Huawei MateBook X Pro Proves To Be Best Laptop After Two Months Of Use

Huawei MateBook X Pro

The best laptop on the market isn’t the Surface Pro. It’s not the MacBook Pro. It’s not the new MacBook Air. The title goes to the Huawei MateBook X Pro, and it’s quite shocking that more people aren’t aware of it.

I gave the laptop a great review in August. Usually, my excitement with a laptop dies down after the honeymoon period. But that’s not the case with the MateBook X Pro, which I appreciate more than when I first got it.

Multimedia

The X Pro has become my number one go-to media device for watching movies and even listening to music when I am in a small room. The speakers are just as good as they are on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the screen is just as sharp. Well, perhaps the color display and contrast ratio isn’t as good as the MacBook Pro’s, but it’s close enough. Besides, the screen resolution is better on the X Pro, and this is especially noticeable when reading text.

The Huawei MateBook X Pro has a stunning screen.

Video Editing

I sometimes miss Final Cut X Pro on the MacBook Pro, but Adobe Premiere Pro on the MateBook X Pro is faster — at least when compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor (the MateBook has an i7 processor and discreet graphics).

I have been able to edit 4K videos without any hiccups, even though I would prefer to edit 4k videos on a more powerful desktop. Still, the X Pro does the job, and it doesn’t take hours for the videos to render. The 2018 MacBook Pro is able to edit 4K videos as well, though much more sluggishly.

The Keyboard

I don’t dislike Apple’s Butterfly keys as much as others, but I prefer the keys on the MateBook X Pro, which actually have some travel (though minimal) to them. Still, once you get used to the keyboard, it’s the best on the market. It really makes a difference when you are typing documents for more than 15 minutes.

The X Pro has a perfect keyboard.

What I Don’t Like

I’m not absolutely in love with the touchpad. It’s comfortable and works, but it’s not as smooth as the touchpad on Microsoft’s Surface Pro. It’s not even close to being as good as the touchpad on the MacBook Pro. However, it’s definitely not a deal killer. It’s just easier to make mistakes between right and left clicks.

The worst thing about the X Pro is the webcam, which is hidden in a key on the top row. Once you press the camera key, the webcam comes out. As cool as it sounds, you’re not going to want to use this as your primary webcam. Luckily, I barely use a webcam. If I need to do video conferencing, I use my iPhone.

Still the Best…

Despite some minor shortcomings, Huawei’s MateBook X Pro is still the best laptop on the market. It not only provides a 14-inch screen, but the ultra-thin and portable notebook, which is powerful enough to replace your desktop in most situations, provides all-day battery life and allows you to accomplish just about any task whenever and wherever you need to. 

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Apple Pencil 2: The Forgotten Part Of Apple’s New Announcement

The Apple Pencil 2 is slightly thinner and flatter.

Yes, the new iPad Pro and MacBook Air were announced on Tuesday. The 2018 iPad Pro is, perhaps, the biggest upgrade on the iPad since the device debuted in 2010. The fact that it will be released with the Apple Pencil 2 is important, but hasn’t been talked about enough.

The first Apple Pencil, released at the end of 2014, was a game-changing stylus. When the iPad Pro screen was upgraded to operate at a 120Hz refresh rate, using the Pencil was like using a real-life pencil (or pen). The only problem is that the Apple Pencil has always been too large. And it’s easy to lose since it doesn’t connect to the iPad. Well, that’s all about to change.

First, the bad news — the new Apple Pencil is only compatible with the new iPad Pros, which will be available on November 7. It’s also going to cost $30 more. But with that, you get a more refined design. It also has a new charging method that doesn’t require you to take off the cap and connect to the bottom of the iPad to recharge. Instead, it will charge magnetically when you place the Pencil on the iPad Pro. Even if that isn’t a game changer, it makes things a lot more convenient.

The Apple Pencil 2 in action -- Click to play in YouTube.

The fact that the Apple Pencil now has gesture controls is a game changer — at least for Apple devices. Just by double tapping the barrel of the Pencil, you can change strokes. You can customize what you want the double taps to do in the settings. This is going to be especially useful when Photoshop is released next spring.

