Tablet makers have had a tough time of it this year, seeing a slowdown in sales across the board.
Even Apple reported a slowdown in iPad sales in its fourth-quarter earnings report in October.
Apple moved to rectify the situation by releasing what it claims is its finest tablet to date, the iPad Air 2.
Featuring a reworked design, cutting-edge software and more hardware additions than can easily be counted, the iPad Air 2 is designed to reignite interest in tablets and woo existing and new users into Apple's walled garden ecosystem.
However, with competitors, including Google with its latest Nexus 9, having created similarly impressive devices on paper, many buyers have questioned whether the iPad Air 2 is right for them.
We've collected all the key information you need about the iPad Air 2 to make an informed decision, including price, shipping time and internal specifications.
Despite Apple's claim that the iPad Air 2 is "revolutionary", we found during our review that the new model refines, rather than redefines, Apple's offering.
This may disappoint some buyers, but the fact is that Apple's decision not to completely rethink its tablet offering is a wise one, and the changes made to the iPad Air 2 are universally to the device's benefit.
Key upgrades include a reworked A8X processor that is 40 percent faster, and delivers a 25 percent boost in graphics performance, compared with its predecessor, and a custom Touch ID sensor.
Touch ID is a fingerprint scanner that sits in the iPad Air 2's physical home button. It lets users set the iPad Air 2 to unlock only after its holder has proved their identity.
The scanner, combined with iOS 8's inherent security features and the performance benefits of the A8X chip, make the iPad Air 2 one of the best business tablets available.
Online pre-orders of the iPad Air 2 went live on 17 October and will see the tablets being shipped to customers within a few days of placing their orders. From the afternoon of Wednesday 22 October, the iPad Air 2 will be available in retail stores.
Current availability on the UK Apple store rests between three to four days for most models, with that time increasing to four to six business days for the 128GB models with mobile connectivity.
Stock appears to be slim in John Lewis retail stores, with its website indicating that mobile data and 128GB models are all sold out. Both the 16GB and 64GB models are still available at the time of writing.
UK operators O2, EE, Three and Vodafone all confirmed that they will be selling the iPad Air 2 but none appear to have the tablet in stock. EE and O2 are taking pre-orders, while Three and Vodafone are only indicating that the tablet is "coming soon".
The iPad Air 2 has been available for pre-order since 17 October in the UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.
The Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 is available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions priced at £399, £479 and £559, respectively.
Mobile data models add £100 on to the cost, meaning the models are priced at £499, £579 and £659, respectively. These models also feature an Apple SIM to enable quick and easy network switching.
Network providers EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have yet to reveal their offers and pricing on the iPad Air 2.
The iPad Air 2 features Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner. In turn, this means the tablet also supports Apple Pay, allowing products to be purchased online via the touch of a finger, bypassing the need to repeatedly input payment details.
The iPad Air 2 keeps the Retina screen and resolution of the iPad Air, but adds an anti-reflective coating screen that reduces reflections by 56 percent. This helps improve its use outdoors and in brightly lit environments. Apple claims this feature is a first of its kind on a tablet.
Fans of the Retina HD display featured in on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus may be disappointed that the technology did not make the leap across to Apple's tablets.
Beneath the surface of the iPad Air 2 sits an A8X processor, replacing the A7 chip found in its predecessor. This new processor has a similar 64-bit architecture to the A7, but Apple claims the A8X is 40 percent faster and delivers a 25 percent boost in graphics performance.
Apple has also refreshed the iSight camera for the iPad Air 2, which has been boosted to 8MP over the 5MP of the iPad Air. A f/2.4 lens capable of capturing 1080p HD video, Time Lapse and slow-motion footage and Burst Mode images, should compensate for the lack of a flash on the rear-facing camera.
The iPad Air 2 also comes with a new FaceTime HD front-facing camera, with features that allows single-shot HDR image capture and the ability to rapidly snap ‘selfies'.
Faster Wi-Fi connectivity is also featured in the iPad Air 2, and mobile data support is available for 4G LTE speeds up to 150Mbps. The tablet will also come with the recently announced iOS 8 operating system, which has also been rolled out to other Apple mobile devices, and can now be updated to iOS 8.1.
Finally, confirming the maxim "all that glisters is not gold", the iPad Air 2 is available in a gold colour, alongside the space grey and silver colours sported by previous iPad models.
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