We own 4 generations of the Apple iPad devices. They are the iPad 2, the iPad3, the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2. We each use the tablets about 8 hours per day for photography editing, video taking and editing and working on the internet. I am extremely familiar with the products and we own a total of 16 tablets using Apple, HP and Android technologies.
In my attached video I have tried to do a comparison between several of the product generations and the overall performance. Physically the iPad Air 2 is about the same, appearance wise, to the iPad Air. If you look closely you will see some differences.
* The iPad Air 2 is 18% thinner and a little lighter in weight.
* The Retina display is better as it is thinner and the colors and clarity is much better to my eyes. The parallax side views are clearer and the colors are deeper and more realistic. It still has 264 pixels per inch and it is an excellent video device.
* The iPad Air 2 has the newer finger print sensor on the home button.
* The rear facing camera is in a different location on the back of the tablet and so your iPad Air cases will not work as they will interfere with your taking photos.
* The microphone ports on the tablet have moved and I show the new locations in my video.
* The portal holes for the stereo speakers are just one row now and larger and the speakers are louder sounding. Not a major difference but it is noticeable.
* The slide switch on the side of the tablet for the mute/screen lock rotate is gone now. You have to make those adjustments in the operating system of the tablet now or use the sound volume switches.
The major differences in the tablet are the ones regarding performance. The CPU and GPU in the iPad Air are just very powerful. In my benchmarking I found the iPad Air 2 to be 56 % faster in performing standard tasks and the GPU graphics speed is 2.5 times faster. The 3D GPU test on the iPad Air 2 was 24157 versus 9051 for the iPad Air which is 2.69 times better. In using a bench marking software the iPad Air was 40129 as a benchmarks and the iPad Air 2 was 62482 which is a major improvement. You can see it in using the tablet, loading apps, browsing the internet and editing videos. My wife’s older iPad 2 was only benchmarked at 15010 so the iPad Air 2 is 4.16 times faster and more powerful. That is a dramatic improvement in only a few years.
The camera on the front and the back of the tablet are improved. The rear facing camera is now an 8 Mega Pixel camera with improved signal processing. The photos are 3264 by 2448 pixels in resolution and the video is 1080P HD. You can take time lapse video, have exposure control, take slow motion video at 120 fps, bust mode photographs, timer mode photos and high resolution panorama shots.
Browsing on the internet is faster and pulling up web sites and videos on the internet is just smooth and fast. The signal is stronger for the WIFI and things just pull up faster. Even syncing with iTunes is faster.
This is an excellent product and my wife loves hers which was a surprise gift from me. I had it engraved for her to make sure that I didn’t take it and claim it was mine.
I own 16 different tablets and have extensively used them all. When it comes to getting a top quality tablet you cannot go wrong with the Apple iPad Air 2. I rated it at 5 stars.
If you have any questions please contact me and I will try to help answer your question if I can.
Several people have asked me in comments and also via email if I recommend a nice iPad Air 2 case. I really like the ZooGue magnetic tilt case. It is highly protective of your tablet and it is by far the best tilting tablet case I have used on any iPad. Here is a link to that product.