Even though pairing the Apple Pencil with previous iPad Pros was supposed to be simple, it often wasn’t. Now, the Pencil connects as easily with the iPad as the AirPods do. Once the magnets hit, the Pencil is connected, and you are immediately able to write notes, draw, or do whatever you like with Apple’s updated stylus.

Apple’s new updated stylus is now on par with the Galaxy Note’s S Stylus. If you think $129 is too much to spend on a stylus and plan to use or buy the old $99 stylus, you’re out of luck; the old Apple Pencil will only work with the old iPads. Even though the new stylus is overpriced, it appears to be an essential part of the new iPad Pro experience.

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New MacBook Air And iPad Pro Are Expensive, But Look Tempting

This morning, Apple took off the covers on its new MacBook Air and iPad Pro. The MacBook Air starts at $1199, while the iPad Pro starts at $799. But for many, they may be worth the price.

Let’s first take a look at the MacBook Air, a device that revolutionized the laptop industry in 2007 but has become outdated now. When Apple first introduced the Air in 2007, it lacked a DVD drive and seemed like a compromise. Soon, other laptop makers began building similar models and the ultrabook market really took off. Now, almost every notebook is an ultrabook.

Click to play in YouTube.

The new MacBook Air is 25 percent lighter than the previous one ( it weighs 2.75 pounds), has a sleeker bezel, and has a 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch (with support for millions of colors). It’s not a True Tone Display, but that won’t matter for most people. It now has Apple’s controversial Butterfly keyboard, a fingerprint reader, and it (thank God!) does without the Touch Bar.

The reason for choosing the new MacBook Air over the regular MacBook is because not only is the screen bigger, but it comes with an 8th gen Intel Core i5 processor unlike the mobile processor used for the MacBook.

Engadget calls it the “one you’ve been waiting for,” and TechCrunch claims the new Air is a solid upgrade. You can pre-order the new MacBook Air now, and it will arrive on November 7– the same day as the new iPad Pro.

We knew pretty much everything about the iPad Pro for the past couple of months, but seeing videos and demonstrations of the actual device makes it more exiting. It’s not a must-have device, but it’s certainly a would-love-to-have type of tablet. And, once again, the lines are blurred between a tablet and laptop.

Click to play in YouTube.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is now 11 inches, and there is still a 12.9-inch option. As predicted, there is minimal bezel space, deleted Home button, Face ID login, and the same 264 pixel-per-inch screen we’ve seen on the previous versions. But reviewers have called this an “all-screen” iPad and have been really impressed.

“Maybe you can finally replace your laptop with one of these,” says Chris Velazco of Engadet,” adding that the screen is gorgeous and the device is easier to handle than ever.

Raymond Wong of Mashable says that with the new iPad Pros, the iPad is, once again, exciting.

“The iPad Pro’s screen has grown over the years, but this is the first time the hardware (inside and outside) has changed so drastically, the tablet feels entirely new again.”

I will have a full review of the iPad Pro (most likely the 11-inch version) next week. It looks like Apple, once again, has hit a home run.

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Don’t Let Your ‘Broken’ Portable Hard Drive Ruin Your Day

Last May, I was testing out the new Surface Pro LTE with my Seagate portable hard drive, and it wasn’t reading the drive. So, I thought the connection might have been loose. I tightened the connection — perhaps a little too much. And then, it was all twisted.

The Seagate drive was the only one where I backed up all my video clips I’ve taken over the past year. Unfortunately, I hadn’t learned my lesson that important files should be backed up at least on two different devices. I thought it was too late. Yeah, it wasn’t the end of the world. But it was a rough week.

I knew there were data recovery services that could (possibly) recover the data, though it would cost over $600. I just didn’t have the cash. Then, this weekend, I was looking at Best Buy’s website and noticed the Data Recovery section. I decided to make an appointment with Best Buy to see what they could do. What’s the worst that could happen?

Actually, the best thing happened — the Geek Squad manager told me that the actual drive is still working and that all I needed was a new enclosure. I thought it would still take a couple hundred dollars to fix, but that wasn’t the case. They sold me an Insignia enclosure that would fix all my issues — it even came with the connection cord and a screwdriver.

