iPad Air 2 breaks cover with Touch ID, Apple Pay, gold color option: Thinner, faster, better

Apple finally made its new iPad Air 2 official, complete with Touch ID functionality, Apple Pay, a new gold color option, and more.

The new iPad Air 2 comes as the successor to last year's popular iPad Air, which was branded with the 'Air' moniker to mirror its impressive thinness and lightness. The new iPad Air 2 is now even thinner than its predecessor, launching as "the thinnest and most powerful iPad ever, according to the company.

Apple touts that its new iPad Air 2 is 18 percent thinner than its predecessor, with an ultra-svelte 6.1-mm profile, and it weighs less than a pound.

"iPad is a magical piece of glass that runs more than 675,000 apps specifically designed for it, and is thin and light enough that you can comfortably hold it all day; the new iPad Air 2 is packed with amazing new innovations, weighs less than a pound, and at just 6.1 mm is the thinnest tablet in the world," said Philip Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing.

In addition to its sleek design, the iPad Air 2 also packs high-end specs and features all around, boasting notable improvements over its predecessor. The new tablet sports a 9.7-inch Retina display with anti-reflective coating, while under the hood it boasts an upgraded Apple A8X processor and an M8 coprocessor, which makes it 12 times more powerful than the original iPad, the company further touted.

Other specs include a new 8-megapixel iSight camera with an f/2.4 aperture, 1080p video, burst mode, panorama shots, auto HDR, and other neat features, as well as a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD front shooter with an f/2.2 aperture and 720p HD video. The iPad Air 2 further packs a Touch ID fingerprint reader into its Home button, complete with the new Apple Pay for secure online purchases.

In terms of connectivity, the iPad Air 2 supports dual-channel Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0, and optional LTE. The tablet is compatible with all major carriers in the U.S., i.e. AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

The iPad Air 2 comes in three color options - silver, space gray, and gold, and three internal storage configurations - 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB. The Wi-Fi-only models will cost $499, $599, and $699, respectively, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular variants will be available for $629, $729, and $829, respectively.

Pre-orders are set to go live on Friday, Oct. 17, with shipping set to start "by the end of next week." For more information, head over to the iPad Air 2 product page at this link.

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