Apple released the iPad Air Friday (Nov. 1), a 9.7-inch Retina display tablet designed to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor, the fourth generation iPad. In comparison, the specs are almost identical, with changes to the tablet’s form factor and hardware.
The new A7 SoC with 64-bit desktop architecture upgrade bumps up the speed of this latest iPad offering from Apple. Benchmark test results indicate an increase in performance on the iPad Air over the fourth generation iPad. According to CNET, iPad Air received a benchmark test score of 2643, beating the iPad fourth generation’s score of 1408. This 80 percent increase undoubtedly improves productivity while offering seamless navigation on the new device.
Besides the upgraded SoC to A7 from A6X for more power, graphics performance also received a boost with the addition of the PowerVR G6430 GPU. These hardware components are also found in the iPhone 5S, making the iPad Air an ideal companion device.
Additional specs on the iPad Air include a 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU with 1GB of RAM, a resolution of 2048 x 1536 and 264 ppi on the 9.7-inch display. For a sleeker and lighter design, the new iPad Air is 0.29-inches thin, 9.4-inches in length and 6.6-inches in width. It's 20 percent thinner and 28 percent lighter then the fourth generation iPad and runs on the latest Apple iOS 7 software, as found on the iPhone 5S.
Available in two color options of space gray or silver, the iPad Air can be purchased directly from the Apple Store online and in stores. The starting price for the Wi-Fi only version is $499 for the 16GB model and $599 for the 32GB model. For the Wi-Fi/LTE capable version for use on carrier networks AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon, the starting price is $629 for the 16GB model and $729 for the 32GB model.
The iPad Air also offered in 64GB and 128GB, priced between $699 to $929 depending on the connectivity model and storage capacity. Walmart has the Wi-Fi only 16GB iPad Air on sale for $479. Apple, along with retailers Best Buy, Staples and Target are matching the discounted price.
The iPad Air is now available in the U.S. and Canada and globally throughout Asia and Europe. Apple will release a smaller 7.9-inch replica of the iPad Air, the new iPad mini with Retina display later in November. Let us know in the comments if you plan on purchasing the iPad Air or waiting for the new iPad mini.