The  iPad Air 2 was unveiled at Apple's special launch event on 16 October. Here's everything you need to know about the new iPad Air: its design, features, size and specifications, the differences between the next-gen iPad Air 2 and the current iPad Air, the iPad Air 2's UK launch date and UK price, and much, much more.

Read our iPad Air 2 first look review here.

And our iPad mini 3 first look review here.

Welcome to our iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price article. Here, we present everything we know about the next iPad Air 2014, including the iPad Air 2 release date, new features the iPad Air 2 has, and iPad Air 2 images. If you are looking for information on Apple's rumoured iPad Pro we've gathered the rumours about that device in this article: iPad Pro release date

iPad Air 2 release date: When will the new iPad Air 2 come out?

The iPad Air 2 was unveiled to journalists at Apple's Cupertino campus in California on 16 October (and simultaneously to European writers in Berlin). Apple's press event was massively hyped, and delivered in spades.

The event took place on Apple's Cupertino campus and plenty of speculation centred on that slogan - "It's been way too long" - and its secret meanings. But it looks increasingly like it was just a joke about how recently we all got together for the iPhone 6 series launch.

When will the iPad Air 2 go on sale? Apple confirmed that you would be able to pre-order the iPad Air 2 from 17 October. Oddly, when the Apple Store began taking orders for the iPad Air 2 there was no sign of a pre-order button, suggesting that the new iPad is, in fact, simply available to order now. There's 2-4 days before the iPad Air 2 will dispatch once you've ordered it, but it looks like you could have a new iPad in your hands by 22 October.

There's no word yet on when the iPad Air 2 will arrive in stores, but we're now concluding that the usual early opening (and enormous queue that's there for several days before hand) won't be happening for the iPad this year. 

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: Design

The iPad Air 2 is thin - seriously thin. (Apple illustrated this with an entertaining video of a pencil being sliced with a laser, as a play on the size comparison the company used to show how the thin the first iPad Air was.) 

At 6.1mm thick, the iPad Air 2 is the slenderest tablet Apple has yet produced, and significantly thinner than the 7.5mm-thick iPad Air 1. (Width and height, mind you, are the same as the iPad Air 1. From the front it looks like the same device.)

Apple said it trimmed off some of the iPad's disgusting obesity by removing the air gaps between the interior plates and bringing them closer together (which apparently also reduces internal reflections).

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: Performance

The iPad Air 2 gets a new processor chip, the A8X - a souped-up version of the iPhone 6's A8. This has three billion transistors and offers (Apple says) 40 percent faster performance in most apps and up to 2.5x graphics performance. (More on the iPad Air's specs in the dedicated section below.)

We will obviously have to test this out, and we suspect that such headline gains will be apparent on only the latest and most demanding apps.

Offering a historical perspective (if four years counts as history), Apple pointed out that the iPad Air 2 is capable of up to 12 times faster processing than the iPad 1 (the first-gen iPad, that is, not the iPad Air 1!), and a staggering 180 times faster graphics. Goodness me!

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: Screen

We thought that the iPad Air might get a screen upgrade, possibly gaining the Retina HD designation given to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But the iPad Air 2's display is largely the same, with the same resolution and size.

But one screen modification Apple did talk about was an anti-reflective coating. The company said this is something that hasn't been done on a tablet before, and will reduce reflections by 56 percent. Apple's glossy screens have historically tended to be on the reflective side, so this could be a nice (if unglamorous) upgrade.

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: Camera

Apple has upped the megapixel count on the iPad Air's rear-facing (iSight) camera, from 5Mp to 8Mp, which should please the spec-obsessed. But more useful may prove the new camera features that have come to iPad: burst mode, panoramas (up to 43Mp), slo-mo, timer mode and time-lapse.

The front-facing (FaceTime HD) camera retains the same (1.2Mp) rating, but Apple said it has improved the sensor and made the pixels bigger for better low-light performance.

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: Touch ID

Yep - the Touch ID fingerprint sensor has come to iPad. This could conceivably unlock the possibilities of Apple Pay, although without NFC the iPad Air 2 wil be limited to online payments rather than in-store ones.

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: iPad Air 2 specs

Here are the iPad Air 2's technical specs:

A8X processor chip with 64-bit architecture and M8 motion coprocessor (3 billion transistors and theoretically 40% faster performance in most apps, and up to 2.5x graphics speed)

Retina display: 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit MultiTouch display with IPS technology; 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi); Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating; Fully laminated display; Antireflective coating

16GB, 64GB or 128GB of storage

FaceTime HD camera: 1.2Mp photos; 720p HD video;  FaceTime video calling over Wi-Fi or a mobile network

iSight camera: 8Mp photos (upgraded from 5Mp in the first-gen iPad Air); f/2.4 aperture; 1080p HD video

Panoramas up to 43Mp
Burst mode
Timelapse
Slo-mo video

Touch ID fingerprint sensor

Lightning connector

Height:
240 mm
Width:
169.5 mm
Depth:
6.1 mm
Weight (Wi-Fi):
437 g
Weight
(Wi-Fi + Cellular):
444 g

10-hour battery life

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: iPad Air 2 colour options

As was widely expected, the iPad Air 2 will be available in three colour options: silver, space grey and a new gold option.

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price: iPad Air 2 UK price

How much will the iPad Air 2 cost in the UK? The iPad Air's UK price starts at £399 for the 16GB model in Wi-Fi only, moving up to £479 for 64GB Wi-Fi (as with the recent iPhones, Apple has removed the popular 32GB storage option, which will annoy some) and £559 for 128GB Wi-Fi. The 3G/cellular models cost £100 more at each configuration: £499 for the 16GB model, moving up to £579 for 64GB and £659 for 128GB.

For comparison, the iPad Air's US price starts at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $599 for 64GB Wi-Fi and $699 for 128GB Wi-Fi. The 3G/cellular models each cost $130 more: $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for 64GB and $829 for 128GB.

By the way, Apple will increase the breadth of its line-up slightly: it will continue to sell the iPad mini and iPad mini 2 alongside the new iPad mini 3; and while the iPad 4 will finally be put out to pasture, Apple will continue to sell both iPad Air models: the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2.

Want more analysis of the new iPads? Here's the Macworld team discussing the hits and misses of Apple's 16 October launch event, starting with the iPad Air 2: