Ultimate ANC Wireless Earphones Comparison = AirPods Pro vs Sennheiser vs Sony

Ever since Apple removed the headphone jack back on the iPhone 7, the industry followed, but what also happened was a massive increase in the number of highly compelling Bluetooth headphones, especially in the Earphones / Buds market thanks to Apple’s tremendous success with the original Apple AirPods.

Only problem, AirPods suck for anyone who actually wants to hear something, and you looked a bit of a dufus wearing them. Thankfully, someone at Apple realised this, then out came the AirPods Pro. Even before the AirPods Pro, however, it was clear that the Bluetooth headphone market was getting better and better, but was fairly dense when it came to true ANC headphones, or Active Noise Cancellation, however now, there’s two options that are easily the best in the competing category and we’re going to compare these now.

We think it’s fair to say, our experience with the AirPods Pro hasn’t exactly been the most smoothest, countless replacement Buds have been needed, and early Software for the things practically made the ANC useless, but now we’re in the better side of polish they’ve seen and we can now compare these with an open mind.

What are we comparing to? The Sony WF-1000XM3 (great name) and the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, so some pretty big names in Audio. We’ll be comparing theses with elimination rounds, we’ll talk about the design, price, overall experience and more. We’ve spent days of listening to each on their own, as well as multiple comparing of the same collection of songs across a wide range of genres to reach the conclusion we’ve reached, however, one thing became very clear early on, that one of the three had to be eliminated fairly instantly.

Sony WF-1000XM3

We don’t know whether we got a dud, as everyone recommends these, but our experience with these was terrible. They’re easily the most uncomfortable of the three, likely due to the size of them, though Sony do offer smaller alternatives that should offer comparable audio performance as well as sweat resistance, which these lack. One thing we are big fans of Sony for is the amount of Ear tips they provide, including three sizes in both a felt and silicone material, whilst it wasn’t night and day they were a lot more comfortable with the felt tips, but then again, we know people who prefer Silicone but having the option is great.

However, that’s where the conversation closes, because everything else I’m afraid is a negative. First of all, something we already knew, the case is HUGE, so make sure you’ve either big pockets or somewhere else to store these as if you put that in your pants pocket, you may look like you’ve a problem.

When we received our M3s (we’re going to call them this for easier reference), they had a Software Update, which is fair, they didn’t just come out, however they automatically switch off, which makes sense, to save battery, but doing so kept pausing the update progress (which itself took over an hour), so we had to put them on and manually disable this just to update the Software, NOT a good experience.

Sound quality

If you’ve been listening to headphones like Apple’s original AirPods / EarPods or anything cheap, these are going to really hit you, bass is very punchy, even before you touch the EQ, almost too much bass for us, we prefer a more rounded sound profile and the highs certainly suffer from the drastic bass profile, but the biggest issue with the Sonys, and the reason we’ve had to omit them from this comparison first, is stable connection.

Sony offer two modes on their App to help with this, an option to prioritise Sound quality, which we did at the start to hear what these can really do, and an option to prioritise connection. We couldn’t tell the difference between either of them, but one thing we did keep getting, constant cuts in connection … we couldn’t listen to a single 4 minute song without at least a break every minute. Whether this is the latest Software of what, we don’t know, but we do know these are not recommended until Sony fix this.

Eliminated: Sony

Really surprised about the Sonys, we seriously thought we’d have those two pitted against the Sennheiser, but just goes to show how the in person experience can differ from the many reviews out there.

How Sennheiser and AirPods Pro compare to Sony?

Whilst the Sony’s certainly prioritised bass, we didn’t like that, we do like the more fuller sound of the AirPods Pro, offering mids and highs in the most clearest of the three. However, the Sennheiser too do offer a more richer sound profile than the Sonys, but we do notice that for each song on the Sennheiser’s, you do need to prat around with the EQ, but the results were in some cases incredible, but we’ll have a deeper dive at the Sennheiser’s now;

Sennheiser Momentum 2

Out of all the three, if we had our bets on any of them, it was the Sennheiser. Sennheiser has been such a big name in audio for years, respected by even the greyest of audiophile. Plus, they look better, slightly more compact design, still a fairly big case but not Sony bulk. However, it will be interesting how well the felt – almost denim material – will last over time, we guess time will tell.

Like the Sonys, as soon as we got the Momentum’s out of the box, there was a Software Update, however, unlike the Sonys, Sennheiser is, at least, clever enough to let the update go in one go.

So, we installed the App, paired smoothly and began listening. We’re happy to report that the Sennheiser’s paired and stayed paired reliably! And, unlike the Sonys, no drops in connection. They sound, by default, very rich, offer deep punchy bass, but, as a counter to this we were happy to hear also a decent amount of highs, a very impressive audio profile on these.

However, things began to change slightly when we switched gears. Whilst we’re not going to instantly contradict what we’ve just said about them, we do feel like the Sennheiser sometimes try a little too hard, whilst dance music, hip-hop this works perfect for this approach, we do find that if you’re listening to pop, that added bass can be a little distracting. Thankfully, Sennheiser do offer a number of EQ options, like the Sonys, and we think these are actually a lot more feature rich than the Sony ones and do allow for a better listening experience. But, we do wish the default was a bit more rounded.

