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(Pocket-lint) - Apple quietly released a new iPad in March 2017, simply called iPad. The new model replaces the iPad Air 2 as Apple's standard tablet offering, sitting above the iPad mini 4 and below the two iPad Pro models.

The iPad Air 2 might have been discontinued through the Apple online store, but you can still pick it up at other retailers. We have therefore put the new 9.7-inch iPad up against its predecessor to see what the differences are and what changes have been made. You can also read how the new iPad compares to the iPad Pro 9.7 in our separate feature

New Apple iPad (2017) vs iPad Air 2: Design

  • Same lovely, solid aluminium build 
  • No rose gold colour option for either
  • iPad Pro is thinner and lighter 

The Apple iPad Air 2 measures 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm and weighs 437g. It comes in three colours comprising gold, silver and space grey and it's thinner and lighter than the original iPad Air with a lovely, solid design.

The new Apple iPad (2017) has the same design as the iPad Air 2, and on the surface you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. The new iPad has put on a bit of weight though, coming in at 469g for the Wi-Fi only model and 478g for the Wi-Fi and 4G LTE variant - making it heavier than the iPad Pro 9.7 too. In reality, this weight difference won't make much difference to your experience, but it's something worth noting. 

The new iPad also has a slightly thicker frame, coming at 7.5mm compared to the iPad Air 2's svelte 6.1mm, which is down to the lack of fully laminated display on the new model. Both the new iPad and iPad Air 2 are the same when it comes to height and width though and they also have the same aluminium build and Touch ID sensor within the home button. 

Like the iPad Air 2, the new iPad (2017) is only available in the same space grey, gold and silver colours, with no rose gold option like the iPad Pro 9.7.

New Apple iPad (2017) vs iPad Air 2: Display

  • Both have 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536 pixel displays (264ppi)
  • New iPad has brighter display
  • iPad Air 2 has a fully laminated and anti-reflective display

The Apple iPad Air 2 sits in the middle of the iPad line up when it comes to size. It has a 9.7-inch display in comparison to the 7.9-inch screen of the iPad mini and the 12.9-inch size of the larger iPad Pro.

The iPad Air 2 has a resolution of 2048 x 1536, which means it offers a pixel density of 264ppi. That's the same as the original iPad Air but the iPad Air 2 comes with an anti-reflective screen, as well as a bump in contrast and colour. The latter aren't hugely noticeable but the anti-reflective technology makes a big difference and overall, the iPad Air 2's display is great.

The new iPad 2017 offers the same size and resolution as the iPad Air 2, but Apple claims the new model has a brighter screen. As we mentioned though, it loses out on the fully laminated and anti-reflective features found on the iPad Air 2 and Pro models, which is why the new model is a little thicker. Neither the iPad Air 2 or the new iPad have Apple's True Tone technology on board. 

New Apple iPad (2017) vs iPad Air 2: Camera

  • Both tablets have same front and rear cameras
  • 8MP rear camera, 1.2MP front-facing FaceTime HD camera
  • Up to 1080p video recording capabilities on rear

The Apple iPad Air 2 and new iPad (2017) both feature an 8-megapixel rear camera, coupled with a 1.2-megapixel front camera. As tablets aren't as commonly used for taking shots as smartphones, this is more than adequate. They are the same cameras as found on the iPhone 5S, meaning that while the iPad Air 2 and new iPad's cameras are good, they aren't as good as the iPhone 6S and therefore the iPad Pro 9.7.

The rear cameras will shoot video up to 1080p at 30fps, while the front camera will offer up to 720p. If you want higher resolution recording up to 4K, you'll need to look at the iPad Pro 9.7.

Regardless of what you think about using an iPad as a camera, the iPad Air 2 and new iPad both perform well so if you want to take photos using your tablet, both will hold you in good stead.

New Apple iPad (2017) vs iPad Air 2: Hardware

  • New iPad has A9 chipset
  • Same internal storage options
  • Both have up to 10-hour battery life

The Apple iPad Air 2 comes with the A8X chip and the M8 motion co-processor. This is supported by 2GB of RAM and there are internal storage options of 32GB and 128GB with no microSD support, as is the way with all Apple devices.

The new iPad (2017) meanwhile features a slightly faster 64-bit A9 processor. It's not quite on the same level as the A9X processor found in the iPad Pro, but it should provide a noticeable increase in performance over the iPad Air 2. Both the iPad Air 2 and new iPad are claimed to deliver up to 10 hours battery life.

The new iPad comes in the same 32GB and 128GB storage options as the outgoing Air 2 and of course, there's no microSD support. Apple has once again stuck to its dual speaker setup for the new iPad, so while sound quality will be good, it won't be as powerful as the four speaker setup on the iPad Pro. There is also no Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard compatibility on either the iPad Air 2 or the new iPad.

New Apple iPad (2017) vs iPad Air 2: Software

  • Both run iOS 10

Both the Apple iPad Air 2 and the new iPad 9.7 run on iOS 10, meaning the software experience will be almost identical across these two models.

The new model doesn't come with any additional features, such as Apple Pencil compatibility as we mentioned, so in this instance the two will be completely identical.

New Apple iPad (2017) vs iPad Air 2: Price

The Apple iPad Air 2 starts at £379 and goes up to £499, depending on which storage capacity you choose and whether you opt for Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and Cellular.

The new iPad (2017) on the other hand, has a starting price of £339, stretching to £559 for the highest storage capacity and Wi-Fi and Cellular. 

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New Apple iPad (2017) vs iPad Air 2: Which should you buy?

Both the iPad Air 2 and the new iPad (2017) are great tablets. Not a huge amount has changed in the new model, except for a lower price, which is always welcome, a faster processor and a lack of the fully laminated display.

Aside from those differences, you're looking at the same tablet so the only reason to buy the iPad Air 2 over the new iPad is if you can find it significantly cheaper. If you were putting off buying an iPad because you felt they were too expensive, now is probably the best time yet.

Writing by Max Langridge and Britta O'Boyle.