Thinking about buying an iPad for your business? Apple's brand-new iPad Air 2 is the slimmest, lightest and most powerful iPad yet. But its predecessor, the iPad Air, isn't so shabby, either.
Whether you're choosing between the iPad Air 2 and the older iPad Air or are considering an upgrade, both devices are top-of-the-line tablets that have plenty to offer business users.
The iPad Air 2 features many improvements over the iPad Air. But, for business users, are these upgrades worth the premium price tag? Read on to find out how the iPad Air 2 compares to the iPad Air and to see which device is better for your business. [iPad Air 2: Top Business Features]
Design and display
What you'll immediately notice about the iPad Air 2 is that it is thinner than the iPad Air. It has the same width and height dimensions — 9.4 inches by 6.6 inches — but at 0.24 inches thick, it's 18 percent slimmer than the iPad Air's 0.29 inches.
Apple also boasts that the iPad Air 2 is its lightest iPad yet, but some users may find the difference to be negligible. The iPad Air 2 weighs 0.96 lbs., just 0.64 ounces (28 grams) less than the iPad Air.
Both devices are built with the same sturdy aluminum unibody and 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536-pixel LED-backlit Retina display. Where the difference lies is in the display's design — the iPad Air 2 is fully laminated and uses a custom-designed anti-reflective coating. This results in 56 percent less glare than you'll see on the iPad Air, making the screen clearer and easier to read under the sun or in different types of lighting conditions, Apple says.
The iPad now has the same security as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While the iPad Air uses a four-digit passcode to unlock the device, the iPad Air 2 takes security to the next level with Touch ID fingerprint-scanning technology.
With Touch ID, you can unlock the iPad Air 2 simply by placing your finger on the home button. Touch ID also lets you authorize secure purchases on iTunes, iBooks, the App Store and Apple Pay. Without Touch ID, anyone who knows your passcode can access and compromise your device.
Power and performance
The iPad Air 2 is packed with more power than ever. It uses Apple's new A8X chip with 64-bit architecture and M8 motion coprocessor, whereas the iPad Air uses the A7 chip with the M7 motion coprocessor.
What's the difference? The A8X/M8 combination gives you desktop-class performance on a tablet, with speeds and graphics that Apple says "rival many personal computers." This means the iPad Air 2 can handle even the most demanding business apps and tasks, delivering 40 percent faster CPU performance and 180 times faster graphic performance than the iPad Air.
Both devices give you up to 10 hours of battery life while browsing the Web on Wi-Fi, and up to 9 hours on cellular data.
How much storage do you need in an iPad? Keep in mind that iPads have built-in storage, which means you can't expand it using a microSD card — you're stuck with the amount of storage you buy. Both iPads start at 16GB, which is likely not enough storage for most business users.
If you need an iPad with plenty of storage, go for the iPad Air 2. In addition to the 16GB model, the iPad Air 2 comes in 64GB and 128GB models to accommodate your business needs. In comparison, the iPad Air only comes in 16GB and 32GB options.
Another area where the iPad Air 2 has a leg up on the iPad Air is its photo and video quality. Although the 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime HD camera, which is capable of shooting 720p HD video, is the same on both devices, you'll really see the difference in the iPad Air 2's rear-facing camera.
Apple has upgraded the iPad Air 2 with the iPhone 6's stunning 8-MP iSight camera. In comparison, the iPad Air's iSight camera was 5 MP. Now, you can also take photos in burst mode, as well as record 1080p HD slow-motion videos. Combined with the A8X processor and larger capacities, the iPad Air 2 gives you more processing power and storage for all your photo- and video-editing needs.
Cost and availability
If price is a determining factor, the iPad Air is the cheaper option. The 16GB model costs $399 ($529 with cellular capabilities), and the 32GB model costs $449 ($579 with cellular capabilities).
The iPad Air 2, on the other hand, costs $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 64GB model and $699 for the 128GB model. If you need a data connection, the Wi-Fi + Cellular models cost $629, $729 and $829, respectively.