DL Editor's Choice: Apple iPad Air 2

DL Editor's Choice: Apple iPad Air 2

Just how do you make the best tablet in the world better?

Apple's iPad Air was Editor's Choice and Readers' Choice for Best Tablet in the 9-inch plus category, in the last Digital Life Awards.

So, for an encore, Apple just had to improve on the Air. And it has. So it is thinner. And faster. And lighter.

Think about it. The original iPad Air was already quite thin at 7.5mm, the same thickness as the iPad mini, and fully 20 per cent thinner than earlier editions of the iPad mini.

Now, Apple has put it on a diet and come out with the iPad Air 2. This is even thinner at 6.1mm, which is 18 per cent skinnier than the original, making it the world's thinnest consumer tablet. Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is 6.6mm thick; and Sony's Xperia Z2 is 6.4mm thick.

The iPad Air 2 is as tall and as wide as the original iPad Air, but by some alchemy, it manages to weigh around 32 to 34g lighter.

In outward appearance, the iPad Air 2 is virtually indistinguishable from the original, with a similar aluminium chassis and chamfered edges. The smoothness and premium feel of an iPad remains, while the build is rock solid.

But as soon as you pick it up, you can immediately feel the difference in thickness. When I saw the first iPad, I could not help going "Wow!"

That was was 13.4mm thick. Now, four years on, you can stack two of the iPad Air 2 together and they will still be thinner than the original iPad. Here's the skinny: It's a full 1mm thinner than my iPhone 6 Plus.

On the other hand, you may not be able to tell that it is lighter than the original iPad Air, because the difference is minimal.

Still, the iPad Air 2 is really light for its size and metallic build. The heaviest model weighs only 444g.

Compare this with Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 10.5 Android tablet weighs 467g and Sony's Xperia Z2 tablet which weighs 439g.

Another difference you will notice in the iPad Air 2 is the metallic ring around the Home button. This signifies that it is the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, the most wanted feature, according to Apple.

The Touch ID is a feature I badly wanted on my iPad. So used am I to the Touch ID on my iPhone that I would put my thumb on the Home button of the original Air, foolishly waiting for it to unlock itself. So, it is refreshingly convenient to be able to skip entering a passcode on the Air.

On the downside, the iPad's mute/orientation switch - sited above the volume controls in earlier iPads - is gone. Sacrificed, perhaps, to keep the device as skinny as it is.

You can still mute the device by holding the volume-down button, and lock the display's orientation in Control Centre. The absence of the mute/orientation switch is an inconvenience, for sure, but one that may soon be forgotten.

The touchscreen of the iPad Air 2 is still 9.7 inches. It has a resolution of 2,056 x 1,536 pixels. But its fully-laminated design eliminates the air gap between glass and display - and makes the iPad Air 2 thinner.

More importantly, it has an anti-reflective coating that cuts glare by 56 per cent. When I put the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 side by side under bright sunlight, there was, indeed, much less reflection from the iPad Air 2. less apparent. The display of the original looked like a mirror.

In colour reproduction, I found the Air 2 to display less white than the original. But colour shift is minimal when the screen is viewed from the side. Brightness is quite consistent across the Air 2's display. And the same photos look sharper on the Air 2 than on the original.

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