Apple iPad Air vs iPad 4: What's the difference?

The new Apple iPad 5, called the iPad Air, has been officially announced and with it comes a whole new look and a spec sheet upgrade.

But what exactly do you get? We've pitched the fifth-gen iPad Air against the fourth-generation iPad to see what the differences are, and what the new device will bring with it to decide, ultimately, whether you really need to upgrade.

The iPad Air has a newer, lighter, mini-like build

As many of the rumours suggested, the new iPad Air has taken some design tips from the iPad mini and features a more-curved design.

The speakers have been moved and placed either side of the Lighting port just like the iPad mini and the new model comes with dual speakers.

But that isn't all that has changed on the new iPad in terms of build. Apple has also made the new model lighter and 20 per cent thinner than its predecessor.

The Wi-Fi model of the iPad 4 measures 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm and weighs 652g, while the new iPad Air comes in at 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm and hits the scales at 469g.

Apple launched its fingerprint technology Touch ID on the iPhone 5S back in September and many rumours predicted the technology would come to the new iPad. But alas, no Touch ID technology is present on the iPad Air and the home button remains the same as the predecessor.

A thinner display for the new iPad Air

The fourth-generation iPad comes with a 9.7-inch LED-backlit Retina display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 and a pixel density of 264ppi. Not surprisingly, the new iPad Air also comes with a Retina display, providing the same resolution and pixel density as its predecessor so you will see no change with regards to the image on the display.

What has changed, however, is that Apple has reduced the bezel thickness by 43 per cent in comparison to the previous iPad, meaning you get a larger viewing area, something that was inspired by the iPad mini design.

The same camera

The iPad Air comes with the same 5-megapixel iSight rear camera as found on the iPad 4, despite rumours suggesting it would be upgraded to an 8-megapixel snapper.

The front camera also remains the same as the fourth-generation iPad with a 1.2-megapixel camera, but it is said to have seen an improvement in low-light conditions.

The rear camera comes with an f/2.4 aperture and offers HD video recording, just like the last iPad, and you'll also get the same features including autofocus, face detection and panorama.

Same battery life on the iPad Air, but faster

The fourth-generation iPad comes with a built-in lithium-polymer battery, which promises up to 10 hours of browsing the web on Wi-Fi, watching videos or listening to music and the iPad Air is said to deliver the same.

You might be disappointed that the battery life hasn't increased, but it is worth noting that the iPad Air delivers the same battery life despite the improvements in graphic performance and Wi-Fi speed.

The iPad Air has twice (x2) the CPU and graphic performance as the fourth-generation iPad. Apple says it is also eight times faster than the original iPad.

In terms of storage options, you'll get the same 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB options available on the new iPad as you did with its predecessor.

The iPad Air has an A7 chip

As expected, the processor has been upgraded and the iPad Air moves from the A6X chip found in the iPad 4 to the A7 chip debuted on the iPhone 5S.

The new processor has 64-bit architecture and because iOS7 was specifically built for 64-bit, it takes advantage of the A7 chip.

According to Apple you should see a big difference in the speed such as on the Camera app which will give you two times faster autofocus, higher video frame rates and faster photo capture.

Different colour options on the iPad Air

The new iPad is following in the footsteps of the iPhone 5S in terms of colour scheme but the gold option is being left out.

Its predecessor saw white and black as the only available options, whereas the new iPad will be adding space grey and silver to the line-up.

Conclusion

The new iPad comes with a number of upgrades in terms of internal and external specs. Apple claims it is the "lightest full-size tablet in the world". Not only will you get a lighter and slimmer model than the iPad 4, but you will also get a much faster device with the new A7 processor under the hood.

The iPad Air will be replacing the fourth-generation iPad, although the iPad 2 will remain available with a lower price point than previously. The iPad Air will be hitting the shops starting at £399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model on 1 November, just in time for Christmas.