Apple Announces iPhone 13 Pro And The Usual Folks Complain

iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max were announced this morning, and the usual people are complaining that it’s not enough. While the new iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max don’t look much different from the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, they do offer some cool upgrades.

For those of you who still haven’t been able to get used to the notch on top of the iPhone screen, it is now 20 percent smaller. It’s still there, but it won’t disturb you as much. Since the screen finally has a 120Hz refresh rate (like Samsung’s phones have had for two years), you’ll be even less angry about the small notch. The screen can get even brighter, and that comes in handy when one is looking at the phone in direct sunlight.

The biggest improvements are in the camera setup:

  • 77mm telephoto camera with 3x optical camera
  • Ultra Wide camera with 92% boost in low light , f/1.8 aperture, auto-focus, 6-element lens
  • Wide camera: f/1.5 aperture, up to 2.2x improvement in low light
  • New macro photography features for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • Night mode available across all three lenses
  • New camera filter options, “Photographic Styles” will be available on iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro features Cinematic Mode for video, which is basically the same thing as Portrait Mode but for video. Other features include focus tracking and the ability to adjust the focus after recording
  • Macro slow mo video recording on ultra wide camera
  • ProRes video coming to iPhone 13 Pro later this year
There is no difference (at least as released in the reports today) between the cameras on the 13 Pro and Pro Max. This may make the decision between the two easier for those who like large smartphones with large screens, but not too large. Both smartphones also run Apple’s new A15 Bionic chip. There haven’t been tests yet that compare the speeds to the last generation of iPhones. 

The iPhone 13 series will launch in a variety of colors.

The iPhone 13 Pro adds 1.5 hours of battery life, with the Pro Max adding 2.5 hours of juice. That’s quite a feat, especially since the 120Hz refresh rate takes up more battery life. However, Apple is minimizing the refresh rate in situations when it is not needed.

For those of you who don’t need all the “Pro” features, there is still the regular iPhone 13, but you will have two lenses instead of three. You can also forget about the 120Hz refresh rate, but at least the battery life is slightly improved.

Most of what I read after the announcement of the new iPhone series is complaints. Many feel that Apple is misleading their customers by calling the new smartphone the iPhone 13 instead of the iPhone 12s. But I guarantee that many of those complaining will be up at midnight in a few days trying to pre-order the new phone that they are so upset about.

Posted in Tech News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 Heads Towards Perfection

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

It’s a tough thing to say, and Apple fans may get upset. But I’m going to declare that Samsung has finally made an equal alternative to the Apple Watch, and — in some ways — it’s actually better. It has all the health tracking, time tracking, and coolness of the Apple Watch. It’s a shame Apple users can’t at least experience it — that is, unless they buy an Android phone.

The Galaxy Watch 4 has a 44mm round display that will remind people of the Galaxy Watch Active series. If you want something a little more sophisticated, you can buy the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, which is made of stainless steel. Both watches are absolutely gorgeous. The Super AMOLED display looks very crisp, and the round shape of the watch only brings out the colors more. There are many different eye popping watch faces to chose from. You’ll have more people noticing your watch than you will with any other smartwatch.

Even though the Watch 4 has moved to Wear OS, it still feels like a Samsung Tizen watch. For one thing, there is no Google Voice compatibility yet, so one has to suffer with the insufferable Bixby — Samsung’s failed answer to Siri and Google Voice. It’s important to note that the Samsung Health app is almost exactly the same as it was on previous Samsung watches, but that’s not a bad thing.

Samsung throws everything but the kitchen sink at the Watch 4 in terms of health features. The most prominent new addition is body analyses, which (allegedly) measures one’s body fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, and body water. I find this feature to be highly inaccurate, especially since the measurements can drastically vary from two different measurements taken within five minutes. However, the other health fitness features are top notch. Samsung has come a long way from its first Galaxy Watch in terms of measuring steps, calories, heart rate, etc.

