Apple AirPods Pro Review – They’re Good, but sure ain’t Pro

When Apple announced the original AirPods, which if you can believe it, is way back on the launch of the iPhone 7, which, whilst it was clear they had a ton of engineering surrounding them, the experience of Audio quality and generally the look definitely left most with a lot less to be desired, especially when you consider they sound (if not slightly better) a near-identical fit to Apple’s wired EarPods.

Not to mention the clear number of emissions that you would expect from a pair of Headphones in that price bracket, such as noise cancellation, being absent, the AirPods definitely were a tough sell for most. However, despite all these shortcomings, they are still currently the worlds most popular Bluetooth devices on the market today, reason why is fairly simple, everything else about AirPods is really good, such as reliability, integration with other Apple devices, the battery case and more.

But, you already knew this. The question now comes to how Apple are going to fix the lacking features with these. AirPods 2 may have made a minor improvement to audio and introduced Wireless Charging as an option, but where does that leave the future of AirPods…

In comes AirPods Pro

A slightly wider and larger case, now with Wireless Charging as a default, is what originally greets you with AirPods Pro, though, whilst they do still charge using Lightning, Apple now includes a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box matching the already included cable in the box of Apple’s newest iPhones … so, no, not fully adopting USB-C in this generation, we reckon this is a transitional period and we could see that from the next generation update to the AirPods, likely expect we will have to wait until the iPhone has USB-C for that to happen first.

Of course the inclusion of USB-C at the end of the Charging Port is useful for recent Mac purchases, especially on the Notebook side, as that’s more or less the only Port you have, but also as you can also use more traditional chargers that could come from Android or other devices, perhaps even iPad Pro devices as well. However, if you don’t have a USB-C device, you can of course use your iPhone charger as well with these.

Battery life is nearly the same as AirPods of old, 5 hours of listening in the buds, with a combined of ~24 hours when using the case, though Apple do state this goes down by around half an hour if you use the software level Noise Cancellation, or Transparency mode, more on that later, if both of those are Off, the same 5 hours applies from prior AirPods.

Design – Less stem, but more wider

If there’s one thing we certainly didn’t like about the original AirPods, or perhaps even the EarPods, it’s the one-size-fits-all approach to the way they fit in the ear, as well as the rather over-sized stem, which whilst that may give you that added bit of confidence when it comes to the microphone you will be using for phone calls or Siri, it does make them look like an eye-sore. With AirPods Pro, this is gone, now in favour of, granted, a more wider design, but least now they look a lot more conventional in the ear, but, whilst still maintaining that AirPods look.

Whilst we are still testing the AirPods Pro microphone quality, one thing we will say, is Siri has been very responsive and picked up everything we said, as for calling, we found that people on the other side couldn’t tell if we were using the iPhone microphone or the AirPods microphone, which to be fair, makes them a win for us just there alone.

As a result of the more wider, but far less narrow design of the AirPods Pro, this has resulted in a completely different shape for the Charging case, gone from the pack of Tic-tacs design of yore, now with a more wider design. This design is also a tad thicker, but to be fair both are still very pocketable and compact, and, still offer the same functionality for the AirPods they house, in fact identically if you have the AirPods with Wireless Charging case versus the new AirPods Pro.

As you can see from the picture on the side, the design of the AirPods Pro, being less stem and more wide, as an end result, just means they look far less obtrusive and just like someone who, sure, is wearing Apple earphones, but not someone who is wearing those silly looking AirPods. It is worth mentioning that some people never minded the original AirPods design, if you are one of them, just know you’re a minority in this one, which is why we’re very happy with the far less in your face look of them now.

Thanks to the 3 different size rubber tips you have in the box as well, these are no longer, what Apple defines as, “universal fit”, these are now earphones you can customise the fit for your ears. By default, out of the box, the AirPods Pro come preinstalled with the medium fit tips, which, naturally, for most, these will probably be the ones to use, though we will say that we actually find the larger tips to be far better for both quality, more on that later, and comfort, though then again, another person who tested these found they could only wear them with the smaller tip, but at the end of the day, it’s having that option that makes these a worlds better than the traditional AirPods design.

BIG SIDE-NOTE FROM US: The AirPods Pro sounded like absolute garbage when we first got them and I think it’s fair to say we were looking at all the reviews saying they’re a big step up, sound great, and wondering what people were smoking as ours sounded rubbish. Why was this? Well, comes down to how we were putting these on. Unlike most earphones with tips, the AirPods Pro are shaped oval, not circular, which means instead of what felt tips do, which essentially is mould to your ears, these are shaped in a way where they are designed to be placed in your ears aligned and correctly. This is something you get used to doing, but it is incredibly important to note, as these genuinely sounded like rubbish headphones for a fiver for a moment and we were getting braced to have a much less, let’s say, rosy review.

SIDE NOTE #2: This isn’t really a side-note, but for those wondering, the AirPods of course work with non-Apple devices, and can be paired using the built in button placed on the back of them under the metallic hinge when the AirPods are opened. By tapping the button they will enter a pairing mode, a light will begin to flash, this is when you can pair with them with any other devices by generally selecting Pair.

Sound quality + noise cancellation = Mixed results…

Whilst Apple didn’t adopt felt tips for the AirPods Pro, these are plastic/rubber texture tips, they more or less, by themselves, increase the quality of audio, just naturally by bouncing the audio around a seal within your ears, this also, as a result gives you a minor level of audio cancellation, which is to be expected, but of course Apple went one step further than this by adopting software level Passive noise cancellation.

Whilst this is nothing breakthrough, it’s probably the only “Pro” feature on these. The AirPods feature mics on the exterior, naturally for phone calls and Siri integration, but also mics on the inside, which together map the Audio outside and attempt to invert that using sound waves to essentially give you a blank sound. This even works whilst not playing anything, and it’s almost creepy to begin with and it does work pretty well in many instances, though it’s certainly not perfect.

One the other side of that, Apple also have a Transparency mode, which again uses the mics, but in a completely different way. This time, the external mics are projected internally to allow you to still hear all what’s happening around you, almost as if you weren’t wearing the AirPods at all. We find this more impressive than the passive noise cancellation as it really does allow you to hear everything externally, and we’ve used it whilst buying things in a shop, though naturally do be aware everyone will still think you’re being rude and thinking they’re not heard as much.

Noise Cancellation = The best feature we don’t use

The problem with the noise cancellation feature of the new AirPods Pro is it’s only good at very specific surroundings. If you have a consistent sound occurring in the background, a perfect example of this was being inside a parked bus, they work amazing, you literally can’t hear anything and it’s just you and the music, BUT, the second there’s loud noise that’s not consistent things begin to break up.

When you’re in a more inconsistent noisy background, we find the Audio quality of the AirPods Pro suffers quite dearly and many parts of the Audio you’re listening to almost get an interference sound, akin to a severe reduce bitrate, an almost watery effect in some highs which can be incredibly distracting when trying to enjoy your music.

Whilst it’s true this may not be a problem for everyone, for us it’s a dealbreaker for the majority of areas we would like the feature to work on, whilst traveling on a bus. We’ve full confidence this will work better on an Aeroplane as the sound in that is more consistent. As a result of this, we tend to have the Setting on majority time to Off, then Transparency when we need to hear the outside world.

When we are at home, however, walking the streets, noise cancellation certainly does it’s job, so it’s definitely situational.

Audio quality = Sure ain’t pro, but it’s decent

Original AirPods sounded the same as Apple’s EarPods, which was pretty much embarrassing, in our opinion, this slightly improved, and we mean slightly, with AirPods 2, but the difference with AirPods Pro is certainly noticeable. Bass is more richer and free, though we will say we think the Trebles are a bit too extreme in many areas and as a result the overall sound isn’t as good as we think the drivers are capable of delivering.

