Lord Voldemort has returned, but few want to believe it. In fact, the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to keep the wizarding world from knowing the truth – including appointing Ministry official Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. When Professor Umbridge refuses to train her students in practical defensive magic, a select group of students decides to learn on their own. With Harry Potter as their leader, these students (who call themselves “Dumbledore’s Army”) meet secretly in a hidden room at Hogwarts to hone their wizarding skills in preparation for battle with the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters. . New adventure – more dangerous , more thrilling than ever – is yours in this enthralling film version of the fifth novel in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. A terrifying showdown between good and evil awaits. Prepare for battle!

iPhone

  • Review of the iPhone 14 Pro Max

    Review of the iPhone 14 Pro Max

    I am fortunate enough to be able to purchase a new iPhone every year since 2007 with the introduction of the original iPhone. In that time I have owned 16 different phones. Some years that are big changes, while other years there are some improvements but those improvements come with software. There are those times when it a combination of both hardware and software that ends up creating an overall better experience. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is an instance where the iPhone has both hardware and software changes that improve the overall experience.

    Starting in 2019 with the introduction of the iPhone 11 line, Apple began to differentiate the phones into two different lines, the “non-pro” line and the “pro” line of phones. This started with the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. 

    Some years there was very little that differentiated the non-pro and pro lines. Once thing that has been a differentiator, at least since the iPhone 11, the two has been the number of cameras on the device. The non-pro phones have had a dual camera system while the pro line has a triple-lens camera system. This remains true through the iPhone 14 line. One thing that has not been the case is that all new models of the iPhone have received the same processor across the line. The exception to this was the iPhone 5c, which had an A6 while the other phone introduced that year, the iPhone 5s, had the A7. Beyond that, all new phones have had the latest processors. 

    This year though, that changes. Now the processors are different between the non-pro and pro lines. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus have an A15 Bionic while the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have the A16 Bionic processor. This bifurcation is the first time where there is a clear delineation between the two lines. I suspect that this will continue to be the case in the future.

    The hardware changes for this are exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, but some of the features are also available in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. Before we dive into the actual device, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, let us look at my pre-order, pickup, and setup experiences.


    Pre-order Experience

    Pre-orders opened up on Friday, September 9th at 7am Central Time, or were supposed to start at that time, but as usual, due to caching and other issues, some were not able to order their devices in the first few minutes and up to 10 minutes after. My pre-order experience was a frantic one due to the many issues I had.

    When the Apple Store app finally refreshed to allow me to order, it prompted me to complete the pre-order information that I saved. I went through the steps and attempted to complete the transaction with picking up at my local Apple Store. I initially chose 9:15am. Upon check out it indicate that my contact information was incorrect, even though it has not changed in years. So, I changed it and went back to checkout, but when it completed, it was changed it to shipping instead of pickup. This in itself would not be a problem, except the delivery date range was September 27th to 29th. If the delivery was for launch day, I might have kept it. 

    When I placed the order that would have been delivered late, I also ordered a Midnight case. I opted to just cancel the entire order and I re-ordered the Apple Midnight MagSafe case separately. That did arrive early, as iPhone cases tend to do. The next thing that happened was the wait for pickup day, so let us look at that.


    Pickup

    The pickup for the Apple Store could not have bee smoother. I got there at 9:50, stood in line for 5 minutes, got helped and was out. I left the Apple Store at 10:12. It might have even been quicker, but I also wanted to pick up a couple of Apple Watch bands while I was there and it took a little bit of time for another Apple employee to bring them out. After I left the Apple Store I drove home and did the setup on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, so  let us cover that next.


    Setup and Transferring Phone to Phone

    The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the 16th iPhone that I have owned, so I am no stranger to having to move between devices. My typical approach is as follows:

    1. Unpair Apple Watch to perform a backup to my current phone.
    2. Plug iPhone into my Mac.
    3. Perform encrypted backup using Finder
    4. Plug in my new iPhone.
    5. Restore from encrypted backup.
    6. Pair new watch using Apple Watch backup from encrypted backup.

    However, this time I did something a bit different. Instead, I decided to do a Phone to Phone transfer. Last year, as mentioned in my review of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, I intended to do an iPhone to iPhone transfer, but canceled that because the amount of time was up to 7 hours and stayed there. So last year I went with my tried and true approach. This year, I decided to do the device to device transfer and let it run its course.

    As with many other device setups with Apple you bring your new iPhone next to your old iPhone and tap on the “Setup New iPhone” popup. After this you enter in your Apple ID credentials. Once this has been done you walk through the transfer. You will need to enter in your iPhone’s passcode during the transfer. 

    The iPhone 14 Pro Max, along with the other iPhone 14 devices, do not have a physical SIM card slot, at least not in the United States. Instead, all iPhone 14 models in the United States have an electronic sim, or eSm. iPhones have had an eSim option since the iPhone XS, except in China where physical SIMs are mandated by law. I have not used an eSim previously, so this has been my first experience doing so. Some people have used eSim previously, and a few have preemptively converted their physical SIM to an eSim before they got their iPhone 14s.

    Converting Physical Sim to eSim

    Photo of an iPhone 14 Pro Max on the "Set Up eSIM" screen.
    Photo of an iPhone 14 Pro Max on the “Set Up eSIM” screen.

    The setup of my eSim was fairly straight-forward, well it is supposed to be. During the setup there is a screen titled “Set up eSim”. The screen is supposed to allow you to transfer your phone number from a physical SIM on your old iPhone to the eSim on your new phone. However, it did not go as smoothly as you might expect.

    The first time that I tried to do the transfer it came back as “Failed, could not transfer the number”. When this happens there are three options, Back, Try Again, Setup Later in Settings. I was going to set it up later, but I decided to go back and try it again. The second time it was able to successfully transfer my phone number. 

    I know I am not the only who had this exact experience. Friend, and editor of my books, Barry Sullivan also got two iPhones on launch day and he let me know that he had the exact same experience when trying to activate his phones. The trick of going back and doing it again allowed both of his phones to transfer properly. It was a simple fix, but still a very odd one. I am not sure if the issue was an AT&T one or an Apple one. Regardless of the ultimate cause of the issue I hope Apple and AT&T are able to figure out the issue and correct it for future versions of iOS and people who are trying to convert their physical sims to an eSim. After this step the actual transfer began.

    Remaining Device to Device Transfer

    Once transfer was finished, which took just about an hour and 45 minutes, there was the last screen. I tried to wake up the screen, but the backlight would not fully turn up to a correct brightness. It was super difficult for me to see the screen. I had to hold the iPhone 14 Pro Max at an angle to see what was on the screen. I entered in my passcode and the phone restarted. Once that was done, my phone was ready to go with the next step, downloading everything.

    The phone to phone transfer is intended to transfer over all data, like app data, photos, and other similar data. What is not transferred is apps or downloaded songs. Once the data has transferred over then your apps and songs will be downloaded again. At one point while doing this, my phone was consuming a good 92% of all of my internet bandwidth by downloading at 277 megabits per second. 

    The downloading of apps and songs went perfectly, as did most of the phone to phone data transfer. There was one thing that did not transfer over, my Apple Watch. It never prompted me during setup either, even though I specified to transfer it over on the first step.

    Since it did not transfer over, When I opened the Apple Watch app on my iPhone 14 Pro Max, it kept saying “Pair Existing Watch” and when I tried to say “Pair Existing Watch” it would constantly fail. I contacted Apple, and the genius suggested unpairing the Watch from my iPhone 13 Pro Max. In itself un-pairing and re-pairing an Apple Watch is not a big deal. The problem I had is that given the length of time that the restore took, I got three standing hours in and I had burned 100 more calories. My Phone finished early enough in the day where  I could finish closing my standing rings. In reality, it was not really a problem, but an annoyance none-the-less.

