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October 17, 2014

Apple unveils iPad Air 2 amidst slowing tablet market

'Thinnest tablet in the world' has TouchID, iOS 8 and is Apple Pay enabled.

By Ben Sullivan

Apple has unveiled its latest iPad Air tablet at a launch event this week, the iPad Air 2.

Coming weeks after the release of Apple’s latest iPhone models, CEO Tim Cook said the iPad Air 2 is a combination of capability and simplicity.

He said the iPad Air 2 is "beautifully simple on the outside, but packed with tech inside". The iPad Air 2 comes in slimmer than the previous model, becoming the world’s thinnest tablet. It’s 6.1mm thick and features a 9.7-inch retina display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. Inside is an A8X processor, claiming to be 12 times faster than the original iPad. There’s an 8MP rear camera that can record in 1080p.

The device comes loaded with iOS 8.1 and will be compatible with Apple Pay, with pre-orders starting October 17. Models are available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB options, with the Wi-Fi only models costing £399, £479, and £559 respectively. 4G and Wi-Fi models are priced £499, £579 and £659 respectively. Other new features include Touch ID fingerprint scanning and faster Wi-Fi connections.

However, some experts think that the device won’t go far in helping stop the decline of Apple’s tablet sales. Sales have fallen two quarters in a row, in line with the global slowing of tablet computer sales.

Chris Tingley, Technical Director at Conjure, said that the iPad Air 2 may struggle against tough competition. Google has just announced its Nexus 9 tablet which is cheaper than the iPad Air 2 and comes with a keyboard cover.

Tingley said: "The launch of the new iPads will be a welcome boost for Apple, but it’s questionable as to whether it will help the company’s falling year-on-year tablet sales. While Apple’s overall success in the market is undeniable, reports suggest we’ve reached "peak tablet", and the company is facing tough competition from hardware manufacturers."

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Findings from a Gartner report this month found that tablet sales growth is slowing this year because consumers are favouring other devices such as phablets and existing tablet users cling on tablets they already own.

The report said worldwide tablet sales will reach 229 million units in 2014, which is an 11% increase from 2013. In 2013, tablet sales grew 55%.

Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said that the relationship between different devices continues to evolve. He said: "Some tablet users are not replacing a tablet with a tablet, they are favouring hybrid or two-in-one devices, increasing its share of the ultramobile premium market to 22 per cent in 2014, and 32 per cent by 2018."

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