Cheaper, Thinner & Lighter iPad Air 2 on Release Date as Apple Fights Off Threats of Dipping Sales, Stronger Rivals?

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By Erik Pineda | April 22, 2014 2:22 PM EST

Expected improvements for the iPad Air 2 release date this 2014 are likely led by an ever thinner profile and lighter general footprint from its already slimmed down predecessor - the fifth generation iPad Air.

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retnia display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California October 22, 2013.

This according to the alleged iPad Air 2 front panel images that Apple Insider has picked up from Dutch tech blog site OneMoreThing.nl. The pics (viewable here), reportedly provided by an Apple display contractor from China, showed the next iPad Air's LCD screen that is seamlessly melded with its glass covering.

With the latest manufacturing technique, as shown by the leaked images, that chemically welds the Air 2 front panel into a single piece, it can be assumed that Apple's flagship tablet will show off "a thinner overall assembly as well as enhanced viewing angles," Apple Insider said on its report.

While its current build is already far impressive, further enhancing the iPad Air 2 and stuffing it with better specs and features in time for the rollout date appears necessary as sales of the iOS tablet now point to a southward trend.

According to Business Insider, the iPad remains the industry leader but analysts are not very upbeat on its overall prospects. The forecast for the March 2014 quarter is the Apple tablet computer business will retreat by 0.7 per cent.

The contraction seems no big deal but as the iPad maker is used to be heading into growth trajectory, the dipping numbers, however negligible, should be alarming enough.

Therefore the need for fresh iPad packages as Business Insider noted too that the Android competition is fast catching up. The same report credited the likes of Google and Samsung for issuing iPad rivals that are equally capable or even better specced.

These devices are drawing serious attention too thanks to solid pricing, the same report added. Samsung's Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4, for instance, debuted for only $400 with premium specs and features while the first iPad Air is priced $500.

So it would be hardly surprising if the next iPad Air will hit store shelves with a more inviting price tag, analysts said.

Apart from the unified front panel and a bit of connector tweaks that the leaked images have supplied, no other clues on the iPad Air 2 design and capabilities have been revealed so far.

The best we got so far is some pieces of the big puzzle that KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo has offered earlier this April. According to him, the iPad Air 2 will slide out of the box boasting of a 64-bit A8 chip, powered by iOS 8 with almost the same look as the 2013 edition.

Release date of the iPad Air 2 together with the iPad Mini 3 is predicted by Kuo to happen on early Q3 2014 so theoretically the clock starts ticking for Apple fans to wait by July of the same year.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith / )
Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retnia display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California October 22, 2013.
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