One of our biggest annoyances about Audio quality of the AirPods Pro is Apple’s DREADFUL EQs on iOS. We’ve found that, overall, generally speaking the best choice is the “Hip-Hop” preset, but the fact that Apple don’t just allow granular controls to the equaliser is just incredibly frustrating, as most AirPods Pro competitors do so within their own accommodating Application to make up for iOS sheer lack of it.

Overall though, we don’t think most people will be let down by the Audio quality of the AirPods Pro, but there’s one thing we will say about this; as we mentioned in Design, if you put these on as you would with “normal” earphones, they will sound like garbage, so you do need to put them on correctly, with the tip pointing towards what would be your lips.

The fundamentals = Where these things just shine

Whilst the whole “magic” of AirPods is something which is incredibly easy to mock, there’s something fairly undeniable about AirPods when it comes to the experience, not only out of the box, but just in general.

Software integration with Apple’s main operating systems is of course top of the line, and there’s no hiding that pairing just by opening them for the first time near your phone is nothing less than incredible. This also works if you choose to “Share Audio” with another none paired Apple device, you just watch it happen and it’s crazy.

The reliability history of AirPods is also hard to deny. We’ve experienced enough Bluetooth headphones to know that there’s A LOT of areas where they can just fall short, and whilst we can’t entirely comment on this much with the AirPods Pro, let’s not forget how old these things are, they were literally announced on Tuesday, what we can say is they’ve just done the job.

Battery life, sure there’s competing headphones with better battery life, but they have cases that are simply humongous, these are compact and will easily last you a working week. We’ve not had them for a week, no one has, but we can tell you based on what’s left and we’ve been using these far more than we would normally use them for, it would be an easy bet to suggest they would get you through a 5 day working week.

Tiny things such as music pausing when a single AirPod is removed is nice, especially when it instantly resumes once it’s placed back in. Sure, these are small things, but they’re small things that add up to such a good experience.

Being able to check the battery life of your AirPods via the Apple Watch battery or your iPhone battery, is also incredibly useful, more so that the Apple Watch could do it, we almost wish Apple expanded that so it shows your iPhone battery life on the Watch, but that’s an entirely different conversation.

The Pros, the Cons and Summary

PRO
  • Improved audio quality versus the standard versions with deeper bass
  • Multiple sized tips so they’ll be one that fits great in your ear
  • The tip of the AirPods is so much smaller so they look far less silly
  • The integration between Apple devices is really neat
  • They instantly pair on and off without even thinking about it
  • Battery life is stellar and just as advertised
  • Connection has been far more reliable than a number of other Bluetooth headphones we have tested
  • Include a USB-C cable to charge using more conventional chargers, though also Apple’s newest Mac and iPad hardware
CONS
  • If noise cancellation is not important for you, the normal AirPods may still be a better buy
  • Maybe not for all, but there’s certainly a learning curve at putting them on
  • They’re not as seamless at going back in the case
  • There’s currently a UI bug on iOS that sometimes twitches between L or R when showing the AirPods battery life by opening the case with them in
  • For the price, if you’re looking for the best audio quality, these just simply aren’t for you
  • Whilst they do support Wireless Charging, we find it’s incredibly slow
SUMMARY
Most won’t be disappointed, a lot of features like reliability and integration are industry leading, but if audio is everything to you, “audiophiles” out there, these ain’t for you

One good thing about Apple’s AirPods Pro, is that they don’t actually replace the AirPods 2 Apple have been selling very well, and what that means is you now have a choice upon which AirPods you should buy. The AirPods Pro really do take everything most people critiqued about the AirPods and attempts to fix all of them, and they’ve certainly done a very solid almost at every one of them, but it is worth mentioning that for so many people, the normal AirPods will still suffice, and with how poor we find Wireless Charging on these, there’s a clear £90 difference between getting, sure, battery audio quality, but for most, just the noise cancellation, and if that’s not important for you and you just want the AirPods experience we would still recommend the £159 versions.

However, when it comes to us reviewing the AirPods Pro, these are literally the only AirPods we would ever consider. We’re listening to them during this review, and whilst we’re hardly in a noisy environment, they just sound good, nothing out of this world special and groundbreaking, but also not bad and disappointing, just they sound good, and we know for most people that’s what we’re looking for.

The biggest hurdle for the AirPods Pro will of course be the £249 asking price, which could go down slightly as we enter the holiday season, like the AirPods traditionally do, but as with all AirPods you’ve to ask yourself whether the naturally really good unique fundamentals that these things do offer is worth it enough for you to consider them. If you want them, and get them, we doubt you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re an audiophile who listens for every bit and channel, you should naturally step away now.

Update January 2020

Since the release of a number of software updates that Apple has released for the AirPods, we have noticed a number of things. For one, the Noise Cancelation is slightly less-so, which is a bit disappointing, but it appears that this is in response to once of our biggest complaints with the feature, being the weird noises that we were experiencing when using the feature in inconsistent noisy environments, such as travel. So, we can now confirm that we do use Noise Cancelation above the simple “Off” feature, which does still cancel a bit out, but obviously you still get more canceled out. The audio quality of the AirPods Pro, however, is exactly the same as we said from the start, which is to say they’re good, but sure ain’t pro.

Apple release all-new AirPods Pro, noise-cancelling earphones!

For a product as popular as the AirPods, it’s certainly surprising that Apple went for a simple website refresh, but that’s what they did, and here’s what you get out of Apple’s new £250 variant of the AirPod experience.

Available on Wednesday, for, as we mentioned, £250, the AirPods Pro are certainly more expensive than the traditional AirPods, and, even the Wireless Charging version, so the natural question this begs, what do you get for that extra £90 or £50 instead of the old school AirPods?

Slimmer, more traditional design

Supporting rubber tips, having a far less longer trail, the AirPods Pro are certainly an improvement to the design of AirPods of yore, but they still have that striking, yes those are AirPods, look, but of course all of these put together, may explain the reason they’re proclaimed as “pro”, and, what will differentiate them from the traditional AirPods

Sound quality + noise cancellation = The biggest change

Who’d of thought Apple of all companies would be giving you a choice of rubber tip, crazy I know, but of course there’s a reason why so many companies use rubber tips in their headphones such as this, noise cancellation is a given, and, due to the way they fit in your ear, produce much better bass and sound quality in general.

Considering these are both the lacking features of the AirPods line before these were released, these are a pretty big deal, of course we will have to wait and see what the quality is like, as, traditional AirPods are quite frankly embarrassing quality for the price they’re asking for, we’re talking the same as EarPods here, so any improvement on that area is very much appreciated, but let’s not forget these are luxury devices, devices you want to be seen with, that are never the best ones, which is definitely the worst kind of product, but that’s the way it’s always been with AirPods.

Noise cancellation is also passive on the AirPods Pro, meaning that with software, you can temporarily hear your surroundings if you need to, which to be fair is a pretty advanced feature, though, still makes it a stretch to use the “Pro” branding, though this is Apple, remember.

The same Apple H1 + Wireless Charging

What makes AirPods better for iOS, as well as select other devices, is the way they can seamlessly connect without seeing a single Setting, other than that they’re fairly traditional Bluetooth headphones, but one thing we are impressed with, if you consider Apple pricing somewhat reasonable, is that compared to Apple’s older style AirPods with a Wireless Charging case, these are only £50 more for much better quality and sound cancelling.

Overview

The AirPods Pro improve in more or less every way versus the traditional AirPods, as well as building in the Wireless Charging functionality, though it is worth mentioning that battery life is ever so slightly worse than the normal AirPods, be it half an hour. Apple rate 4.5 hours of battery life, then naturally 24 hours using the case.

Probably the most disappointing thing about the AirPods Pro, based on the rumours which are never reliable, is that they only come in White, which still means they’re an eyesore, even if Apple offered them in just Black and White, it would be a start.

Other than that, the AirPods Pro are, be it a pricy, a big step forward for AirPods in general, though it will be up to you whether this price is worth it for you.