Testing the Sennheiser’s was going so well, we were loving the audio profiles we’d made for our listening sessions, they have a fantastic ANC and ambient sound mode, however then it came to testing the Sennheiser’s outside, their lies our biggest problem with them, volume. For a pair of earphones, which were literally on track to easily overtaking the AirPods Pro, and the Sony’s (if they worked in first place), this problem however is quite frankly a deal breaker for us, and likely many others.

If you’re playing these indoors, you’ll be fine, seriously, they get plenty loud enough and sound great, however, go outside, perhaps maybe walk past some traffic or when travelling on the bus, these will simply not get loud enough. We had these on full volume and were still hearing the traffic (despite the decent ANC) and that’s a real shame as these were acing everything prior. Whilst we’re hopeful that Sennheiser can fix this in an update, we have to view these how they are today, and after what we said about the Sonys, it would be unfair to judge these differently for problems today.

AirPods Pro

Like them or hate them, Apple is partly responsible for such good wireless ANC headphones being available, thanks to the ever increasing popularity of the AirPods, which is great. How do the AirPods Pro stack up, well, a lot better than the originals that’s for sure. The biggest problems we had with the originals, outside of looking like an idiot wearing them, is they just sounded bad, they sounded like the included headphones you never use (back when they were) and for the money just were not good enough.

The AirPods Pro easily have the most rounded sound of the three of them, you’ve got bass, granted not as much as the others, you’ve great highs but also very clear mids, which is something the Sonys and the Sennheiser do suffer and lack. The biggest benefit with the AirPods Pro is the seamless integration if you own an iPhone, all testing was done on an iPhone 12 for a week, and this could be a turning point to which you do pick.

AirPods Pro benefits over Sennheiser and Sony

Both the Sennheiser and Sony’s are operated by the buds themselves, meaning the battery and the processor that powers them is embedded in one of the Earbuds. The problem with this, is that if you only want to use one bud at a time, you can only use one of the two, as one of them (typically the R) is required as its the brain. With the AirPods, the brain is inside the Case, and each bud has it’s own separate driver, meaning you can use either just L, or just R, regardless.

AirPods also wake a lot quicker as well, we’re not saying the Sony’s or Sennheiser’s were slow to start up, but their was a noticeable additional wait time when getting them ready, and that matters.

There’s other benefits such as the easy pairing we mentioned, the seamless switching between Apple devices. There’s also Spacial audio, though for us this is nothing that special. Hopefully the issues that keep plaguing the internal microphone on the AirPods Pro doesn’t become a constant as that has been resulting in many replacements being required, but we’ll see.

Overall winner: AirPods Pro … *but…

Let’s be real, all three have problems, all have their unique advantages, we’ve contacted Sony to find out if our issues are typical of other units, still waiting to hear back though we’ve never had the best experience with their Support, but we can say that our experience with the AirPods Pro has been the most consistent of all of them, both in terms of Audio playback and quality, and sometimes that’s what you need.

We’ve had issues with our AirPods, had to replace each side, they’re not perfect, but as far as the whole package goes, we’d recommend the AirPods Pro over the other two.

However, before you shout us down, we have to commend Sennheiser for their Momentum 2 and if you’re looking for overall sound quality and can put up with a lack of volume and slight discomfort in comparison, you can’t go better than the Sennheiser Momentum 2, they offer the most pop, and if you are someone who loves to tweak your audio, they offer that through a fairly intuitive app.

So, there you go, varying on which camp you fall into, it’s a real battle today between Apple’s AirPods Pro, and the Sennheiser Momentum 2.

Closer look at the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Colour Options and more comparisons!

Apple’s iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are set to begin delivery this Friday, October 23rd, question of course for most purchasing these devices is of course, which colour are you going for? We will also be looking at differentiating difference between the 6.1 inch regular and Pro models before the release of the Mini and Max later next month.

We’re taking a closer look at the options available for you, then let you decide.

iPhone 12

As you can see above, the iPhone 12 is available in a choice of 5 different colours, all supporting the same front design. This years iPhone models have no changes made to the bezel design when compared to the previous Pro models, but do have a change compared to last years regular iPhone 11, and iPhone XR models. Gone is the thicker bezels and LCD display, and replaced by the same OLED display found also in the iPhone 12 Pro, meaning the display is no longer a deciding factor to go for the regular or Pro models. This goes even further when you realise they’re exactly the same size body and display at 6.1 inch, an increase on the Pro side from the former 5.8 inch.

The new colour on the block this years for all iPhone 12 models is of course Blue. On the iPhone 12 it is backed up by a glossy glass back and blue aluminium sides. We think this is going to be a popular choice, especially with the dark blue approach making it likely popular with both male or female buyers.

The second new colour this year is exclusive to the iPhone 12 (regular) line is this pale Green colour. Whilst the iPhone 11 Pro last year had a darker Green colour, this year we’ve more a brighter Green colour. Whilst this is a new colour so, like the Blue, so it will be most obvious you’ve ‘got the new one’, we don’t think this is even close as an appealing choice. We know some people will like it, but we’re definitely expecting this being the least popular choice.

