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Is the 2nd gen iPad Air worth waiting for?

Sections: Features, iPad Air, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Opinions and Editorials, Rumors

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I get why Apple hates product rumor mills and “insider” leaks. I’ve been planning an iPad upgrade for several months yet, with my iPad 2 about to tie the three-year knot. But after a new tranche of next generation iPad scuttlebutt came to light last week, I’m inclined to think that—save for failure or loss of my iPad 2—I’ll try to hold off pulling the trigger on an iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display purchase until the next generations become available—possibly within the current calendar quarter or not long thereafter.

iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display

This past Wednesday, the Chinese language business news site Electronic News & etnews.com (Google Translation) reported that beginning this month, 2nd gen iPad Air display panel construction commences, to be followed in July with production of system-on-chip silicon. Camera module mass production will also begin ramping up in order to build a stockpile of product to satisfy the inevitable spike of initial demand following a late-summer or fall release.

Specification-wise, Electronic News isn’t predicting anything revolutionary. After all, the iPad Air is still in its first revision since a major redesign last year, and the iPad mini is only in its second iteration ever. However, an A8 64-bit SoC is expected to offer a speed bump along with lower power consumption, plus upgrades to 8 megapixel rear-facing and 1.5 MP FaceTime camera modules. That makes it worth waiting another two or three months for, at least for me.

The Electronic News report doesn’t mention it, but some rumoristas also contend that a Touch ID fingerprint sensor is in the works, although I wouldn’t hold out just for that. Most interesting for me is the projected boost in camera resolution from 5 MP to 8 MP. I like the convenience of taking photos with my iPad, and have been frustrated with the mediocre quality afforded by the iPad 2’s poky 2 MP camera for too long. Since the iPad 3, the tablets have had 5 MP cameras, which were a big improvement, but I’ve been envious of the 8 MP rear-facing jobbie in the iPhone 5 and 5s.

I tend to keep my computing devices for a long time, and try to avoid anticipated buyer remorse as much as possible. One note of implicit optimism is that Apple’s ramping up component production this early could be indication that the refreshed iPads will be released earlier than the traditional late October of recent years—perhaps in the iPod’s customary September slot.

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