iPad Air 2 vs. the Competition: Tablet Showdown

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

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1 Row 0 - Cell 2 Row 0 - Cell 3 Row 0 - Cell 4
Row 1 - Cell 0 Apple iPad Air 2Nexus 9Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5Amazon Fire HDX 8.9
PriceWi-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
Display9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 display8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 display10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 display8.9-inch 2560 x 1600 display
Front camera1.2 MP1.6 MP f/2.42 MP1080p
Rear camera8 MP f/2.48 MP f/2.48 MP8 MP
OSiOS 8AndroidAndroidAndroid
Processor64-bit A8x CPU + M8 motion coprocessor2.3 GHz 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 Dual DenverExynos 5 Octa (1.9 GHz quad-core + 1.3 GHz Quadcore)2.5 GHz Snapdragon 805 with Adreno 420 GPU
Storage16 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB16 or 32 GB16 GB16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB
Battery LifeUp to 10 hoursUp to 9.5 hours8:5713:42
SD Card ReaderNoNoYes, up to 128 GB SD CardNo
Dimensions9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24-inches8.9 x 6 x 0.31-inches10 x 7.5 x 0.26-inches9.1 x 6.2 x 0.3-inches
WeightWi-Fi: 0.96 pounds Wi-Fi + Cellular: 0.98 poundsWi-Fi: 0.9 pounds LTE: 0.95 pounds1.5 poundsWi-Fi: 0.82 pounds 4G: 0.85 pounds


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. 


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


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.