As always, the most out-there colour for the iPhone is of course the PRODUCT [RED] variant and that doesn’t change this year. Just like the 11 before it, the Red iPhone 12 has a striking glossy Red colour on the back glass and a red aluminium boarder. Due to the pandemic, proceeds for the purchase of the PRODUCT [RED] iPhone now goes towards tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Getting back to the more traditional colour iPhone models, it’s clear where the iPhone 5-style design is becoming obvious. Whilst we don’t have diamond-cut edges, which is a good thing so they won’t easily dent, we do have that Black side aluminium boarders and that glossy Black design backed up by a silver Apple logo. For those fans of Black iPhones, you’ll be happy to know this is Black, not some next variant of Space Grey, or in the case of the 12 Pro, Graphite.

Finally we have the White iPhone 12. Like the Black iPhone 12, it’s clear where the iPhone 5-esc design has returned, though naturally not this time with a White facia due to the more covered display with notch design. Also in the same as the Black, the White iPhone 12 is indeed White this time, instead of a Silver or Creamy White design, so we know this will still be a popular choice for those who don’t see the Pro as a worth-while upgrade, and prefer the more classy looking colours. This is our choice of iPhone 12 this year.

iPhone 12 Pro

Whilst you’d be forgiven for not noticing this, but their is in fact 4 colours for this years iPhone 12 Pro line, 3 for which are different than last years 12 Pro, 1 being the Silver variant, stays the same minus the natural change in a flatter side design on the Stainless Steel. Despite this, Apple only seem to be promoting the 2 more striking colour changes, mostly the Blue and the much-more-gold Gold colour.

Last years special colour for the Pro line was a fairly divisive Green colour, this year it’s a much more well received Blue colour. Unlike the regular 12, the 12 Pro blue colour supports the frosted-glass with the hint of Blue colour, which alongside the glossy bold Blue colour on the sides makes for a striking combination. Whilst stock recently hasn’t suggested this, we’re still expecting this to be a favourite for the 12 Pro line.

The Gold iPhone 12 Pro is probably the most Gold iPhone we’ve had for a while, the sides are striking glossy Gold, without any tint of anything Rose at all. Whilst the Back is far more muted, mostly due to the frosted glass, we’re sure this will be a popular colour choice for those fans of Gold. Doesn’t do anything for us, but we know for others, will be different.

This is by far our least favourite iPhone 12 Pro colour, Graphite. Whilst Apple seem to constantly find some excuse not to offer a truly Black Pro model, this year it’s entered the field of bland. Whilst the multiple, ever-changing Space Grey variants were OK if you really had to, the Graphite colour of the 12 Pro is almost begging for a back case.

We told you it was practically the same, this is the iPhone 12 Pro in Silver. We think it’s fair to say, from a distance where the flatter sides aren’t as noticeable, it would be difficult to distinguish this from an 11 Pro, and when it comes to the Back, outside of the LiDAR sensor on the bottom right of the Camera, it’s more or less identical. That doesn’t take away the good looking classy design, we’re a fan of the Silver, just it’s the one instance where this feels like an “S” year.

Which model or colour is for you?

Whilst we’re fairly boring and like the Silver iPhone 12, we can’t deny that the new Blue looks striking on the 12 Pro, but which colour is for you? Will the colour availability be the single factor deciding which of the two you pick?

Naturally, there’s more than colour differences between the two, but you’ll probably be surprised to know how little differences outside of price and Stainless Steel boarders their actually is

What’s the same between 12 and 12 Pro

Not including Mini or Max variants, the 12 and 12 Pro are literally identical in size, this goes from their top to bottom, sides, thickness, everything, the 12 Pro is naturally slightly heavier due to the Stainless Steel, otherwise they feel like the same phone.

Outside of design, Processor, main and Ultrawide Camera, Display (outside of max brightness) and Case availability is literally the same between the two models, which is pretty big as those are normally defining factors to split you to a different variant. It’s worth mentioning these are also same on the 12 Mini, when that becomes available.

5G, the big buzz word for the new iPhone models, likely due to Qualcomm, was rumoured to be different between the non-Pro and Pro models, but we can confirm that ALL iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models support the same Wireless standards both in terms of WiFi with WiFi 6 (802.11AX), the new Ultra Wideband chip, 5G Sub-6 and Millimetre Wave* (*currently US only)

The differences

Outside of the increase similarities, their are some differences between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro and we’re going to run through these now, disappointingly this won’t take long;

  1. Alleged RAM increase: Naturally this can’t be confirmed until units enter peoples hands, but there’s expectation that the regular 12 models will support 4GB whilst Pro models will be supporting 6GB of RAM. Granted on iPhones, RAM is far less of an important factor than the more bloated Android though
  2. Telephoto lens: If you’re coming from an iPhone X, or XS, your secondary Camera is a Telephoto lens offering optical-class zoom for your Photos, you won’t find that on the regular iPhone 11 models, instead you’ll find an Ultrawide, which, whilst is probably the more useful of the two, is something to keep in mind for the extra ~£150 typical price point.
  3. LiDAR for AR: Whist Apple has been trying to convince us for years that AR is important, LiDAR is definitely the next step towards this. Originally present in the iPad Pro models, the LiDAR sensor allows far quicker mapping of the area and should present better AR performance, though iPad users will tell you that’s not always the case.
  4. The design: We mentioned earlier, and it could be true, you may quite frankly prefer the 12 or the 12 Pro due to their design. The Blue, in our opinion looks better on the Pro, but you’ve other colours like Red and Green not even on the Pro you can choose from.
  5. 512GB Storage: One configuration you will not find on the iPhone 12, or 12 Mini is the option for 512GB of Storage, there’s some out there wondering where the 1TB option is from the iPad line, but there you go. Naturally if you are going to be recording using 4K 60fps (especially the new HDR mode) you will be using up a ton of space. For most 256GB max is more than enough space, but something to keep in mind should you be incredibly heavy on local Storage

Overview and general recommendations.

