On the first of November 2013, Apple released the iPad Air, a tablet computer.
The tablet had a beautiful design and up-to-date technology that made it a perfect choice over other tablets.
But Apple did not stop there. The company went ahead and released the iPad Air 2 on the twenty-second of October 2014.
Since then, many have asked the question, “Do I buy an iPad Air or iPad Air 2?”
Though both models are similar in exterior design, there are also differences. Some are apparent, while others are internal.
Therefore, we shall review the similarities alongside the differences of both models.
Table of Contents
- External design
- Internal features
- iOS (iPadOS) support
- An iPad Air or iPad Air 2, which should I get?
As earlier stated, the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 have similar physical attributes. Both are 9.4 inches by 6.6 inches when you look at them from the screen.
However, upon closer inspection, you will discover that the iPad Air 2 is a little thinner and lighter than its predecessor.
These differences are noticeable when both tablets are side by side. Still, some people are not bothered by the slight alteration.
Another external difference is the touch ID fingerprint button at the lower bottom of the tablet. While the iPad Air button spots an icon, the iPad Air 2 is bare.
More noticeably, the iPad 2 doesn’t have the small switch that we see on the iPad Air and earlier models.
This switch usually allows one to select between “mute” and “Rotation lock.”
Although Apple said nothing of this, the iPad Air 2 is louder than the first iPad Air. Both tablets sport dual speakers, but the iPad Air 2 has additional speakers behind the bottom grills.
However, they have two microphones and a port that connects easily to a Mac or Windows PC.
The iPad Air usually comes with either a silver back cover and white front or a gray back and black front.
The iPad Air 2 adds a gold-colored back with a white front to the options of IPad Air.
The iPad models have an IPS LED 9.7-inch display. But, the iPad Air 2’s display is laminated such that the glass cover, LCD, and touch-sensitive layer are in one piece.
It also has a coating that reduces the screen glare compared to the original iPad Air.
Additionally, the iPad Air 2 display has more contrast and brighter colors. So, though their display characteristics are very alike, the iPad Air 2 is slightly better than iPad Air.
This feature of Apple devices makes it a distinctive brand. Both iPads feature a dual camera, but there is a slight variance between them.
Both have a front camera with 1.2-megapixel sensors that can capture still photos and videos.
However, the iPad Air 2 camera has a better low-light performance. Due to its larger aperture and new sensors, it can take clear pictures even with poor lighting.
For the rear cameras, the iPad 2 is better. Unlike the iPad Air that had a 5-megapixel sensor, it has an 8-megapixel sensor.
The slight change improved face detection and also supported slo-mo videos.
Initially, it was easy to differentiate between iPad Air and iPad Air 2 because of their touch screen home button.
However, it is impossible to tell the difference between models that support only WiFi and those that support WiFi and cellular networks. The best method to identify them physically is their model numbers.
The model numbers are toward the bottom at the back of each iPad.
The specific numbers of the models are below:
- A1474 – iPad Air (WiFi)
- A1475 – iPad Air (cellular network and WiFi)
- A1476 – iPad Air (LTE and WiFi)
- A1566 – iPad Air 2 (WiFi)
- A1567 – iPad Air 2 (cellular and WiFi)
You can also identify the models by their order number, which is in the general settings. Nonetheless, it is easier to identify them using their model numbers.
Internally, both have an accelerometer, digital compass, light sensor, and gyroscope. Despite this, the internal features of iPad Air and iPad Air 2 are the most significant difference between them.
Just as Anandtech discovered, the iPad Air model features a 1.4 GHz Apple processor. It also supports a PVR G6430 graphics processor, an M7 motion processor, and 1GB RAM. Initially, there were models with 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB internal storage. Now, it is available in 16 and 32GB only.
On the other hand, the iPad Air 2 model possesses faster processors and 2GB RAM. It comes with different internal storage; 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB.
iOS (iPadOS) support
The first iPad Air models initially supported iOS 7.0.3. With OS 7, the iPad runs smoothly except for certain Apple features.
Interestingly, though Air 2 supported OS 8, it didn’t have these absent features.
Currently, both models support iOS 11 and iOS 12, but iPad Air 2 supports iOS 13 and 14.
Initially, you could buy an iPad Air for a minimum of $499(16GB) to $799(128GB) for WiFi models only. The other models went for a minimum of $629.
When Apple discontinued the 64GB and 128GB, they reduced the price of other models. WiFi models then cost at least $399 and the others, $529 and above.
When Apple introduced the iPad Air 2, it had a different price from the iPad Air. The price ranges from $399 for WiFi models to $699 for others.
However, in March 2016, Apple discontinued the 128GB configuration but later reintroduced it with the 32GB models.
Though the prices were lower, it was still higher than the iPad Air.
An iPad Air or iPad Air 2, which should I get?
Now that you have seen the difference between both iPads, you should opt for the iPad Air 2.
Though both devices are high quality, the Air 2 supports the current iOS version and performs faster.
However, if you are on a tight budget, the original iPad Air is still a good option. Though it doesn’t support iOS 14, it still has an elegant appearance and a high-quality display.