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.

 

Camera Battery Life
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  • Solon - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    The Kindle HDX has a 1920x1200 screen, and the iPad Mini 2 has a 2048x1536 screen. So what does "pack more pixels" mean? Because it doesn't appear to mean more, you know, more pixels. And as far as the packing, the HDX is 323 ppi and the Mini 2 is 326 ppi, which is basically the same. But I guess the Mini 2 has a higher ppi, so it wins here too. Reply
  • Kamus - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    "Pack more pixels" means just that. The Kindle Fire HDX has a 2560x1600 resolution. And it has a 339 PPI, and like the iPad, it is factory calibrated. It is, with out a doubt, a true contender for the best LCD display on a tablet. Reply
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    The 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX has a 2560x1600 screen, not the 7". Since the 8.9" hasn't been released yet, all you know are specs on it and we have zero idea if it's calibrated or not. Once it comes out then people can take a look at it. The only numbers I've seen on the Fire HDX are that it encompasses the sRGB gamut which has absolutely nothing to do with accuracy. Reply
  • Morawka - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    yeah he shut up pretty quick after that Reply
  • Bob Todd - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    Comparing any Kindle (or any eReader focused device) to a 'real' tablet is a complete waste of time. The software is so incredibly gimped that using them as a general use tablet is frustrating at best. And don't even start on rooting and custom ROMs. Even with stable builds of something as nice as Cyanogenmod, they tend to never work 100% (e.g. Nook HD+ with CM 10.x vs. any Nexus tab) and have a bunch of little goofy things you have to be able to accept because you bought an eReader hoping it would be an awesome cheap tablet. Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    I will second that - I have both an iPad2 and a rooted Nook HD+. The screen on the Nook HD+ is good, but Cyanogenmod still has enough bugs to degrade the overall experience. And no matter what, rooting is always a pain in the butt. I learned not to use nightly builds, as one of them bricked by device, and I had to revert back to an older build.

    I also Jailbroke my iPad, but there wasn't really much of a need, so just went back to stock with iOS 7. The iPad2 is just a better device than the Nook HD+, despite the lower screen resolution.
    Reply
  • Lizbeth - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    adding google play to amazaon hd/hdx is fairly simple and you don't need a custom rom, just root it and install the app for the google store... Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    The Kindle is also a smaller tablet in terms of screen size, so that's not really a valid comparison... You're looking at 45.2 sqin for the iPad while only 35.6 sqin for the Kindle HDX.

    If you scale the iPad Air's weight by the difference in screen size, you get almost the exact same weight as the Kindle HDX (within 5 grams), indicating that a scaled down iPad Air or a scaled up Kindle HDX would match up very closely.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    The Kindle HDX is lighter because it is plastic, the display isn't properly calibrated like the iPad's, the hardware is much slower, and its software is limited.

    You get what you pay for,
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    Everything you just said is factually inaccurate bar the software part. But don't let that stop you saying it! ;) Reply

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