For the first time since the iPhone 6S days, we can say with confidence there’s a very few select people who we’d be recommending the iPhone 12 Pro models over the iPhone 12 this year, which is surprising and we must be honest, disappointing. The rumours of Apple adding Promotion this year, we know, would have been the ultimate reason for Pro users to opt for the Pro model this year but that didn’t come to be. In fact the only reason to opt for any model in the Pro line will be in the iPhone 12 Pro Max, where Apple has updated every Sensor with big improvements across the board, as well as for those who want that bigger display. Outside of that, we must be honest and state, for the extra money, you’re getting very little with the iPhone 12 Pro, but again, that also reiterates just how good the iPhone 12, and 12 Mini for that matter, really are.

Developer Mac mini running on 2 Year Old iPad Processor, OUTPERFORMS a NATIVE ARM Processor in Emulation!

Ahead of the WWDC 2020 announcement, that the Mac, with macOS 11 Big Sur will finally enter the realms of ARM Processors through Apple Silicon, it’s probably no big surprise that the release of Apple’s Developer Transition Kit has garnered some interest.

Apple’s Developer Transition Kit slide, showing a custom Mac mini running Big Sur

It’s worth noting, however, that no one is meant to perform benchmarks on these systems, but, this is the Internet, so, of course, everyone will.

It’s worth noting that ALL benchmarks done on these will be essentially EMULATED using Apple’s Rozetta 2 technology as no native Apple Silicon version of benchmarks such as Geekbench exist just yet, but, despite this, these are some pretty interesting numbers. It’s also worth noting, before we get to the numbers, that Apple aren’t planning on releasing a Mac with the A12Z Bionic processor, with Apple’s Craig Federighi saying the performance we’re seeing here is Apple “not even trying”.

SINGLE CORE: 833 MULTI-CORE: 2582

This is running, by the way, in X86 mode, which is NOT native to the ARM64 of the Silicon, so this is the performance of Rozetta 2 in beta!

Now, naturally those numbers mean nothing without comparisons, so here we go, below is an iPad Pro running the SAME Silicon on iPad OS 13 natively;

SINGLE CORE: 1114 MULTI-CORE: 4645

Should come as no surprise that the numbers are far greater on the iPad Pro, as this is running the Silicon completely natively under refined codebase, but what’s going to be really interesting to see, over time, is the numbers of the Mac mini when an Apple Silicon version of Geekbench (or any comparable benchmark) become available, as it’s clear Apple are running the A12Z with a higher clock speed and more RAM.

In terms of Apple’s own Mac line, these numbers are actively very comparable with Apple’s MacBook Air 2020 with a Core i5, which itself gets marginal Single and Multi of 1200 and 3500 respectively.

Comparison with Windows ARM on Surface Pro X

One of the biggest announcements at Microsoft’s Surface announcements last year was the introduction of an ARM based Surface Pro device. The device was much thinner, essentially fan-less design, running on Qualcomm hardware built for the device.

So, how does it compare … well, not very good;

SINGLE CORE: 764 MULTI-CORE: 2983

Now, sure, the Multi-Core benchmarks of Microsoft’s SQ1 Processor do beat the Mac mini score, BUT it’s important to remember, the SQ1 is running natively, whereas the Mac mini using the 2 year old iPad Processor is running in an emulated environment using Apple’s Rozetta technology, that’s before we even look at the iPad numbers.

What does this mean for future Apple Silicon Macs?

In a simple term, this should shut up everyone questioning the move to Apple Silicon, as Apple are already beating any ARM based alternative processors and in the transitional period where software slowly gets Universal 2 support or native support, the performance will still be very decent.

Source material: Mac mini Geekbench, MacBook Air, Surface Geekbench

Apple announce all-new iPhone SE featuring an 8 body and 11 Pro internals!

Here it is, the much rumoured all-new iPhone SE has arrived and whilst it may have an older look and feel, what it’s packing internally is actually incredible for the price!

Available in Black, White and Product (RED) and design mirroring an iPhone 8 (which is now discontinued), the new iPhone SE has the power and performance of the iPhone 11 Pro, seriously, we’re talking A13 Bionic Performance, which is still besting the chips from Qualcomm, all in the smaller 4.7 inch familiar form factor.

The new iPhone SE 2020 really is an iPhone 8 supercharged internally, and also features an improved Camera at the back with XR / 11 style Portrait mode, however one thing you will not find if you were a fan of the iPhone 8, is a Plus model, you’re stuck with a 4.7 inch iPhone SE.

Apple’s Phil Schiller had this to say about todays announcement;

The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price; the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way — including our best-ever single-camera system for great photos and videos — while still being very affordable. iPhone SE features the industry-leading performance of A13 Bionic that enables great battery life, takes stunning Portrait mode and Smart HDR photos, shoots amazing videos with stereo audio, is great for games and super fast web surfing, and is built with the same industry-leading security features our customers expect. We can’t wait to get iPhone SE into customers’ hands.

