Apple iPad Air Specs vs. the Competition
Apple’s iPad already dominates the U.S. tablet market, and now the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has given its slate yet another refresh. With an improved A7 processor and a slimmer design, is the iPad Air still the gold standard of tablets?
As the tablet market continues to surge, Apple is undoubtedly facing increased competition from its rival vendors. Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung have upped the ante when it comes to design, display quality and overall hardware, making Apple’s iPad Air launch more crucial than ever. True to the leaks, the iPad Air looks similar to the iPad Mini in terms of design, and will be available in White & Silver, Space Gray and Black.
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Apple's newest addition to the iPad family features the same 9.7-inch Retina Display, but the company has redesigned the slate to make it thinner and lighter. At just 0.29 inches thin and weighing 1 pound, Apple claims that its iPad Air is the thinnest 10-inch tablet on the market.
In terms of sheer horsepower, each slate in our chart is well equipped to handle nearly every task you can imagine throwing at them. Apple has an advantage in that it's the only tablet on the market capable of 64-bit processing, giving the iPad Air an edge when it comes to productivity. It also features the same M7 motion co-processor found inside Apple's iPhone 5s, meaning that it has a dedicated chip for detecting motion. That's not to discredit the competition, however. Both the Tegra 4 chipset found in the Surface Pro 2 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 that powers the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 are among the snappiest mobile chips on the market. It will take side-by-side benchmarking to answer this question.
If you’re the type to jot down notes or occasionally sketch, you may be well advised to check out the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) or Sony Xperia Tablet Z. Although you can purchase a stylus for any tablet, including the iPad Air, these slates come with software and apps optimized for use with a stylus. For example, both tablets let you launch apps or pull up menus using the buttons located on the stylus. If you’re interested in using a stylus as one of your primary forms of input, the Note 10.1 or Xperia Z may be your best bet.
The thinnest 10-inch slate, however, is the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, which measures at just 0.27 inches thin. It's also just a hair heavier than the iPad air at 1.1 pounds. Not to mention, you’ll be hard pressed to find a tablet as premium as the Xperia Z that also boasts waterproof functionality.
Apple boasts that it has sold 170 million iPads to date, but only time will tell if the iPad Air will prove to be as popular as its predecessor. The slate hits stores on Nov. 1 and starts at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model.
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