You can find out more and purchase your own AirPods Pro right here!

Google announce release date for gaming service Google Stadia, pricing and more!

Google Stadia was announced back at Google’s I/O conference, but now we finally have a release date, this coming November and it’s looking incredible. Above is the exclusive pre-order Foundation Edition controller you can get to play all those Games, don’t worry though PC Gamers, you can still use Keyboard and Mouse if you insist.

The incredible thing about Google Stadia is what it delivers, AAA gaming without a Gaming PC or Console, just an Internet connection and access to a Google Chrome browser, that’s it! Google promises 60fps on not only 720p and 1080p, but also in 4K resolution on selected titles, which for what you’d require to get that, is pretty insane.

Call us the odd ones out, but we actually prefer the White controller, but those are the base controller options for Stadia, though we personally expect they’ll be much more options as the service continues.

To power the service all you need is the following based on these platforms;

  • Mac, PC, Linux, Chrome OS = Google Chrome browser
  • Smartphone = Pixel 4 and Pixel 3 range of devices only *at the moment*
  • TV = Chromecast Ultra

As far as Internet connectivity, Google claim you shouldn’t need any more than you would need to stream Netflix in the same quality, which in itself is pretty incredible.

Whilst Google will show off Stadia with the Stadia controller, which looks and feels almost like an Xbox controller, should you be playing on a PC (whether Windows, macOS or Linux) you can also Game using your Keyboard and Mouse as well, if you choose.

Pricing tiers

FREE

For free you can experience Google Stadia, offered at the max of 1080p at 60fps on all your devices. The only expense comes with which Games you want, which you will have to individually purchase.

PAID AT £8.99 PER MONTH

If you pay for a Stadia Pro Subscription, you too can purchase any Game and play whenever, but you now can play those titles at 4K 60fps as an option, but you will also get per month free titles to play as well.

FOUNDATION EDITION CONTROLLER

For £119, you can get everything you need, a Stadia controller, for a limited time that nice dark looking one will be available, as well as a Chromecast Ultra to play your titles on your TV.


Google Stadia will be available November 14th, this will include US, Canada and the UK. Though, it’s worth noting that this will only include the Pro Subscription. The free Subscription will be available early 2020.

Google announces Nest WiFi, Nest Mini, a replacement to the Google Home Mini and Nest Hub at MadebyGoogle Event 2019

Alongside the Pixel 4 devices and the Pixelbook Go, Google have also announced a team of Nest devices, one of which may look slightly familiar, as Google have now added Nest branding to the former Google Home Mini with some improvements. Google also announced a Router and a Smart Speaker device, which we’ll get to now.

Google Nest Mini

Design and functionality wise, it’s literally the same as the former Google Home Mini, as well as the £49 launch asking price, but, now with Nest branding, the Mini now has some improvements in both Audio and with the microphones, which should help the device from picking up your commands when Audio is being played, and, that audio that is being played, will sound that much more better.

Outside of an improvement to Speaker quality, as well as additional mics, this is basically a Google Home Mini, though expect some consumer confusion when the Nest branding is brought towards them as not many people have even heard of the Nest branding outside of the US.

Google Nest Hub

Another device getting the Nest branding, is the Nest Hub, a Google Assistant powered Speaker with Display. Difference of course with having a regular Assistant device and this, is naturally you can see the results of the searches you have done, as well as watch Videos and more.

The device will set you back £119, which for the category of devices, this certainly isn’t the only device of its kind, that’s actually a fairly decent device. It’s not the most popular way to use the Google Assistant, but for those looking for an official choice, this is Google’s own.

Google Nest WiFi

The final Google branded device to go Nest branding, is the former Google WiFi, now Nest WiFi. These are Google’s mesh Routers which now have built in Google Assistant on the main device.

Price of the device starts at £129, but there’s more to it than that, as that will get you just the base unit, so a single Router, but Google naturally offer, the above, one Router and an extra station, or one Router and three extra stations, the choice you make naturally will depend on the size of the are you wish to boost. For a standard home, there’s no reason to get more than the 2 set up.

The devices are powered by the 802.11s standard, which the S is the standard for mesh Routers to co-operate with, however as a Router themselves we have talk suggesting it will be supporting the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, which would make sense.

Unfortunately, other than the base £129 price, Google are yet to provide pricing for the devices as a whole, but we will update this post the second we can with the full pricing for the 1 to 1 and 3 to 1 options.


These aren’t all that Google announced during their MadebyGoogle Event, all our coverage is available here.

 

Google announces more “affordable” Pixelbook, the Pixelbook Go at MadebyGoogle Event 2019

As far as pointless products are concerned, the previous, still available, Pixelbook was really up there, however, Google are hoping to correct that slightly with the announcement of the Pixelbook Go. Typically, when Google add Go to a product, it’s the more budget functioned variant of the same device, which, whilst it is sort of the case with this, this is a MadebyGoogle device, so don’t expect much.

Available in a curvy, and rubbery formation, the Pixelbook Go is certainly an interestingly designed device, as are most MadebyGoogle devices, but it’s also a device which still, like it’s more expensive brother, makes little to no sense for the majority.

Thankfully it’s also available in a Black finish, and so not as garish, but the reason question we’ve got to answer of course is, should you actually buy it, and, what’s actually inside of there.

As expected, this is a Chrome OS device, so essentially you’re running the Chrome browser, but let’s not forget you can also use some select Android apps which will work as well, which may be a slight way to defend some of the more expensive options, but let’s have a look at those.

The base configuration of the Pixelbook Go starts with an Intel Core m3, which is useful as those processors are fan-less and so completely silent, but also reveals the price starting point, £629, which, for a Chromebook might be still quite pricy.

But of course, you can configure the device away from it’s Full HD all the way to a 4K Ultra Display, which at 13.3 inch might be a bit pointless expense and either a Core i5 or Core i7, all of which are Intel’s 8th gen dual-core mobile variants. As far as storage is concerned, the 64GB base configuration is, yes, rather stingy, but unlike Windows or macOS, ChromeOS is near all online, so storage isn’t too important. We think the Core i7 £1,329 option is absolutely pointless.

The device doesn’t look too bad to be fair, and it is nice to finally have a halo Chrome OS which doesn’t start at a four figure price point, and has a decent 1080p webcam which will be decent for video calls as well.

The keyboard is backlit, which is nice for the price point, and features Google’s Titen security chip, which we’re not entirely sure how that will help Chrome OS, an OS which is already fairly secure, but it’s nice to have that extra piece of mind we guess.

The device also features a unique rubber bottom, which will not only increase the devices grip and hold on your lap, but also has a unique look.

Google rate 12 hours of battery life, and, being a Chromebook, we’re fairly reliant on that being accurate. Question is, however, is it worth getting a device like this that may look a bit more premium, when you can still get decent (enough) Chromebooks for barely £200.

This isn’t all that Google announced during their MadebyGoogle Event, all our coverage is available here.

Google announces Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL at MadebyGoogle Event 2019

“Stop us if you’ve seen this before”, was the famous quote by Steve Jobs before announcing the then leaked iPhone 4, however, when it comes to the Pixel 4, it certainly takes that to the next level. Never before, have we being in a situation where the manufacturer themselves is the one mostly responsible for not only leaking, but essentially telling you everything about a device, before it’s very announcement, and maybe it’s that reason why this will go down as one of the worst Google events so far.

Because we obviously know so much about it, it’s very hard to be surprised about anything, or impressed based on its appearance.

I mean, it’s not the worse looking phone on the planet, but it certainly makes an iPhone 11 Pro, a device many made an exaggerated complaint about its appearance, look like the winner of a beauty contest, but that’s obviously subjective opinion. The striking design choice, in our opinion, is the odd decision to have black plastic sides, regardless on which colour option you choose, more on those later, which might be good for grip, but as an end result it just looks cheap.

