Following the unprecedented success of Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ launch, the computer company set the date for their next media event - with the slogan "It's been too long." Leading up to the event, rumors as well as Apple's prior release schedule suggested that consumers would be treated with a new iMac model (with a Retina display) along with a refreshed line of iPads - on top of release information for the next Mac OS X, titled Yosemite, and the highly sought after introduction of Apple Pay in iOS 8.1.
Now that the keynote is over, we have the full details on Apple's latest product additions - which include a number of the previously rumored items along with a few surprises.
iPad Air 2
Dubbed the iPad Air 2, Apple promises that the new model is both "The Thinnest" and "Most Powerful iPad Ever."
Check out the specs of Apple's iPad Air 2 below:
- 6.1mm thick (18 percent thinner than the 7.5mm original iPad Air).
- A gapless laminated display allows for better image quality with an anti-reflective coating capable of reducing glare by 56 percent.
- Touch ID fingerprint sensor (for unlocking, in-app purchases, and more). Because iPad Air 2 does not have NFC support, the tablet cannot be used for retail Apple Pay purchases (a feature that remains exclusive to the iPhone 6 line).
- Faster A8X processor - 40 percent better CPU performance and 2.5x faster GPU performance than the A7 in the original iPad Air.
- 8-megapixel iSight camera with an f/2.4 aperture and 1080p HD video recording capability - with time lapse and 120 FPS Slo-Mo video, plus 43 megapixel panoramas.
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi with multiple-input and multiple-output - supporting 2.8x faster downloads (up to 866 Mbps on Wi-Fi).
- 20 LTE bands allows for 150 Mbps downloads on LTE Advanced networks.
Pricing: Wi-Fi only models - $499 (16 GB), $599 (64 GB) and $699 (128 GB). Wi-Fi + Cellular models carry a $130 premium. Pre-orders begin on October 17th and the iPad Air 2 will start shipping the following week.
No doubt, the increased portability and processing power will continue to encourage adoption of Apple's iPad line as a gaming device. In the company's prior keynote, Apple detailed their Metal developer toolset - which should open the door for even more powerful graphics, and subsequently more immersive experiences, on upcoming devices. Given the overall improvements in the A8X chip, it's easy to imagine that developers will find plenty of fresh ways to utilize increased punch in the device. After all, 40 percent better CPU performance and 2.5x faster GPU performance is nothing to scoff at - and could make an enormous difference for load times, onscreen visuals, and touch input lag, among other considerations.
iPad Mini 3
In addition, to the iPad Air 2, Apple also updated their iPad Mini line - with a relatively minor product refresh.
Nearly all of the Retina iPad Mini's previous specs remain the same; however, new buyers will also receive:
- The Touch ID fingerprint sensor (for unlocking, in-app purchases, and more). Like the iPad Air 2, the iPad Mini 3 will not support Apple Pay at retail stores.
- The option of a gold color choice (in addition to prior silver and space grey colors).
Pricing: Wi-Fi only models - $399 (16 GB), $499 (64 GB), and $599 (128 GB). As with the iPad Air 2, Wi-Fi + Cellular models carry a $130 premium.
iPad Mini 3 can be pre-order on October 17th - and will ship the following week.
27 inch iMac with Retina 5K Display
As rumored, Apple introduced its first iMac with a Retina Display - limiting the feature to the 27 inch model. Neither the 21 inch nor the 27 inch non-Retina Display iMacs were refreshed.
The new base iMac with Retina 5K display ships with the following specs:
- 5K Retina display (5120 x 2880 pixels with 14.7 million total pixels)
- A 3.5 GHz quad-core Intel i5 processor (upgradable to a 4.0 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor)
- AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processor (upgradable to a AMD Radeon R9 M295X graphics processor
- 8GB of RAM
- Two Thunderbolt 2 ports.
Pricing starts at $2,499 for the base model - shipping immediately.
The new iMac isn't likely to court PC gamers looking for their next rig but, with a 5K Retina display, there's no doubt that the computer will deliver sharp visuals for casual players who take advantage of the App Store's copious variety of triple-A and indie game offerings.
Apple also updated the Mac Mini line - dropping the starting price a full $100. Consumers can now purchase a Mac Mini for $499 with slightly upgraded specs: 4th-generation Intel Core processor, Intel Iris, and HD Graphics 5000, PCIe-based flash storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and two Thunderbolt 2 ports.
In addition the company also revealed the release dates for the next Mac OS X update (Yosemite) and iOS 8.1.
Yosemite is a complimentary (read: free) upgrade and was made available to the public shortly after the keynote ended. Readers who are unsure of whether or not to update will want to check their system specs before installing; however, several GR writers have participated in the Yosemite beta and have found the update to be a solid improvement across the board - especially for anyone who syncs documents and media across multiple Apple devices.
iPhone owners will need to wait slightly longer for iOS 8.1. The mobile operating system goes live on Monday, October 20th (as a free update) as will the highly anticipated Apple Pay feature - allowing consumers to purchase products using their iPhone at select retailers.
Readers who are interested in watching the Keynote in its entirety can view the full presentation over at Apple's site - HERE.
Follow Ben on Twitter @benkendrick.