The long wait is over. Apple fans can finally rejoice now that the company has taken the wraps off of its new tablet. Appropriately dubbed the iPad Air, this tablet is thinner, lighter, and more powerful than its predecessor.

Unlike last year’s refresh, improvements and design changes found in the iPad Air are anything but insignificant. Starting at $499 for the basic 16GB Wi-Fi model, the tablet struts around a spanking new Apple A7 chipset first found in the iPhone 5S. In terms of design, bezels are now narrower (a la the iPad mini), the profile is 20% thinner, and the weight measures just one pound. Apple claims it to be the lightest full-fledged slate worldwide.

iPad Air

Apple iPad Air Specs

  • iOS 7
  • 9.7-inch IPS LCD (2048×1536), ~264ppi
  • 1.3GHz dual core Apple A7 processor (64-bit architecture)
  • PowerVR G6430 GPU
  • 16/32/64/128GB internal storage
  • 5-megapixel main camera, with autofocus but no LED flash
  • 1.2-megapixel front camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 3G, HSPA, LTE
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP
  • GPS, A-GPS
  • Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm
  • Weight: 478g

With the new innards in place, Apple claims that the iPad Air is eight times faster in CPU performance and 72 times better in graphics processing than the first-ever iPad. Some of the main processor’s workload is alleviated due to the new M7 motion coprocessor, which handles inputs from the integrated sensors. With the new Wi-Fi antenna with MIMO 802.11n support, wireless data transfer should be twice as fast.

iPad Air (2)

Back when the third generation iPad was unveiled, many pundits were disappointed when the device got bigger to compensate for the big battery needed for sustaining the pixel-rich retina display. Apple has managed to make the iPad Air skinny and more convenient to hold once again, as well as maintaining the battery life just as long as before—10 hours.

RelatedApple iPad mini 2 unveiled: Retina display, A7 chip, 1GB RAM

Though wished by many, Apple still has forgone a microSD slot for storage expansion. Users who want more space for their media files and apps have no choice but to use cloud storage services or opt for an iPad Air variant with a larger capacity. The rear-facing camera only comes with 5-megapixel resolution and does without a LED flash, though what normal photo junkie uses a tablet as his regular shooter anyway? Lastly, although the iPhone 5S’s 64-bit CPU made it into the new tablet, its TouchID fingerprint sensor didn’t make the cut.

With silver, white, gray, and black as the possible color choices, the iPad Air is scheduled to ship on November 1st to several countries. No exact release date for the Philippines has been announced. Suggested retail price begins at $499 for the 16GB (Wi-Fi only) model and can cost as much as $929 for the 128GB variant with 3G/LTE connectivity.

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