    What was really odd, is that I went back and checked my activity information, those missing standing hours showed up on my watch, as did the missing calories and steps. What would be really nice would be if there was a way to force the Fitness app to synchronize data up to iCloud and then trigger a download, but Apple seems opposed to these types of things. Instead, “it just works”, except when it does not.

    Looking back there are two things that I could have done. The first would have been to unpair the watch entirely before beginning the transfer. This would have provided a backup to the iPhone and then it would have  likely transferred that data over to the Apple Watch. However, it likely would have resulted in me missing those two hours of stand time, as well as any other calories and steps earned during that time, due to the data not being transferred over.

    The second thing I could have done, which now in hindsight might have been the correct answer, would have been to just setup my new Apple Watch Series 8 and not worry about the missing data, because it would eventually synchronized. Again, I was not worried about the time of the day, because I had plenty of time to get the standing hours back, but it was a bit annoying. There is one downside to using the device to device transfer.

    Downside to Phone to Phone

    One of the biggest downsides to using the “Phone to Phone” transfer method is that you cannot use either device while it is transferring data. This meant that the two devices were just sitting there the entire time. An hour and 45 minutes was long enough, but if I had even more data it likely would have taken longer. There has to be some other sort of solution, like possibly even using a wired connection. I suspect that using a wired connection would have make the process faster because it could have used more bandwidth. I am guessing that I am an outlier by using this process. I am presuming that most people just use iCloud for backing up their iPhone and then restoring it. But there is just something to using a wire to do a transfer that makes it more reliable, at least to me anyway.


    Color

    When I purchase a new iPhone I have always gotten the “gray” variant of a phone. For the early iPhone this was not a problem, because there was only two choices, Black or White. The white iPhones always had a white bezel, and I did not like the look of those, therefore I ended up selecting the black or space gray option. With the introduction of the iPhone X the choice of color became less relevant, because all of the bezels on the Face ID phones have a minimal bezel, which is black. The one exception to this was with the iPhone 12 Pro Max where I got the Pacific Blue.

    There was the Deep Purple option for the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but I opted to go with my standard and ordered the “Space Black” iPhone 14 Pro Max. As you can see in the image below, there is a distinct color difference. The Space Black is a much darker than the Graphite of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. 

    Comparison of the back colors of an iPhone 13 Pro Max in Graphite and the Back of an iPhone 14 Pro Max in Space Black
    Comparison of the back colors of an iPhone 13 Pro Max in Graphite and the Back of an iPhone 14 Pro Max in Space Black

    Now that we have covered the setup, let us look at the actual features of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, starting with the biggest change, the Dynamic Island.


    Dynamic Island

    Back in 2017 Apple revolutionized the iPhone by introducing a whole new form factor for the iPhone. Gone was the home button, Touch ID, and most of the front bezel. Instead of the Home Button and Touch ID sensor, Apple replaced it with a new technology called Face ID. In order for Face ID to function a brand new set of sensors was needed, called a True Depth sensor. 

    iPhone 14 Pro Max - True Depth Sensor Array that shows the sensors as being separate elements
    iPhone 14 Pro Max – True Depth Sensor Array that shows the sensors as being separate elements

    The True Depth sensor contains an infrared sensor, the actual Face ID infrared camera, and the FaceTime camera. When FaceID was introduced on the iPhone X, the top of the iPhone’s screen was where the Face ID sensor housing was placed. Over the last five years, Apple has shrunken the size of the notch. Now with the iPhone 14 the notch has been moved to an area slightly below the top of the screen, that is entirely surrounded by pixels, hence the use of the term ‘island’. In the photo below you can see the notch on the iPhone X as compared to the notch on the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

    Photo of an iPhone X, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro Max for a notch comparison
    Photo of an iPhone X, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro Max for a notch comparison

    Now that the sensor array is not attached to the top of the screen, so it creates a cutout near the top of the screen. With the notch not being attached to the top of the screen, it needs a new name. The new area is called the “Dynamic Island”.

    The Dynamic Island will now look a lot like a pill, most of the time. The pill is not an actual pill, but it is two different sensors that are actually separated by a bit of spacing. A majority of the time this will appear as a single pill with the area between the two cameras being filled in with black pixels, thus making it look like a pill.

    The term “Dynamic Island” is an accurate name because the Dynamic Island will change based upon what you are doing at any time. For instance, if you are listening to audio, whether it be a podcast, audiobook, or music, it will be minimized to the Dynamic Island, as will all other audio apps. When an audio app is minimized to the Dynamic Island you will see a small version of the cover art on the left and a wave form of the playing audio on the right. This straddles the Dynamic Island.

    When an item is minimized to the Dynamic Island, the animation for the minimization will differ slightly depending on which direction you push the app. Here is a video showing various animations.

    Dynamic Island Animations for various animations

    As mentioned above the Dynamic Island will be a pill, most of the time. There is one exception to this. If there are multiple items that can be minimized to the Dynamic Island, the lower priority item will be moved to its own icon to the right of the Face ID sensor array. There will be some pixels shown between the two islands.

    Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro Max with two items, the Music app and a Timer
    Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro Max with two items, the Music app and a Timer

    When there is an audio app, or other app, minimized to the Dynamic Island, you can perform two different actions. You can either tap or you can tap and hold. When you tap on the item it will open the corresponding app. However, if you tap and hold on the Dynamic Island it will display a miniature interface. For an audio app it will just appear just like it would look like on the Lock Screen. For an app like the Timer, you will see the timer countdown with a pause and cancel button.

    I have been going back and forth on whether these two gestures are the right ones or not, and I think they should be reversed. I think tapping should bring up the miniature interface and tapping and holding should open the app. I think this is a more natural interaction to tap on the Dynamic Island and see the miniature interface. Even a toggle for allowing this would be sufficient, so then people can decide how they want to handle the interactions.

    Uses of the Dynamic Island

    There have been some interesting interactions created with the Dynamic Island. There are two apps in particular. The first is a game called “Hit the Island”, which is a breakout-type game where you try and hit the Dynamic Island with a ball. “Hit the Island” is not only limited to iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, but it also works on any Face ID-enabled iPhone as well.

    The second is within the Reddit app called Apollo. There is an option to add a cat that walks back and forth, as well as rests, on the top of the Dynamic Island. This does not have any functionality, but it does provide a bit of ambiance while browsing Reddit. I do not use Apollo, nor Reddit in general, but I saw it cross my twitter feed.

    Adjustments Needed

    One behavior that might take some adjustment is using the area below the notch to try and scroll up. With the Dynamic Island this does not work. You can still tap off to the left or right of the Dynamic Island it will scroll, but not directly underneath it. This is a minor thing that will take some time to get acclimated to, but it is something to be cognizant about.

    It will be interesting to see what developers do with the Dynamic Island in the future once the Live Activities APIs are available for all to use. Next, let us look at another new hardware feature, the Always-On Display.


    Always on Display

    Modern phones can differ in a variety of ways. These differences could be in size, storage, operating system, authentication mechanisms, and even cameras. One thing that has been same across all phones, at least since 2007, is that they all have a screen that takes up most of the front of the device. Depending on the size of your iPhone this can range from a 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone SE (2nd Generation) up to a 6.7-inch on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

    If you needed to check something while your phone was locked you could hit the sleep/wake button or raise your phone to actually show your Lock Screen. Starting with the iPhone X you could tap on the screen to wake it up. This approach certainly does work, but having to constantly wake your screen to check for new information can become tiresome after a while. What would be even better is if there was a way of quickly glance at your screen and see if there is any new information without needing to do anything. This is now possible with the new “Always On” display.

    iPhone 14 Pro Max 'Always On Display' in a Locked State.
    iPhone 14 Pro Max ‘Always On Display’ in a Locked State.

