ve changed the score to a 10 out of 10.
What is the iPad Air 2?
The iPad Air was deserving of it’s TrustedReviews Tablet of the Year award in 2013 and Apple has come up trumps again with the remarkable iPad Air 2. Remarkable for a tablet that is. You won’t find the iPad Air 2 pushing the boundaries of innovation. It is rather the pinnacle of what’s been done before – the best tablet we’ve ever reviewed. It’s razor-thin, lightning fast and also comes with the best app selection bar none thanks to the Apple App Store.
So it’s slimmer, lighter and faster than its predecessor, and the screen innovations Apple has brought are just what we’ve been looking for. There’s a focus on improving your experience of using a tablet – it’s not just about packing as many pixels as possible into the screen.
The most talked about new feature on the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 is, of course, Touch ID. You can now use your fingerprint to unlock your iPad. It’s about a lot more than that, though. Touch ID on the iPad Air 2 is all about Apple Pay and making it easy for you to purchase securely online at the touch of a button. This is a feature for the future, though. Apple Pay is still limited in its applications in the US and non-existent out of it.
Watch the iPad Air 2 video review:
iPad Air 2: Design
Last year’s iPad deservedly won plaudits for its sleek aluminium design. It’s an ergonomic tablet that also looks and feels premium.
Apple has, by and large, kept the same design for the iPad Air 2, which is no bad thing. But it’s managed to improve on that design in some key aspects.
The iPad Air 2 is ludicrously thin at just 6.1mm, and light, too, at 437g. That’s a whole 1.4mm slimmer and 32g lighter than last year’s Air. It’s not an unhealthy skinny, though – the Air 2 is rock solid. There’s no paper-like film of plastic you might find on some other thin tablets. Instead the aluminium back feels strong and robust, with a slight grain that makes it easy to grip.
There has been one casualty in Apple’s pursuit of a supermodel body. The iPad Air 2 is the first iPad without a mute/rotation-lock switch. It’s a sacrifice we’re not too upset by. You can still easily mute the Air 2 by pressing the volume down button for a second, and lock the screen rotation via the settings menu.
Other than that, the controls are similar to previous models. You get the volume buttons on the right edge and the power button at the top – easy enough to access and use.
The Lightning port for charging and data transfer is at the bottom, flanked by the stereo speaker grilles. It’s not the best location for the speakers, as you can muffle them with your hand while holding holding the iPad Air 2 in landscape mode. We’d prefer front-facing speakers like the ones on the Nexus 9.
There’s been a new colour added to the space grey and silver versions – gold. It’s not too bling, though. The back is a light gold, almost champagne, and the front bezels are white. Our favourite colour remains the space grey.
Now to the additional feature we’ve already mentioned – Touch ID.
iPad Air 2: Touch ID
Touch ID is Apple’s fingerprint scanner. It works by securely storing your fingerprint on the device, so you can unlock the iPad Air 2 with a simple touch. It’s super-slick but it’s less of a boon on the iPad than it is on the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Phones are unlocked a lot more often and are used one-handed, so it’s a neat feature on the iPad Air 2 rather than a game-changing one.
Where Touch ID makes a lot more sense on the iPad Air 2 is that Apple has now allowed developers to hook into it. So these days you can secure all your data on Evernote, for example, behind the peace of mind of your unique biometrics.
Apple’s key reason behind adding Touch ID it to its latest tablets, though, is Apple Pay. Unlike on the iPhones, which come with NFC, you won’t be able to use an iPad to tap and pay in a physical store. Where Apple Pay does impact iPad use is with buying things online.
Add your credit card details to the iPad Air 2 and you’ll be able to use Touch ID to make purchasing dead simple. There are some limitations, though. Currently Apple Pay only works via apps, so you won’t be able to make purchases through a browser.
The other problem is that it’s not yet available in the UK unless you have a US credit card you can connect to it. This should change rapidly as retailers clamour to join up to Apple Pay and make it as easy as possible for you to part with your cash online. Although we’ve already seen some major US retailers refusing Apple Pay in favour of a rival payment system.