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 review here.

And our iPad mini 3 review here.

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

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price

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 beforehand, and we think it largely delivered - at least on the iPad Air 2.

Here's the Macworld team talking about their impressions of the event, starting with the iPad Air 2:

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. It seems (as Ashleigh discusses in the video above) that this was a play on the Mac mini's old tagline ("Way more power. Way same size."), as well as a joke about how recently we all got together for the launch of the iPhone 6 series handsets.

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 beforehand) won't be happening for the iPad line-up 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.)

iPad Air 2 pencil demo

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.)

Indeed, the successive reductions in depth from generation to generation mean the iPad Air 2 has reached a milestone: it is half the thickness of the original iPad.

Original iPad and iPad Air 2: thickness comparison

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). The company has published this exploded diagram to give an idea of how the display section of the iPad Air 2 is constructed:

iPad Air 2 screen diagram

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 than the iPad Air 1's A7 chip 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, however, 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 camera specs

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

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

This makes sense, in a lot of ways: while the iPad Air 2 is a superbly light and slender device, the simple and unavoidable fact of its 9.7in screen means it is not pocketable, and it's hard to imagine shoppers whipping out a full-size iPad when paying for a coffee. And the NFC antenna would add to the materials and manufacturing costs, while taking up space and adding to the device's weight.

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
  • Retina display: 9.7-inch LED-backlit MultiTouch display with IPS technology; 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch; Fully laminated display; Antireflective coating
  • 16GB, 64GB or 128GB of storage
  • FaceTime HD camera: 1.2Mp photos; 720p HD video
  • iSight camera: 8Mp photos; f/2.4 aperture; 1080p HD video
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Lightning connector
  • Dimensions: Height: 240mm (height) x 169.5mm (width) x 6.1mm (depth). Weight: 444g (Wi-Fi + Cellular); 437g (Wi-Fi)
  • 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. Read about why it's not a good idea to buy the 16GB version: The problem with Apple's 16GB iPhones and iPads

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.