iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Air 1 – which one of these older iPads should you choose?

Pad Air 2 GoldApple released its 12.9-inch and later 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Some people prefer to get older, both new and second-hand, iPad because of lower price. iPad Air and its successor iPad Air 2 are still good devices. If you are thinking about getting older iPad and you can’t decide between iPad Air and iPad Air 2, this guide is for you.

These iPads are very similar. Biggest difference is SoC performance, both CPU and GPU, and iPad Air 2 got double RAM in compare to iPad Air. Now we will look at SoC performance:

iPad Air got A7 chip, iPad Air 2 got A8X chip. CPU in A8X is about 40% faster than A7. A8X got tripple-core processor, A7 got 2 cores. GPU in A8X is 2.5x faster, beating Intel HD 4400. GPU used in A8X is PowerVR GXA6850, iPad Air in it’s A7 got PowerVR GX6430. As you see, iPad Air 2 is much more powerful. Brand-new Motion coprocessor M7 found in iPad Air was improved too. Both iPads got similar battery life.

RAM – sometimes, apps crash because of low memory. Or tabs in Safari are reloaded etc. iPad Air 2 is a solution. It got 2 GB RAM in compare to 1 GB found in iPad Air. iOS can still run well on 1 GB RAM, but 2 GB is much better. And that’s not all. Multitasking introduced in iOS 9 works well, but on iPad Air you can’t use Split View, because of low RAM. You can still use Slide Over and Picture in Picture.

Display is slighty better, with antireflective coating, more vivid colors and greater contrast. Display is fully laminated – cover glass, touch sensor and LCD were fused into one layer. When you touch the screen it feels as if you’re touching your content. Resolution is same – 2048 x 1536 pixels at 264 DPI. But brightness and color reproduction is slighty worse on iPad Air 2.

iSight camera on iPad Air 2 is very similar in compare to iPad Air. Resolution was boosted from 5 to 8 megapixels (3264 x 2448 pixels). Here are some little improvements with noise reduction and face-detection. FaceTime HD camera retains its 1.2 MPx, but it has a larger aperture that lets in 81% more light, so videocalls are more brilliant. With iPad’s Air 2 dual microphones, background noise is better reduced.

Touch ID. Introduced with iPhone 5S, Touch ID is now coming to iPad Air 2. You can unlock your iPad by using your fingerprint. Or make app purchases. Or protect supported apps by fingerprint and more. You can add up to five fingerprints. Fingerprint scanner is built-in into Home Button. Older iPad Air does not support this feature.

iPad Air 2 got new interesting hardware feature – barometer. It is used to measure air pressure. In iOS is no app for directly access to barometer by default, but you can download from App Store many apps for displaying barometer data.

iPad Air 2 supports wi-fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, first generation iPad Air does not support ac standard. A 802.11 ac wi-fi with MIMO can result in up to 2.8x performance. Both iPads can work in dual channel (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz). iPad Air 2 supports 20 LTE bands in compare to iPad’s Air 1 14 LTE bands. iPad Air 2 got Bluetooth version 4.2, his older brother got older 4.0.

And what about size and weight? Here is little comparison. First is iPad Air 2, the second one is iPad Air 1:

  • height: 240 mm vs. 240 mm
  • width: 169.5 mm vs. 169.5 mm
  • depth: 6.1 mm vs. 7.5 mm
  • weight (Wi-Fi only): 437 g vs. 469 g
  • weight (Cellular): 444 g vs. 478 g

Both iPad came with 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB storage options. First-generation iPad Air got another 32 GB storage option.

I personally think, that iPad Air 2 is much better choice, because of longer iOS support in next years thanks to 2 GB RAM. First generation iPad Air already does not support Split View multitasking, which is essential for me and it’s main feature of iPad Air 2. What’s next? And if you plan to keep your iPad for longer than 2 years since now, iPad Air 2 is much better choice. You can still look for iPad Pro too, 9.7-inch or 12.9-inch model, but iPad Air 2 is still powerful device. If your budget is low, iPad Air 2 is good choice.

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