    You might be wondering how the screen can always stay on, given that the screen is a huge use of battery power. The reason that the screen can always stay on is because the Always On Display on the iPhone 14 Pro Max works similarly to the Always On Display on the Apple Watch Series 5, and newer. This means that the screen is always on but it will be dimmed when not in use. Beyond dimming, the refresh rate of the screen will drop its refresh rate down to a rate of 1Hz, meaning it will refresh once every second. This is is comparison to the iPhone 13 Pro Max where it can refresh up to 120 times per second while the screen is on. The combination of the backlight not being at full brightness and the refresh rate being so low, it should not interfere too much with battery life.

    Even though the screen is an “Always On” display on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, this does not mean that the screen will be on 100% of the time. In fact there are some instances when the screen will turn off. The situations are:

    • When the phone is off (obviously)
    • During wind down. As soon as it starts the screen turns off.
    • When you are in a sleep focus.
    • If your iPhone is face down on a surface. There is no need to have the screen on at this point.
    • When you walk away from the iPhone and you are wearing an Apple Watch. Once the distance is far enough away the phone screen will turn off.
    • When you are using your iPhone as a continuity camera on your Mac. The screen is not needed for this.

    You can simply tap on the screen to have it activate again and interact with it as you normally would. If you do tap on the screen it will return to its dimmed state after 7 seconds. This is the same behavior as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. 

    Disabling Always On Display

    If you find that you do not like the way that the Always On Display functions, you can easily turn it off by using the following steps:

    1. Open Settings.
    2. Scroll down to Display & Brightness.
    3. Tap on Display & Brightness to open up the Display & Brightness settings.
    4. Scroll down to “Always On”.
    5. Tap the toggle next to “Always On” to disable the Always On functionality.

    When you do disable the Always On Display, it will act just like all previous iPhones, if that is more of your style. Next, let us now turn to another area that has seen some improvements and needs to be covered, the Cameras.


    Camera

    With each new iPhone Apple tends to improve the camera year over year, and there have been some improvements of the iPhone 14 Pro Max over the iPhone 13 Pro Max. I will go into most of the camera specifications in a bit, but let us look at a couple of the biggest changes, starting with the TrueDepth camera.

    The TrueDepth camera has gone from a 12megapixel ƒ/2.2 aperture to a 12megapixel camera with an ƒ/1.9 aperture. As with all photography, the lower the number means that even more light will be captured when using the FaceTime camera. In practice what this means is that you should be able to get better pictures when using the FaceTime Camera, including the ability to have more than one person’s face be in focus, even when using the FaceTime camera. The TrueDepth camera is not the only camera that has seen some improvements. The rear camera sensor has seen some improvements. Specifically, the Main camera has been significantly improved. The second item to talk about when it comes to specifications is the Wide camera.

    If you were to look at Apple’s specifications pages or the iPhone 13 Pro Max you may notice that there are three cameras, Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto. Now, if you compare these to the iPhone 14 Pro Max there are actually four, but more on the fourth one in a moment. What you may notice is that on the iPhone 13 Pro Max specifications page there is no “Main” camera. Previous models called the Main camera the “Wide”. While the name of “Wide” was technically accurate, most people never called it the Wide camera, and instead just called it the Main, or primary, camera. Hence, it is now called the “Main” camera. Before we delve any further, let us look at the specification comparisons between the iPhone 13 Pro Max an the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

    For the first time Apple has listed the actual size of the sensors. Here are the sensor sizes, apertures, and zoom for the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

    Lens Zoom Megapixels Length Aperature
    Ultra Wide 0.5x 12 Megapixels 13mm ƒ/2.2
    Main 1x 48 Megapixels 24mm ƒ/1.78
    Telephoto 2x 12 Megapixels 48mm ƒ/1.78
    Telephoto 3x 12 Megapixels 77mm ƒ/2.8

    For comparison, here are the iPhone 13 Pro Max Camera specifications

    Lens Zoom Megapixels Length Aperature
    Ultra Wide 0.5 12 Megapixels 13mm ƒ/1.8
    Wide 1 12 Megapixels 26mm ƒ/1.78
    Telephoto 3x 12 Megapixels 77mm ƒ/2.8

    When you look at a the specifications you may notice a few things that jump out right away. The Main camera has gone from a 12 Megapixel ƒ/1.5 aperture camera to a whopping 48 Megapixel 24 mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture camera. This is four times the number of pixels. However, you do not get 48 Megapixel images, most of the time. Instead pixels are grouped into a set of quad-pixels. Each set of quad-pixels will allow more light into each photo, which should provide even cleaner and more crisp pictures. 

    One of the complaints about the last few iPhones is that they had three optical zoom options, 0.5x, 1.0x, and 3x. These are all great options to have, in particular if you do want to zoom in and have a super crisp picture, the 3x zoom would deliver that. However, there is a wide range between the 1x and 3x. What was missing is 2x. With the iPhone 14 Pro Max, you now have 2x zoom in addition to the existing 0.5x, 1.0x, and 3x options.

    When you use the 2x zoom, what is doing is it is actually using the central 12 Megapixels of the Main 48 Megapixel image. The image is still being taken at the standard 4K resolution, so you will still get the 12megapixels that you are expecting. There are no controls for which part of the sensor is used, it will use the central pixels. There is one use case when you can use the full 48 Megapixels within the sensor. That is when you use the ‘Raw’ mode in the Camera. When you do this you will get the raw information off of the sensor in Apple ProRes Raw format. This can then be used by various photo editing applications to tweak and get the images that you want. 

    Scaled down version of a 48 Megapixel image taken on an iPhone 14 Pro Max
    Scaled down version of a 48 Megapixel image taken on an iPhone 14 Pro Max

    Note: The above image is scaled. You can see the full resolution image. The image that is linked is a JPG, but it is the full 48 Megapixel dimensions.

    Be warned though, Raw images are rather large. As an example, I took two pictures using my iPhone 14 Pro Max. The processed HEIC photo is 998 Kilobytes, while the Raw image is 45.7 Megabytes. This should not be a surprise, but it is something to be aware of.

    One of the other photo-related changes to the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a new dedicated engine that will help process photos. That feature is called the “Photonic Engine”. Apple has not clarified if this is a set of hardware, software, or a combination of both. The purpose of the Photonic Engine is that that it will take your photos that have been captured in non-ideal lighting conditions and it can use the additional Focus Pixels to gather more light, and then use machine learning to help improve the lighting on your photos. According to Apple:

    “Through a deep integration of hardware and software, Photonic Engine improves mid- to low-light performance for photos across all cameras: up to 2x on the Ultra Wide camera, 2x on the TrueDepth camera, and an impressive 2.5x on the new Main camera. Photonic Engine enables this dramatic increase in quality by applying the computational benefits of Deep Fusion earlier in the imaging process to deliver extraordinary detail, and preserve subtle textures, provide better color, and maintain more information in a photo.”

    You cannot really get a feel for the Photonic Engine through words, so here are a couple of photos for comparison.