Considering that the iPhone SE 2020 has a very capable Camera, the fastest mobile CPU currently in the A13 Bionic, Apple have actually priced this at $399 in the US, and £419 in the UK. Granted, that does start at 64GB, but to be fair, that’s plenty for most people. An extra £50 will double that to 128GB, then £569 will get you 256GB of storage. Apple also offer 0% finance options, should you wish to pay differently, but considering those prices expect some pretty attractive network deals too.

The iPhone SE also features WiFi 6, and Gigabit class LTE, Bluetooth 5.0 and this well known feature called Touch ID in the Home button. Apple state the battery life of the iPhone SE to be “about the same as iPhone 8”.

So, there you go, what do you think of the iPhone SE 2020, does it offer enough for you to consider it? We were honestly expecting a slower processor, but if Apple want to release their fastest CPU for just over £400, count us in.

How to turn on the macOS Chime on newer Catalina Macs

In newer Macs, Apple, for whatever reason, removed the infamous “dong” sound which plays when you boot. This is true of all MacBook models from 2015 onwards, iMac Pro and newest generation iMacs, the Mac Pro and Mac mini.

But, what if you want to bring it back. Well, whilst there’s naturally being hacks to get this done, there’s now a native way in macOS Catalina to bring this back, and this is how.

1. Open Terminal

Open the Terminal application from Applications > Utilities > Terminal, or via the SPACE + CMD typing “Terminal”.

2. Type the following command

sudo nvram StartupMute=%00

Type the above command

3. Push enter and enter your Admin password

Done. Try restarting your Mac and hear a familiar sound.


Want to turn it back off?

Should you prefer it the way that Apple have changed it, you can naturally change it back with a very slight change;

Open Terminal again, however this time type;

sudo nvram StartupMute=%01

Tap enter, type your Admin password and, done.


 

Idea for post inspired by video from Zollotech

Apple updates iPad Pro with new upcoming Keyboard accessory with full Trackpad support!

Apple have updated the iPad Pro with a fairly minor processor increase, but more notable it was announced alongside the all new Keyboard accessory which with it brings a full Trackpad. The iPad Pro also brings quite a big increase in the Camera performance at the back as well, integrating the same lens options as the iPhone 11, with a bit more of a surprise for AR.

The design of the Keyboard case is actually fairly unique, now offering a floating position for the iPad Pro, which is actually adjustable and offers a USB-C charging input at the bottom sides allowing the USB-C port on the iPad Pro to be used for other accessories.

One thing more for note, is that this also works with previous generation, though for both generations of iPad, you’re gonna have to wait quite a while until this is released. Which is good as you’ll likely have to save up, £299 for the 11 inch iPad Pro or £349 for the 12.9 inch iPad Pro is how much this will cost you! This will only work with current and last generations of both however.

The only other major change to the iPad Pro 2020 line is the change to the Cameras at the back, there’s more of them. Now the iPad joins the iPhone 11 with the singular Camera and a Wide Angle shooter, but it goes one step further with the introduction of a LiDAR Scanner which will be incredibly useful for AR applications as for those who don’t know, LiDAR technology is what is used by Self Driving Cars, so needless to say this is pretty advanced stuff for AR. This could also paint the picture for what is included on the next iPhone Pro models.

The internals of the iPad Pro though are surprisingly disappointing. The A12Z … yes Z, is more or less a variant of the same processor already in the previous generation iPad Pro which supports the LiDAR technology. Thanks to this, it has been found that the actual performance of the iPad Pro 2020 is pretty much, the same. The iPad Pro does have some extra RAM, now 6GB, which may help if you are regularly using multiple Apps or browser Tabs at the same time.

However, whilst you would think this would be a perfect opportunity to run out and check the prices of second-hand or refurbished iPad Pros, Apple have actually made the new one slightly cheaper by doubling the Storage capacity, meaning for £769 you can now get a 128GB iPad Pro 11-inch, or £969 for 12-inch.

However, if you can find a low cost previous generation version, I’d honestly recommend that, or keep your. existing iPad Pro, and if you’re interesting in the Trackpad support, this is part of the iPadOS 13.4 update and that Keyboard accessory (and third party) will be available and work with that too.

Apple updates MacBook Air with “Magic Keyboard” and provide an unsubstantial update to Mac Mini

Whilst Apple couldn’t provide an Event this March for obvious reasons, Apple did provide a website refresh as part of some of the updates they have provided. Amongst these was an update to the iPad Pro, but in this we’re going to focus on the Mac updates that Apple have provided.

MacBook Air

Apple have actually provided a fairly decent update to the MacBook Air, updated now with 10th-generation Intel Core CPUs, and probably much more welcome, the replacement of the much hated Butterfly mechanism with the “Magic keyboard” which uses the more conventional Scissor switches.

One great thing about the MacBook Air finally moving up to the latest generation of Intel processors, skipping 9th-generation meaning the improvement differences will be fairly drastic, in some cases improvements of 76% specially in the Graphics department where the MacBook Air is actually able to do something even the current iMac Pro cannot, and that’s drive an Apple Pro Display XDR at full 6K Resolution. Granted, no one in the target market for a MacBook Air will own a Pro Display XDR, but it says a lot when a MacBook Air is able to drive a Display, that an iMac Pro cannot do with dedicated AMD Vega graphics, although that just further reiterates the sheer need for Apple to provide more Navi Graphics options to their Desktop line.

