iPad Air 2 has a smaller battery, iFixit finds

The one new feature you didn't expect from Apple's iPad Air 2? iFixit says the new device has a battery that's 15 percent smaller, yet Apple claims it still gets the same battery life.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read

The iPad Air 2 sports a 15 percent smaller battery. Apple says the tablet maintains its 10-hour battery life thanks to its A8X chip and software improvements. iFixit

Apple says its flagship iPad Air 2 tablet gets the same 10 hours of use as last year's original iPad Air, even though a teardown of a Wi-Fi-only iPad Air 2 from device repair website iFixit shows that the battery is 15 percent smaller than its predecessor.

It's not much of a surprise considering the iPad Air 2 is 18 percent thinner, too.

But how does Apple keep battery life the same when it gives you less juice to do it with? Apple says its new chip, dubbed the A8X, and improvements in software help the iPad make up the difference.

"Usually, increased performance comes at the expense of battery life. Notice we said 'usually,'" Apple said in its marketing materials for the device.

Apple's iPad, since it its release, has been lauded for both its hardware design as well as the device's longevity. The tablet is consistently ranked No. 1 in battery life tests and Apple has, for the most part, made leaps every year or two in that department. That's despite the fact that tech companies are broadly grappling with breakthroughs in the battery department (Our smartphones still die in a day).

In favoring thinness and weight over any substantial battery improvements, Apple says it has managed to squeeze out the same amount of usage with less real estate. But reviewers beg to differ.

One of them was Walt Mossberg from Recode, who found the original iPad Air lasted much longer.

In fact, in one key metric, battery life, the Air 2 actually regressed from the original Air. In my tough battery test, it lasted 10 hours and 37 minutes, exceeding Apple's 10-hour claim. That's quite good, better than most other tablets. But in 2013, the original iPad Air turned in the best tablet battery life I've ever seen on my test: 12 hours and 13 minutes -- about 90 minutes longer.

Mossberg is an outlier, however. Most other reviews, including from CNET's own Scott Stein , say the tablet's battery life holds up to its marketing and performs on par with last year's model.

Apple declined to comment about whether the iPad Air 2's smaller battery could result in a drop in battery life compared with last year's model.