Everything We Think We Know About the iPad Air 2 (Updated)

By Gerald Lynch on at

All done with the iPhone 6 now, yeah? Good, as it's time to look forward to Apple's new iPads instead. The iPad Air, introduced last October, was a significant change for Apple's tablet line, which (while making it slightly easier to imagine what to expect from the next model) makes it more difficult to guess what ground-breaking changes could be in store. Apple gets its money worth from redesigns, and it may be too early for anything dramatic.

But the rumours having been trickling in and now there's a confirmed event of some description. Ahead of the expected iPad Air 2 unveiling, this page is your hub for everything related to the not-yet-existing tablet, its little made-up brother the new iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display and (whisper it) maybe even the iPad Pro. We'll be updating all the information here as new details emerge, so keep this page bookmarked, and keep clicking back for more.

What Will the iPad Air 2 Look Like?

With last year's iPad Air being a significant change for the iPad design, expect any iPad Air 2 to be more iterative in its construction. It may be slightly lighter, and slightly thinner (made possible perhaps by using an integrated display), but the iPad Air already approaches a design so thin and minimal as to be difficult to shave very much more off its build. And with the iPhone 6 seemingly taking its design cues from the iPad Air, it's not even as if there's much there to crib from the smartphone on this outing.

Although the official event invite hints that "It's been way too long" – could this mean that valuable millimetres are to be shaved off its size? An iPad Air Mini even? As ever, your guess is as good as ours.

What is likely to change is the Home button, integrating for the first time Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner according to numerous leaks.

The one really intriguing rumour in regard to industrial design springs from an alleged third-party case leak. Pictured below, it shows a hole just above the space left for existing volume keys:

Take it all with a massive pinch of salt, but some have suggested this could be a space for an LED flash, until now missing from the iPad line, or even a laser-assisted focus, as seen in the LG G3.

Finally, there's the suggestion that, like the iPhone line, the iPad Air 2 will be offered in a gold chassis option. Taiwan-based accessory maker Yi Lin Enterprises, posted the following image to Weibo, a rumour that has since been backed up by Bloomberg sources:

What New Features Will the iPad Air 2 Have?

It's been long rumoured, but with the iPhone 6 ushering in Apple's Apple Pay payment system, TouchID is likely finally ready to come to the iPad. Plenty of leaked shots have showed off the alleged new tablets with fingerprint scanners in tow.

One Taiwanese leak revealed a TouchID sensor that's supposedly destined for Apple's next tablet, in addition to some silicon-porn of the new iPad's motherboard. The leaked imagse, of course need to be taken with the usual fistful of salt. But provided that they're accurate (and they do at least line up with other leaked shots), the photos reveal a few things: a gold-coloured TouchID sensor, that implies the new iPad Air is getting Apple's TouchID, and a gold colour option; and an upgraded A8 processor, alongside 2GB of RAM.

Will Apple Pay come to the iPad Air 2? That's an interesting question -- pulling out a tablet is nowhere near as convenient as whacking out a phone to make a payment with. While the security tech is there, the actual form factor probably isn't appropriate. You may still see it appear in the new iPad Mini, but don't be surprised if Apple doesn't push it heavily in the iPad Air sequel.

However, you may still see the new iPads get NFC chips, just like the new iPhones. While Apple appears slightly reluctant to open up the full capabilities of NFC initially, it'd be a great feature to have on any iPad Air 2. Aside from pairing speakers with the devices wirelessly, the larger screen of the iPad makes it a good match for many NFC peripherals -- everything from stylus pens to Skylanders-like toys for the kids.

In an uncharacteristically careless move by Apple, the company seemingly confirmed the existence of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 one night ahead of each product's grand unveiling. A user manual showing both tablets and revealing a burst-mode camera feature for the larger tablet briefly appeared on iTunes:

What Will the iPad Air 2's Specs be Like?

Have you seen the iPhone 6? If not, go give it a look -- its internals will almost certainly make up the basis for any iPad Air 2, just as the iPhone 5S paved the way for the original iPad Air.