    Photo of the Moon from an iPhone 13 Pro Max using Night Mode
    Photo of the Moon from an iPhone 13 Pro Max using Night Mode
    Photo of the Moon from an iPhone 14 Pro Max using Night Mode
    Photo of the Moon from an iPhone 14 Pro Max using Night Mode
    Photo of the 'Big Dipper' from an iPhone 13 Pro Max using Night Mode
    Photo of the ‘Big Dipper’ from an iPhone 13 Pro Max using Night Mode
    Photo of the 'Big Dipper' from an iPhone 14 Pro Max using Night Mode
    Photo of the ‘Big Dipper’ from an iPhone 14 Pro Max using Night Mode

    Overall, the cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro Max are a huge improvement. The return of the optical 2x zoom is a very welcome feature that will allow people to take photos that are at the right distance. The addition of the new Photonic Engine means that pictures will be even better, particularly in low light. Ultimately though, which camera you are going to use depends on the current situation, but you should be able to get the picture you want from one of the cameras. No photo that you take with your iPhone is exactly what the sensor sees unless, of course, you are using the Apple ProRes Raw format. Now, let us move to the obligatory benchmark comparison.


    Obligatory Benchmarks

    As with all of my reviews I include some benchmarks for general comparison. All of the items below are based on Apple Silicon, in some manner. This could be the A-Series or the M-Series. I used Geekbench for all of these comparisons. Here are the results of the benchmark tests.

    Device Single Core Multi-Core Compute
    iPhone X (A10) 917 2462 3776
    iPad mini (6th Generation) (A15 Bionic) 1594 4523 11960
    5th Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro (M1) 1673 6455 21007
    Mac mini (Late 2020, M1) 1743 7619 21646
    iPhone 13 Pro Max (A15 Bionic) 1746 4410 14460
    Mac Studio (2022, M1 Max) 1765 12467 62662
    iPhone 14 Pro Max (A16 Bionic) 1902 4543 15106

    Closing Thoughts

    Each new release of an iPhone is not a huge leap in standards as compared to the immediately previous model. Even though it is not a gigantic change the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a big upgrade. There have been both hardware and software changes. Many do use their iPhones as a phone, but many also use their iPhones for all other tasks. One of the biggest uses is taking pictures. The iPhone 14 Pro Max bring a whole new main 48 megapixel camera. While it will only provide 12 megapixel images, the amount of light let in will be four times as much, meaning better low light photos. Low Light photos will look better with the new Photonic Engine, which is a combination of hardware and software that will enhance low light images and make them sharper.

    Beyond the camera, there is the new Always On Display. This display will allow you to easily see updated information on the Lock Screen including any widgets that you have configured on your Home Screen. The Always On Display can automatically reduce its refresh rate down to 1Hz, or only refresh the screen once a second, which will reduce the battery usage. If the Always On nature of the screen is not to your liking, you can disable it within Settings.

    The biggest change to the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the new Dynamic Island, which is currently exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The Dynamic Island is a progression of the notch that began with the iPhone X in 2017. The Dynamic Island is an area in the display that is surrounded by pixels. Apple could have chosen to just leave this as is, but instead they created a whole new way to interact with applications that uses the fact that the Face ID sensor is surrounded by pixels to its advantage. If you tap and hold on the Dynamic Island while there is an application

    As of this review the current version of iOS is iOS 16 and third-party applications cannot create custom interactions with the Dynamic Island, but it will be available in iOS 16.1 and it will be interesting to see what uses third-party applications create with the Dynamic Island. The Dynamic Island is the biggest change to interaction methods since the iPhone X.

    Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a solid upgrade, should you want, or need, the 6.7-inch screen. If you want a bit smaller screen the iPhone 14 Pro may be the right option for you. If you have an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13, it might be worthwhile to wait for the iPhone 15 Pros before upgrading your device.

    A Space Black iPhone 14 Pro Max with an iPhone 14 Pro Max Case in Midnight in their respective boxes
    A Space Black iPhone 14 Pro Max with an iPhone 14 Pro Max Case in Midnight in their respective boxes
  • The Original iPhone: 15 Years Later

    The Original iPhone: 15 Years Later

    All throughout history, technology has improved. There are some technologies that have had significant impacts on society, whether the impact is an overall positive or negative  one depends on ones perspective. One thing that cannot really be argued is that smartphones have had a significant impact on modern society and have become a necessary item in today’s society.

    Smart Phones are a bit older than you might realize, in fact the first “smartphone” was actually developed by IBM in 1994, but, needless to say it was a bit before its time. Fast forward eight years to 2002 when the first Palm Treo was released, the Treo 180. The Palm Treo line of smartphones wee some of the first ones that people have heard of. The Treo 180 was the first cell phone to incorporate some of the features which would later become commonplace. These features included a full QWERTY keyboard. The Treo 180 did not not have much connectivity. It only had an single Infrared port, which was used to connect the device to a computer, or you could use the USB port to connect, which was probably a better option overall. 

    While the Treo was first, it was quickly followed by devices running WindowsCE, like the Palm Treo 750 and the Blackberry Pearl, by Research in Motion (RIM), introduced in 2006. While smartphones were popular amongst enterprise users, BlackBerry was the most popular smartphone company with its focus squarely on enterprise. Beyond its reach with enterprises, Blackberry became quite popular amongst the general population. No matter how popular the Treo and BlackBerry phones would be, they had not had any breakout hits that would become must have items.

    It actually took a company, whom nobody would have expected, to completely reimagine the smartphone. The reimagining would not only revolutionize the smartphone industry, but it would also revolutionize the entire technology industry. The device would put the company on a solid financial footing and subsequently make it one of the most profitable companies in history. That company is, of course, Apple. The product that started its meteoric rise was the iPhone.

    The name iPhone is one that is easily recognized all over the world. I am not sure if it is just as well known as Coca-Cola, but it is definitely up there. The original iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs at MacWorld Expo on January 9th, 2007. You can read my entire recap on the iPhone’s introduction.

    I could do an in-depth history of the iPhone, but that is not what this post is about. Instead, it is about the original iPhone, 15 years later. It might be worthwhile to re-read my first post in this series about the introduction of the iPhone. Before we dive into the iPhone, let us briefly look at my cell phone history before that.

    My Cell Phone History

    I have used an iPhone since 2007.  Prior to that I had used three different cell phones. These were the iconic Nokia 3310, a candy bar-style phone with a monochrome screen and a standard cell phone non-QWERTY keyboard, a Samsung T637, another candy bar-style phone, with the same non-QWERTY keyboard, but this one had a color screen, and a Razr V3. The Razr V3 was a clamshell phone, but also only had a non-QWERTY keyboard, but also had a color screen. The Razr V3 was so popular that it sold 130 million units during its lifetime, becoming the single most popular clamshell phone, a record which it still holds today.

    Nokia 3310 in Champagne

    I used the Nokia 3310 for approximately 3 years, the same for the Samsung T637, and I used the Razr V3 for about 2 years. Overall, this was three cell phones in seven years, or about 28 months each, which is close to the average that most use their cell phones before replacing them.

    Now, this all changed with my next phone, the iPhone, so let us look at that next by starting with my Launch Day/Pickup day experience.

    Launch Day/Pickup Day

    Front and back of the original iPhone from 2007
    Original iPhone front and back

    If you have been reading the blog for a while you may recognize the fact that I tend to try and get new iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches on the day that they are released. For the most part, I have been able to do so. One product that I did not get on launch day was the original iPhone, but it was not much after the launch that I got one.

    It was not that I was not interested in the phone, I absolutely was. However, I had not made up my mind as to whether or not to get one. Because of my indecision I did not go on launch day, June 29th, 2007. I actually went to the Apple store on the following day, June 30th, 2007. I was actually glad I did not go on launch day because from what the Apple Store employee told me, it was super busy. 

