While we mentioned that the enhanced specs have led to huge performance gains compared to the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Primate Labs has now published a nice pair of charts showing just how dramatic this improvement really is, making the iPad Air 2 far and away the fastest iOS device ever.
The most striking improvement comes in the multi-score benchmarks, where the A8X with its three cores of processing power blows away the dual-core A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. As a result, the iPad Air 2 registers over 55 percent faster than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the multi-core benchmark. Comparing iPad to iPad, the A8X in the iPad Air 2 measures 68 percent faster than the A7 in last year's iPad Air according to the multi-core benchmark.
The iPad Air 2 also sets new high scores in the single-core benchmarks thanks to the 1.5 GHz cores in the A8X, with much of the nearly 13 percent gain over the A8 coming from the 100 MHz speed improvement compared the 1.4 GHz cores found in the iPhone and 6 Plus. The iPad Air 2 of course also compares favorably to the original iPad Air, with single core scores up 23 percent.
Tuesday October 21, 2014 12:17 pm PDT by Eric Slivka
While Apple touted the power of the new A8X chip used in the iPad Air 2 at the company's media event last week, the company as usual opted not to disclose exact specifications on the part, leaving the details up to rumor and speculation until the device starts making its way into the hands of users and teardown experts.
But with Apple shipping out orders to customers for delivery as soon as tomorrow, it appears that at least one user has already gotten his or her hands on the iPad Air 2 and run a Geekbench 3 benchmarking test on it (via Gizmobic). If the result is genuine, and Primate Labs founder John Poole tells MacRumors that it appears to be, it reveals that the A8X contains an unusual triple-core CPU configuration running at 1.5 GHz and paired with 2 GB of RAM.
The extra core and 100 MHz faster clock speed compared to the A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus means the iPad Air 2 scores roughly 13 percent higher on single-core benchmarks and 55 percent higher on multi-core benchmarks than Apple's latest iPhones.
More details will undoubtedly be unveiled in the coming days as teardown experts take the iPad Air 2 apart and chip experts examine the internal layout of the chip.
Monday October 20, 2014 1:58 pm PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple's iPad sales are down for the third straight quarter according to the company's earnings for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2014, selling a total of 12.3 iPads which is down from 14.1 million units in the year-ago quarter. The company has sold 68 million iPads in 2014 and has sold 237.5 million iPads total. The news comes after the company announced its new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 last week at its special media event.
Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook commented that the drop in iPad sales over the past two quarters was just a "speed bump" for Apple. In the company's third-quarter earnings call, Cook highlighted overall sales of more than 225 million iPads since the device launched in 2010 and suggested the tablet market as a whole was still "in its infancy." The CEO also stated at the time that "significant innovation could be brought to the iPad" ahead of this year's new iPad releases.
The new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will go on sale this week, although the company focused primarily on the former at its event. The iPad Air features a faster A8X processor, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a profile that is just 6.1 mm thick, and a new gapless laminated display that produces sharper images. Meanwhile, the iPad Mini 3 includes a few changes aside from the Touch ID home button and a new gold color option.
Apple is also said to be preparing to launch a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro early next year, although some reports have claimed that mass production of the larger tablet has been put on hold to shift resources towards iPhone 6 plus production. The display of the larger tablet will reportedly near ultra high-definition quality and will likely ship with the faster A8X processor.
Friday October 17, 2014 8:06 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has begun accepting online pre-orders for the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 in the United States and several other countries around the world. Rumors have suggested that initial supplies of the iPad Air 2 might be somewhat constrained, so prospective buyers should make their purchases as soon as possible. All models are currently showing shipping estimates of 2-4 business days in the U.S. store.
AT&T is also accepting pre-orders on cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with shipping estimates of 6-10 business days.
Announced on October 16, Apple’s second-generation iPad Air offers several significant improvements over the original iPad Air, including a thinner design, an A8X chip, Touch ID, 802.11ac, support for LTE Advanced, an improved 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.4 aperture, and an anti-reflective screen coating that cuts down on glare.
The iPad mini 3 offers the same internals as the iPad mini 2 (aka the iPad mini with Retina display), but it does come with Touch ID and a new gold color option.
Available in white/silver, white/gold, and black/space gray, the iPad Air 2 is available in 16, 64, and 128GB configurations, with the Wi-Fi only models priced at $499, $599, and $699, respectively. Wi-Fi + Cellular models carry a $130 premium over Wi-Fi models and are priced at $629/$729/$829 for 16/64/128GB capacities.
The iPad mini 3 is also available in white/silver, white/gold, and black/space gray, and it also comes in 16, 64, and 128GB configurations. The corresponding Wi-Fi only models are priced at $399, $499, and $599, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular models are priced at $529, $629, and $729 for 16, 64, and 128GB configurations.
Both models can be pre-ordered immediately from Apple's online store. The company has not yet provided information on when the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 will be available in stores, giving an availability date of "later next week."
