iPad 2017 or iPad Air 2?

Mr. 123

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Original poster
Sep 20, 2016
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Hi I am planning on buying an iPad, as my iPad Air 1 is getting a bit old.

I love the apple smart case which is available for the iPad 2 but sadly not for the iPad 2017 (which doesn't even have a silicone back cover from apple).

The newer iPad is a bit faster right? But how major are the differences? It feels wrong to buy an older model but the case for the iPad Air 2 is really great.

What do you guys think? How much better is the iPad 2017?
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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The 2017 iPad has the lack of laminate display that the Air 2 has, but the 2017 iPad has the A9 processor, which is faster over the Air 2. Otherwise, I don't think the differences are drastically apart, both models have their advantages/disadvantages.

The 2017 iPad will likely be supported longer over the Air 2 as well, which Is something to consider. The 2017 iPad also has a larger battery over the Air 2, which is reportedly equivalent to 10 hours for both models.
 

Neodym

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Jul 5, 2002
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When I moved from the iPad Air 1 to the Air 2, I immediately noticed the shorter battery time and the reduced reflections on the - admittedly - slightly darker screen.

The shorter battery time is really more of a nuisance than a problem. And it can be easily countermeasured by recharging more often.

The screen reflections on the other hand are there to stay. Depends on your use case, really.

With the Air 2 being on the market for quite some time now, there are lots of inexpensive accessories available. And each is (usually) explicitly marked for being Air 2 compatible.

Regarding longevity: The additional CPU core keeps the Air 2 competitive imho. As the trend in IT is towards more cores in general, I'd expect iOS to become more multi-core aware and thus becoming better in leveraging the power provided by the 3rd core. So chances are that support for the Air 2 and the iPad 2017 will end around the same date.

How about getting a 9.7 pro? Either with reduced storage or by upping your price limit. At least worth considering, imho.
 
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Neodym

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I'm not sure that "buy the slower, older, more expensive unit" has ever been good advice.
With Apple, the advice usually is "don't go for a first-gen device". Admitted - one can argue whether the iPad 2017 could/should be considered a "first-gen" device. But for sure it's a cost-optimized one.

I'd go for the 2017, and did. The Air 2 is still great, but why?
As always, it depends on individual use case.
  • Workflows that can use the 3rd core or use-case environments that benefit from anti-reflective coating, would point clearly to the Air 2.
  • The hollow feeling of the unlaminated iPad 2017 screen is not for everyone. If it's similar to the Air 1 (which other people claim), the device surely feels more "plasticky" when used. Had this sensation when coming from the iPad 3 and lost it again when moving to the Air 2.
  • No teething problems with the Air 2.
  • Accessories are established, refined and probably cheaper on the Air 2.
  • Price difference might be an issue, but I would expect to get comparable (if not slightly better) prices by looking for a refurb device. Some vendors may also offer special deals on the "old" product.
No offense intended, but you're (naturally) slightly biased by your recent purchase :)
 

Jodiuh

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2009
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Neither.

Reset your Air 1 and wait for a better Pro.

I had the Air 2 & 2017 for a week each. The 2017's noticeably quicker due to processor, but also has a better wifi chip. The 2017 also bothered my eyes for some reason, but the lack of laminated display did bother me.

I have a Pro now and it's so much better than either.
 
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rui no onna

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Oct 25, 2013
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Regarding longevity: The additional CPU core keeps the Air 2 competitive imho. As the trend in IT is towards more cores in general, I'd expect iOS to become more multi-core aware and thus becoming better in leveraging the power provided by the 3rd core. So chances are that support for the Air 2 and the iPad 2017 will end around the same date.
The extra core wouldn't really help. The iPad 2017 already matches or beats performance of the Air 2 in multi-core benchmarks. If you have a heavily multi-threaded task, then the iPad 2017 will be the same or slightly faster than Air 2. If you're running a task that's bottlenecked by single core performance, then the iPad 2017 will be significantly faster than the Air 2.

Really, the choice between one or the other (assuming similar price point/capacity) boils down to how much one values the fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating on the Air 2.
 

Mr. 123

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 20, 2016
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I am leaning towards the 2017 iPad because performance is more important to me than the display. However, the lack of cases for the 2017 iPad is unfortunate...

I really like Apple's iPad cases (always used a Smart Case instead of just a Smart Cover, because I like protecting the back), but they only sell a smart cover for the 2017 iPad.

The ideal thing would be if I could find a back cover that works with the Smart Cover, but haven't found any yet.
 

Howard2k

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Mar 10, 2016
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I am leaning towards the 2017 iPad because performance is more important to me than the display. However, the lack of cases for the 2017 iPad is unfortunate...

I really like Apple's iPad cases (always used a Smart Case instead of just a Smart Cover, because I like protecting the back), but they only sell a smart cover for the 2017 iPad.

The ideal thing would be if I could find a back cover that works with the Smart Cover, but haven't found any yet.

"Many" (I don't know how many) of the iPad Air (1) cases work with the 2017 iPad. I picked up a Targus iPad Air case on clearance and it fits perfectly.
 

Neodym

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Jul 5, 2002
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"Many" (I don't know how many) of the iPad Air (1) cases work with the 2017 iPad.
AFAIR the biggest (only?) problem is that buttons and cam have slightly changed positions. Having sufficiently big openings on the case (as often seen with cheap ones) should do.
 

rui no onna

macrumors 604
Oct 25, 2013
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I am leaning towards the 2017 iPad because performance is more important to me than the display. However, the lack of cases for the 2017 iPad is unfortunate...