Insignia's $30 portable hard drive enclosure

The Geek Squad wanted to charge me $40 to install my hard drive in it, but I decided to do it myself — it was very simple, and it only took a couple of minutes. I connected the drive to my laptop and instantly saw all my files that I thought had been lost forever. It’s like having a lost dog return. Okay, maybe not — but you get the point.

There are so many people who think that when their portable drive doesn’t work, it’s dead. It’s not. Even bigger hard drives can be brought back to life as long as the actual drive isn’t damaged. And even if the actual drive is damaged, there are still ways (though very expensive) to recover the data.

Portable hard drives are reasonably priced, and there's no excuse not to buy two of them for the same backup.

Still, to be safe — buy two portable hard drives next time. One will be used as a backup, and the other will be used as a backup of that backup. But, if for some reason one of them suddenly doesn’t work, it’s best not to just throw it out.

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Thoughts On Upcoming New iPad Pro Announcement

The new iPad Pro will likely look like this.

On Tuesday, the long-awaited iPad Pro will be announced. As Mac Rumors notes, we can expect a device that has very slim bezels (making it easy to accidentally touch the screen) as well as one that operates with Apple’s excellent Face ID rather than a Home button. Expect both iPad Pro models to stay the same size but with increased screen space. In other words, expect another fantastic device from Apple. However, it may not be something that you necessarily need.

Here are some things I’m hoping for in the new iPad Pro:

A Better Laptop Replacement

Yeah, we heard Apple claim that the iPad Pro is a true laptop replacement, but they have been completely wrong. Until Apple merges iOS and MacOS, we won’t get a true laptop replacement, so we can at least hope that we can get a better substitute.

Of course, Apple needs to make a much better keyboard cover for those of us who type blogs for several hours. It needs to include better keys and a trackpad. If Microsoft can do it, so can Apple.

A USB-C Port

Another way Apple can make the iPad Pro more of a laptop substitute is including a USB-C port. This would make the iPad Pro compatible with external displays, external GPUs, and it would produce fast transfer speeds. It is highly rumored that the iPad Pro will indeed include a USB-C port, and we will certainly have our answer on Tuesday. 

A Smaller iPad Pencil

The Apple Pencil is great, but it's too big.

The optional iPad Pencil is one of the best things about the iPad Pro. However, the Pencil is also pretty huge. It would be great if Apple could make a smaller stylus — even as small as the Galaxy Note stylus. If Apple does make a smaller stylus, the new iPad Pro will be a note-taking dream machine.

Better Apps

The iPad Pro is now powerful enough to take on desktop apps. It’s great that Adobe is introducing a full version of Photoshop in 2019, but what about apps like Final Cut Pro X or even Adobe Premiere? What about Adobe Illustrator? What about a browser with full desktop capabilities (although Chrome almost fulfills this)? Some designers don’t want to have to carry two computer devices with them all the time.

iPhone XS-like Sound

The sound on the iPad Pro is already great, but let’s hope Apple provides the same new wide stereo separation they provide on their new iPhones. This will make the iPad Pro even more of a master multimedia consumption device than it already is.

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Early iPhone XR Reviews Are Positive, But…

For those who don’t want to spend $1000 on an iPhone XS and still want a powerful new iPhone, the iPhone XR has been touted as the best alternative option for consumers. From a short distance, the XR looks almost identical to the XS, uses the same processor as the XS, and has the same Face ID feature.

The XR also has a water resistance rating of iP67 and, unlike the iPhone XS, comes in several different colors. However, it doesn’t have a dual-lens camera like the XS, and the biggest difference is that the screen only has a 1,792×828-pixel resolution at 326 ppi (pixels per inch). For some, the screen, which is an LCD display rather than the OLED one on the XS, may be a deal killer. The difference in resolution between this model and the higher-end models is most noticeable when viewing text.

However, many casual users won’t notice the resolution difference, or simply won’t care that the XR resolution isn’t quite “Retina,” but smartphone fanatics will. In any case, the XR has received the stamp of approval from most media outlets.