Friday October 17, 2014 4:13 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has taken its online store down to prepare for the launch of iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 pre-orders. When Apple announced the two new tablets, it said pre-orders would be available starting on October 17, although the company did not specify when exactly pre-orders would start.
Given the short amount of time between the announcement of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 and the start of pre-orders, it is unclear whether other retailers and carriers will be prepared to offer iPad pre-orders.
Apple's iPad Air 2, which includes several upgrades like Touch ID, an A8X chip, an improved camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and an anti-reflective screen, is available in 16, 64, and 128GB capacities. Pricing in the United States starts at $499 for the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only model and goes as high as $849 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB model.
The iPad mini 3, which has been updated with Touch ID and a new gold color option, is also available in 16, 64, and 128GB configurations. Pricing for the iPad mini 3 begins at $399 for the Wi-Fi only 16GB model and goes as high as $729 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB model.
Apple has not announced when the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 will be in stores or when the two tablets will begin shipping out to customers, giving only an availability date of "later next week."
Thursday October 16, 2014 12:24 pm PDT by Eric Slivka
Historically, users purchasing cellular versions of iPads have had to choose their carrier at the time of purchase, with Apple shipping a device specifically configured for use on that carrier. But with the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, Apple is launching a new "Apple SIM" included with devices purchased in the United States and United Kingdom.
For U.S. users in particular, the Apple SIM allows users to easily move among AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint by taking advantage of short-term data plans as needed. And with EE participating in the UK, even access while abroad is simplified. And of course the system should work equally well for UK customers traveling abroad to the United States.
The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you — with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.
Apple notes in an explanatory pop up on its iPad Air 2 store page that Verizon is not a participating carrier and Verizon customers will need to visit Verizon stores to activate cellular service on their devices.
Thursday October 16, 2014 12:09 pm PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple has posted the full video of today's iPad and Mac event on its website. The video should also be made available later this afternoon on the Apple Keynotes podcast, which can be found on the iTunes Store. [Podcast link: Keynotes, Keynotes in HD, Keynotes in 1080p HD]
Thursday October 16, 2014 11:14 am PDT by Richard Padilla
At today's media event, Apple introduced the all new iPad Air 2. The second-generation tablet features an ultra thin profile that's just 6.1mm thick, much thinner than the 7.5mm original iPad Air. The significantly thinner design was enabled through the use of a gapless laminated display panel that also produces sharper images. In addition to a thinner chassis, the new iPad Air also includes a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a faster A8X processor, a new 8-megapixel iSight camera, and an anti-reflective coating that reduces glare by up to 56 percent.
According to Apple, the iPad Air 2 is 18 percent thinner than the first-generation iPad Air and its A8X chip features a 2nd-generation 64-bit architecture which is 40% faster than the A7 used in the first iPad Air in terms of CPU performance up to 2.5x faster when it comes to GPU performance. Like its predecessors, the iPad Air 2 gets 10 hours of battery life and it also includes an M8 motion coprocessor that gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and an all-new barometer that senses air pressure to determine relative elevation.
Apple has added a Touch ID fingerprint sensor to the iPad Air 2, which was said to be the "most requested feature from customers." With Touch ID, iPad Air 2 owners can use their tablets to make Apple Pay purchases within apps that support the Apple Pay API. The iPad Air 2 does not have NFC support and thus cannot be used to make purchases in retail stores.
The iPad Air 2 has gained 802.11ac Wi-Fi with multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) capabilities. Apple states that the iPad Air 2 contains 2.8x faster performance with support for speeds up to 866 Mbps on Wi-Fi and now contains 20 LTE bands for faster LTE with support for speeds up to 150 Mbps via LTE Advanced.
Apple has also included a new 8-megapixel iSight camera on the iPad Air 2, which features an f/2.4 aperture and can record 1080p HD video. For the first time, the camera can take 43 megapixel panoramas and burst mode photos, and it is also able to shoot time lapse and 120 FPS Slo-Mo video. The front-facing FaceTime camera on the iPad Air 2 has also been improved, with an f/2.2 aperture that lets in 81 percent more light. It lets users take burst mode selfies, single-shot HDR photos, and HDR videos.
Pre-orders for the iPad Air 2 will begin on Friday, October 17, and the tablet will begin shipping at the end of next week. Available in gold, silver, and space gray, the iPad Air 2 is available with 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage capacities, priced at $499, $599, and $699, respectively, for the Wi-Fi models. Cellular models are also available and are priced $130 higher, at $529, $629, and $729.
Wednesday October 15, 2014 10:09 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple appears to have mistakenly updated its iPad User Guide for iOS 8 [Direct Link] with screenshots that divulge details on the company's upcoming iPad updates. The screenshots, designed for Apple's iOS 8.1 update to the User Guide, suggest new iPads referred to as the "iPad mini 3" and the "iPad Air 2" are coming tomorrow.
Both tablets are confirmed to have Touch ID support in the guide and the design of the two tablets appears to be largely the same as the existing versions. Rumors have suggested the second-generation iPad Air may be thinner than the original version due to new integrated display, but that is not clear from the screenshots.
