WiFi

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

Cellular

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
w/WTR1605L
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.

 

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  • superflex - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    You can cherry pick timeframes to make their stock look good.
    Over the last year, the stock is down 12%.
    Reply
  • Janette - Saturday, November 2, 2013 - link

    @dsumanik: Yeah, what @John2k13 said. Reply
  • whatsa - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    John,
    you didn't do to bad yourself- lmao
    Reply
  • peterfares - Monday, November 4, 2013 - link

    I'm sure if Apple implements NFC plenty of people will use it. So many people have Apple devices and you won't need to guess or remember if you can send things to each other. NFC is a bit of a mess right now. For contacts and URLs it's standard and should work between any device. But the big use case --files-- is a mess. On Android you basically can only send files between devices of the same manufacture. WP has file transfer standardized but it doesn't work with Android.

    Plus Apple users love to show people they have the latest Apple device and will love to beam things back and fourth.
    Reply
  • Walkop - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    You accuse this guy of bias (which he obviously is, alongside being totally ignorant to one of the best tech reviewers out there (MKB does incredible videos). But you have no idea what you're saying yourself with some areas, and you very clearly have a bias towards the iPad.

    Touch ID is the more of a gimmick than Haptic Feedback. I've used it on the Nexus 10; it makes a BIG DIFFERENCE in the feel of the onscreen keyboard. NFC is very useful if you know others with Android devices; I've used it on various occasions. Wireless charging is extremely convenient, especially if its on your desk and you use your phone on-and-off.

    As for software; yes, the iPad hardware is considerably improved. But on the base level, the OS hasn't really been updated in years save for iOS7. That update added a lot of foward-facing changes, but not really too much functionality that hasn't been around already. iOS multitasking just got bumped up to be closer to Android, but still isn't nearly as flexible. Sharing is still difficult. You can't Bluetooth a group of PDFs to a friend (which I do weekly on my Android device), even!

    Gesture Type. I CANNOT give this up. I can't stand typing on an iPad because the keyboard experience is so sub-par compared to my Nexus 10, and it will only improve with KitKat where you can swipe through the spacebar to combine multiple words in a single gesture.

    You have apps, but so do Android tablets. There are many fantastic applications in every field that do their jobs admirably, and Google's set of tools are fantastic for writing, accessing information, sharing, and editing many formats of information. There aren't as many, but there are a lot of GOOD ones and even phone apps scale very well on a 10" display.

    And the Nexus 10 2013 will very likely bring the most powerful non-Apple SoC to the table: Snapdragon 800. It matches or beats the Apple A7 in many areas, although it is defeated in others. Simply put, it is a VERY competitive chip with the A7 and, really, they are basically equal.

    So please, stop bashing features that really DO matter to a lot of people, and I won't bash the iPad's lack of functionality (at a base level) when compared to Android devices out there. The iPad isn't the "perfect" device, neither is my Nexus 10. But we can't act like either is.
    Reply
  • Brakken - Thursday, November 14, 2013 - link

    Love your response.

    So tiring having thoughtless and random posts!
    Reply
  • ivan256 - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    That's a pretty uninspired list of proposed features.

    IMO, wireless charging is pointless. Is it really that hard to plug it in? How do you wireless charge while you're using it? It's added cost and size for trivial levels of added convenience.

    USB3 sync would be fine, if it actually sped things up. I'm sure they'll get around to it. Who doesn't wireless sync these days though?

    NFC would be another "me too" for a bandwaggon that is already slowing down. Really, think about the few places where NFC is catching on, and tell me you'd really use a 10" tablet in those situations. It would be almost as bad as the iPad-as-a-tourist-camera people.

    Here are some better ideas:

    Relaxing the iron fist - Let us install our own apps from outside the app store. If Apple wants to sign them first and charge a nominal fee so that they can "prevent piracy," so be it. But I want to install my own stuff. I want iOS to be able to participate in things like the Humble Bundle. I want more iOS OSS.

    Location Spoofing. Let us set location services to lie to apps temporarily. This is useful for a variety of reasons ranging from development to privacy.

    Home screen icon sizes. No further explanation needed.

    Put the good camera on the front. Nobody should be using the rear facing camera in most situations, but you want good low-light performance in FaceTime and Skype. If they could figure out how to center the camera in the middle of the screen through some optics magic, that would be incredible.

    Front facing speakers....

    Most of this boils down to just making the thing something I don't feel like I need to jailbreak. It's hard to improve a device that is almost perfect.
    Reply
  • dmunsie - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    "Location Spoofing. Let us set location services to lie to apps temporarily. This is useful for a variety of reasons ranging from development to privacy."

    Developers can already do this, so what you are really asking is for privacy reasons. And in that case, Apple allows users to turn off location services on a per app basis already. I can tell you already that Apple is not going to allow users to spoof location data to any apps -- either you give an app accurate location data or no location data. Anything else puts their relationships with developers at risk -- for example, MLB would almost certainly pull their app if users could say they were in a different location since they wouldn't be able to enforce the blackout rules (I personally hate the blackout rules, but since they are legal agreements, MLB has to abide by them).
    Reply
  • tigmd99 - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    NFC? Dude, get updated! NFC (and Google Wallet) is a dying technology!!

    iBeacon and AirDrop are killing NFC.
    Reply
  • algalli - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    NFC is a dead issue. Most people have IBeacon which should be far more useful to stores and customers than NFC was ever intended to be. It is innovative if not yet widely recognized. Reply

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