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iPad Air 2 is Apple's thinnest tablet ever

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Apple's got a new iPad, and it's a sequel to last year's ultra-svelte iPad Air: It's called the Apple iPad Air 2. CEO Tim Cook announced as much this morning from Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters with a video of a pencil being shaved down, a nod to last year's unveiling of the first iPad Air. The iPad Air 2 is 6.1mm, "18 percent thinner than the first iPad Air," Apple's Phil Schiller told attendees. "It's the world's thinnest tablet."

Beyond thinning it down even further, Apple's usual suspects of upgrades are on board: The iPad Air 2 has the newest A8 processor and M8 coprocessor, which Schiller said is 12 times more powerful than the original iPad. It's also got a brand-new camera out back: an 8MP iSight camera (f/2.4 aperture) that does 1080p video, burst mode, panorama shots and auto HDR (that takes up a bit less space). The display remains 9.7 inches, which Schiller called "a new Retina display." He also said the new iPad Air 2 has Touch ID, the Home button-based security system that enables logging in via fingerprint. With Touch ID, iPad Air 2 also has Apple Pay, albeit enabled for online purchases only.

Head below for more specs and info as it comes out of Cupertino!

Gallery: Apple iPad Air 2 | 17 Photos

The camera upgrades aren't limited to the rear of iPad Air 2 -- the front-facing camera is also getting improved, and it's now known as the "FaceTime HD" camera (1.2MP at f/2.2 aperture, 720p HD video, and a smattering of software features). In terms of connectivity, iPad Air 2 has WiFi standards (802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-channel with MIMO) and Bluetooth 4.0; there's also an LTE model that costs a bit more, and it'll work with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon in the US.

The 9.7-inch screen has an "optically bonded" IPS display (the same tech used in Microsoft's Surface) -- this means there's no gap between the screen and the body. It also reduces glare (there's an anti-reflective coating) and travels through time. Okay, maybe not that last bit about time travel. The chip inside is an Apple-designed A8X with 64-bit architecture, and it's bundled with the M8 coprocessor (used mostly for motion data).

Of course, those following along at home saw this coming, right? A conspicuously timed leak yesterday -- just after Google's big Nexus announcements -- saw both the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 revealed ahead of today's big event. Apple isn't exactly known for accidentally leaking two of its own products one day ahead of those products being announced, and Google's big news revolved around its own Nexus devices. You don't need to be a cynic to suspect something is up with that.

Intentionally "leaked" or not, Apple took to its own theater today in Cupertino to officially unveil the newest iPad Air. An October reveal is par for the course when it comes to Apple's iPad line in recent years: The first iPad Air was unveiled last year on October 22nd, and the previous model iPad was revealed almost exactly one year earlier on October 23rd, 2012.

The iPad Air 2 comes in three flavors: silver, space gray and gold. It also comes in three prices: 16GB ($499/£399), 64GB ($599/£479) and 128GB ($699/£559) -- add $130/£100 to any of those models for LTE instead of WiFi-only. Pre-orders apparently go live tomorrow, and they'll "begin shipping by the end of next week."

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