Whilst the Pixel 4, or 4 XL, won’t feature any kind of notch design, in a way that’s a step back as the screen to body has gone down, and a massively noticeable top is left over. Add to the fact that, once again, Google has chosen to announce this device when its Snapdragon 855 is becoming outdated in just over 3 months, it just doesn’t add up, in our opinion as a great buy.

Speaking of buy, the device is actually, at least in the UK, slightly less than the Pixel 3 it replaces, starting at £669 or £829 for the Pixel 4 XL, of course that is with the measly 64GB of storage, then for an extra £100 you can upgrade it to the maximum 128GB of storage, something we still don’t understand. Google fans can’t even defend that and state you get unlimited original quality photo uploads on Google Photos as Google has (for whatever reason) dropped that, though you will get 3 months free of Google One cloud storage, but again, limited.

The colour choices for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL include Clearly White, Just Black and an all new Oh So Orange … yeah, that’s the name they’ve given for it. The Orange variant is garish and quite frankly disgusting as far as we’re concerned, but we’re sure someone must like it.

One useful improvement in relation to the Pixel 4 is that the devices now feature a more conventional 6GB of RAM, a feature very in need on last years Pixel 3, although ironically based on the Android operating systems still rather poor RAM management, maybe even that might not be enough in some cases, but time will tell.

Camera wise, Google haven’t changed much to the main 12MP shooter, but they have added a 16MP telephoto Camera to the Rear Camera, although the Camera count is still at three as they’ve also removed the secondary Wide Angle lens from last years Pixel 3 devices … Google just seems to be against Wide Angle lenses. The latter point is a shame, as it’s not hard to work out that it would be far more useful to have a Wide Angle lens than a Telephoto, especially considering it was only last year Google claimed they didn’t need a Telephoto lens as they could do all that with Software, oh the irony.

Of course the bigger story surrounding the Google Pixel is the Android operating system in all its stock glory. The Pixel 4 runs the latest Android 10 operating system, with promise of getting the latest and greatest for years to come, and be first to do so, regardless of Carrier partner, something which has also increased upon the Pixel 4 launch.

Overall, the Pixel 4 is nothing to get too excited about. It’s a high end flagship for about 3 months, which lacks in too many areas to be too impressed. The decision of whether the Android operating system being stock and constantly updated is important enough for you, will decide the decision upon getting a Pixel 4, as unfortunately this is the first year we’re looking at a new Pixel and telling you that, even in the Camera department, it’s no longer number 1.

The Pixel 4 will go on sale soon starting at £669 for the Pixel 4 and £829 for the Pixel 4 XL in Black, White and a limited edition (thankfully) Orange colour.

This isn’t all that Google announced during their MadebyGoogle Event, all our coverage is available here.

Microsoft announces to Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro 7 and all new Surface Pro X

Whilst we had a slightly lower level of excitement about two of the announcements from Microsoft’s recent Surface Event, for more or less everything else, we’re actually really impressed. Whilst most of what Microsoft announced other than those were generally spec bumps, Microsoft also pulled a few surprises and some very welcome changes to the devices, which in our opinion make them even more appealing!

Surface Pro X

We’ll kick things off with the all-new Surface Pro X. We don’t know why, but it seems ever since Apple announced the iPhone X, when companies decide to essential reinvent a category, you better add an X for … reasons? Unlike Apple though, this is the letter X and not a Roman numeral, but what Microsoft is essentially showing with the Surface Pro X, is where they see the Surface line going on in to the future.

One thing immediately noticeable about the new Surface Pro X is the design. Bezels are massively reduced, and the thinness is incredible, this is also reflected in the new Pen, which is now more flat than fully rounded, but there’s a pretty neat reason for that, which we’ll get to in a second. The display has the same PPI as the Surface Pro but at a 13 inch size, with a resolution of 2880 x 1920 with Microsoft’s usual 3:2 aspect ratio.

The design is pure Black, which has it’s benefits, but most definitely it’s negatives, just ask any earlier Surface owners. It does mean it’s a Fingerprint magnet, and getting those Fingerprints off is going to be a challenge, it’s bad but we almost wish they chose Glass for this reason.

One of the more interesting things about the Surface Pro X is actually what it’s running on, a special Microsoft SQ1 Chip which was designed in partnership with Qualcomm. It’s unclear whether this is one of the chips that Qualcomm showed off at a recent Event, though we do expect some custom touches by Microsoft, which is also the case for the AMD Processors in another Surface we’ll get to soon.

One thing we’re really happy to see with the Surface Pro X is that Microsoft have priced it for £999, which sure it doesn’t make it necessarily cheap, but for what Microsoft have pushed in to this isn’t too bad of a price point, and it puts it right there with a decent spec 12 inch iPad Pro, and do remember Microsoft has 128GB on the base model. Now, it is worth mentioning the Type Cover is not included, will set you back an extra $149 or  more if you want the dodgy Alcantara material Microsoft just loves to promo, but then again it’s same with the iPad Pro.

Whilst the Type Cover on the Surface Pro X remains fairly unchanged in terms of the Keyboard, which is a great Keyboard to type on, the Trackpad area is ever-so slightly increased, but as you can see it is now hiding a new feature, a new place to put your Surface Pro Slim Pen! (Yes, it will only fit the flatter Slim Pen)

One thing that’s pretty awesome about the new Surface Pro X Pen is of course that it is Wirelessly charged, and done so via that same Keyboard area, which we think is perfect! Not only does this prevent you from losing it, it prevents you from finding it with little to no power … we say little to as Microsoft’s Pens tend to have pretty good Battery and Standby.

Other than that the device is fairly standard, the performance of the SQ1 Chip is allegedly the same power as the previous Surface Pro devices when running executable applications. Whilst we wish it was a tad more powerful, the Surface Pro 6 is hardly a slow machine, plus it’s worth remembering the advantages of the efficiency you naturally get with ARM, plus it’s always-on LTE (via NANO-SIM) as well as WiFi. It will also be interesting to see how well the SQ1’s variant of Qualcomm’s Adreno 685 Graphics play out in Windows 10.

As we touched on earlier the base model has 128GB SSD, which can be upped to 256GB and 512GB with 8 or 16GB of RAM, naturally you can imagine the 512GB / 16GB RAM is a pricey one.

The Surface Pro X goes on sale in November and will start at £999.

Surface Laptop 3

Design is always personal opinion and it’s impossible for everyone to like the same thing, but we’ve been seeing nothing but agreement with this opinion, but with the new aluminium finish which is available in multiple colours, we’re just gonna say it; the Surface Laptop 3 is the best looking Laptop on the market today! It’s sleek, consistent and just looks clean, especially in the new Matte Black finish, which we’re not going to lie, we are looking at that, then looking at Apple’s MacBook lineup and it doesn’t take us long to close the Tab on the Apple site! Obviously, it’s not running macOS, but on a design level this just makes Apple almost look amateur.

It’s ironic really, as one of the first things we thought of with the Matte Black Surface Laptop 3, shown above, is the Black option for the old plastic MacBook Apple used to sell, how times change eh. Black isn’t the only colour you can get the Surface Laptop 3, in fact you can get it 5 colours with 2 finishes; Sandstone (Gold Metal), Platinum (Silver, Alcantara), Black (Metal shown above), Cobalt Blue (Alcantara) and Platinum (Silver, Metal).

The Surface Laptop 3 features Intel’s all new 10th Generation Processors configurable with a Core i5 up to a Core i7 with RAM ranging from 8GB to 16GB and SSD Storage from 128GB to 512GB. Base model starts at £999, though you can more than double that for top spec at £2,349 model for a 13 inch with a Core i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD.

Full configurations are below;

  • Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD = £999
  • Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD = £1469
  • Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD = £1,549
  • Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD = £1,949
  • Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD = £2,349

It’s not just colour options for the Surface Laptop 3 though, it’s also, for the first time ever, size options. Whilst the 13 inch has always been the configuration for the Surface Laptop it now has a 15 inch option, which is actually a lot more interesting!