The new MacBook Air also has the option to, for the first time, bump up to a Quad-Core CPU for the first time, this is the case with the upper base model or the custom Core i7 model. Thanks to this, the MacBook Air is now actually more faster in every way than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is actually kinda wild. Granted, we’re expecting Apple to update that shortly, but it’s now a much more powerful and more portable machine from Apple.

Outside of the internal bump to the CPU, Apple have also doubled the storage capacity and price, now starting at a slightly lower £999 for, granted still a Core i3, but one faster than last generations i5, with a much better 256GB option. Though, we think the £1,299 Quad-Core Core i5 option with 512GB is most definitely the best option Apple sell of this one, and would be the better buy until Apple update the MacBook Pro 13 inch.

Other than all those things, however, everything else remains the same, which is both good and bad. On one hand it’s great that the MacBook Air retains it’s portability and no one can deny it’s not a premium built and looking device, however there’s no updates to the Display, which sure is Retina but not colour accurate, the webcam is a 720p Camera which certainly doesn’t look it.

Mac mini … this one’s a stretch

I would love to tell you that Apple have continued to show their commitment to the Mac mini, offering a favourable update to keep it going, and whilst you will see the “New” tab on it, stating this is a new machine is quite frankly a joke.

Apple also provided a pathetic update to the Mac mini, as in they doubled the default base Storage configurations … that’s it. That’s the update. Apple could have updated the Mac mini with updated 10th-generation Intel CPUs, but they didn’t and it stands with it’s pretty mediocre 8th-generation Core i3 base and more. Hopefully it won’t be the near eternity until we get an actual update on this one.

TCL to no longer make Smartphones for Blackberry, end of the line for good?

It hasn’t been the best few years for Blackberry, though, to be fair, to be fair Blackberry have been living in the shadows since the fall of the companies Blackberry 10 operating systems fell and they were ‘forced’, if you like, to use Android.

The move to Blackberry using Android back in 2016 wasn’t just a software change, it was also when Blackberry signed a deal with Chinese manufacturer TCL to design and produce its Smartphone hardware for it.

However, it appears this is now going to end in August 2020 with the following statement announcing that TCL will be no longer producing Blackberry hardware for the company;

Statement from TCL Communication

When TCL Communication announced in December 2016 that we had entered into a brand licensing and technology support agreement with BlackBerry Limited to continue making new, modern Blackberry smartphones available globally we were very excited and humbled to take on this challenge. Indeed our KEY Series smartphones, started with the KEYone, were highly-anticipated by the BlackBerry community. What made these devices great wasn’t just the hardware developed and manufactured by TCL Communication, but also the critical security and software features provided by BlackBerry Limited to ensure these were genuine BlackBerry devices. The support of BlackBerry Limited was an essential element to bringing devices like BlackBerry KEYone, Motion, KEY2 and KEY2 LE to life and we’re proud to have partnered with them these past few years on those projects.

We do regret to share however that as of August 31, 2020, TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. TCL Communication has no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices, however TCL Communication will continue to provide support for the existing portfolio of mobile devices including customer service and warranty service until August 31, 2022 – or for as long as required by local laws where the mobile device was purchased. Further details can be found at http://www.blackberrymobile.com or by phoning customer support at the numbers found at https://blackberrymobile.com/hotline-and-service-center/.

For those of us at TCL Communication who were blessed enough to work on BlackBerry Mobile, we want to thank all our partners, customers and the BlackBerry fan community for their support over these past few years. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many fans from all over the world during our world tour stops. The future is bright for both TCL Communication and BlackBerry Limited, and we hope you’ll continue to support both as we move ahead on our respective paths.

From everyone who worked on the BlackBerry Mobile team at TCL Communication over the years, we want to say ‘Thank You’ for allowing us to be part of this journey.

Source: BlackBerry Mobile Twitter

Think it’s fair to say it doesn’t get more blunt than that, from August this year, you will stop seeing Blackberry Smartphones on sale from TCL.

What is unclear, however, is the next direction for Blackberry. TCL makes Smartphones for a collection of other companies, including some of its own, but Blackberry’s future is, as of yet, unproven. The company does have a collection of security features and Enterprise solutions, which they will likely continue, though on the hardware front, could this really be the end?

End of an era becomes real as Apple will finally drop support for Adobe Flash in next version of Safari for Mac! Others to follow

Like most browsers, Apple’s Safari has the option to try out developer version of the browser and it was noted that the latest of Safari’s “Technology Preview” lacked full support for the Adobe Flash plug in.

Apple have infamously being fairly against Adobe Flash, formerly Macromedia Flash, since back in 2010, ten years ago, when Steve Jobs published the “Thoughts on Flash“, which, at the time, was talking more in relation to the use of Flash on touch-based devices such as the, just announced, iPad, and the iPhone OS, in favour of the, also new at the time, HTML5 standard.

It wasn’t too difficult, beneath the usual smoke-and-mirrors, to see where Steve Jobs’ was coming from when it came to the post, Flash was built for a keyboard and mouse interface, something which mobile devices are just not built to support. The post, however, never affected the support for Adobe Flash on Mac OS X, now macOS, until this appearance of the technology being potentially dropped in the next version of Safari.