The Verge claims that the new iPhone XR is “better than good enough.”

“Personally, I would pay the extra money for a better OLED screen in a heartbeat because I am extremely picky about displays. But I think most people can find way better ways to spend $250 than on things like infinite black levels and 60 percent wider dynamic range when viewing photos. And in that case, the iPhone XR is a no-brainer upgrade.”

CNET gives the iPhone XR four-and-a-half stars, calling it the best value for an iPhone in years.

Click to play in YouTube.

“The iPhone XR is the best iPhone for the price, delivering most of the advantages of the iPhone XS for hundreds less.”

The reviewer adds that the only thing he really missed was the dual-lens camera. He also says that the battery life is better than it is on the iPhone XS, which also has a shorter screen (5.8-inches compared to the XR’s 6.1-inches).

The New York Times, USA Today and Pocket-lint have all given the iPhone XR top-notch reviews as well. The iPhone XR is available for pre-order now and will be shipped for delivery on October 26 — the same day it will be available in the stores. Because of its affordability, the XR will likely become Apple’s most successful iPhone in years.

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Hands On: Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Is Still King Of The Laptop/Tablet Hybrids

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The version of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 that has an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256 SSD is used for this particular article. 

I recently wrote an article about how underwhelming the Surface Pro 6 announcement was. And when finally playing with a unit for 15 minutes at Best Buy this weekend, I still wish Microsoft would have done more. Still, at $1199 (even without the Type Cover or Surface Pen), the new Surface Pro is still a great buy.

The black matte finish isn’t a necessary addition to the model, but it’s certainly a pleasurable one as it makes the Surface Pro look and feel more like a premium device (not that it already didn’t feel like one). But then you look at the bezel space around the screen, and you realize that Microsoft is behind the times. There’s another way to look at it though — the space makes it easier to hold device as a tablet without accidentally touching the screen.

The Surface Pro 6 is a premium device in every sense.

Then, when you actually operate the unit,  you notice an improvement immediately. That’s because Intel’s latest 8th generation processors are now quad-core. I wasn’t able to test apps like Photoshop or Adobe Premiere, but I was able to test Microsoft Office with several apps and Chrome open in the background. Things operated noticeably more smoothly than they did when operating the same test with 2017′s Surface Pro.

The quad-core processor is a big deal because it means that an Intel Core i5 device can actually be used as a video editing machine. If you are specifically looking  for a video editing machine, the Intel Core i7 version of the Surface Pro 6 would be ideal. However, the Core i5, which is much cheaper, can still be used for most people. Because there is no fan, you can expect the device to get pretty hot.

In my 15 minutes of somewhat heavy use, the Pro 6 only depleted five percent of its battery life. Microsoft has made gradual improvements to the battery life of the Surface Pro, and this was especially seen in last year’s version. This year’s version makes things even better, and you can be safe without carrying your charger with you during the day as long as your Surface Pro 6 is fully charged.

Speaking of charging, Microsoft still includes the ancient charger that was satisfying three years ago, but dreadfully outdated now. There is no USB-C port, which is disappointing since almost every Windows or MacBook laptop now have one — it’s the new standard. There’s the outdated Mini DisplayPort, the one USB-3 port, and a microSD slot.

Despite its faults, the fact remains that the Surface Pro 6 is still the best laptop/tablet hybrid on the market. The lack of a USB-C port is downright questionable, but it’s not a deal killer for most. The Pro 6 is a portable powerhouse that gets better with each iteration.  I’ll give a more in-depth review once my review unit comes in.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Announcement Is Underwhelming

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft has led the laptop/tablet hybrid game since 2013, but they may be falling behind. As The Verge explains, the company just announced the long-awaited Surface Pro 6

“The latest tablet / laptop hybrid has a familiar design, but updated internals. Microsoft has refreshed the Surface Pro 6 with Intel’s 8th Gen processors, and a new matte black finish.”