All-new 15 inch Surface Laptop 3 with AMD Ryzen!

Cue the zero people disappointed this is not available with Alcantara, but this is the all-new 15 inch Surface Laptop 3. On paper it’s the same thing made bigger, ports are the same (Single USB-A, USB-C, Surface Connector), Screen is the same with resolution boosted for size, but of course there’s an extra secret lying beneath the 15 inch version of the Surface Laptop 3 and that is the inclusion of a first for the Surface line, AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Processors, which include the in-built Vega 7 and Vega 11 Graphics.

Surprisingly the price for the 15 inch model isn’t actually that different to the 13 inch, starting at £1199 which gets you an AMD Ryzen 5 3580U, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD. You can configure the Surface Laptop 3 15 inch all the way up to £2,599 which gets you an AMD Ryzen 7 3780U, 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD. It’s really awesome to see AMD CPUs make it to Surface, AMD has been killing it in CPUs versus Intel, though they have yet to prove themselves with Ryzen on a Notebook so this will be interesting, especially as this is Ryzen 5/7 Surface Edition.

Full configurations are below;

  • Ryzen 5, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD = £1,199
  • Ryzen 5, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,469
  • Ryzen 7, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,699
  • Ryzen 7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD = £2,049
  • Ryzen 7, 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD = £2,599

Whilst the Surface Laptop 3 isn’t the best bang for the buck, it’s still great to see there’s not much difference between the 15 inch and the 13 inch in terms of price, and the addition of a custom AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Surface Edition is a great bonus as well with Vega graphics.

Surface Pro 7

Whilst their may not be any magical new variant of the Surface Pro, Microsoft have naturally given the Surface Pro a pretty welcome spec bump as well as some slight design touches which is nice to see. For starters, USB-C is now a Port on the Surface Pro 7, finally, replacing the Mini Display Port, and now the Surface connector, like the Laptop 3, can now Fast Charge.

Other than that the Surface Pro 7 is getting a spec bump, but they’re certainly decent Spec bumps, and the price is fairly competitive, but do keep in mind, one thing we always say about Surface Pro devices, they don’t come with a Type Cover, so you have to consider that addition when you look at them.

Full configurations are below;

  • Core i3, 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD = £799
  • Core i5, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD = £899
  • Core i5, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,169
  • Core i5, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,399
  • Core i7, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,449
  • Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD = £1,849
  • Core i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD = £2,249

For those wondering, a Type Cover, which is necessary for these is a penny shy of £150, so do bare that in mind! Plus, we do not recommend the Core i3 variant, so for that reason the base level would realistically be the i5 with Type Cover which would be £1049, which is a very interesting price point when you consider that makes this more than the Surface Laptop 3, but you do lose that 2-in-1 aspect naturally.

Summary

We’ve always had a soft spot for the Surface line and Microsoft have certainly announced some great products, you’re probably wondering why we never covered the Surface Buds, and it’s the same reason we barely covered the AirPods, but the added issue to the the Buds is they look worse, if you want overpriced PowerPoint presentation not noise cancelling earphones, go for it. As for the Surface Pro X Pro 7 and Laptop 3, Microsoft have knocked it out of the park with these and they’re right up there with the best Ultrabooks and 2-in-1 you can get for Windows.

What do you think of the Surface announcements?

Microsoft also announced two devices which won’t be released this year, but, if you’re interested, our coverage on the Surface Neo and Duo you can find right here!

Microsoft announce two “foldable” Surface devices you won’t see until Holiday 2020!

We are massive fans of Microsoft’s Surface line of devices, we were one of the first to check them out back with the original Surface Pro with it’s meagre 4 hours of *maybe* battery life, so when Microsoft announces a Surface Event we know there’s going to be a ton of good. Whilst that wasn’t far from the truth this Event either, more on those announcements another time, Microsoft did announce a couple of things which we’re not too fond of.

The devices in question aren’t even going to be available this year, in fact not even this time next year, we’re talking “Holiday 2020”, so you can take that as you were. One of the big issues we have with the two devices announced is that they are not foldable devices, they are 2 in 1 devices shrunk down, so we find it fairly hilarious for Microsoft of all companies to state as such, when Windows devices such as Lenovo’s Yoga line, inspired practically by the Surface and Windows 8 story, started the same concept off!

Design wise, they’re pretty much the same, but the aim of them is fairly different. Called the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo, these two devices are Microsofts aim at the smaller Tablet and even Smartphone concept. With a 360 hinge, the devices are able to naturally conform to multiple form factors, but they also reveal how limited they are in what they presume to be able to achieve.

Looking at the design of the two devices also creates a problem in our opinion, they barely look acceptable in 2019, so it’s going to be quite the challenge we’d expect for Microsoft to seriously push these devices in the Holiday of 2020 … but they’re gonna give it a go.

One thing we seriously don’t understand in relation to these two devices is how positively they’re generally being received, we’re fairly amazed by this as the original Surface Pro devices which were actually really good, ended up with bad press, who knew eh?

Looking at these more closely, we’re certainly trying to like what we see, but we’ll let you naturally leave judgement;

Surface Neo

The Surface Neo, at a stretch, is probably the more acceptable one of the two, being a dual-Display 360 folding Tablet with some pretty awesome extra tricks such as the Keyboard, which actually attaches magnetically then through software is automatically working integrated. On all the demonstrations we’ve seen the device seems actually fairly decent to use, however this will be running Windows 10 X, a more lite version of Windows 10 … and we all know how well those go, though the real point we’re making for this, is that Windows 10 X isn’t ready just yet.

This is actually probably one of the more acceptable reasons why any of these devices won’t see the light of day until 2020, other than their impracticality, but for the Neo it is a tad disappointing as this is one of the devices we can see a future where this could be done right. The device is expected to feature LTE connectivity for browsing on the go and run on a custom Intel processor.

Spec wise the Surface Neo operates via two 9 inch displays operating at a 4:3 resolution, which whilst look like great displays, something typical for all Surface devices, we just can’t help wondering how those bezels at top and bottom are going to age even more in a year, considering we are ALREADY pulling those faces at it. On the Tablet, it won’t be quite as noticeable, but on a phone things will definitely be more so! …speaking of which;

Surface Duo

This is the mythical, the unbelievable, the unbelievable, the some thought would never happen, Surface Phone…kinda. This is the Surface Duo, and it’s the first Surface product in history we have a serious problem with in practically all areas! It’s also the first we’ve seen that’s illogical, poorly designed, looks like it’s not been thought through and overall one which guarantees a poor user experience.

Whilst it’s nice to see Microsoft venture out with a true Android device, which this is by the way, and will include all Android apps support, Play Store and all, with Microsoft tweaks to make it feel very Windows, the end result just doesn’t seem good enough. The Surface Duo also won’t amaze with any 5G goodness either, packing LTE on launch and running what is expected to be the latest generation of Qualcomm hardware at the time; it was specified by Microsoft, that whilst demo units naturally had an 855, that wouldn’t be the processor running on the final release version.

The design of the Duo is more or less the same as the Neo, we’re talking slightly smaller 7 inch screens, which includes that very large top and bottom bezel, with a display all from left to right, separated only in the middle by the hinge used for the 360 rotation. The 360 rotation is slightly more useful on a Smartphone device as it’s fair that you’d hardly want to take a call with it open, we don’t want to look like we’re using an N-Gage or something, but it’s still incredibly bulky and thick in certain areas.

Summary

We’re still to post our thoughts about the other updates announced such as the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop 3 13 inch and new AMD Ryzen powered 15 inch version, as well as the new Surface Pro X, but let it be known we’re very impressed with those, which is why we almost felt it necessary to state our disappointment with these, essentially concept devices shown off.

