iPad Air 2 vs. the Competition: Tablet Showdown

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While tablet sales overall have been slowing, Apple hopes to reinvigorate its second-largest revenue source with the iPad Air 2, which has a new A8X CPU, thinner chassis, better camera, and features such as a TouchID sensor. However, it enters a saturated market with some stiff competition. Here is a quick comparison between Apple's new flagship slate and its three closest competitors.

MORE: iPad Air 2: Top Features

  apple-logo-100x100 google-nexus-logo-vector samsung-logo-100x100 amazon
  Apple iPad Air 2 Nexus 9 Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 Amazon Fire HDX 8.9
Price

Wi-Fi: $499 (16 GB), $599 (64 GB), 699 (128 GB)

Wi-Fi + Cellular: $629 (16 GB), $729 (64 GB), $829 (128 GB)

$399 (16 GB), $479 (32 GB), $599 LTE $500 $379 (16 GB), $429 (32 GB), $479 (64 GB
Display 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 display 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 display 10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 display 8.9-inch 2560 x 1600 display
Front camera 1.2 MP  1.6 MP f/2.4 2 MP 1080p
Rear camera 8 MP f/2.4  8 MP f/2.4 8 MP  8 MP
OS iOS 8 Android Android Android
Processor 64-bit A8x CPU + M8 motion coprocessor 2.3 GHz 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 Dual Denver Exynos 5 Octa (1.9 GHz quad-core + 1.3 GHz Quadcore) 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 805 with Adreno 420 GPU
RAM 2GB 2GB 3 GB 2GB
Storage 16 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB 16 or 32 GB 16 GB 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB
Battery Life Up to 10 hours Up to 9.5 hours 8:57 13:42
SD Card Reader No No Yes, up to 128 GB SD Card No
Dimensions 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24-inches 8.9 x 6 x 0.31-inches 10 x 7.5 x 0.26-inches 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.3-inches
Weight

Wi-Fi: 0.96 pounds

Wi-Fi + Cellular: 0.98 pounds

Wi-Fi: 0.9 pounds LTE: 0.95 pounds 1.5 pounds

Wi-Fi: 0.82 pounds 4G: 0.85 pounds

Design

The first thing feature that jumps out is the extreme thinness of the iPad Air 2 (0.24-inches) as Apple continues to push the limits of design. And, while it's half a pound lighter than the 12-inch Galaxy Tab S 10.5, the iPad Air 2 is heavier than the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Google Nexus 9. 

Display

One surprise is that since the iPad Air 2's display is the same as the original, it now has the lowest pixel density of all four tablets. The new Nexus 9 features the same resolution as the iPad Air 2, but with its smaller 8.9-inch screen, the Nexus 9's 287 pixels per inch beats out the iPad Air 2's 264 ppi.

MORE: 25 Best iPad Apps

Value

When it comes to price, iPad fans have to pay about $100 more compared to the 16GB versions of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Google Nexus 9. The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 has the same starting price as the iPad Air 2, but provides a microSD card slot, giving users the capability to add storage.

Special Features

The iPad Air 2 has new features such as an 8-MP rear camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and the Touch ID home button, which will work together with Apple Pay for more secure online purchases. However, each of its competitors has some unique benefits. The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 has a multi window mode, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 provides better parental controls and Amazon's MayDay tech support, and the Nexus 9 will debut with Android 5.0.

Battery Life

Apple claims the iPad Air 2 will last up to 10 hours surfing the Web on Wi-Fi. By comparison, Google claims the Nexus 9's 6,700 mAh battery will last up to 9.5 hours performing the same tasks. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5's 7,900-mAh battery lasted 8:51 on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi), and the Amazon Fire HDX lasted an excellent 13:42. 

Bottom Line

For budget conscious consumers, the Amazon Fire HDX offers great value, while the Nexus 9 offers a great processor at a lower price. Android fans looking for a premium experience will love the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. However, with Apple's huge ecosystem and an even thinner design than its predecessor, the iPad Air 2 sounds like a winner.

Author Bio
Sam Rutherford
Sam Rutherford,
Sam is a former penguin trainer and archery instructor who dabbles in esports and has lived on three different continents. If you have some comments on new tech or the best noodle spots in NYC, drop a line @SamRutherford.
Sam Rutherford, on
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3 comments
  • Ernesto Pulido Says:

    I too am confused with the "winner" being apple air. Because it is a bit lighter and a bit more battery life? Samsung Tab S blows ipad air out of the water. The design, processor and display combined make for the perfect tablet. Another apple fan boy publishing this garbage of an opinion i suppose. 2nd place i would give to amazon hdx. 3rd to apple air and 4th to nexus 9. I have used all of the above as a tablet technician and believe samsung tab s is hands down the winner.

  • Tom Says:

    I don't understand this article. All your points basically put iPad behind the pack, however your conclusion is the iPad is the winner. Where is the logic?

  • James Says:

    I wonder if the new Apple watch has an app for Kindle? Maybe a bit small for reading a book but maybe would be cool for snippets. Would also be cool if Clippings.io did an app.

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