Samsung's new watch is thin and stylish

Samsung’s new watch has something in common with Apple’s: It doesn’t have the best battery life. I have not been able to get two full days of battery life…ever. This is with brightness turned up only 50 percent. The battery life certainly isn’t a deal killer, but it’s just not that great.

The Watch 4 is not perfect, but it’s getting there. Samsung smartphone users have always wished that there could be an Android equivalent of the Apple Watch. I’m happy to say that the dream has finally been realized.

Posted in Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Two Days With The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: The Good And The Bad

Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3 Is now available.

It has been a difficult task getting a hold of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3. Moral of the story: Don’t ever pre-order anything from Best Buy and expect your order to arrive on release day as promised. But, I digress.

I’m not going to get into details, but I got a hold of The Z Fold 3 after hours of trying to do so. Was it worth all the effort? For the most part, yes. There are many minor improvements when compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 2. But I’m not sure the Z Fold 3 is completely ready for prime time. It’s still more of a niche product, though it is excellent at being that. Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives.

First, the positives:

Beautiful Screen

I didn’t think there would be much of a change from the Z Fold 2, which already had an excellent screen. But the Z Fold 3 gets noticeably brighter. And that makes it easier to use outside. But you may not want to turn up the brightness too much, and I’ll explain why when I get to the negatives (cough…battery life…cough).

Much-Improved Software Experience

Multitasking is a pleasure. You can put two apps side by side or vertically. If you want, you can even operate three apps at once. There are more apps this time around that work with multitasking.

The coolest thing is the “Labs” setting, which lets you optimize most apps for the screen. For example, I was able to force Instagram to be displayed across the full screen. You can change aspect ratios for almost any app. There are other things you can do to optimize apps, but I haven’t gone through all the settings.

Overall, it just feels more like a tablet experience than a tablet phone with enlarged apps made only for smartphones. There are many apps that are made for “Flex” mode which allows — when folded — an app to operate on the top half while the controls and options are on the underneath half. You can also turn off the “Flex” mode if you don’t mind a full-screen app when folded. I like watching Hulu this way.

Videos look quite interesting with the screen folded.

S Pen

Unfortunately, finding the new S Pen at a store is even more difficult than finding the actual Galaxy Z Fold 3. I was able to try it out at the store, and I really like it. Yes, it’s a real bummer that you have to spend $50 on a specialized S Pen for the Fold, but once you use it, you’ll forget about the price. The writing is smooth, there is barely any lag while writing, and the convenience is fantastic. The specialized S Pen doesn’t have all the complete features of the regular S Pen, but it’s still a great addition to the Fold.

Now, the negatives:

Battery Life

I can confirm the battery life, so far, is slightly worse than it was on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. I had to recharge the new Fold after playing Netflix for almost 4 hours. There is no way the Fold 3 is going to last you all day, so please bring a charger to avoid frustration.

Playing games on the Fold 3 can eat up a lot of battery life in a short time.

The Front Screen

It would be great if you could just operate the phone from the front, when it’s folded, if you want to. Technically, you can. However, the Galaxy Z Fold 3′s front screen is just damn too thin for most eyes (and fingers). It would be great if they can come up with a more square option on next year’s fold, but that may not be possible with the way the phone is engineered when put into tablet mode.

Under-the-Display Selfie Camera

On paper, putting the tablet selfie camera under the screen sounds groundbreaking and cool. However, you can still see the camera – it looks like a bunch of pixels. Your eyes will ignore it after a while, but for those who have OCD — it’s visibly there. And the pictures it take take a hit, although Samsung does do some weird post processing.

This isn’t too much of a big deal, especially because one can take selfies with the main camera since the outside screen works as a viewfinder. One can also fold up the phone completely and take pictures with the front camera. Still, I would have rather Samsung put a decent selfie camera on the main tablet screen.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Z Fold 3′s positives easily outweigh the negatives. However, the negatives are important to stress if one is going to spend $1800 (before major discounts) on Samsung’s new foldable. Let’s hope that Samsung will move their next Foldable from the niche bin into the permanent square with the Fold 4.