Whilst it’s clear some people are looking at these in awe, it’s clear to us it’s the same people who look at a collection of technology, they don’t squint and notice the issues, and then look again once the shiny lights of announcement disappear. These devices will fail, especially the Duo as it is flawed from Day 0, and you can’t be releasing something like that. The annoying thing is, we were so ready for a Surface phone, and we do think most peoples impressions are clouded by that similar feeling, but we have to point out what to us is obvious, that both the Neo and Duo are missteps by Microsoft! …but at least they’re not Kin

Post images courtesy of Cnet

O2 now FINALLY joins the crowd offering Unlimited 4G Plans and gives details on 5G!

Well, it’s finally happened, whilst it seemed to take EE months to bow to pressure from Three, then Vodafone, O2 is now the last, eventual, UK Carrier to offer consumers truly Unlimited Data on their 4G Network, or “Limitless Data” as they call it! Is it cheaper than the other guys, not really, but it’s finally an option for those where O2 is the best choice for them and they really do need the most they can get. But, what about 5G on O2? Well, we’ll get to that, but first;

There it is, Unlimited Data on O2 … granted it’s a tad pricey. For comparison here’s the starting price of truly Unlimited 4G Data on rival networks;

  • Three – £20 (max speeds, including 5G)
  • Vodafone – £30 (max speeds, including 5G)
  • EE – £34 (4G only capped at 60mbps) or £39 (5G)
  • O2 – £35 (4G only)

Yeah, so there you go! O2 is the most expensive UK Carrier for Unlimited Data on its 4G network. However, eager eyes will have noticed that most Carriers, like Three and Vodafone, offer the same pricing for 5G data as well, which will be naturally beneficial for those when the service rolls out in your area. EE, like when it launched 4G, has decided to keep 4G and 5G plans separate, though easing that benefit with Swappable benefits. For more on what the other guys offer, you can check that Guide right here!

O2’s CMO Nina Bibby had this to say on the launch of Unlimited;

We’re excited to be unveiling our Unlimited Data plans today. Now there’s no limit to what you can do on O2. As the customer champion, O2’s mobile plans have always been designed to put customers in control, and with the option of unlimited data on our award winning network, we are now providing our customers with the ultimate choice.

O2’s Unlimited Data is now also available on their O2 Refresh Contracts and more, if you “Edit” before purchase, and raise the Data, a new Unlimited Data option is now available. It’s not cheap, the new iPhone 11 Pro will set you back £70.44 for 36 months on O2’s Refresh plan, but like the other Networks it’s an option.

O2 Unlimited is also available as a Family Plan, which will be most likely the best way of getting the deal at the best possible price on O2, however hard that is when you look at their rivals.

However, not only is O2 the most expensive for 4G Unlimited, it’s also got a far more aggressive fair usage policy. Whilst providers like Three and EE tend to have a lite-fair usage of around 1,000GB of usage, O2 have a limit around 650GB. Not a massive deal, as we doubt most users won’t touch that much, but worth mentioning.

5G on O2? Where is it

O2 has confirmed that 5G will be launching this coming November, though has recently brought that forward to now October 2019, and is expected to include the usual 5G suspects; both of Samsung’s Galaxy offerings in their 5G variants, Mi MIX 3, and most likely LG and OnePlus will be there as well, however the one question O2 would not clarify, is whether there new Unlimited Plans would include 5G or not, all we get from O2 is this statement;

Right now, all our 5G phones come on a 4G tariff with a 4G sim because our 5G network is still to come. When we launch our 5G network from October, you’ll then need to move to a 5G sim on a new 5G tariff. Once that’s done, update your phone’s software and enable 5G in settings.

Based on that, it’s looking like O2 5G will be an “Extra” add-on, or Bolt on as O2 likes to call them, which would put them in the market with EE, however whether it will be just the £5 increase it is on EE, remains to be seen, we’ll watch this space. For now, we’re hoping O2 surprise us with simply allow existing plans to include 5G data, we’ll see.

The best news for you and me, this is the most competitive we’ve seen the Carriers in the UK in a long while and we can’t wait to see more emerge, especially when MVNOs take 5G on board, so far Vodafone’s VOXI network is expected to gain 5G at the end of 2019.

Apple September Event 2019 … just don’t expect to be surprised!

When Apple begins announcing another of their livestream Events, especially one which expands the viewing possibilities, it’s not exactly hard to see why folks were expecting so much more than what Apple had to announce … but, things just don’t work out that way, do they.

What we did get out of this years “iPhone” September Event was, pretty much, the expected, with the only surprise being, ironically for Apple, prices on a lower margin.

All about the services

Apple reiterated the heck out of their services once again in this Event, and whilst it’s good we finally get a price for the services, we’re now more than ever just hoping they shut up about them. Apple’s TV+ service will be launching at an alright $4.99 per month (would be amazing if they had a back catalogue), though will also be free for 12 months for all new Apple products we’re about to talk about so you might as well give an episode or two a go, guess.

Probably the only Apple service that grabbed a moderate level of attention was Apple Arcade. Apple Arcade is unique in that it’s a Gaming subscription service that ties across Smartphone, Tablet, TV, and Computer, which is actually kinda cool. So, whether you’re on your Mac, lounging on Apple TV, to just being on your iPhone, you can play the same Games through the same service, nice! Apple Arcade will, like TV+, be $4.99 for a Family Subscription, which is kind of a decent price for what you’re getting, plus you can give them a go for free for 1 month.

All Apple Arcade launch titles will be exclusive to the service, which is pretty awesome, though we do hope there’s some way of keeping a particular Game if you don’t want to be Subscribing … plus, for the Dev time it will have taken, you just know they’ll reach Android and beyond eventually.

One thing we didn’t see in relation to Apple’s services which we’d of liked to have seen, would be an increase from the tiny 5GB of free iCloud, but what can you do.

iPad

New 7th Generation iPad

Moving on to hardware, we’ll start with this; this probably isn’t the iPad you were hoping to see, though, it’s a welcome update, let’s be fair. Whilst, visibly, on a page, or, likely Apple’s website, the new iPad looks identical to the affordable iPad it replaces, Apple have made some fair improvements, first of which being a moderate increase to 10.2 inch on the display. Performance is powered by Apple’s A10 Fusion processor.

The new iPad (7th generation) now supports the Smart Connector, so naturally supports the Smart Keyboard, though you will need to use the specified one as this is a new size, so unlike the old budget iPad you can’t use the older iPad Pro 9.7 ones. What’s pretty incredible about the new iPad is that it retains the same price as the previous, the same $329 … unless you live in the UK where it’s gone up a bit to £349, and will be available to order now.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 5

If their was one, almost surprise, at the Event it was this, the Apple Watch Series 5. Not a surprise in terms of what it gains, but it’s fair to say it’s appearance at this Event was very contradicted in rumours. At the end of the day, however, the Series 5 Apple Watch, we’d regard more an almost Series 4S, dare we say.

Always on and Compass

If we were to put the Apple Watch Series 5 in to a phrase, that would be it, Always on and Compass, why? Because them the changes. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve been patiently waiting on Apple to bring an Always-on Display to the Apple Watch line and it’s great that it’s here now, with the same Series 4 Battery life, but lacking any silicon upgrade at all, does grant this to be something, we’d almost of preferred to wait for.

What is pretty interesting is how they maintain the Battery life using an LTPO Display, or low-temperature polycrystalline oxide backbone technology, which can smartly determine what refresh rate between 1 and 60Hz is required.

Finally, as we mentioned, the Apple Watch Series 5 has a compass, which can be used to get better Maps directions, use in the Compass app on the Watch or through a complication.

One pretty nice feature of the Series 5 Cellular, is that regardless of where you are, whether near an iPhone or not, you will be able to make an Emergency call anywhere in the world!

All in on materials, plus Apple Watch Studio

Apple Watch Series 5 real reason for being is naturally materials, those are what will make you buy it, and Apple knows this. You can of course get Series 5 in the usual Aluminium, Stainless Steel finishes, but now Titanium finishes in Grey and Silver are here, as well as the return to Ceramic white.

