Early reviews of new iPads praise hardware, wish for more

Early reviews of latest iPads praise new hardware, but wish for more


Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Preorders for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will start arriving on doorsteps as soon as tomorrow, and now a flood of early reviews has hit the web.

There’s a general theme throughout these dozen or so reviews of Apple’s newest tablets: boring. While these are unequivocally the best iPads every (like every year since the original), that’s not quite enough anymore.

Lets start with the venerable Walt Mossberg of Recode, who recently wrote an essay defending the future of tablets in the face of iPad sales plateauing. He was impressed with Apple’s latest hardware advancements, but his review was overall pretty ‘meh’, as the kids say:

So when Apple brought out new iPads last week, and I had a chance to test them over the past four days, you might think I’d be pretty excited about them — but I’m not. They are, in most respects, the best iPads ever made. But for average users, they represent only a modest evolutionary improvement over last year’s models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year.

Mossberg goes on to say that “this latest iteration isn’t much of a leap.” In short, not a worthy upgrade if you have either of last year’s models.

The Wall Street Journal ran the headline “The Best Tablet Needs to Work Harder” and mentioned the iPad’s inability to run multiple apps side-by-side (a feature that is reportedly being worked on, but has yet to be implemented).

I constantly yearned for that functionality while responding to emails about potential meeting times, tapping the home button frenetically to switch to the calendar. I yearned for it as I wrote this column, jumping to the messaging app to update my editor on my progress. I even yearned for it when I wasn’t anywhere near my desk, surfing the Web and attempting to tweet an article.

The Journal did praise the iPad Air 2’s new anti-reflective screen coating, as there was a noticeable improvement with viewing angles during outdoor use.

“A monumental achievement in the field of iterative improvement”

The Verge called the iPad Air 2 “a monumental achievement in the field of iterative improvement,” but also “a case study in missed opportunities and untapped potential.” The world is wanting large touchscreens that behave more like desktops, and it’s those desires that are the main sore points in these early reviews.

The iPad Air 2 is blazing fast, according to every review. The camera improvements are noticeable, the thinness is great, and battery life seems to have stayed about the same (for most reviewers—some noticed an actual decrease). But is all that enough to warrant an upgrade? In most cases, no.

Saving your money and sticking with the iPad mini 2 is the way to go

On to the tiniest member of the iPad family. Pretty much every review of the iPad mini 3 says that it’s not worth the extra $100 for just Touch ID and gold, which matches our initial reaction to the device. It seems that saving your money and sticking with the iPad mini 2 is the way to go.

Will Apple answer everyone’s pleas for more from the iPad? It’s looking like a 12-inch iPad ‘Pro’ for early 2015 is becoming more and more of a possibility, but only time will tell.

Here’s are some more reviews worth checking out if you’d like additional reading:


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.