Though only paired with 1GB of RAM in the iPhone 6, the A8 chip is a pretty powerful processor, despite being just dual-core. A 64-bit beast, it's using two billion transistors, is 25 per cent faster, 50 per cent more efficient and 13 per cent smaller than its A7 predecessor. It's manufactured using a 20nm process as opposed to the A7's 28nm process.

Screen size and resolution is unlikely to change -- 9.7 inches and 2048 x 1536 respectively. What could get a bump up, according to ET News, is the rear camera's capabilities, rumoured to be jumping from 5MP to 8MP. An increase in camera megapixel count would also add credence to the afore-mentioned laser-focus rumour, too -- though you'd wonder why it wasn't first seen in the newest iPhones.

And What About the iPad Pro and New iPad Mini With Retina Display?

Things have been suspiciously quiet on the iPad Mini front, though it would be very un-Apple like to leave the smaller slate out in the cold at the launch. Indeed, a source speaking to Bloomberg stated that "A new version of the 7.9-inch iPad mini is also entering production and will probably be available by the end of the year.”

In terms of specs, just like with the iPad Air 2, you can be certain that the iPad Mini with Retina...er...2 will finally get a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, and would likely get an A8 processor internally too. A rumour from the Taiwan Economic Daily News pointed towards the next iPad Mini being 30 per cent thinner than the current model. That'd leave it as just 5.25mm thick -- which seems impossibly thin and highly unlikely.

One rumour that refuses to die is that Apple will be introducing a larger, business orientated iPad Pro. It's said to have a 4K resolution, and measure up at 12.9-inches.

According to TechNews, the iPad Pro will make use of an A8X processor, a beefier build of the A8 found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. It wouldn't be the first time Apple released a higher-spec version of an existing processor -- though last year's A7 didn't get a revamp, both the A5 and A6 processors eventually popped up in Apple gear as "X" variants. That improved processor would likely be necessary to power the larger screen and, you'd hope, some more advanced multitasking options for power users.

It's still a bit of a long-shot, but with Apple recently opening up to the idea of larger devices, it's not impossible. But without a market precedent that proves super-large tablets can be a success, it's unlikely. That of course hasn't stopped a few oversized leaks -- take a look at this one from Chinese social network Weibo, alleged showing off the chassis for a super-sized iPad:

Bloomberg's sources have added further fuel to the fire, stating that the 12.9-inch version will land at some point in 2015.

When Will the iPad Air 2 Release Date Be?

Apple has sent invites out for a 'Special Event' on 16 October at the Town Hall Auditorium in Cupertino, with a European event being held at the Apple Store on Berlin's Kurfürstendamm.

recent rumour has Re/code suggesting Apple will show the world its newest iPads (both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini third-gen), with a new Retina iMac and the the public release of OS X Yosemite also making an appearance.

How Much Will the iPad Air 2 and New iPad Mini Cost?

For the most part, unless Apple introduces any crazy technology, expect this to remain the same, across the board. So for the iPad Air that'd be £399 for the 16GB, £479 for the 32GB, £559 for the 64GB and £639 for the 128GB versions. That goes up to £499, £579, £659 and £739 respective of storage size for the 4G versions.

For the Retina iPad Mini, they're priced at £319 for the 16GB, £399 for the 32GB, £479 for the 64GB and £559 for the 128GB Wi-Fi only editions. For 4G-enabled options those prices rise to £419, £499, £579 and £659 respectively.

There's no precedent for the iPad Pro to go on, but of course expect it to be more expensive than the iPad Air.

However! If the recent iPhone 6 / iPhone 6 Plus pricing and storage space structure is anything to go by, that 32GB option may be disappearing altogether.


Updated: This post was originally published on September 19th 2014, and updated on October 6th 2014 to reflect a new possible launch date, fresh rumours about the A8X processor in the iPad Pro and additional sources regarding the gold iPad options. It was updated again on October 15th 2014 to include a leaked gold TouchID sensor. It was updated once more  on October 16th to include the iTunes user manual leak.