I really like Apple's iPad cases (always used a Smart Case instead of just a Smart Cover, because I like protecting the back), but they only sell a smart cover for the 2017 iPad.

The ideal thing would be if I could find a back cover that works with the Smart Cover, but haven't found any yet.
I find the $5-15 Smart Case clones on Amazon to work just as well the official Apple Smart Case. Better in fact. I originally purchased a red leather Smart Case for my iPad Air 1. The fit was bad and it had noticeable overhang. Unacceptable for something that cost $80.
 
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JPack

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Mar 27, 2017
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iPad (2017) of course. You want the significantly better battery life, Wi-Fi, and performance.

It doesn't make any sense to buy a discontinued iPad Air 2.

Apple isn't making a Smart Case for the iPad (2017) because they know the customers who buy the new iPad aren't suckers who will spend $79 for the Smart Case when there are compatible ones for $7.99 on Amazon.
 
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darksithpro

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Oct 27, 2016
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Hi I am planning on buying an iPad, as my iPad Air 1 is getting a bit old.

I love the apple smart case which is available for the iPad 2 but sadly not for the iPad 2017 (which doesn't even have a silicone back cover from apple).
, the new 2017
The newer iPad is a bit faster right? But how major are the differences? It feels wrong to buy an older model but the case for the iPad Air 2 is really great.

What do you guys think? How much better is the iPad 2017?

Oh boy. A lot of good comments here. First of all if you're coming from an iPad Air 1 you're not going to notice the lack of the anti-reflective coating. Also since the Air 1 is a little thicker than the Air 2 you probably won't notice any difference in thickness either. Bottom line is the Air 2, while being older and discontinued is of higher quality and is thinner. It's just got an older processor and that's literally the only difference, but it's a triple core, vs the dual core 2017. So in multi threaded apps there's not going to be much difference in real world use. I'd say get the new one, unless you can get a really good deal on an Air 2. Regardless both are really nice and will last...
 

recoil80

macrumors 68030
Jul 16, 2014
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I was about to buy an Air 2 but they went out of stock before I could get one, it was a birthday present and I couldn't wait so I bought the new iPad.
I have to say I was skeptical at the beginning and that was the reason why I was interested in an Air 2, but the display is ok, the iPad is thicker and heavier than Air 2 but when you put in on a case you can barely noticed that.
The new model is snappier because the A9 is faster on single core performance, so I'm not disappointed.
 
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Jodiuh

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2009
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I am leaning towards the 2017 iPad because performance is more important to me than the display. However, the lack of cases for the 2017 iPad is unfortunate...

I really like Apple's iPad cases (always used a Smart Case instead of just a Smart Cover, because I like protecting the back), but they only sell a smart cover for the 2017 iPad.

The ideal thing would be if I could find a back cover that works with the Smart Cover, but haven't found any yet.
You're getting a better CPU and wifi chip. That's it. For $300 to $400. Despite the A9 being better than the A7 in a lot of ways, the A9 is almost 2 years old.

If you had something older than an Air 1, I would say an upgrade might be a worthwhile idea. I would really wait.
 

Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
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You're getting a better CPU and wifi chip. That's it. For $300 to $400. Despite the A9 being better than the A7 in a lot of ways, the A9 is almost 2 years old.

If you had something older than an Air 1, I would say an upgrade might be a worthwhile idea. I would really wait.
Wow. It's like there's a disinformation campaign about the new iPad.


OP - please see this link and you'll see some real details on the differences:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad There's a good table that you can use to compare the iPad Air and 2017 iPad. There's a lot of folks who will tell you that they're practically the same device but you can largely disregard what they say.


2GB of DDR4 RAM, faster storage, better camera, close to double the performance in CPU, better wifi, touchID etc.
 
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MacDevil7334

macrumors 65816
Oct 15, 2011
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It depends on how you use an iPad and what you value. For me, I use my iPad for reading, taking notes, watching movies, surfing the web, and listening to music. None of these are CPU intensive activities. So, in my case, the better laminated screen and thinner lighter chassis on the Air 2 make it a no-brained over the 2017 iPad. The speed bump from the A9 chip would be mostly wasted on me and certainly wouldn't be enough to offset the other pluses on the Air 2.

Your use cases might be different so you need to evaluate the pros and cons for yourself. But, if it were me, the Air 2 wins hands down.
 

samcraig

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Jun 22, 2009
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Forgetting about screen size - would the same hold true when comparing the iPad (2017) vs the iPad Mini 4 since the chips and screen are different between the two?
 

MrGimper

macrumors 603
Sep 22, 2012
6,101
6,384
Andover, UK
Wow. It's like there's a disinformation campaign about the new iPad.


OP - please see this link and you'll see some real details on the differences:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad There's a good table that you can use to compare the iPad Air and 2017 iPad. There's a lot of folks who will tell you that they're practically the same device but you can largely disregard what they say.


2GB of DDR4 RAM, faster storage, better camera, close to double the performance in CPU, better wifi, touchID etc.
Can't see where in that table it states the the 2017 iPad has faster storage, better camera (the table shows the same camera specs) and better TouchID (it's still Gen 1 TouchID)

Edit: Just read that you had said Air vs 2017 iPad, and not Air 2