Apple Watch Series 5 will launch at the same prices as Series 4 it replaces and launches September 20th, though the Series 3 is now just $199 / £199 which for the performance and water resistance that thing brings, despite a generation or half older is what caught our attention!

This is pretty awesome, though exclusive to Apple Online Store or Apple Retail Stores, is Apple Watch Studio. Apple traditionally sell quite a few configurations of Apple Watch, however if you wanted a Black band you’d have to get a Space Grey finish, or perhaps you wanted the other way around, regardless you weren’t as in control as you could possibly be … until now.

You can now literally go on Apple’s website, or in Store, select your size obviously, but then pick literally the Watch materials, then any Strap for that material you just selected, so you can literally now buy exactly the Apple Watch configuration you wanted in the first place, which is pretty nice.

iPhone

Just as rumoured, the new iPhone models will have what appear to be very garish Cameras on the back, though in real world scenarios, in a completely unsurprising turns of events, they don’t look as bad, but they are what they are. One thing they do allow is a lot of benefits for your photography, which we’ll get to, as we have a look at the new iPhone 11 and, yes, the iPhone 11 Pro and the dreadful sounding iPhone 11 Pro Max.

iPhone 11

Here it is, this is the iPhone 11, or as it should be known the second generation iPhone XR. Despite this, however, whilst minor, Apple have made some decent improvements to what was the iPhone XR, granted mostly in the Camera department. The iPhone XR was Apple’s best selling Smartphone over the last year, so they were always going to build upon it, and build upon it they have, we just wish they’d done a bit more with the design.

Colours have made a slight shift on the iPhone 11, whilst retaining the Product RED, Black and White, there’s now a new variant of Yellow, Green and a light Purple colour finish to choose from, all with a glossy glass back with a matte finish around the Camera.

Speaking of that Camera, whilst Apple is sticking to a 12MP for the sensor, for the first time Apple now have an Ultra Wide Camera, which is actually pretty awesome and, a definite about time from us. Whilst LG seemed to be the only brand who cared about Ultra Wide Cameras, it’s took this long for more to adopt it and Apple have finally joined the field. One thing Apple have done, which, aside from LG, other manufacturers don’t, is tune each Camera the same, though Apple take this a step further by tuning them on the fly and live. The reason this is so important is that you can seamlessly switch between Cameras without losing any of the white balance, shifting or anything, it’ll just look optically 0.5x zoomed out.

One thing which hasn’t changed on the iPhone 11, from the XR, is the Display, it’s literally the same 6.1 inch “Liquid Retina” LCD panel from the XR, which isn’t bad as it was a decent Display, but we would have liked a little extra put in to it. In fact, if you don’t look behind the iPhone 11, it is actually exactly the same as the iPhone XR it subtly replaces, including, unfortunate say some, the Lightning connector which remains.

The iPhone 11 is powered by the new Apple A13 Processor, which it’s fair to say is one of the worst marketed processors ever in Apple’s history … and that’s including the mediocre Core i3 in the latest Mac mini, which tells us the A13 is not going to be the powerhouse you usually expect from Apple. It’s “the fastest”, and all that, than anything else today, but it’s fair to say, the competition will eventually eclipse and exceed. However, the area the A13 has chosen to boost on is power efficiency, which means less heat so more constant load time as well as an extra 1 hour of battery expected versus the already killer battery life of the iPhone XR.

Another big feature of iPhone 11 is Night Mode. Just like the Google Pixel Night Sight feature, Apple’s Night Mode allows even the darkest shots to be lit using software processing, however there’s a few things Apple does ahead of Google. Just like with Portrait mode, Apple’s Night Mode works in real-time which is pretty incredible when you think about it, whereas on the Pixel devices you’ve to take and wait until you see the end result. Apple also chooses a more natural look for their Night Mode shots, whereas Google opts for the more daylight viewing experience, Apple makes it look like still night, just slightly more visible.

Other minor tidbits

  • Spacial audio with Dolby Atmos
  • Camera – Dual 12MP, secondary Camera with Ultra Wide, a first for iPhone
  • Portrait for pets
  • Portrait Lighting affect
  • Video 4K 60fps on both rear lenses, and 4K 30fps on front Camera
  • Front Camera now 12MP and more wider
  • Slo-mo support on both back Cameras and now front Camera … we’re not saying that word
  • A13 Bionic

One thing pretty incredible is that Apple reduced the cost of the iPhone 11 versus the iPhone XR last year by $49, which, sure isn’t a lot, it’s still less than a New phone was last month for so much more, and we can’t argue with that, that is still for a 64GB configuration, but a 128GB and 256GB option is also available.

In the UK, the iPhone 11 starts at £729 (64GB) and rises £40 to £779 (128GB) and then an extra £100 tops out at £879 (256GB)

iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

Well, the rumours got this one right as well, this is the iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Outside of being a dreadful name, especially the Max, these are the true successors to the iPhone XS and XS Max and support the materials, display and more to back it up, but do they back the Pro? Well, we’ll get to that.

First, let’s check out the design. Like the iPhone 11, the 11 Pro devices look and feel the same as the XS series of devices on the front and sides, however with a more matte look at the back, which we’ll be honest we’re fairly divided on. The new Green iPhone 11 Pro is fairly … interesting looking, but the other three more iPhone tradition colours are available with the usual Space Grey, Silver and Gold.

What is Pro these days?

We won’t harp on about this too much, but it’s definitely an increasing question following the number of devices suddenly supporting the “Pro” prefix. The problem with this, naturally, is that the iPhone 11 Pro, and the larger iPhone 11 Pro Max, don’t hold anything to really back up those Pro claims.

When Apple announced the iPad Pro, they backed that up by originally supporting Keyboard natively in their cover, then Pencil, and most recently by drastically shrinking bezels. They also introduced what can only be described as the best feature of the iPad Pro, the “Pro-motion Display”, which runs at 120Hz, double that of any other device in Apple’s entire product lineup, including Mac and iPhone.

And it’s right there, we wish Apple would have at least pushed the boundaries further. We’ve already got Android phones from Razer and more, supporting 120Hz displays, with even Google’s Pixel 4 line of Smartphones expected to introduce a 90Hz OLED panel, all in all, it just leaves the “Pro” name on these devices seem a bit weak, and, above all else, lacking, in real delivery. These are not Pro iPhone models, these are the XS iterative update, whereas the regular iPhone 11 is the iterative successor to the iPhone XR.

Cameras

Whilst the majority of the Camera tech inside the iPhone 11 Pro isn’t that different to that found in the iPhone 11, the only real difference is that the iPhone 11 Pro, maintains the expected Camera with the iPhone, in that there’s now the 2X zoom Telephoto as well. The really awesome thing about the iPhone 11 Pro Cameras is that they’re all synchronised together, in that if you are capturing an image on one lens, you can seamlessly switch in and out in a practically optical fashion and have the same colours, lighting and focus, all set.

Video is improved as well, still at 60fps 4K max, but now that translates over to the Front facing Camera, which is now 12MP and supports the same … Slofies, as the iPhone 11 does, as it’s the same sensor.

Display and design, or should we say, colours

Whilst the size and resolution of the OLED Displays hasn’t changed compared to the iPhone XS, that’s not to say the Display has stayed the same, Apple have made some sizeable improvements here. Contrast ratio of the OLED Panel is now an insane 2,000,000:1, which further reiterates inky blacks on this panel, but it’s not just good at being black, it can show white brighter than ever with an up to 1,200 nits of brightness. For these reasons, Apple decided to be Apple, and are branding theses, Super Retina XDR Displays, which is about as good as the names get for theses models.