Posted in Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3: Hands On Impressions

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

While most of the attention for Samsung has been on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Korean company has a much cheaper foldable phone (although $1,000 isn’t cheap) that’s also being released on August 27. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a candy bar shaped foldable phone. It’s not a regular-sized phone that opens into a tablet. It’s a miniature phone that folds out into a regular one.

That may not sound too exciting, but once you get your hands on the Z Flip 3, you’ll be quite impressed. It’s not a phone that you’ll immediately say, “I gotta have it!” However, it’s also not something that you’ll scuff at either. There may just be a market for it.

At $1,000, the Flip 3 costs around the same amount as the most advanced smartphones out there like the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro. You’ll definitely be impressed with how solid it feels in your hand. The Super AMOLED screen is beautiful, but you can still notice the crease in the middle, although it’s not a deal breaker. I did notice that my fingerprints were easily able to smother the screen.

When the phone is completely folded, you can still get instant messages and emails, though you’ll be less frustrated if you just open up the phone to view them. Still, Samsung made a huge improvement when compared to the cover screen on the previous Z Flip.

The main problem with the Z Flip 3 is that even though it folds out into the size of a full smartphone, it doesn’t offer the same cameras as Samsung’s other high-end phones. On the back, you get 12MP wide and 12MP ultra-wide lenses along with a 10MP lens on the front. But the pictures just don’t look like they should in 2021. There seems to be something missing, but perhaps I need to play around more with the settings.

The Z Flip 3 battery life is adequate but not great.

The dual 3,300mAh batteries won’t help the new Z Flip last all day for power users. With all things considered, the battery life isn’t a deal killer, but one can only hope Samsung improves the battery life on their next Z Flip.

I definitely need more time to spend with Samsung’s new Flip foldable to make a complete conclusion. However, even though I can comfortably say that it’s a phone I’ll never buy, I can’t say that when it comes to others. The coolness factor may just overcome the Z Flip 3′s disabilities, and it may become a hit for Samsung.

Posted in Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Galaxy Z Fold 3: Hands-On Impressions

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is available for pre-order

Some Samsung faithful nerds might be disappointed at the official announcement of the Z Fold 3 (sometimes written as Fold3). After all, at first glance, it doesn’t look much different from the Fold 2. There’s the same strangely-shaped 6.2-inch cover screen and the 7.6-inch screen that it unfolds to. There’s not any improvement in the cameras, except that the hole-punch camera on the inside is now under the screen.

I wasn’t too excited when I went to try out the phone yesterday. However, as soon as I put the phone in my hands, I not only knew I was holding a fantastic high-end phone, but I was able to easily tell some differences when compared to the previous generation Fold.

Lighter

The Z Fold 2 weighed 282 grams, while the new Fold weighs 271 grams. It seems small on paper, but you can definitely tell the difference when the phone is folded and when it is open. Overall, it just feels better in the hands.

120Hz Front Screen

This year's Fold has a 120Hz front screen.

Last year’s Fold had a 120Hz screen when opened, but the front screen was only 60Hz. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but the improvement is very noticeable and pleasing to the eyes and fingers.

Brighter Tablet  Screen

Last year’s Super AMOLED tablet screen was sharp and colorful, but it wasn’t very bright. It wasn’t that big of a deal unless you used the Fold in direct sunlight. This year’s screen is noticeably brighter. Samsung claims it’s 29 percent brighter, and my eyes very much appreciate it.

S Pen Support

In my enthusiastic review of last year’s Fold 2, I indicated how having S Pen support would make the Fold perfect. Well, now it does. But it’s not perfect. If you think the S Pen stylus you have from your Note or Galaxy Tab is going to work, think again.

Since the screen is more fragile, the Fold 3 requires a special “Fold Edition” Pen that has a lighter and rounder tip. The S Pen Pro will also work with the new Fold. However, there is no built-in storage on the Fold 3 for the S Pen, so you will need to buy a special case or just trust that you won’t lose it.

