On Thursday, October 16, 2014, Apple held a press briefing to announce additions to the iPad line of iOS tablets and the upcoming release of iOS 8.1. Most notably, Apple announced an update to the iPad Air. Dubbed the iPad Air 2, the new version of the iPad Air features reduced thinness, at only .24 inches, less than 1 pound total weight, improved display with antireflective coating, more powerful 8MP camera and advanced graphic and operating CPUs (featuring the new A8x chip). The iPad Air 2 also features TouchID to bring it to parity with the latest iPhones.
The iPad Mini with Retina saw a name change, but other than a new color of Gold and TouchID, not much more. The new iPad Mini with Retina is now called the iPad Mini 3. Last year’s model has now been renamed to the iPad Mini 2, and has seen a $100 price drop. Again the only addition you get for the iPad Mini 3 is TouchID, and a $100 price premium.
As with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, apple has eliminated the 32 GB storage option for both the new iPads. The storage options now run from 16 GB for the base model, to 64 GB for the step-up model, and 128 GB for the high end model. The iPad Air 2 starts at $499. Each step up in additional storage will cost $100 extra, and if you elect to add a cellular connection, it is $130 extra. This means that the iPad Air 2 is priced from $499 at the low end to $829 for the most expensive model with a cellular connection and 128 GB of storage (this is actually $100 cheaper than the original iPad Air for both the 64 GB and 128 GB models since the 32 GB option was eliminated).
The iPad Mini 3 starts at $399 for the 16 GB WiFi only version and runs to $729 for the 128 GB WiFi plus Cellular model. Last year’s iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 both received $100 price drops and will remain available. The storage options for the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 have been reduced to only 16 GB or 32 GB, but there is now only a $50 premium to move to the 32 GB version. Pricing for the iPad Air now ranges from $399 for the 16 GB WiFi model, to $579 for the 32 GB WiFi plus Cellular model. The iPad Mini 2 now ranges from $299 for the 16 GB WiFi model to $479 for the 32 GB WiFi plus Cellular model.
With the changes to the iPad line of tablets, the recommended model of iPad for most attorneys is the 64 GB iPad Air 2 (and if you plan on adding a lot of content to your machine, it is even nicer to pick up the 128 GB model). Although I have always been a fan of the iPad Mini, with the iPad Mini 3 retaining all the same base technologies as last year’s iPad Mini 2, it is simply no longer worth the cost (a $100 premium for TouchID is simply ridiculous). As anyone running iOS 8 on the iPhone 4s or iPad 2 knows, without having new hardware, running operating system updates on older hardware can be painful. Although the iPad Mini 2 will currently run iOS 8 without problems, when spending this much on a technology purchase, having the advanced microprocessor found on the new iPad Air 2 should guarantee acceptable performance for at least the next 2 iOS releases. TouchID is also a game changer for the iPad. I always highly recommend secure passwords, and the addition of TouchID on the iPad Air 2 will allow you to more easily use longer passwords and also better secure selected apps. All users should stay away from the 16 GB model of any of the iPads as this will quickly have you struggling with space limitations.
Apple also announced that iOS 8.1 will be available later today (Monday October 20, 2014). Most notably, iOS 8.1 adds Apple Pay functionality to the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. Apple Pay will be available as a payment option for in-app purchases on all the models mentioned, but you will only be able to use Apple Pay at retail locations if you are using iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 plus. The other notable addition with iOS 8.1 is the beta release of iCloud Photo Library (backing up of full resolution copies of every photo on your iOS device), and the return of the Camera Roll. iOS 8.1 also will include various bug fixes and performance improvements.
The iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 are both currently available for purchase and will ship as early as this week. They will also be available from retailers shortly. The prior models of the iPad Air and iPad Mini have also already received the promised price cut. If you are in the market for an iPad but not interested in the new models, you should expect to see great deals on the discontinued 64 GB and 128 GB models of the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 as retailers attempt to eliminate old inventory. Apple also has great deals for Refurbished iPads in their online store. More to come once iOS 8.1 is released later today.