The iPad Air moves to a 2-stream dual-band 802.11n solution, a sort of compromise between where the iPad was with its previous single-stream implementation and some of the newer devices shipping with 802.11ac. Moving to two spatial streams obviously helps improve performance tremendously. Peak performance on 5GHz 802.11n, assuming an equally capable AP, went as high as 180Mbps in my tests. I was able to average 168Mbps during our standard UDP WiFi test on 5GHz.

iPerf WiFi Performance - 5GHz 802.11n


Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s MDM9615 modem in the iPad Air, the big difference this round is there’s only a single SKU (A1475) for the cellular model covering a total of 34 countries across the Americas and EMEA. The LTE iPad Air supports a total of 14 LTE bands (1,2,3,4,5,7,8,13,17,18,19,20,25 and 26). In his usual awesome fashion, Brian speculated that the increased number of supported LTE bands was partially a function of moving to Qualcomm’s WTR1605L transceiver.

iPad Cellular Speeds
Property iPhone 3G/3GS/iPad 1 3G iPhone 4 / iPad 2 (GSM/UMTS) iPhone 4 / iPad 2 (CDMA) iPad 3 iPad 4/iPad Mini iPad Air/iPad Mini w/Retina
Baseband Infineon X-Gold 608 Infineon X-Gold 618 Qualcomm MDM6600 Qualcomm MDM9600 Qualcomm MDM9615 w/RTR8600 Qualcomm MDM9615
Max 3GPP Release Feature Release 5 Release 6 Release 7 Release 9 Release 9 Release 9
HSDPA Category Cat.8 - 7.2 Mbps Cat.8 - 7.2 Mbps N/A Cat. 24 - 42 Mbps Cat. 24 - 42 Mbps Cat. 24 - 42 Mbps
HSUPA Category None - 384 Kbps WCDMA only Cat.6 - 5.76 Mbps N/A Cat.6 - 5.76 Mbps Cat.6 - 5.76 Mbps Cat.6 - 5.76 Mbps
EVDO N/A N/A 1x/EVDO Rev.A 1x/EVDO Rev.A 1x/EVDO Rev.A 1x/EVDO Rev.A
LTE N/A N/A N/A 100/50 UE Cat. 3 100/50 UE Cat. 3 100/50 UE Cat. 3

From a spec and performance standpoint, the LTE modem in the iPad Air is no different than what was in the 4th generation iPad. Consistent cellular connectivity options remains one of the staples of the iPad lineup. Although WiFi tablets still tend to be the more popular, it’s hard to argue with the productivity benefit to having LTE on a tablet. Being able to just reach for the iPad Air and know it’ll have connectivity regardless of where I am, without having to search for and log in to a WiFi network, is tremendously convenient.

Just as before, there’s no contract commitment necessary to buy an LTE iPad Air. You can manage your account directly on the device itself. Furthermore, at least in the US, the LTE iPad Air isn’t locked to any one network operator. You specify what provider you’d like to go with at the time of purchase, but afterwards you’re able to swap in any other activated nano SIM from a supported network operator. You could feasibly start out with a Sprint iPad Air and later switch to a Verizon, T-Mobile or AT&T SIM and continue using the device. The flexibility offered by a single SKU with support for a ton of bands is pretty awesome.


Camera Battery Life


View All Comments

  • Ins0mnihack - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    As an owner of a 2nd gen Nexus 7 and iPad 3 (soon to be replaced by an iPad Air) I have to largely agree with this. While I wouldn't call the Nexus 7 a "POS", its an inherently cheap device with an incredibly limited selection of tablet optimised apps.

    While I vastly prefer the flexibility and freedom of Android (particurarly when it comes to app intents, and choosing default apps) it still doesn't make up for the severely lacking ecosystem for Android tablets. And while the Nexus 7 does have a nice 1200p display, the Tegra 4 chipset doesn't seem capable of driving Jellybean at a nice frame rate (or maybe it's just the inherent micro-stutters of Android - either way it stutters when scrolling and during quite a few system animations). iOS's touchscreen responsiveness and frame rate are still much better than Android.
  • ESC2000 - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    Um I'm really doubting you own a nexus7 based on your comments. It has a Qualcomm snap dragon processor, not tegra 4, and it has 4.3. The processor runs it like a charm. The nexus even has a nicer screen than all the 10 inch iPads including the iPad air not to mention it ismuch more reasonably priced. something all non windows tablets lack is good multitasking. A 10" iPad like the air should be more than a gigantic iPod touch. Reply
  • Lizbeth - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    I dunno. The Amazon HDX is pretty tight and isn't listed in the comparison. They are easy to hack and add full google play functionality even if it does void the warranty. Why is Amazon Fire HDX not listed in the comparison? Reply
  • Walkop - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    I like your comment.

    It makes me laugh. :D
  • akdj - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    An absolute and collective "AMEN" John2k13! Thanks for the excellent response...a breath of fresh air---and excellent response from the drivel Mr. dsumanik tries to lay down as 'issues'. Unreal.
    Anand....and the rest of the crew, thanks once again---a magnificent review as always! The depth you...and your crew go to is as extensive as it gets and IMO, easily the most 'objective' on the 'web.
    Thanks again....would be nice for the comment section to be a 'paid' or 'donation only' area---where those that have the ability or should I say---the 'privilege' to post would have to donate to your cause;)
  • pdjblum - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    lol. Your kidding right? Maybe they could make it so only people who agree to kiss anand's ass should be able to comment. Reply
  • robco - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    *you're Reply
  • akdj - Monday, November 4, 2013 - link

    Not kidding...you're the joker here bud Reply
  • teng029 - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    Well said. No one is forced to come to Anand's site to read his reviews. Don't like the way he reviews products? Go somewhere else. Most of us actually appreciate the fact that he does a very thorough job of reviewing products that come his way.

    As for those asking for Thunderbolt on an iPad, you seem to forget that Apple does not own Thunderbolt; Intel does. You also seem to forget that iDevices are based on processor technology owned by ARM; Intel's competition. Why would Intel allow their proprietary technology to run on a competitor's platform?
  • Djasonw - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Your thoughts and comments mirror mine. Well said. Some people are VERY dumb. Reply

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