It’s worth mentioning a few things, however, about this. Safari Technology Preview, version 99, which is the first to stop support for Adobe Flash, cannot gain Flash in any way, whatsoever, so this would literally be a complete drop of support for the plug-in, something we haven’t seen since back in the mid 2000s with the drop of Windows Media support.

This is obviously something which will be affecting Safari primarily, other browser such as Google’s Chrome browser, which have their own embedded plug-ins for technologies such as Flash, will continue to be able to access the format and use it on those browsers. The decision as to whether drop the support on those browsers will lie with those developers, but with this big step by Apple, added to the continued problems Adobe Flash has allowed, it won’t be surprising to see everyone else beginning to follow.

What’s your impressions of the complete drop of Adobe Flash, for us it’s good riddance.

Should Huawei be involved in the UK’s 5G Network?

Whilst the rollout may have begun last year in the UK, 5G in the UK sure has a long way to go, however one of the biggest hurdles in getting the UK’s 5G coverage across the Country is based on who’s technology is going to allow this.

Of course it isn’t just 5G that’s having this same criticism, the rollout of higher speed Fibre networks, such as the Openreach FTTP network, also has been using technology provided by, you know who, Huawei. Whilst there’s alternative companies that provide the technology such as Nokia, the fact is that Huawei offer the best pricing for the same level of technology.

The UK Government is now under pressure from the US to ban the use of Huawei by UK Carrier Networks in their rollout of 5G, however the networks of Vodafone and EE are defending the decision to use Huawei.

Whilst the lead of EE, BT’s chief Marc Allera, and Vodafone’s Nick Read, have both provided a letter dismissing the ban, stating that Huawei’s technology is essential to the 5G rollout in the UK, the question certainly comes upon whether Huawei should be used at all.

The problem is, the Networks have a point, in that Huawei is the best option, from a business stand point, to use for the 5G rollout, however, their has to be the question of, almost, doing the right thing. As we mentioned earlier, their are alternative companies the Carriers could work with.

So, should Huawei be involved in the UK’s 5G Network? No. There’s no excuse other than financial gain to continue to use Huawei in the rollout. Huawei is already used in the UK’s 4G Network, and there’s undeniable evidence of the Chinese government using Huawei to spy. Whilst we are completely up for the rollout of the 5G network in the UK, especially as it’s slowly entering places remotely close to our doorsteps, it’s impossible to support the use of Huawei on these networks.

What do you think, do you agree with the appeal the Carriers are doing towards the Government, whilst it’s still expected the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will likely support the US pressure (UK typically does), so alternatives could have to be used, but we will see.

Why we didn’t cover CES 2020

Whilst we had a big selection of coverage of CES 2019 last year, it’s not gone unnoticed that our coverage of CES 2020 is more or less inexistent, well, they’re just straight up isn’t any. The reason for this is simple, the direction where CES has gone over the last few years.

Whilst we cover technology, its clear that CES just is no longer the place to get the coverage that we are looking. for. In terms of Smartphone announcements, we have a mini, semi-pointless variant of Samsung’s S10 and Note, and that’s more or less about it. The event has focused on the advancements in TV technology, which is incredible, but there’s nothing really which has come out of it for the every day consumer.

One thing that has happened, more or less over the last 12 months especially, but was very noticeable at CES is the advancement in technology from AMD, especially comparatively versus Intel, which is getting insane to see. This is a direction that we’ve not normally gone down, in terms of technology that we cover, but this may be something we start to cover over 2020, as we have been fascinated to see the rise in AMD in the CPU space, we’d just like to see that in the GPU space. We may do a post on AMD with Lisa Su over the next few days.

Long story short, we’ve not covered CES this year for the same reason a lot of people haven’t, the focus has gone. But, we will be back covering technology really soon.

After much delay, the Mac Pro is finally here!

When Apple announced the Mac Pro, one thing that they said was it would be released “Fall 2019”, and in terms of cutting it short, Apple sure did that. releasing it literally at the end of Fall. What Apple have released though is a very controversially priced machine. However, whilst, sure, you can spec out a Mac Pro to the eye-watering stats of £43,000, the fact of the matter is, nobody will, and it’s not meant to be, and that’s the biggest point to make.

In terms of what Apple have delivered, and they have, what you have is one of the most ergonomic PC towers you can buy. One of the most surprising factors of the Mac Pro, is the fact that in terms of cooling, you pretty much only have 3 main fans at the front, but somehow you can run more or less everything on max and not even hear the thing doing anything, which is a massive testament to how Apple have controlled the air flow of this thing.

Where’s the Threadripper option…

As is typical with a Mac Pro, Apple have not opted for consumer grade chips, but gone with Intel’s Xeon line of CPUs, for which you can go all the way up to a 28-Core Processor, for which is of course overkill for what anyone would ever need to use, and that’s the main point in relation to price really, but there’s definitely an elephant in the room… where’s the AMD options.

