Gruber: High performance iPad Air 2 marks a turning point

“The new iPad Mini 3 really just gets two things: Touch ID and a gold case option. Really, that’s it. Everything else about it remains unchanged,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “The iPad Air 2, though, is entirely new. It’s a thorough refresh, that not only makes it a nice year-over-year improvement over last year’s iPad Air in just about every single regard, but arguably positions it above the iPhones 6 as the top-tier iOS device, period.”

“Let’s talk performance. The iPhones 6 still have just 1 GB of RAM. The iPad Air 2 has 2 GB. The iPhone’s A8 SoC has 2 billion transistors and two cores. The iPad Air 2’s A8X SoC has 3 billion transistors. According to Geekbench 3, Apple achieved this by going from two CPU cores to three,” Gruber writes. “The Air 2 is noticeably faster than the iPhones 6 in single-core performance, but it’s simply in an altogether different ballpark in multi-core… It is remarkable not only that the new iPad Air 2 is faster than the iPhones 6, but also that it’s faster than a three-year-old MacBook Air, and within shooting distance of a two-year-old MacBook Air. It’s more than half as fast as today’s top-of-the-line 13-inch MacBook Pro, especially in multi-core.”

“The iPad is no longer following in the wake of the iPhone, performance- and specs-wise. It’s forging ahead. With 2 GB of RAM, it’s a year ahead of the iPhone (we hope) in that department. Performance-wise it’s fast enough to replace a MacBook Air for many, many people,” Gruber writes. “The other factor is Metal, Apple’s new low-level graphics API, which is (at least for now) iOS-only. Apple promotes it as being 10 times faster than OpenGL. For games and creative productivity apps that take advantage of Metal — and developers of both seem to be buying in — the iPad Air 2 might be on even footing today with the MacBook Air. It really is desktop-PC-level performance. In short, I don’t think performance is any longer a reason to buy a MacBook Air instead of an iPad Air. The choice comes down to form factor and personal preference. This marks a turning point.”

Much more (camera, feel, storage tiers, choosing a model, and more) in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

Related articles:
T-Mobile to offer $0 down on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3; pre-orders start October 22nd – October 21, 2014
Sales prospects for Apple’s iPad Air 2 look good – October 17, 2014
Apple’s new iPad Air 2 is 13% thinner than a pencil; Touch ID a boon for enterprise users – October 16, 2014
Apple unveils iPad Air 2 – the thinnest, most powerful iPad ever – and iPad mini 3, both with Touch ID – October 16, 2014


      1. “64GB should be the base config.”

        It could be for an extra $100. Apple is going to protect their margins. We should be happy that we can get 4 times the memory for $100 – i.e. “the glass is half full not half empty”.

        1. I see what you’re saying… but at the end of the day 16GB in reality is ~14.9GB, then iOS at ~3GB… a few games and slo-mo videos and you’re stuck.

          Maybe 32GB would be a good start at least, but you have to agree ~11.9GB of space to play with it not a lot nowadays.

        2. There are a lot of consumers that do not even come close to filling a 16GB iDevice, because they load up a few favourite apps and some music and their photos and that’s pretty much it. Maybe a movie or two when they’re taking a long plane flight. My wife has an 8GB iPhone and she’s at maybe half full. Not everybody really leverages every feature on these things, and 16GB is a good entry-level in that the next time you want a new one, you tend to splurge for the bigger capacity.

        3. Although many people are fine with 16gb, at some point, which personally I believe has passed, it’s just simply not justifiable to sell. In other words, there is a TRIVIAL cost to the extra storage, and not providing it becomes a BLATANT margin play.

          There is an Apple Tax, but it’s memory and storage costs.

    1. I expected 32GB to become the base level. But Apple has a plan, and that plan is to incentivize consumers to spend the same $100 that they used to pay to upgrade iOS devices to 32GB, but receive 64GB.

      The bottom level devices with 16GB certainly work, and work well. But that amount of storage is limiting, especially considering the impact of detailed graphics for retina displays on the size of apps. Add high resolution photography and video, and 16BG becomes even tougher to live within.

    2. Gruber reports in the article that many schools and Enterprise customers prefer the 16GB models and are happy to save the money. Bottom line is that friends don’t let friends buy the 16GB model.

  1. The writer has hit on the plan. There have ben tablets and the iPad certainly set the standard. Apple’s competitors quickly flooded the market with iPad wanna-be’s but the iPAd still maintains a distinct lead /advantage in the marketplace. Apple’s capabilities for SOC advancement and integration, however, are something the competition cannot match. Much as the 64 bit iPhone shocked them, I believe there will be a point where the price /performance of the iPAd is untouchable and it will coincide with the IBM partnership to drive iPad adoption in the enterprise through the roof

      1. You don’t understand what I’m saying. Of course you can develop iOS apps, but you need a Mac to do so. iPads don’t have editors and compilers to build apps. As a developer that means I can’t use an iPad for _everything_.

        1. Apple isn’t trying to move everyone to iPad from MacBook, but the difference is now about the best form factor, not so much an issue of performance.

          But who knows, maybe they will introduce Xcode for iOS with the rumored iPad Pro. That would certainly be an interesting milestone.

      2. Don’t confuse iOS with MacOS. MacOS has compilers and an emulator to build and test iOS apps. iOS does not. You can not build an application in iOS running on an iDevice, period. So, as I was saying, contrary to Gruber’s statement, you can’t do everything on an iPad. At least not yet. I hope that changes.

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