    I actually got up early to go to the Apple Store and wait. The Apple store that I go to now is much closer than the one I had to go to at that time, it was the only close Apple store. So, I made the drive. I arrived a few hours before the store opened, just to be on the safe side because I was not sure how many people may have been in line. When I got there I was not the first person in line, but the line was not that long. In fact, I ended up being the fourth person in line that day.

    The original iPhone came in two storage sizes, a 4GB model and an 8GB version. I opted for the 4GB model. I got this model for two reasons. The first was cost, which was $499, and after tax it came out to about $537. The second reason was that adding the iPhone would increase my cellular plan because an unlimited data plan was required. 

    Unlike today where the iPhone is on almost every carrier, the original iPhone was only available on AT&T. I had actually switched to AT&T a couple years before, so I did not have to worry about switching carriers and transferring phone numbers. 

    Let us now turn to the iPhone by stating to look at the design of the original iPhone.

    Design

    Photo of the Back of the original iPhone taken with an iPhone 13 Pro Max
    Photo of the Back of the original iPhone taken with an iPhone 13 Pro Max

    One of the aspects of the original iPhone that is iconic, is the design. The original iPhone had rounded corners, with a flat back that goes into the rounded corners. The back of the original iPhone was a combination of plastic and brushed aluminum. The plastic was black and was only covering the antenna to be allow the antennas to connect to the cell towers without any attenuation.

    This general shape has, for the most part, remained consistent and is the basis for all modern smartphones since 2007.  There have been different materials used, and various different thicknesses of the devices, but overall, it has remained very similar to the original. This was such a radical change that there have been only a few improvements to the overall design in the intervening 15 years. If you were to travel back and show someone an iPhone SE from 2022 they would easily be able to recognize it as such, just a more modern version, and with a larger screen. 

    The biggest change would be what features the original iPhone had on it.

    Features

    The original iPhone had only a few physical capabilities and connections. These features included:

    • 30-pin Dock Connector
    • A headphone jack
    • A camera
    • A microphone
    • A speaker
    • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
    • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi

    As you might expect, the original iPhone camera is no where near the quality of cameras when compared to today’s iPhones. Yet, back in 2007 the camera was an upgrade to other cell phones like the Razr v3.

    Side view of the original iPhone
    Side view of the original iPhone

    The headphone jack was very helpful if you wanted to listen to something without annoying others around you. You could use any headphones you wanted, but you could also use the included Apple headphones with microphone set. These headphones allowed you to control the playback of music by clicking on the volume up and down on the headphones. 

    Now that we have covered the features, let us look at what is arguably more important, the software.

    Software

    The form factor and physical features of the iPhone were not the only aspect that was radically different. What was even more radical was the entire software stack. The approach that Apple took with the software on the iPhone was different. Instead of building something entirely new, they took some of the foundations of OS X and then built an entirely new user interface and set of interactions on top of that base.

    Default iPhone software for iPhoneOS 3.1.3
    Default software for the original iPhone running iPhoneOS 3.1.3

    The original software for the iPhone was not called an operating system, as we do so today. Instead, it was being referred to as “firmware”, which is essentially the operating system for most devices. In reality, the two names are interchangeable, but back then Apple always referred to it as the firmware. The name of the firmware was called iPhoneOS. Regardless of what you name it, when you powered up the iPhone there were only sixteen applications for the entire system. The original list of applications were:

    • SMS
    • Calendar
    • Photos
    • Camera
    • YouTube
    • Stocks
    • Maps (powered by Google)
    • Weather
    • Clock
    • Calculator
    • Notes
    • Settings
    • Phone
    • Mail
    • Safari
    • iPod

    All of these apps, with the exclusion of YouTube are still on the iPhone today. Some have changed a bit, SMS is now Messages, Maps is now powered by Apple’s own product, iPod has been replaced by Music, and Settings has been renamed to System Preferences, but the remainders are all on the iPhone to this day. 

    I could easily go into each of the apps on the original iPhone, but I will not do, with the exception of a single app. The app I want to focus on is Safari.

    Safari

    At the original iPhone introduction Steve Jobs made sure to reiterate that the iPhone was a “breakthrough internet communicator”. This was not just because it was a phone, but because it included a web browser. That browser was Safari. The version of Safari included on the iPhone was not the slimmed down version of Safari, but the full version of Safari. This meant that you could view actual webpages and not a stripped down version of the pages. This was a fundamental shift in the way that people consumed the internet while on the go. 

    Before you could actually do anything though, you would need to activate the iPhone, so let us look at that now.

    Syncing and Activating

    Original iPhone showing the "Activating" message
    Original iPhone showing the “Activating” message

    Before you could actually use the iPhone you needed to activate the iPhone. This was done by plugging in the iPhone using the provided USB-A to 30-pin Dock connector to your Mac or PC. When you did this, iTunes would open. At this point, iTunes would walk you through connecting the iPhone and activating it with AT&T. Once it was activated you could then begin to use the phone or synchronize media to it.

    Syncing

    The original iPhone was a lot like an iPod, where it would need to be synchronized with a Mac or PC to be able to transfer media to the iPhone. The items that you could transfer included music, movies, podcasts, and even ringtones. 

    The original iPhone did have the iTunes Store on it. So you could purchase music, videos, and ringtones right on your iPhone. When you would next synchronize your iPhone with your Mac or PC your purchases would be transferred back to your computer for safe keeping.

    Once you had synchronized your device, you could start to use it. In order to access your iPhone, you would have to perform an iconic gesture, Swipe to Unlock. It is arguable but the iPhone’s Swipe to Unlock gesture was there for two reasons. One, because it looked cool, and second was to stop you from accidentally performing a task on the iPhone inadvertently.  The primary interaction point of the iPhone was, and remains, the screen. So, let us look at that now.

    Screen

    The original iPhone came with a glass front. The glass was a special type of glass, called Gorilla Glass. Gorilla Glass was designed by Corning to be tougher than regular glass and bit more scratch resistant. While glass is what we are all used to, the original iPhone prototypes had plastic screens. But while Steve Jobs was using the prototypes, the screen began to scratch when it came into contact with keys, so he told the team it needed to change. If you had a first-generation iPod nano you might be well aware of what can happen to a plastic screen, it scratches a lot easier. 

    The screen was a 3.5-inch diagonal screen with a resolution of 163 pixels per inch. This meant that the screen was non-retina, but this was a substantially larger screen than any other one on the market and would be great, particularly in widescreen, for playing videos on the screen.

    Let us now look at another interaction item, the keyboard.

    Keyboard

    The most notable feature that the iPhone ushered in, and that other manufactures would quickly adopt, was the elimination of the physical keyboard. Instead, the entire front of the iPhone was all glass. The benefit of the all-glass front is that the keyboard could be shown or hidden as needed. This was a genuine shift from the physical keyboards on any smart phones at the time. There were definitely some who were resistant to using a software keyboard, but the utility of being able to use the entire screen, and not having half the screen taken up by an immovable keyboard, outweighed the physical keyboard.

    Software keyboard on the original iPhone using the SMS app.
    Software keyboard on the original iPhone using the SMS app

    There was one feature that Apple included with the original iPhone that aided people with typing on glass.. That feature was autocorrect. Autocorrect had been available on the Mac of a long time. I remember that as I was typing away on the iPhone that it would fix most of the typos that I had. What I did not know at the time, but came to realize later, was that the iPhone keyboard would actually enlarge the target area for each key based on predicting what the system thought you wanted to type next. So, if you got close enough it would send that you actually tapped on the proper key. This was a nice little touch to the entire system.

