You May Not Need An iPad Air 2, But You're Gonna Want One

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #96

Before I tell you how much I love the new iPad Air 2, let me offer an update on last week’s sizzling scoop about the elusive Apple SIM and why where you purchase your iPad matters a lot (see Episode #95). Since then there have been Apple SIM sightings at Apple Stores in Troy, MI and Portland OR, but I am still unable to locate one in Austin or Houston.

Update: Fed Ex just arrived with a care package from Apple:

Elusive Apple SIM Spotted!

Proof the Apple SIM exists!

My friends at Apple took pity on me and sent me one to play with. The best I can tell, they’re now available at a handful of Apple Stores and are trickling into the rest. For the sake of those who got burned by greedy wireless operators, I hope they become easily available soon.

Moving right along, the whole Apple SIM affair began when I got a new iPad Air 2 for testing. I’m more impressed with it than I ever expected, but before I expound, here’s some background so you know where I’m coming from…

Last year when the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display (now called the iPad mini 2) came out, I wasn’t ready to upgrade my relatively new 4th generation iPad. I thought the first iPad Air was nifty but I didn’t need one… So I played with one for a few minutes and decided that since my plate was already pretty full, I wouldn’t bother reviewing it. 

Now, having spent some quality time with an iPad Air 2, I realized just how much I prefer it over my 4th generation iPad. Of course it’s thinner, lighter, and faster the first iPad Air, but it’s so much lighter, thinner, and faster than my 4th generation iPad I’ll never be happy holding my old iPad again. As far as I’m concerned, it turned into fat, sluggish beast overnight.

The 4th generation iPad (top) is much thicker than the iPad Air 2 (bottom)

And the 4th generation iPad (bottom) is also much wider than the iPad Air 2 (top)

Before I mention some of the improvements that make me lust for one, let me just say that I know that whether or not I should replace a perfectly good (if somewhat obese) iPad with a sleek and powerful new model is definitely a first-world problem.

But then I’m a first-world kind of guy, so here are a few of my favorite things about the iPad Air 2:

  • While the weight difference between the 4th generation iPad and the iPad Air 2 is slightly less than 8 ounces (1.46 vs. 0.98 pounds), and I never had a problem with the 4th gen’s weight before. Now, the 4th generation feels two or three times as heavy as the svelte iPad Air 2, which means I can use it a lot longer before arm or hand fatigue sets in.
  • The iPad Air 2’s display has an antireflective coating that Apple claims reduces glare by 56%. While I can’t confirm the 56% part, I can confirm that the iPad Air 2’s display is significantly easier to read outdoors and under bright lights than my 4th gen iPad
  • It has a Touch ID sensor so you can unlock it and pay for some online purchases with your fingerprint instead of a passcode. Because I’m already used to Touch ID on my iPhone, it’s nice to have on my iPad and more convenient than I expected.  
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular models use the new Apple SIM (see last week’s column), which allows you to purchase cellular data a la carte from several wireless carriers. 

The bottom line is that the iPad Air 2 makes my 4th generation iPad feel obese and slow. Spend a few minutes with an iPad Air 2 and your old iPad will feel positively portly (unless it’s an iPad Air 1). This is easily the best full-size iPad of all time so I implore you not to look at or touch one until you’re ready to buy it.

I wasn’t even close to ready, but I realized within an hour I would never be happy with the 4th generation iPad again, and that Lisa — my wife of over 30 years —will be very happy to replace her even older, porkier, slower 2nd generation iPad with my 4th generation iPad.

Yeah. That’ll work and everybody wins except my wallet.

And that’s all he wrote.