Over the last couple of years, AMD has just being on a consistent run of incredible performance gains, and even before AMD announce their next generation Zen-based Ryzen CPUs, you can already get better performance out of AMD’s already existing 3rd gen Threadripper processors than what you can get on the Mac Pro’s highest option, and if you were looking at AMD’s Epyc Processor, it’s not even funny! This isn’t a fault of the Mac Pro, this is Intel, Intel have just been completely slacking, though it does beg the question why Apple wouldn’t allow AMD processors, considering the fact that Apple work heavily with AMD with their Metal framework for GPUs, but frustratingly Apple are sticking with Intel, but for the moment that’s not a major problem as these are still overkill CPUs.

But it’s £40odd thousand!!

You can make it £50,000 if you add the newly added 8TB option for SSD and software, but the fact of the matter is, even progressions should NOT buy these configs. These are the halo possibilities that the Mac Pro offers, the fact of the matter is, the realistic purchase is one far less than this, which gets built on as the machine goes forward. In fact the configuration most would be going for, would be more in line of being £10,000 – £18,000 rather than that amount.

One thing that is rather hilarious about the criticism of the price of the Mac Pro, is that it’s ironically a lot cheaper than workstation towers from Dell, HP, Lenovo etc … no really, go on their websites and try making comparable comparisons, and you’ll end up with a much uglier plastic shell as well.

There’s a few things to keep in mind, however, before you get configuring;

  • Apple’s SSD + T2 – Whilst Apple charge quite the hefty amount for their SSDs, and it’s still a joke that this starts with 256GB of it, one thing to keep in mind, whilst the Mac Pro can be configured with additional Storage, and Apple’s SSD is removable, it is configured to a Motherboard level with the SSD using Apple’s T2 Security Chip, meaning this simply will not boot if you use a replacement SSD (not supplied by Apple), so it’s recommended that you do consider this when configuring. Thankfully, Apple’s pricing aren’t too unreasonable for the performance speeds.
  • Do not buy Apple RAM – The opposite of the above point is true about the RAM options in the Mac Pro. The base model starts with 32GB of RAM, which, for many, is plenty, for the Pros it is certainly not, but do not pay Apple’s RAM pricing. You can buy the exact RAM Apple use, or comparable, and use that with the Mac Pro. This alone can save you literally THOUSANDS on the price, for no reason.

Just how good is the AMD Vega II? Expectedly overkill

Whilst AMD is now focused on Navi with their RDNA architecture in their GPUs, much has been questioned upon the performance of the AMD Vega II, though the question of the performance naturally enters the area that was never intended with the Mac Pro, gaming.

The important point to keep in mind, is that the AMD Vega II, alongside the Afterburner Card, is built for productivity, it’s built for outputting high grade Video, Imagery and Audio, as well as so much more, so asking whether it’s decent for Gaming, is a bit wrong. If you wish to Game on the Mac Pro, you’d probably be better just simply purchasing a Radeon RX 5700 XT and putting that in one of the PCI slots, rather than one of these, for the price.

For those wondering, however, performance of a single Vega II in Gaming, what they were not built for, perform better than an Nvidia RTX 2080, and a Duo, will be around a 2080Ti, or if you really spent out and bought the 4 GPU option, with the 2X Vega II Duo, you will then have what Apple and AMD can brand, the worlds most powerful GPU, but for a near £10,000 premium over the abysmal RX580 default, it should be.

Workstation variants of the 5700 XT coming soon

One thing that will allow a great saving when it comes to GPU performance on the Mac Pro, will be the finally introduction of Navi options for the Mac Pro. AMD’s 5700 series of GPUs have been very popular as a best bang for buck 1440p Gaming Card versus Nvidia’s 2060 and 2070 series of GPUs, but the variant Apple will be offering soon for the Mac Pro, will be one built for productivity, the W5700X with 16GB of GDRR6 or the option to buy 2 of them. Performance is not likely to be as good as the Vega II, likely due to not using the more expensive HMB2 memory, as well as having half the GB of VRAM too, but will be a massively lower amount for those who need it.

The wheels … just don’t.

The Mac Pro has some stupid configuration options, we’ve mentioned not touching Apple’s RAM prices, but when it comes to paying ~£400 for a pair of wheels is just stupid. Whilst it will make it easier to move, for sure, just lift the thing up, seriously.

Summary of the Mac Pro

The Mac Pro is Apple’s fastest Mac ever … shocker, right. However, it’s also Apple’s most misunderstood Mac, mostly because the media like to make headlines. Apple, of course like to be renowned as the luxury brand, but with the Mac Pro, it’s sure nice to see Apple finally make a Mac, which you can literally build up from purchase. Even if you bought the 8-Core base model, you could upgrade the CPU down the line, which is quite frankly unheard of in the Mac of recent times.

Of course, this brings up the question, the request, the want, for Apple to build a Mac Pro mini, but we highly doubt Apple will do this. The problem with the Mac Pro, almost, is how it is now so comparable to the iMac Pro, which we personally think is a much better buy for the 80% of people looking for a high end Mac. To be fair, if Apple updated the iMac Pro with Navi graphic options, let’s say replacing the Vega 56 base with the 5700, with an 5700 XT option, then maybe a custom AMD + Apple higher end option, or just AMD releases a 2080Ti style GPU, that iMac Pro would be perfect. But, for now, that’s a dream, but this Mac Pro sure ain’t bad, but you’ll probably need a loan … though, then again, if you do need a loan to get this, it’s probably not for you anyway.