    One of the most useful features of the iPhone was the always on connectivity, no matter where you were, so let us turn to Wi-Fi and Cellular next.

    Wi-Fi and Cellular

    It was only a few years before the iPhone, on July 21st, 1999 to be precise, where Apple introduced the first iBook with an Airport Wireless card. The inclusion of the AirPort Wireless card meant that you would not need to be plugged into ethernet in order to be able to connect to the internet, provided you had access to a wireless network  In those short eight years, wireless networks had become quite commonplace. In 2007, there were only three wireless standards, 802.11b (2.4GHz), 802.11a (5GHz), and 802.11g (2.4GHz).

    The original iPhone only supported the 2.4GHz networks, so 802.11b and 802.11g. At 54 megabits per second, the Wi-Fi speeds of 802.11g, the faster of the two supported networks, were plenty fast for the time. Honestly, either of the two wireless standards would definitely outpace the cellular service at the time. Speaking of cellular, let us move to that.

    Cellular

    We have become very accustom to being able to use an iPhone on almost any carrier almost anywhere in the world. That was definitely not the case 15 years ago with the original iPhone. There was only a single carrier, AT&T, and the iPhone initially launched only in the U.S. This agreement was an exclusive contract, meaning that you had to be an AT&T customer  in order to use an iPhone. 

    The iPhone came with 2G cellular connectivity. The maximum speed possibles with 2G is 384 kbit/s, which in today’s world is laughable, although depending on where you are it may seem like your speeds are that slow. Even though today the speeds would not be sustainable, having the ability to always be connected to a cellular network no matter where you were was a new and novel experience for many users.

    As you might expect, the iPhone was not free and would require a purchase. Let us see what the original iPhone cost.

    Pricing

    The original iPhone came in two storage sizes, 4GB and 8GB. The 4GB model was $499, and the 8GB model was $599. Those were the prices for the device and they required a 2-year contract. There were some people who switched. AT&T took a big risk partnering with Apple, but it definitely paid off for them given how many people switched.

    Part of the contract that you agreed to included an additional fee of $20 per month for unlimited 2G data. That means that you could use 1GB of data and it would only cost $20 per month. I am sure there were some that were hesitant about having to pay a fee, but I did not hesitate to pay it. Not just because I wanted the iPhone, but the idea of being able to download things no matter where I was at was very appealing. 

    It is hard to go back and think about how things were at the time, as compared to today, but sometimes it is a worthwhile exercise to partake in, just to try and remember how things used to be before the modern times. One of the things that the original iPhone could not do, but would eventually be able to do, was download apps. Let us look at third-party apps on the iPhone.

    Third-Party Apps (Or Lack there of)

    The original iPhone shipped with only built-in apps and no official way for third-parties to build applications for the platform. Apple did offer a solution. According to Steve Jobs at the announcement, it was a “sweet solution”. That solution was web apps. While there were some that did build web apps designed for the iPhone, there were not many. Despite the fact that there was no official software development kit, that would not arrive until the next year, that did not deter people from trying to reverse engineer the software to be able to run their own apps. 

    Updating the iPhone

    Beyond the physical device and its completely new design, there was another aspect to the entire system that Apple changed, and that was regarding software updates. Prior to the iPhone a cell phone manufacturer would create an update to a phone and it was up to the carrier’s discretion as to when to create updates. However, that is not how the iPhone was updated. Instead, Apple was in control of when the iPhone would get an update. 

    There may be many things that Android users can righty claim that they had first. However, there is no doubt that all smartphone users can thank Apple for. Let us now look at some critiques and criticism at the time of the launch.

    Reception

    The original iPhone was received mostly positively. The device was such a sea change that many, myself included, were merely enamored with what the original iPhone could do. When Apple announced the iPhone, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs had stated that they had hoped to sell one million iPhones by the end of September 2007, and to have 10 million iPhones sold by the end of 2008. 10 Million units for any product is considered a success. It took Apple a mere 74 days to sell its one million iPhone, see the Apple PR item at https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/09/10Apple-Sells-One-Millionth-iPhone/

    Just over 2 months from the iPhone going on sale, Apple made a decision to reduce the pricing of the 8GB iPhone model from $599 to $399. At the same time, they removed the 4GB model from sale. As an owner of the 4GB model I was a bit surprised that my less than three-month old iPhone was now completely obsoleted and no longer available for sale. But, overall, it did not bother me. I was happy with the iPhone as it was.  

    The price drop was not the last change for the original iPhone. In February 2008, Apple released a 16GB version of the iPhone for the same price as the original 4GB model, $499. By the time the original iPhone was replaced it had sold 6.1 million units. Needless to say, Apple easily hit their 10 million iPhone mark before the end of calendar year 2008.

    The iPhone was not universally seen as a great device, there were some that did think there were some issues with it. Let us look back at those next.

    Critiques and Criticisms

    Unlock Screen on the original iPhone running iPhoneOS 3.1.3
    Unlock Screen on the original iPhone running iPhoneOS 3.1.3

    When the iPhone was first released, not everybody was completely enamored with it. There were some that thought that it had no future and it was a folly for Apple to get into the cellphone market. 

    There were two main criticisms. The first, and biggest, critique was that the iPhone only supported 2G cellular, even though 3G connectivity was available. On one hand, this was legit criticism yet, in the overall scheme it was not. This is because in June of 2007 there were only 200 million 3G subscribers in the entire world, or 6.7% of the nearly 3 billion cellular phones in use at that time. 

    According to Comscore, in June 2007, for the entirety of the United States, there was only 16.7% of the population that was covered by 3G. See https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press-Releases/2008/09/US-Adoption-of-3G-Mobile-Devices. Therefore, in my opinion, Apple made the right tradeoff. Even in 2008, a year after the launch of the iPhone, 3G penetration was just over 28.4% in the United States. That means not even 1/3 of subscribers had the opportunity to get 3G. 

    The second criticism was the pricing. Today, we are used to paying for phones either all up-front or over the course of 12 to 24 months. However, that was not always the case. When cell phones were originally coming into fashion, and especially during the mid to late 2000s, it was very common for one to get an a phone with a heavy subsidy. This typically came in the form of contracts where the cell phone carrier would spread out the overall cost of the device over the length of the contract. This is what people had become accustomed to and the price tag of $499, or $599 seemed a bit high.

    While there was no direct subsidy for the original iPhone, one would be coming with its successor, but that is a whole separate story.

    Using the Original iPhone Today

    Sadly, the primary feature of the iPhone, the phone, can no longer be used because 2G cellular networks, which the device was based on, are no longer in service. Even the 3G networks, the successor to 2G, are being shut down. Even though it can no longer be used as a phone, if you plug in an iPhone into a modern Mac, it will still appear in Finder. You can still synchronize music, movies, tv shows, and apps to it. So, you could actually use the original iPhone as a 4GB iPod to this day. No, it will not support any streaming services, but if you synchronize music to it, it will work. I am not sure how much longer Apple will continue to support these older devices on modern operating systems, but as of this writing they are still supported on macOS 12.4.

    While I may not use my original iPhone every day, I do use my iPhone every singe day for multiple hours each day. I am constantly listening to music, audiobook, or podcasts on it. Beyond this, I am using various social media apps multiple times a day and do not even bat at an eye when switching between Wi-Fi and using 5G. Yes, I do notice the speed differences, but the fact that I can get just about anything at my fingertips is still an amazing thing to behold.