The support for quad-core processors is a big deal as we’ve seen the difference when using the new MacBook Pro or even the new Surface Book. But…NO USB-C port? What is Microsoft thinking? We excused the 2017 Surface Pro for not including the port, but that’s because that came out in June of 2017 when the USB-C port wasn’t completely mainstream yet. One year and three months makes a huge difference. Now, every major computer has at least one USB-C port, if not two or three.

Click to play in YouTube.

One of the reasons this is disappointing is because it means we still have to use Microsoft’s outdated Surface Connector. Another reason is because USB-C provides several benefits such as faster data transfer, more efficient charging, and great support for connecting to larger displays, especially if it is a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port.

The good news is that hands-on reviews of the Surface Pro 6 are pretty good so far.

“The Surface Pro 6 brings forward the carefully honed design of earlier models and bumps the speed of the computer significantly. It doesn’t try to revolutionize the Surface Pro’s now well-known look. It doesn’t need to,” claims Jeremy Kaplan of Digital Trends, adding that the battery life has improved.

AnandTech notes that although the physical design of the Surface Pro 6 is virtually unchanged, the internals may make it worth the upgrade. The Surface Pro 6 will be released on October 16, although an LTE model is not available in the very near future. The LTE version of the Surface Pro 2017 wasn’t available until almost a year after the Wi-Fi versions were released in June of 2017.

The fact still remains that compared to other companies,  Microsoft has done the best job of combining a laptop and tablet into one device without sacrificing too many aspects of both. Unlike the iPad, which emphasizes the tablet part, Microsoft has always emphasized the laptop aspect more. Those who purchase the Surface Pro 6 certainly won’t be disappointed, but it’s a shame that Microsoft couldn’t do more for its flagship device.

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Apple Watch Series 4 Is Great, But Is It A Must-Upgrade Device?

Apple Watch Series 4

The T-Mobile LTE version of the Apple Watch Series 4, which costs $529, is being reviewed for this article. 

I was so excited to get the Apple Watch Series 4. I heard how the screen is bigger, and it is. I heard how it was faster, and it certainly is. I also heard that the new Watch is louder, and this is perhaps my favorite new feature. But I also feel like I’m wearing a evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary, device.

Design

There isn’t much of a design difference between the Watch 3 and Apple’s latest wrist device — and that’s not a bad thing. It is slightly thinner, but that’s hard to notice unless you have the Watch 3 right by its side. The corners of the watch are also slightly more curved. There is a red circle on the crown that identifies that the Watch has a cellular radio.

Screen

The Apple Watch Series 4 has a beautiful screen.

The screen has a larger display area, and it’s immediately noticeable. The icons are now larger and easier to press. The resolution is also higher and everything, including the text, looks crystal clear. The colors are more crisp as well. The screen on the Watch won’t replace the screen on your phone, but it is damn good.

Speakers

The cellular radio on the Watch 3 was useless when making phone calls because it was so quiet. However, this isn’t the case with the Watch 4, which has a surprisingly loud and clear speaker for such a small device. I made two phone calls in somewhat loud environments, and the positive experience makes me want to use my watch more as my main phone, although I do look weird talking to my wrist.

watchOS 5 and Features

The new operating system helped the Series 3, but the Series 4 has the speed to enhance the improvements. The raise-to-speak feature is very useful just like all the new additions to the health and fitness apps. With the new OS, the Watch 4 can detect an irregular heartbeat and a useful “hard fall” feature (especially for seniors) that not only detects an unusual fall, but contacts emergency services and gives your location to a selected group of people.

There is a new “Walkie Talkie” mode that enables you to chat with other Watch owners just like people did in the 1980s. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it is a cool feature for those into nostalgia.

The bad…

I was hoping that Notifications would get better, but Apple still hasn’t fixed the fact that the Watch doesn’t receive some notifications it’s supposed to. The battery life still isn’t improved. Apple quotes 18 hours, but my tests didn’t match that. The Watch is still a device that you have to charge overnight. Apple would have to make the watch larger in order to improve battery life.

Conclusion

If you own the Apple Watch Series 3, the Watch 4 isn’t a necessary upgrade. Instead, it’s a nice one if you can spare the cash. However, anybody who owns the first Apple Watch or the Series 2, you will be happy enough to upgrade the cost.

