With a new processor.
Touch ID home button.
And even a thinner profile.
The iPad Air 2 is a solid upgrade to last year's model.
And as I'll show you.
It's actually easier to open.
And has a few surprises inside the case.
I'm Bill Detwiler.
And this is Cracking Open.
The iPad Air 2 is the same width and height as last year's Air, but it's ever so slightly thinner.
It also weighs a few grams less, but the difference really isn't noticeable.
The Air 2's retina display has the same resolution as last year's model.
But it comes with a new anti-reflective coating.
And for the first time, the front panel and display are actually laminated together, which will definitely come into play when we crack this thing open.
Now, along with the screen upgrades, the Air 2 has Apple's new A8X processor and M8 motion co-processor.
It has better FaceTime and iSight cameras 802.11ac wi-fi, and finally, a touch ID-enabled home button.
Now, given all this new hardware, I can't wait to see what's on the inside.
So, let's get cracking.
As with last year's iPad Air, I use the heat gun to loosen the adhesive that holds the front panel to the aluminum case.
Then, starting from the lower left corner, I used a series of thin tools to gently pry the panel off.
Be very careful around the lower-right corner.
There are several ribbon cables here that connect the front panel to the motherboard.
You'll also need to take care not to insert your tools too far into the case, when working along the left and right edges.
Doing so could damage the display.
Luckily however thanks to the Air 2's new laminated display you no longer need to remove the front glass panel and the display screen as separate parts.
Once you disconnect the cables you can remove the whole assembly.
As with last year's Air the battery is on the left, the motherboard on the right, the cameras and antennas along the top.
And speakers and the lightening connector at the bottom.
Now this a wi-fi only model so it lacks some of the components present in the cellular version.
Now looking at the front panel we can see the fuse display panel, the repositioned ribbon cables and the touch id enable home button.
Now, unfortunately, the battery and most other components, including the motherboard and their connector cables, are glued to the metal case.
Now, forcing them loose could damage them.
And I wanna put this back together in working order.
Not destroy it.
So I'm going to end our cracking open here.
That doesn't mean, however, that I can't share a few interesting facts about this iPad.
Now, for starters, Apple reduced the size of the battery from a 32.9 watt-hour unit in last year's model to a 27.6 watt-hour unit in the Air 2. The fact that this tablet still has the same ten-hour battery life illustrates how much more efficient the new hardware is.
Now second, the Air 2 has two gigs of RAM compared to the original iPad Air's one gig.
Now this, along with a new A8X processor gives the Air 2 a true performance boost.
And lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, there an NFC chip hiding under the motherboard's metal shields.
The same one used on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Now the Air 2 does support Apple Pay but not Tap to Pay at the register so the existence of this chip seems a little odd.
Perhaps Apple will enable Tap to Pay at a future date.
With all it's upgrades and a super thin case, the Air 2 is a solid upgrade to the iPad line.
And Apple even made it a bit easier to repair.
Now for more information on the iPad Air 2, including real world tests and pricing, check out Scott Stein's full CNet review.
To see more teardown photos and read my full hardware analysis, go to techrepublic.com/crackingopen.
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