    Closing Thoughts

    The original iPhone will always hold a special place in my life. I distinctly remember the drive to the Apple Store, waiting in line, and subsequently setting up the iPhone, performing the initial synchronization, and even using the iPhone. It makes me smile even today when I think back at how I felt on June 30th, 2007 when I first started using the iPhone. 15 years later, I know I often take for granted the fact that I have been able to purchase a new iPhone each year. Furthermore, I also seem to forget just how incredible it is that 15 years later I am using a phone that was a radical shift in the technology world.

    I do not have my original 4GB iPhone, and this saddens me a bit. Despite this, I did buy another refurbished 4GB original iPhone. Even though I only had 4GB of storage on my iPhone, it was still a fantastic device. There are many who might claim that some technology or product is “revolutionary”. Often these people are mistaken. However, in the case of the iPhone when people said the iPhone was going to change everything were absolutely correct and how it changed everything cannot be understated.

    The original iPhone was the start of a significant shift in technology and it has shaped significant aspects of today’s modern society. The iPhone had pushed the entire technology industry to shift in major ways. The iPhone showed that there was an appetite for a smart phone with always on cellular connectivity, and it would not only be the techies who would buy it , but the general public would as well. 

    I know for me the iPhone is probably the one piece of technology that has had the most profound impact on everything that I do today. It was the device that  started the app revolution, but more importantly spurred the cellular providers to keep increasing capacity to accommodate subscribers. I do not know where we would be if the iPhone was not the massive success that it has turned out to be.

    It has been 15 years since the original iPhone got into the hands of consumers. I would love to see Apple bring back a special edition iPhone, maybe for the 25th anniversary, that has the same shape and design as the original iPhone, but bigger with the latest internals. I doubt that Apple would do that, because they do not look back at the past, only the future. But, it would be an interesting thing to see.

    Original post: https://www.waynedixon.com/2007/07/16/iphone/

  • Apple’s Peek Performance Event Announcements

    Apple’s Peek Performance Event Announcements

    Today Apple held their “Peek Performance” event. The event itself was an hour long and included five product announcements including updates to existing products, including the iPhone, iPad Air, and iPhone SE. There were two brand new products introduced as well, the MacStudio and Studio Display. The releases go up in terms of amount of changes as the post goes on.

    iPhone 13

    iPhone 13 lineup in Green

    The iPhone 13 line was the simplest of the updates, a new color, Green. There are actually two different shades of green, one for the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13, and another shade for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. For the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 is called “Green”. The color for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max is called “Alpine Green”.

    These two shades of green are reminiscent of the “Midnight Green” that was present on iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

    These phones will be available for pre-order on Friday, March 11th, starting at 5 am Pacific Time and delivery will begin on Friday, March 18th.

    Source: Apple News

    iPad Air

    The iPad Air got an update today as well. The 5th generation of the iPad Air is a mix of the iPad Pro and the iPad mini. It still has the same physical form factor, including Touch ID in the Home button at the top. The iPad Air still supports the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. But there have been some internal changes.

    It has the same design as the previous iPad Air model, but it includes an M1 processor like the iPad Pro. The M1 is an 8-core CPU, 8-Core GPU, includes Apple’s Neural Engine, and has a whopping 8GB of RAM. This is double the RAM of the previous iPad Air, which only had 4GB.

    There are three big big changes. The cellular models now support 5G, just like the cellular versions of iPad Pro and iPad mini. The second big change is the Face ID camera, which is a 12MP sensor. It now supports Center Stage, like the iPad Pros and MacBook Pros.

    5th Generation Apple iPad Air

    The 5th Generation iPad Air comes in 5 colors, Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, Blue. The only color that is the same as the previous models is the Space Gray, all of the others are new colors. Silver is replaced by Starlight, Rose Gold is replaced by Pink, Purple replaces Green, and the new Blue replaces the Sky Blue.

    The storage remains the same at 64GB or 256GB. The 64GB Wi-Fi only model is $599, the 256GB Wi-Fi model is $749. The Cellular models cost $749 for the 64GB model and $899 for the 256GB Model. This is a $20 increase for the cellular models.

    You can order the new iPad Air starting Friday, March 11th, starting at 5 am Pacific Time and delivery will begin on Friday, March 18th.

    Source: Apple News

    iPhone SE

    The iPhone SE (3rd generation) is a bit more subtle upgrade. The form factor remains the same, as does the size, and the home button. The iPhone SE now includes an A15 processor, like the iPhone 13 line. This makes sense given the last update to the product was released in 2020. Beyond the inclusion of the A15, the iPhone SE also now supports 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).

    iPhone SE 3rd Generation

    The iPhone SE comes in three colors, Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED. You can now choose between 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB models. The 256GB option is new this year. The prices are $429, $479, and $579 respectively.

    Just like the iPhone and iPad Air, you can order the new iPhone SE starting Friday, March 11th, starting at 5 am Pacific Time and delivery will begin on Friday, March 18th.

    Source: Apple News

    That covers the existing products, let us now turn to the new products, Mac Studio and Studio Display.

    Mac Studio and Studio Display

    Apple Mac Studio and Studio Display

    The Mac Studio and Studio Display were designed to work together. We will cover each in turn, starting with the Mac Studio.

    The Mac Studio is an entirely new product. It has a similar form factor to the Mac mini, except in its height. The dimensions of the Mac Studio are 7.7 inches (19.7cm) by 7.7 inches (19.7cm), by 3.7 inches (9.5cm) tall. This is where the similarities between the Mac mini and Mac Studio end. Both the outside and inside of the Mac Studio are different.

    Mac Studio - Front View

    External

    The Mac Studio is is the same width as the Mac mini, yet it manages to pack in two more ports in the back. Specifically it has 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2 USB-A ports, a single 10Gbps ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The front of the Mac Studio has three ports, an SDXC card slot and either Two USB-C or Two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Which one of the ports is on the front depends on the internals.

    Mac Studio - Back

    Internals

    The design of the Mac Studio is dictated by processor. The Mac Studio has two options, the existing M1 Max, and the all new M1 Ultra. You have your choice of 64GB The M1 Max is the same ones that are available with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. There are two M1 Max options, 10-Core CPU/24-Core GPU or 10-Core CPU/32-Core GPU. Again, these are the same options available on the latest MacBook Pro models. You can choose between either 32GB or 64GB of unified memory.

    M1 Ultra

    Apple M1 Ultra Chip

    The M1 Ultra is effectively two M1 Max chips that have a custom interconnect that Apple calls “UltraFusion”, between the two processor dies. This interconnect allows the two processors to communicate with minimal latency and both processors can access the same shared memory. The M1 Ultra appears to apps as a single processor, so there is no need for developers to make any special accommodations with their apps to take advantage of the power and processing capabilities of the M1 Ultra.

    Since the M1 Ultra is effectively two M1 Max chips the core count is doubled. This means that the processor comes in two flavors. One with has a 20-Core CPU, 48-Core GPU, and 32-Core Neural Engine, and another that is a 20-Core CPU, 64-Core GPU, and 32-Core Neural Engine.

    Double the processors results in being able to address twice as much memory, so the M1 can support 64GB or 128GB of memory.

    Configurations

    The Mac Studio is only available in Silver. The pricing on this starts at $1999 for the 10-core CPU/24-Core GPU M1 Max with 32GB of memory and 512GB of storage and $3999 for the 20-core M1 Ultra. You can configure up to 8TB of storage.

    The Mac Studio can be ordered today, but shipping times depend on the configuration.

    Studio Display

    Apple Studio Display

    Apple has long had standalone displays. However, that has not always been the case. In fact from 2016 to 2019, Apple did not have its own standalone display. Instead it partnered with LG to provide the Ultrafine 4k and 5k displays. When these were introduced there were some interference problems with the displays and Wi-Fi. In June of 2019 Apple introduced a standalone display, the Pro Display XDR. While this was great for certain groups, it is not affordable for most people. The Pro Display XDR starts at $4999 (without a stand), and is more like $5999 with the stand.