IPX8 Water-Resistant

Are you one of those people who has a habit of dropping your phone in the toilet or the swimming pool? Well, there is no need to worry about doing this with your Fold 3, which has an IPX8 rating. That means splashes and droplets of water will not hurt it. In addition, this rating means the smartphone-tablet combo can be submersed in up to 1.5 meters of water for a half hour.

This year's Fold is more affordable.

Price

Last year’s Fold 2 started out at $199.99. This year’s Fold 3, with its improvements, starts out at $1799.99. That’s still a lot of money, but it will help sell the phone to more mainstream customers. There’s also some great deals you can get with trade-ins.

Conclusion

The Z Fold 3 is anything but a disappointment. It’s a great refinement of the Z Fold 2, and its cheaper price and improved hardware (along with software) could make this the breakthrough hit Samsung has aimed for with their foldable devices.

 

Posted in Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Apple Watch Series 7: What To Expect

The Apple Watch has become an important part of people's lives.

The Apple Watch took a couple years to catch on, but it was unstoppable once it did. According to 9to5Mac, there are more than 100 million people wearing one — and that was said by an analyst in February. The Watch hasn’t drastically changed over the past few years, and the motto — if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it — appears to be working well for Apple.

The Apple Watch 7, which is expected to be launched in September, will have one major upgrade according to MacRumors. 

“Apple may skip adding new health sensors to this year’s Apple Watch Series 7 in favor of improving the device’s battery life. The company is said to be adopting new double-sided System in Package (SiP) technology to reduce the size of Apple Watch’s processor.”

As someone who thinks one shouldn’t have to charge the Apple Watch every day or even every 36 hours, this is a major upgrade. Any smartwatch should last most users at least a couple of days. The current Apple Watch is an amazing device, but its battery life is shorter than it is on many other brands.

According to CNET, some other changes could include a flat-edge design, more color options (possibly green), and a possible glucose monitor. It appears that the cost of the watch will remain the same and that it may be announced on September 6.

The next Apple Watch will have more color options.

It’s highly likely that the Series 7 will be released the same time as watchOS 8, a much improved operating system for Apple Watch users. According to Apple’s website, the operating system will offer more convenient access to Apple Wallet, a redesigned Home app (will offer you ability to control devices in your room), new workout selections (including Tai Chai and Pilates), sleep respiratory rates, more photo engagement, a new Contacts app, and multiple timers.

I would love more than anything if Apple included a camera on the Watch. In the first place, it would be great to unlock the watch through Apple’s facial recognition software. In addition, can you imagine making FaceTime calls from your Watch? It is definitely possible with Apple’s processing power. However, privacy concerns will keep a camera off the Watch for several future generations. It could become a huge workplace liability.

I would also like the Apple Watch to be able to recognize if you are driving, thus turning off notifications. It’s easy to forget to turn on “Do Not Disturb” on the Watch or iPhone. Doing this can possibly save lives — or at the very least — accidents. Apple already has a patent for this, but they need to turn it into a reality.

The Apple Watch is slowly transforming from being the iPhone’s sidekick to becoming a solo productivity device. The Apple Watch 7 will continue pushing the Watch in the right direction.

Posted in Tech News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Samsung Prepares Galaxy Z Flip 3

Galaxy Z Flip 3 render courtesy of 'Let's Go Digital'

Even though the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 (sometimes referred to as the Galaxy Z Fold3) is the star of Samsung’s upcoming August 11 event, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 clamshell foldable will also be announced.

Samsung’s most recent Galaxy Z Flip 5G was released earlier in the year to excellent reviews. Tom’s Guide noted that the second time around proved to be a charm for Samsung.

“It didn’t take long a lot of testing for our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review to realize that Samsung had built the most polished foldable phone yet — at least until the Galaxy Z Fold 2′s subsequent release. Even though the new Fold now sets the standard for foldable devices, the Galaxy Z Flip remains a well-built phone that provides a big, colorful screen still capable of folding into a device that fits neatly into your pocket. ”

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has won many raves for Samsung.

