Apple iPad Air 2 And iPad mini 3, Just What You Expected: Slimmer, Faster, A8X And iOS8

For as masterful as Apple is at its controlled leak strategy for new products releases, even the massive Cupertino outfit can't avoid the occasional spoiler (sometimes by its own hands). Or perhaps it can avoid it and simply decided for whatever psychological reason that revealing just about everything there is to know about the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 before their official unveiling today was the right decision from a marketing perspective. Heck, Apple even joked about the leaks during its press event today. But either way, Apple's newest tablets are now official.

As previously rumored, the iPad Air 2 is powered by Apple's custom A8X chip. The A8X is based on a second-generation 64-bit architecture and has 3 billion transistors. It sports a 40 percent faster CPU and 2.5X the graphics performance as the previous generation. And if you care to know, it's 12X faster than the original iPad, along with a 180X bump in graphics performance. File that up as a fun fact because it's not really relevant to compare the original iPad four years after it was released, as much as Apple insists on doing so.

iPad Air 2 Thin

The iPad Air 2 is the slimmest model yet -- it measures just 6.1mm thick, which is an impressive 18 percent thinner than the first iPad Air. Not only can it hide behind a pencil, if you recall the old ad, but this time around it can fit invisibly behind a shaved down pencil (cue the applause). Oh, and if you're still comparing to the original iPad, two iPad Air 2 models slapped on top of each other is still slimmer than the iPad 1 (another fun fact).

Apple upgraded the iPad Air 2 with a Touch ID sensor, which apparently has been one of the most requested features. It also gets an 8-megapixel iSight camera with f/2.4 aperture. It can record 1080p video, take photos in Burst Mode (a feature that was introduced in the iPhone 5s), and record both timelapse and slo-mo videos.

iPad Air 2 Models

On the front is a new FaceTime HD camera with a brand new sensor and larger f/2.2 aperture that allows for 81 percent more light. It also has improved face detection, can burst shoot selfies, take single-shot HDR photos, and record HDR videos.

Once again, pricing remains the same, though Apple did away with a 32GB option like it did on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The iPad Air 2 costs $499 for 16GB, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for 128GB -- add $130 to each model for the LTE option. And yes, it comes in a new gold color option (as well as Space Gray and Silver). You'll be able to pre-order the iPad Air 2 tonight, with shipments going out next week.

As an aside, Apple quickly introduced the iPad mini 3. It too has been updated with Touch ID and support for Apple Pay within apps (same goes for the iPad Air 2). Otherwise, it's pretty much the same as the previous generation model, but with a gold option. It was interesting to see Apple spend so much time talking about the iPad Air 2 and devoting so little breath to the iPad mini 3, perhaps because it feels the smaller sized tablet will be eclipsed by the iPhone 6 Plus.

iPad mini 3

In any event, the iPad mini 3 costs $399 for 16GB, $499 for 64GB, and $599 for 128GB -- add $130 to each model for LTE connectivity. Alternately, you can pick up an older iPad tablet, with the iPad mini starting at $249, iPad mini 2 at $299, and the original iPad Air at $399.