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A day after the Nexus 9, Apple announces latest iPads

Hoping to steal some thunder away from the Nexus 9, Apple has now announced the iPad Air 2 and Mini 3. While the Air 2 is at least a real update, the Mini 3 appears to fall incredibly short.
By
October 16, 2014
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Yesterday Google unveiled its latest Nexus tablet, the HTC Nexus 9, bringing killer specs and a slightly more premium design when compared to Nexus tablets past. Now it’s Apple’s turn to bring the world its next-gen tablet offerings as well, with the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.

iPad Mini 3

The third-generation iPad Mini keeps the 7.9-inch form factor of old, and at first look it’s really hard to tell it apart from the last-gen model. About the only major aesthetic difference is the addition of a Touch ID home button, oh and the addition of a new gold color option.

It’s not just the looks of the tablet that stay about the same, the internals don’t see much of a jump either. While the 2nd generation iPad Mini brought significantly improved specs to the mini form factor that evened it up with the ‘larger’ iPad range, the latest model actually keeps last year’s A7 chipset and M7 co-processor. There’s also just a 5MP iSight camera, and really nothing that we can see that screams “major update”.

So why not do much with the iPad Mini line this time around? Our best guess is that Apple was certain that the iPhone 6 Plus would cannibalize a good portion of the Mini’s sales so they decided not to bother with pushing the Mini line forward this time around.

The tablet will start at $399 for the 16GB model, or as high as $728 for the 128GB LTE model. You can find even more details by checking out Apple’s website.

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iPad Air 2

The Apple iPad Air 2 sees a much more significant update than its little brother, bringing a new A8 processor and M8 coprocessor, a 8MP iSight camera, Touch ID, and a thickness of just 6.1mm. Apple says it is “18 percent thinner than the first iPad Air” and is “the world’s thinnest tablet”.

We don’t have exact specs just yet, but basically Apple takes the same overall design as the original iPad Air and has upgraded the internals with more 2014-worthy specs. As for the pricing? The Apple iPad Air 2 begins at $499 for the 16GB model and $699 for the wi-fi 128GB version. Add $130 for LTE.

You can find even more details by checking out Apple’s website.

Apple takes a more aggressive stance on pricing

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Part of the success of Android is that there is a wide range of options, in all sorts of price points. This is something Apple has seemingly been attempting to emulate to some degree with the creation of more product lines in both their phone (5S, 5C and more recently iPhone 6 and 6 Plus) and tablet (old and new Minis, old and new Airs) offerings.

With Microsoft pushing low pricing and Android offering great options at all price points, it seems Apple wants to get a bit more aggressive on pricing this time around. The base pricing for the iPad family now begins at just $249.

Granted that’s for a 16GB version of the three-generation-old original iPad Mini, but for price conscientious non-techie folks that associate the Apple name with high quality, this could be a low enough price to win them over and away from budget-oriented Android offerings — even if the Android options might be newer and likely technologically superior.

What’s your take?

Obviously we are going to be admittedly have some bias against Apple, as Android fans. That said, I think the Apple iPad Air 2 is a reasonably decent update for those that prefer Apple over Android. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the Mini 3. Basically it’s just a refresh for refresh’s sake.

For those that are platform agnostic and simply go with what looks like the best deal, I’d say the Nexus 9 is certainly very real competition for both the Mini 3 and the Air 2, as its size fits between the two Apple offerings and its specs are nothing short of bleeding edge. We’ll be taking a closer look at the on-paper specs of the Nexus 9 vs Apple’s latest in the near future.

Meanwhile, what do you think, with more aggressive pricing and newly upgraded specs for at least the iPad Air 2 — how does Apple’s latest compare to the current and upcoming Android tablets on the market?

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