Laptop Mag gave the foldable phone four stars. Critic Sean Riley praised the phone for its unique form factor, vivid and bright display, excellent camera, and great software support. However, he criticized the lack of a 120Hz display and poor battery life. Still, he ended up calling the phone a “blueprint” for its type. A lot 0f other websites agree.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 will be slimmer than the most recent Z Flip, which is already slim. The Flip 3 will have a 6.7-inch screen (when folded out) that operates more smoothly at 120Hz. It will use ultra-thin glass for the display while being protected by Gorilla Glass Victus on its back.

The clamshell phone may also include a more durable material referred to as “Armor Frame.” It will help make the phone lighter and more durable than it was with aluminum. While the Z Flip 5G came in a few different colors, it’s possible that the new Flip will come in eight colors.

Recently, Phone Arena published leaked high resolution photos of the actual Samsung Z Flip 3, and this should excite many smartphone users. While the Galaxy Z Fold series is the most popular due to its size, power, and “cool” factor,  the Galaxy Z Flip 3 certainly fits its own niche for those who want a foldable phone that doesn’t add too much weight to their pockets. August 11 can’t come fast enough!

Posted in Tech News | Leave a comment

Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack Is Cute But Useless

Apple's new MagSafe Battery Pack should be avoided.

Apple has finally released its MagSafe Battery Pack, and — like a lot of Apple products — it has received a lot of hype. But unlike most Apple products, including the recent AirTag, it doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s far below Apple’s usual high standards.

First off, the white rectangular shape of the Pack looks very “Apple” and sculpted. The magnet is very strong, and you’ll have a great time connecting and disconnecting it to the back of your iPhone. It even connects if you have a thin sleeve on your phone but may slip off with pressure.  This product somewhat resembles an iPod from the mid 2000s. You may even enjoy putting it in and out of its packaging. But that’s about it.

One has to remember that a decent magnetic charger for an iPhone would be a lot larger and wouldn’t easily stick to the back of the phone. Some people buying this already understand that. They think that despite the lack of power, the MagSafe Battery Pack will still be convenient. They believe it may not charge the iPhone a lot, but it will keep the charge. But my tests show that simply isn’t true.

The MagSafe Battery Pack just doesn't have enough juice.

As an example, I put the Battery Pack on my iPhone 12 Pro, which was charged 40 percent. I used the GPS to drive around. I expected that after my 20 minute ride, I would possibly have at least a 5 percent increase in power. But my battery was left at 32 percent. I tried to see if I had something running in the background that would eat up battery life like a monster, but there was no such thing. It was so disappointing, because I really wanted to like this product.

I would like to say that if — perhaps — the MagSafe Battery Pack were cheaper, it would be worth the price. But that’s not even the case here. I am assuming Apple rushed these to the market without completely testing them. It’s possible that they work better with less power-hungry versions of the iPhone, such as the regular iPhone 12 or even the iPhone 12 mini. In fact, the Pack fits perfectly on the iPhone mini. But those who have Pro models (11 or 12) should stay as far away from the MagSafe Battery Pack as possible.

Posted in Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Three Days With Apple’s AirTag

Apple's AirTag is easily worth the $30 price tag.

I wrote about Apple’s new AirTag last month and finally got my hands on one this week. I paid $30 for it. I had the chance to buy the four-pack bundle for $100, but I didn’t want to waste money just in case I wasn’t satisfied. What was I thinking? I am more than satisfied with the AirTag. For someone who has ADHD and often leaves things in crazy places, it’s a very important product.

The setup wasn’t as simple as I would have liked it to be, but that’s on me. Once I took the tape off of  the small circular device, my iPhone 12 Pro recognized it. I named it “Yoshi” after my favorite video game character, and then things turned frustrating. I put Yoshi in my bag and tried to track it by going to Settings and then “Find My.” I couldn’t find a thing.