The Apple Watch has come such a long way since 2015, and it is now a device that can almost replace your phone in many situations. The price may be high, but this will be Apple’s best-selling Watch yet.

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The iPhone XS Max Is Expensive, But May Be Worth The Price

I was impressed with the iPhone XS Max when writing about my first impressions a couple days back. After a couple days, I am happy with my upgrade from the iPhone X. (Keep in mind that I am on a T-Mobile upgrade program with monthly payments, so it didn’t cost me $1100 up front.)

Let’s take a look….

Build and design

The iPhone XS Max is very much like an elongated iPhone X, even with the annoying notch. It also feels a lot like the iPhone 8 Plus without the huge bezels. The phone is surprisingly thin, but the rounded edges give an illusion of the device being somewhat thick.

Unless you have really large hands, one-handed use may be a little uncomfortable. It’s not the type of phone you want to hold up to your face when making calls — but it doesn’t have to be. Not only does the speaker mode work very well on the XS Max, but it pairs flawlessly with wireless headsets.

Screen

iOS runs smoother than Android.

This may be the best aspect of the iPhone XS Max. The 2,688 x 1,242 pixel resolution 6.5-inch display is easily the best display that has ever been put on a smartphone. The True Tone display adjusts colors and intensity of the XS Max display to match the ambient light of your environment. The max brightness level is intense, and the screen still looks beautiful in direct sunlight.

The screen is best for watching movies. Combined with the speakers (which will be discussed very soon), the XS Max is the ultimate portable multimedia machine. However, if you are addicted to watching Netflix or Hulu, the iPhone XS Max will make your addiction worse.

Speakers and Microphones

The stereo speakers on the iPhone X were already powerful enough, but the improved speakers on the iPhone XS Max are even better in that they offer more bass and spacial separation. When watching some films, you will hear noises that seem to come from above or in back of you rather than from the stereo speakers. In many ways, the speakers on the iPhone XS Max can replace your portable Bluetooth speaker. 

The stereo microphones that record stereo sound with videos (finally!!) aren’t as impressive. They’re okay, but they just don’t offer as much stereo separation as devices from Samsung does. If you are recording professional videos, it’s still a great idea to get something like the AMBEO Smart Headset, which records 3D sound.

Performance

The iPhone XS Max is packed with iOS 12. But what really makes the performance of the device shine is the A12 Bionic chip, which allows for faster performance, faster screen rotation, and helps apps such as Chrome, which was frustrating to use on the iPhone X, run faster. The general navigation, which was already pretty smooth on the iPhone X, feels even smoother. Despite the faster speed, the new processor is also said to be 40 percent more power-efficient.

Camera

It’s too bad that the iPhone XS Max doesn’t have the triple lens that was promised, but the dual-lens camera still works very well. It’s not a complete upgrade from the iPhone X camera, but it takes better pictures in lower-lit situations. The best new feature allows you to edit the amount of background blur on the photos you take in Portrait mode. Here is an example of a picture I recently took, where the background was originally not blurred at all. 

The iPhone XS Max takes fantastic photos.

Battery Life

One of my only issues with the iPhone X was the battery life. It was decent, but not great. However, under my tests, the iPhone XS Max gives you an extra hour of juice when using the GPS app, one of the most heavy battery-life eaters. This might not seem like a lot in print, but it makes a huge difference.

One thing that helps is that the 3,174mAh battery is the largest capacity battery that Apple has ever included in an iPhone. Another thing that helps, as mentioned earlier, is the efficiency of the A12 chip.

Phone Calls

Using T-Mobile’s LTE network, I found the iPhone XS Max to have a better connection than the iPhone X. In one Burbank, CA garage, I would always lose my phone connection with the X, but this didn’t happen with the XS Max. Because of the improved speakers on the XS Max, using the speakerphone feature is noticeably better.

Conclusion

Yes, the iPhone XS Max, with a starting price at $1099, is expensive — more expensive than a smartphone should ever be. However, the price is nearly justified. The iPhone XS Max might not be the revolutionary upgrade people were hoping for, but it is still the best smartphone on the market without a challenger in site.

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