We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

iPad Air 2 vs iPad 2018 (2021): Better Chipset And Operating System

Since releasing the first iPad in 2010, Apple has dominated the market for tablets. With many different models and versions available, choosing the best iPad can be difficult. Here we compare the iPad Air 2 and iPad (2018), two tablets that look similar on the surface but have several key differences.

iPad Air 2 VS iPad 2018 Comparison Chart

Model iPad Air 2 iPad 2018
Amazon product Amazon product 
PriceAmazon product Amazon product 
RatingAmazon product
Amazon product 
Amazon product
Amazon product 
Thickness6.1 mm7.5 mm
Weight437 grams469 grams
Processor 1.5 GHz Triple-core Cyclone 2.34 GHz Dual-core Hurricane w/ 1.1 GHz Dual-core Zephyr
CoprocessorM8M10 motion
ChipsetA8XA10 Fusion APL1024
Graphics PowerVR G6850 PowerVR GT7600 Plus
Operating SystemiOS v8.1 (upgradable to iOS v10.1)iOS v11.3
Battery8,820 mAh8,827 mAh
Rear Camera8MP8MP
Front Camera1.2MP1.2MP
Exposure CompensationNoYes
Retina FlashNoYes
Proximity SensorNoYes
Apple Pencil SupportNoYes


The iPad Air 2 is slightly thinner and lighter than the iPad 2018 but they have the same aluminum build.

ipad air 2 side
The iPad Air 2 is marginally lighter and thinner than other iPads

The iPad Air 2 and iPad 2018 look the same at first glance. When you look closely, you’ll see that the former is thinner at 6.1mm whereas the latter is 7.5mm like its predecessors. This results in the iPad Air 2 being marginally lighter at 437 grams while the iPad 2018 weighs 469 grams.

The iPad Air 2 and iPad 2018 both have aluminum back housing and come in gold, grey and silver. Their height and width are exactly the same at 240mm and 169.5mm respectively.

Internal Components

The iPad 2018 carries a faster 2.34 GHz quad-core processor while the iPad Air 2 uses an older 1.5 GHz triple-core processor.

ipad air 2 a8x
The iPad Air 2 has the A8X chipset along with a 1.5 GHz triple-core processor

The iPad 2018 was released later than the iPad Air 2 hence it’s equipped with more advanced internal components. It has a 2.34 GHz Dual-core Hurricane working in tandem with a 1.1 GHz Dual-core Zephyr. To add, it has an M10 motion coprocessor, Apple A10 Fusion APL1024 chipset and PowerVR GT7600 Plus graphics card.

Launched in October 2014, it’s to be expected that the iPad Air 2 has older parts such as a 1.5 GHz Triple-core Cyclone and M8 coprocessor. It carriers a PowerVR G6850 graphics card along with an Apple A8X chipset. It does share the trait of 2 GB application RAM and 64-bit architecture with the iPad 2018.


The iPad Air 2 runs on the older iOS v8.1 operating system while the iPad 2018 runs on the more advanced iOS v11.3.

ipad ios 11
The iPad 2018 comes with iOS 11.3 by default

With an older processor, the iPad Air 2 has a decent Geekbench 4 Single-core score of 1796. This is low when compared to the score of the iPad 2018 which is 3254. Therefore, the iPad 2018 has 80 percent better processing power with a 40 percent increase for multi-core. This is comparable to the iPhone 7 of which the iPad 2018 has a similar RAM and processor.

The iPad Air 2 uses the iOS 8.1 though it is upgradable to iOS 10.1. It comes with an 8,820 mAh battery which can keep the tablet operational for up to 27.3 watt-hours. The iPad 2018, on the other hand, has the iOS v11.3 by default and an 8,827 mAh battery. The battery capacity is only slightly greater but it offers a much longer runtime of 32.4 watt-hours.


The iPad 2018 features autofocus, exposure compensation and retina flash while the iPad Air 2 does not.

ipad 2018 camera
The iPad 2018 has retina flash and exposure compensation

The iPad 2018 has an 8-megapixel rear camera like the iPad Air 2. The highest image resolution is 3264×2448 pixels and the maximum aperture is F2.2. Video recording can be set to as high as 1280×720 @ 30 fps as well. They both use a BSI sensor and have a 1.2-megapixel front camera.

What the iPad 2018 has that the iPad Air 2 doesn’t is exposure compensation, autofocus and retina flash. These can result in better quality photos and more convenient mobile photography. The iPad 2018 also features smile detection albeit the Air 2 does have digital image stabilization.

Special Features

The iPad Air 2 has a fingerprint sensor in the front but the iPad 2018 also has a proximity sensor and supports the Apple Pencil.

ipad 2018 pencil
The iPad 2018 supports the Apple Pencil and has a proximity sensor

The iPad Air 2 allows you to unlock the tablet from the front with its fingerprint sensor. Other sensors include a gyroscope, compass, barometer, accelerometer and light sensor. The iPad 2018 also has these features and an additional proximity sensor. Plus, the iPad 2018 can support the Apple Pencil though only a few other models can.


If you want a tablet that delivers basic functionality, the iPad Air 2 is good enough. But for greater processing power and advanced features, it’s better to buy the iPad 2018 instead.

Amazon product

The iPad Air 2 is capable of delivering decent performance but it can’t process apps as quickly as the iPad 2018. Apps will only become heavier and will require more power to run so it’s best to just get the more recent iPad that has a better chipset, graphics card and processor.

RELATED  iPad 6th vs 7th Generation (2021): Comparing Entry-Level Tablets
Andy Mathews

Lead Editor at Compare Before Buying. Product researcher and tech enthusiast passionate about consumer products, comparison charts and surfing.