Apple lightens the load with iPad Air

The super-light, super-thin iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina display
The iPad Air is a lot lighter and thinner than its fourth-gen predecessor.
The iPad Air is a lot lighter and thinner than its fourth-gen predecessor.


Apple Inc on Tuesday unveiled the iPad Air, the latest generation of its main tablet series, featuring a 9.7-inch Retina display in a new thinner and lighter design. Precision-engineered to weigh just one pound, iPad Air is said to be "20% thinner and 28% lighter" than the iPad 4, and with a 43% narrower bezel the borders of iPad Air are also thinner.

The new iPad features the "powerful and power-efficient" Apple-designed A7 chip with 64-bit desktop-like architecture, "ultrafast" wireless with faster built-in Wi-Fi and expanded LTE cellular connectivity, and the newly designed iOS 7 featuring "hundreds" of new features.

"[The] iPad created an entirely new mobile computing experience, and the new iPad Air is another big leap ahead," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

"It is so thin, light and powerful, once you hold one in your hand you will understand what a tremendous advancement this is. [The] iPad Air with its 9.7-inch Retina display weighs just one pound and packs the incredible performance of iOS 7 running on a 64-bit desktop-class Apple A7 chip, and delivers all-day battery life in the lightest full-sized tablet in the world."

The iPad Air's Retina display is designed to make Web pages, text, images and video look sharp and realistic, and the new A7 chip allows the battery to be even smaller, according to Apple, helping reduce the overall volume by 24% from the previous generation while doubling its performance and maintaining its up to 10-hour battery life.

The A7 chip in iPad Air is designed to offer 64-bit desktop-class architecture, advanced graphics and improved image signal processing from previous generations. With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, almost everything users do is expected to be faster, from launching apps and editing photos to playing graphic-intensive games. The A7 chip's 64-bit architecture and support for OpenGL ES version 3.0 is said to unlock game console-like visual effects. The new iPad also features the M7 motion coprocessor, designed to gather data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to offload work from the A7 for improved power efficiency.

The tablet features two antennas to support Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) technology, bringing twice the Wi-Fi performance to iPad Air at a data rate up to 300 Mbps. Cellular models also come with expanded LTE coverage to accommodate more LTE networks worldwide, while continuing to deliver support for other fast cellular technology around the world (DC-HSDPA, HSPA+).

The iPad Air now has a next-generation FaceTime HD camera with improved backside illumination sensors featuring larger pixels for better low-light performance. The iSight camera with 5MP sensor and advanced optics, combined with iOS 7 and the image signal processing of A7, should further improve still image and video capture on the tablet, bringing faster auto-focus, up to three times video zoom, five times still zoom, better dynamic range and automatic image and video stabilisation.

The new iPad comes with iOS 7, featuring a new user interface, completely redesigned with a new colour palette, distinct, functional layers and "subtle motion that make it feel more alive". IOS 7 has "hundreds" of new features, according to Apple, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop, enhanced Photos, Safari, Siri and introduces iTunes Radio, a free Internet radio service based on the music users listen to on iTunes.

The iPad Air will be available from Friday 1 November worldwide, but there is no specific confirmation yet on pricing or availability in the Gulf region.

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