The iPad Air 2 has also been rumored to include a design that does away with the mute switch, but a rear-facing screenshot is not available to confirm that particular design change. The new mini will, however, continue to have a mute switch. Information included within the guide suggests the iPad Air 2 will be receiving an improved camera with support for Burst Mode images.
Apple will introduce the next-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad mini tomorrow, at an event held on its Cupertino campus. Along with Touch ID, the iPad Air is said to be gaining an A8X processor, a new anti-reflective display, and a gold color option. It is unclear if the iPad mini will receive updates beyond Touch ID support as rumors have suggested Apple is aiming to focus on its larger, more popular tablet.
Update 11:45 AM: Apple has reverted the screenshots on the listing to match the currently available iOS 8 version of the guide.
Wednesday October 15, 2014 12:55 am PDT by Richard Padilla
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has landed the contract to produce Apple's A8X chip that will be featured in the company's forthcoming 12.9-inch iPad, according toDigitimes. The report notes that the processors will be intended for "Apple's next-generation iPad to be released in early 2015," and lines up with a report earlier year from Taiwan's TechNews which shared similar details.
Sources close to the production of the A8X also state that the chip is being manufactured with the same 20-nanometer process used for the A8 chip that is found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. However, the report also notes that the A8X's bigger system-on-a-chip may create potential yield rate issues for TSMC.
Recent part leaks have indicated that the A8X chip will likely debut with the iPad Air 2, which is expected to be unveiled alongside the next-generation Retina iPad mini at an event this Thursday.
It is unknown as to whether the company will also unveil the 12.9-inch iPad at the event, however the The Wall Street Journalnoted that Apple was delaying mass production of the 12.9-inch iPad to deal with strong iPhone 6 Plus demand. A report from Bloomberg in August also claimed that the 12.9-inch iPad would be launching in 2015.
Update: While the report was presumed to be referring to the rumored 12.9-inch iPad based on the expectation the device will be "released in early 2015", it is possible it could actually be referring to the second-generation iPad Air, which is all but confirmed to be unveiled tomorrow and has already been seen to carry the A8X chip in leaked logic board photos.
Tuesday October 14, 2014 9:22 pm PDT by Husain Sumra
Just about a day before Apple's October 16 media event, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a new report, saying that he expects supplies of iPad Air 2s to be constrained. His report also suggests that the 27-inch Retina Display iMac will have shipments begin before the end of the year and reiterates that the new iPad minis won't be a significant upgrade.
Of the new products, we think the market will be more interested in iPad Air 2. However, as the poor yield rate of anti-reflective coating cover lens has delayed mass production, we estimate 2014 shipments of iPad Air 2 of 7- 9mn units, lower than the 12mn units of the then-new iPad Air shipments in 2013. We thus expect iPad Air 2 to contribute less to the supply chain than iPad Air did last year. We also don’t expect the event to boost supply chain shares much.
Kuo goes on to once again suggest that a significant update to the iPad mini isn't likely due to the iPad Air's larger "contribution to Apple's sales and earnings" and that iPad mini is seeing limited development resources because Apple is working on a brand-new 12.9-inch iPad.
The 27-inch Retina Display iMac is likely to begin shipments before the end of 2014, with the 21-inch Retina Display arriving sometime in the second half of 2015. The delay between the two models, Kuo suggests, is because of how difficult it is to develop two different sized high resolution panels at the same time.
Finally, Kuo corroborates reports that new MacBook models will not make an appearance at the October 16 event as Apple is waiting on Intel's Broadwell chips before significantly upgrading its laptop line. This includes the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air.
Apple is holding its press event this Thursday, October 16 at 10:00 AM PT on its Cupertino campus. Besides new iPads and iMacs, Apple is also expected to announce the public launch date for OS X Yosemite. MacRumors will provide live coverage of the event.
Tuesday October 14, 2014 9:32 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
With Apple's October media event coming up later this week, the company has reportedly already begun shipping mass quantities of new product into the U.S. and appears to be setting up for a Friday, October 24 availability date, according to a source that has provided accurate information to MacRumors in the past.
The specific product being shipped was not identified by the source, but it likely is Apple's rumored upcoming iPad, though it is not clear which model -- the iPad Air 2, the Retina iPad mini 2, or both -- is being transported.
Physical mockup of iPad Air 2 with Touch ID
The timing would be consistent with Apple's usual strategy for such launches, coming just over a week after the product's introduction. With the exception of major new category products like the Apple Watch or those for which there are severe production constraints, Apple typically unveils a product and ships it within a short period of time if not on the same day. Last year, Apple announced the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini on October 22 and launched the iPad Air on November 1, with the Retina iPad mini landing a few weeks later due to short supplies.
Based on these shipping estimates, Apple likely will announce its new iPad Air 2 and possibly an updated Retina iPad mini on Thursday with a target launch date of October 24. There is no word yet on the possibility of pre-orders, but if Apple does offer a pre-order period, it will likely start very soon after the event in order to allow shipments to be positioned for delivery on launch day.
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