What I didn’t realize is that I needed the actual Find My app in order to track Yoshi. Once I found that, I saw all of my devices listed (iPhone, Apple Watch, AirPods Pro) along with Yoshi. I moved my bag to another room, and the AirTag was easily tracked on my iPhone.  I was also able to make the tag ring just loud enough to hear. This is convenient for when you drop something in a pile of clothes or in your car somewhere.

The AirTag can be tracked at it's exact location.

The AirTag came into real world use when I left my bag (with Yoshi in its pocket) on my chair while on a film set. When I went back, my chair and the bag were missing. Normally, I’d start having a nervous breakdown. But I looked in the Find My app and saw it was still nearby. Then, I was able to track the bag to its exact location, which was in a nearby room. I clicked to play a sound and heard it under a chair in the room. Security had moved it there to keep it safe but forgot to tell me. All is forgiven!

I plan to get at least two more AirTags — one to put on my keys. Instead of paying $35 for Apple’s AirTag keychain (AirTag not included), I’ll look on Amazon for much cheaper alternatives. The only real frustrating thing about getting an AirTag is that you’ll look back on the many times your life would have been easier if the AirTag had been invented earlier. Apple’s new location device may be just a simple and cheaper Apple product, but it’s the most important one they’ve released this year.

Posted in Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Week With iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra definitely wins in the hardware department.

I own an iPhone Pro. I’ve been interested in the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G ever since spending time with and reviewing it in early February. Now, I have another S21 Ultra 5G in my hands, and I’m going to be upset — not devastated — about giving it back in a week. As a piece of hardware, it’s better than the iPhone Pro. But I’m still most comfortable with iOS rather than Android.

Note that this article talks about the iPhone Pro, not the Pro Max, the Apple phone usually compared directly to the 5G Ultra. Besides the size and camera (to a certain extent), the Pro isn’t much different than the Max.

Size and Display

The Ultra 5G has a 6.8-inch screen, and just like the 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max, it feels too big to be used as a phone. Of course, others disagree. The extra-large devices are good for people whose eyes aren’t all quite there. However, I think the 6.1-inch iPhone Pro is the perfect size — not too big or not too small. It fits in your pocket without someone saying, “Is that a smartphone in your pocket, or are you just happy……”

The iPhone 12 Pro is more compact than the S21 Ultra.

Both have ultra high-res screens. The 12 Pro has a 460 ppi OLED screen, and the S21 Ultra’s screen displays 515 ppi. The human eye can’t really tell the difference with the resolution, but it can easily see that at the default level, Samsung’s screen is more vivid. You can mess with the Accessibility settings in iOS to make the iPhone’s colors more vivid, but they end up feeling less natural than Samsung’s.

Camera

On paper, the Ultra 5G’s camera looks much better with a 108MP wide-lens camera. The Ultra 5G also has a 12MP ultra-wide lens and a 10MP telephoto lens. The 12 Pro has 12MP ultra-wide, telephoto, and wide lenses. Both take excellent pictures. 

The Ultra 5G, however, offers 10x optical zoom (with up to 100x “space zoom”), while the iPhone 12 Pro only has 2x optical zoom. For some, that makes the Ultra 5G an automatic win, but it’s not that simple. In non-zoomed shots, the iPhone 12 Pro takes clearer pics that have more details and better focus.

Operating System

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Samsung Galaxy devices ran iOS? They don’t. And this is what makes the iPhone 12 Pro a better overall phone than the Galaxy S21 Plus. The iPhone 12 Pro is just a lot smoother: The apps launch faster; there is better collaboration with your Apple devices; and no matter how much you play with equalizers, the iPhone 12 Pro sounds better with a variety of different Bluetooth headsets.

If you are a photographer who lives and breathes in the Samsung ecosystem, the S21 Ultra should be your pick. For the rest of us, the iPhone 12 Pro will provide an overall more robust experience.

Posted in Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment