New iPad 9.7-inch 2017 vs iPad Air 2 : What’s the difference?

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New iPad 9.7-inch 2017 vs iPad Air 2: We take a look at how Apple’s newly announced iPad 9.7-inch compares to the stellar iPad Air 2.

Following rumours of new iPad Pros arriving this week, Apple surprised most by revealing just one new iPad model for 2017. The 9.7-inch iPad seems to be very similar to the existing iPad Air 2, so what exactly does the new tablet bring to the table? Is it really that big of an overhaul?

new ipad 2017 7


As we go through this comparison, you’ll start to notice a theme – namely, that not much has changed. Apple has neglected to go for a massive overhaul here, but there are some subtle differences between the Air 2 and this new, slightly upgraded model.

First of all, just to make it clear, the iPad line-up now looks like this: iPad Pro (12.9-inch and 9.7-inch), iPad Mini 4, and the new iPad. The latter retains the 9.7-inch form factor of the iPad Air 2, but it’s a tad thicker, coming in at 7.5mm rather than the Air 2’s 6.1mm.

It’s also slightly heavier at 469g for the standard version and 478g for the Wi-Fi and cellular-equipped model. The Air 2, meanwhile, came in at 437g and 444g. It’s not a huge difference, but then, this isn’t a huge overhaul.

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The new iPad

Other than that, you won’t notice the difference, dare we say, at all. The new model and the Air 2 both come in gray, gold, and sliver colour options, and share the same design in terms of bezels, home buttons, and camera placement. Told you not much has changed.


So if not much has changed design-wise, has there been some more significant changes in the hardware department? In short, not really. The main difference here is that Apple has upgraded the chip in the new model. The 2017 iPad comes packing the newer A9 or M9 chip, whereas the Air 2 features the older A8X or M8. Just how much that will impact performance isn’t entirely clear. The newer chip is certainly an upgrade, but when it comes to daily use, you probably won’t notice all that much of a difference.

The other difference comes with the battery. You’ll find a 32.4Wh offering in the new iPad, while the Air 2 comes with just a 27.62Wh cell. Apple says both will offer 10 hours, battery life, though, so there shouldn’t be any difference in terms of real-world performance. We’ll have more once we’ve tested the new model, of course.

Other than that, you’re essentially looking at the same tablet. Both the new iPad and the Air 2 come with a 9.7-inch Retina display, with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. That means a pixel-per-inch density of 264, which isn’t the highest you’ll see, but it makes for sharp enough images. And yes, both are LED backlit Multi-Touch displays with IPS technology.

Air 2

The Air 2

Storage is also the same on both, with either 32GB or 128GB options available, and the sensors are all the same – you’ll find Touch ID, a three-axis gyro, an accelerometer, a barometer, and an ambient light sensor on both the new iPad and the Air 2.

And it’s the same story with the cameras. On the rear, both tablets sport an 8-megapixel offering, with an f/2.4 aperture and autofocus. It’s a similar setup, but not identical, to the one on the iPhone 6, and it’s a decent enough shooter, even if it’s not quite up to Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7 standards. Round the front, both the Air 2 and the new iPad have a 1.2-megapixel camera.

Finally, you can expect to see the latest version of iOS 10 on both these tablets. Which is no bad thing, as Apple’s latest version of its mobile OS is easily the best yet. You might find it runs slightly faster on the new iPad thanks to that new A9 chip, but it’ll probably be a minimal difference.

Here are the key new 9.7-inch iPad specs compared to the iPad Air 2:

New iPad (2017) iPad Air 2 (2014)
Screen 9.7 inches 9.7 inches
Display Resolution 2,048 x 1,536 pixels (264ppi) 2,048 x 1,536 pixels (264ppi)
Dimensions 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm
Weight 469 / 478 grams 437 / 444 grams
Chipset Apple A9 Apple A8X
Storage 32GB / 128GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB / 128GB
Primary Camera 8 megapixels, f/2.4 8 megapixels, f/2.4
Secondary Camera 1.2 megapixels, f/2.2 1.2 megapixels, f/2.2
Connectivity Wi-Fi (LTE optional) Wi-Fi (LTE optional)
Charging Cable Lightning Lightning
Fingerprint Scanner Touch ID Touch ID
Battery 32.4Wh (10-hour life) 27.62Wh (10-hour life)
Colours Space Grey, Silver, Gold Space Grey, Silver, Gold


Apple has introduced a slight price change, and it’s a welcome one at that. Whereas the iPad Air 2 started at £379 for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and £469 for the 32GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model, the new iPad starts at £339/$329 for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and £469/$459 for the 32GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model.

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The new iPad

Here’s how the new 9.7-inch iPad pricing breaks down:

iPad (32GB, Wi-Fi) – £339/$329

iPad (32GB, LTE) – £469/$459

iPad (128GB, Wi-Fi) – £429/$429

iPad (128GB, LTE) – £559/$559

In other words, the new one is cheaper, so if you haven’t already got the Air 2, it’s probably worth checking out. The new iPad 9.7 will go up for pre-order at 8:00am(GMT) on 24 March.


If you want this put as simply as possible, the new iPad is slightly heavier, slightly thicker, slightly cheaper, and has a better processor than the iPad Air 2. Unless you’re a stickler for tablets being as slim as humanly possible, it’s hard not to recommend the new iPad over the Air 2.

Of course, we’re yet to test it out, so it could be there’s some glaring issue we’re not aware of. But at this point, it’s looking like Apple has made the kind of changes that make the new iPad worth picking up if you’re trying to choose between it and the iPad Air 2, but not worth buying if you already have the Air 2.

And that’s it at this point. We’ll have more once we get our hands on the new tablet.




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