Colour wise, you’ve an interesting Green option added to the traditional, but as far as the front and sides are concerned everything is the same. The back naturally is flanked by the Triple Camera system, but also for a first in an iPhone for a while, a Matte back option across the board. Whereas the iPhone 11 is Glossy at the back with a Matte texture around the Camera, that’s reversed on the Pro models, with a Glossy texture surrounding the Cameras and a Matte finish at the back. This will naturally mean a few things, could mean scratches easier, but also will likely mean much easier grip and won’t be as big of a fingerprint magnet, like iPhone models have been since the iPhone 8 / X went to glass backs again.

Performance – A13

Just like the regular iPhone 11, the 11 Pro models are powered by Apple’s A13 Processor, which as we mentioned early is “faster” obviously, but with no sizeable comparatives we’re expecting this to be a minor improvement from last years A12, but Apple has focused on power efficiency which should mean higher load for longer, which is never a bad thing.

One difference from the iPhone 11 will be RAM, the regular iPhone 11 will likely still perform in GPU tasks better due to lower resolution, but has 4GB of RAM, 6GB of RAM is found on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, from what’s been penned.

Other minor tidbits

  • Spacial audio with Dolby Atmos
  • Camera – Triple 12MP, secondary Camera with Ultra Wide, third Camera with Telephoto, a first for iPhone
  • Portrait Lighting affect
  • Video 4K 60fps on all rear lenses, and 4K 30fps on front Camera
  • Front Camera now 12MP and more wider
  • Slo-mo support on both back Cameras and now front Camera … we’re not saying that word
  • A13 Bionic
  • Battery life, 4 hours more 11 Pro from XS, and 5 hours more from 11 Pro Max from XS Max

Pricing models and capacities unfortunately stayed exactly the same, despite the lack of 3D touch in even this iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max (great name, again), so you’ll be very familiar in the pricing of theses models.

Shipping September 20th; starting at £999 for 11 Pro, and £1199 for 11 Pro Max at that same measly 64GB

Nokia announce a stylish 48MP Nokia 7.2 and brings back the Flip Phone with the Nokia 2720

Nokia announced a collection of devices at IFA 2019, but two devices came to our attention, one for it’s Camera, and the other for it’s flip … OK nostalgia hit us as it has everyone, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Here’s a rundown of a great looking mid-range Android phones, and a return from the past.

Nokia 7.2

When it comes to great design and Nokia colours, the Nokia 7.2 is a great take, especially in that incredible Green colour. Whilst the device is certainly an eye catching one, the Nokia 7.2 enters in a price range surrounded by many competitors, which likely offer a lot more for the money and with more availability, but this is a very decent effort by HMD.

The big headline feature of the Nokia 7.2 is the Camera, quite the large one, a ZEISS 48MP Camera is at the back of the Nokia 7.2, which is pretty incredible for the around €299 price tag expected for this, in a 4GB RAM / 64GB variant, price rises to €349 for a 6GB RAM / 128GB version, whilst the specs versus photos themselves are something to keep in mind, that’s still pretty incredible for this price point. One thing that’s not too great about the Camera, is the hefty bump it creates, but as long as it delivers decent photography, we doubt you’ll be too bothered.

With a Snapdragon 660, the Nokia 7.2 isn’t going to blow you away spec wise, but it will definitely be powerful enough for the average user, and should definitely get you some decent battery life with its 3,500mAh capacity.

Nokia 2720

The star of the show from HMD’s IFA once again is a throwback. If anyone remembers the reception when the remade 3310 was created, we’ve around the same reaction here. Maybe not quite as strong, as it’s hard to imagine many will identify with 2720, but the fact that it’s 2019 and we’re talking about a brand new Flip Phone with 4G, is enough let’s be fair.

As a Phone, let’s be honest, it’s not much, this really is a colour screen Flip Phone as they used to be, however it does feature some Apps which wouldn’t be previously available such as Google Maps and YouTube, though naturally watching YouTube or navigating on any display below 2 inch isn’t the best experience in the world.

The big news on this device is the standby, 28 days! Which considering the market this is targeting, is pretty incredible stat. Naturally, as we said earlier, this isn’t much in terms of function, but for a parent or grandparent, or as a spare, this will more than fill that gap for those looking for something simple that just does the Job of Phone call with some texting.

 

LG G8X ThinQ asks an interesting question, is a dual-display better than a foldable?!

This isn’t the first time LG has pondered the idea of a dual-display on a Smartphone, however the last effort never made it to English speaking shores, this one will. The LG G8X is a minor update from the former G8, though supports a new Case LG supply which in it features a second display, which can honestly be used for absolutely anything.

One difference most will find negative about the G8X, is the lower resolution 6.4 inch 2340 – 1080p panel on the device, we’re not sure if this is due to the fact the secondary one is 1080p, but guess it will mean better battery life, which when you’re carrying two displays could be pretty useful.

But, how does it stack up as a Smartphone, outside of it’s dual-display tricks. Well, spec wise you’re looking at a fairly generic 2019 Android smartphones with the Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM, dual Front firing Stereo speakers with even Volume, in-display Fingerprint scanner, Quick Charge 4.0 and this thing called a Headphone Jack, with LG’s typical stamp, 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC. The reason we emphasised the even volume is due to the fact near-all dual Front firing speakers either have a more powerful top, or bottom, speaker, never both. The G8X also has a dedicated Google Assistant button, which, whilst isn’t needed, we guess anything is better than a Bixby button.

Camera wise, LG have packed their usual dual-Camera array from LG, this time with a 12MP Camera backed up by a 13MP Ultra-wide. Front Camera on the G8X sounds pretty incredible when you find out it’s a 32MP sensor, however it will pixel bend down to 8MP, which hopefully should mean it will be nice and clear.

For rear cameras, like the G8, the G8X has two. There’s a 12MP standard and 13MP ultra-wide. The front-facing camera has a 32-megapixel sensor, but LG says by default it’ll capture images at 8MP.

Dual-display: The possibilities, options, but also, why?

Image: The Verge

So, the G8X is a decent Android device in its own right, however that’s naturally not what has got most peoples attention over when it comes to the device, it’s naturally the secondary display option.

The display, unlike LG’s last effort, is now a complete mirror of the main panel, the same 6.4 inch 18:9 1080p OLED panel, though still featuring the tear-drop notch, which is an odd aesthetic choice, but it’s there. Despite the fact these are 1080p wide displays, these are still some decent OLED displays and LG has certainly come a long way in that regard.

LG has demonstrated many ways of using the secondary display, naturally two apps at the same time as shown above, but also as a Gamepad, full screen keyboard, the possibilities (if devs get behind it) are literally unlimited.

However, it certainly brings up an interesting point…

Is a Dual-Display better than a Foldable Display?

The question which comes up when it comes to a Foldable Display has always been the promise versus execution, however when you look at what a Foldable Smartphone is attempting to deliver, then compare it to what LG can deliver with a Dual attachable Display, you begin to notice some very interesting similarities. Whilst, naturally, most want a Foldable Display to get a Tablet on the go, however the problem with that promise is your end result is the smallest Tablet you’d ever get, but in terms of everything else LG can serve, and more practically.

The biggest issue we have with Foldable Smartphones, whether Samsungs, Huawei to the smaller branded ones, is that they make far too many compromises on the Phone side, to deliver a Fold, when in reality it should be an extension of a working traditional Smartphone. It’s clear as day if you’re on the Phone via a Galaxy Fold, or the Mate X, that people can tell you’re not using a traditional Smartphone, and, quite frankly, it’s an eye-sore. Reminds us somewhat to the Nokia N-GAGE, a Gaming phone made by Nokia, which looked and acted very well as a Gaming device, but as a Phone was very compromised, however in time that was figured out with Touchscreens, and we think that Foldable devices will eventually be figured out, but in the meantime it looks like LG definitely has the more practical solution, if anything due to the fact that if you don’t need it, you don’t attach it and you’ve a “normal” Smartphone until you do again.

What do you think? Do you believe a Dual-Display option is better than a Foldable one.