    Today Apple introduced a more affordable standalone monitor, the Studio Display. The Studio Display is an all-aluminum design 27-inch 5K Monitor. The Studio Display is not simply a monitor. Much like Apple’s previous standalone displays, it includes some connectivity. Specifically it has Thunderbolt # port for connecting to a supported Mac, or iPad. Along with the Thunderbolt 3 port for connecting, there are three USB-C ports that can connect at 10Gbps, so you can connect peripherals to the display.

    The Studio Display is actually powered by an A13 Bionic processor. The A13 Bionic enables for some features that are currently only available on iPads or MacBook Pros.

    The Studio Display includes a “High-fidelity six-speaker system with force-cancelling woofers”, support for wide stereo sound. Beyond Wide Stereo sound, it also supports Spatial Audio when playing music, as well as with video, if the video supports Dolby Atmos.

    Much like the Pro Display XDR there is a camera built into the display. The one included is a 12MP ultra-wide camera with a 122 degree field of view with an ƒ/2.4 aperture. These the same specifications as the one in the 5th generation iPad Air. This means that the Studio Display can support Center Stage.

    The Studio Display is designed for professionals and can be used as a reference monitor. It includes most of the same reference modes as the Pro Display XDR. The available reference modes are:

    • Apple Display (P3-600 nits)
    • HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886)
    • NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C)
    • PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU)
    • Digital Cinema (P3-DCI)
    • Digital Cinema (P3-D65)
    • Design and Print (P3-D50)
    • Photography (P3-D65)
    • Internet and Web (sRGB)

    The Studio Display has two different screen options, standard and Nano-Texture. There are also three stand options to choose from. The first is the Tilt-adjustable stand, which has a 30 degree adjustability. The second is the Tilt and Height Adjustable stand, which has the same adjustability but can be adjusted up to 105mm. The final option is a VESA compatible bracket so you can mount it on an arm.

    Apple Studio Display Stand Options

    The Studio Display is available to order today. It starts at $1599 for the standard glass and either the Tilt-adjustable stand or VESA mount adapter. The Tilt and height-adjustable stand is available for $1999. The Nano-texture glass version will cost $1899 and $2299 respectively. These can be ordered today and delivery starts Friday, March 18th. However, as of this writing the delivery dates have slipped to March 24th as being the earliest delivery date, and April is for most configurations.

    Source: Apple News, Apple News

    Other News

    There are a couple of other things to cover. First, Apple has removed the 27-inch iMac from sale. The intended replacement is the Mac Studio and Studio Display. The Intel Mac mini and Mac Pro are now the only Intel-based machines available from Apple.

    Along with the Mac Studio and Studio Display Apple also released matching Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Pad, a Magic Trackpad, and a Magic Mouse. These are designed to match the Studio Display. They are priced at $199 for the Magic Keyboard, $149 for the Trackpad, and $99 for the Magic Mouse. These accessories are available to order today.

    Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse in Black and Silver

    Closing Thoughts

    There were a ton of things announced today, including the new Green colors for the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13, and Alpine Green for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. These are available for pre-order on Friday at 5 am Pacific Time.

    The 3rd generation iPhone SE keeps the same form factor, but adds an A15 processor and 5G cellular connectivity. There are three colors, Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED. The price has increased $20, probably to accommodate the price difference for the 5G cellular modems. You can order on Friday starting at $429.

    The 5th Generation iPad Air now includes an M1 processor with 5G for cellular models. This now includes 8GB of RAM and is available in five colors; Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue. The iPad Air is still available in 64GB and 256GB Models starting at $599. You can order the iPad Air starting on Friday at 5am Pacific Time.

    The biggest announcements are the Mac Studio and the Studio Display. The Mac Studio is a new Mac that supports either the M1 Max or the new M1 Ultra. The Mac Studio starts at $1999 for a 10-core CPU/24-Core GPU and 512GB of storage.

    The Studio Display is a new 5K Display that can be used as a reference monitor for some profiles. The Studio Display includes 1 Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to a device and you can use any of the three USB-C ports to connect peripherals. The Studio Display has a 12MP Camera that supports Center Stage and support for spatial audio. The Studio Display starts at $1599. Both the Mac Studio and Studio Display are available to order today.

    I will post how I did with my predictions later this week. What do you think about today’s announcements?

  • Tap to Pay Coming to a Business near you, Later This Year

    Tap to Pay Coming to a Business near you, Later This Year

    The Covid-19 pandemic has changed things in many ways, including accelerating trends that had already begun. One of the trends that had begun prior to the pandemic was contactless payments. Apple Pay has been available since 2014 with the release of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

    Even though Apple Pay has been quite successful, not everybody can use Apple Pay. There is an industry standard that many cards have incorporated that allow you tap on a payment terminal instead of having to insert your card and wait for authorization.

    Yesterday, Apple announced that the ability to use contactless payments is coming to some models of iPhone. That feature is called “Tap to Pay”. Tap to Pay will allow businesses to accept payments by using the Near Field Communication, or NFC, chip that is in an iPhone XS or newer.

    “Tap to Pay on iPhone will work with contactless credit and debit cards from leading payment networks, including American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa.”

    This is not an automatic feature for businesses because it will require a “partner-enabled” iOS app as well. The first partner that Apple will be working with is Stripe.

    Here is the best feature for businesses: “No additional hardware is needed to accept contactless payments through Tap to Pay on iPhone.”. This means that as long as the business has an iPhone XS or newer, it should work.

    Apple's "Tap to Pay" showing off a payment with an iPhone using NFC.

    Ultimately, this means that if you have a contactless credit, or debit, card and the merchant has an iPhone with a Stripe-enabled app that supports “Tap to Pay”, you will be able to simply tap your credit or debit card and pay for goods and services. Similarly, you can also use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay using its NFC chip.

    The new feature will roll out in the United States first, and possibly other countries later on. Apple has stated that other payment providers. Tap to Pay will also be rolling out to Apple’s own stores later this year.

    Source: Apple

  • The iPhone Introduction: 15 Years Later

    The iPhone Introduction: 15 Years Later

    “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything”. When someone states something like the previous quote it is often seen as hyperbole. However, in the case of this exact quote, it was quite prophetic and not hyperbole at all. Although it would take a bit of time for it to catch on.

    This is the opening line to a keynote that introduced a device that would change the way that people use technology. The keynote was for the MacWorld San Francisco that took place 15 years ago today, on January 9th, 2007.

    I have not been lucky enough to attend any of Apple’s keynotes. Instead, I would watch them at home. I distinctly remember feeling that this would be a different one, and indeed it was. As Steve Jobs stated, “Today we are introducing three revolutionary products, A Widescreen iPod, Revolutionary mobile phone, and an internet communicator…Are you getting it, these are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone”.

    Apple introduced the iPhone well before it was to be on sale. The iPhone did not go on sale until June 29th, 2007. The rationale for announcing it so early in order to avoid any information being leaked. Jobs even stated as much in the keynote. For years there had been rumors that Apple was building a phone. In fact, Apple started by making a tablet, but they could not get the technology to scale properly, so instead they turned to making a phone.

    Was the iPhone the first Smartphone, no, that would likely go to the Palm or Blackberry. Yet, the iPhone has indisputably been one of the most popular lines of devices ever produced. The introduction of the iPhone sparked the modern cell phone revolution. Many of the paradigms and interaction methods introduced with the iPhone remain to this day, including swiping and pinch to zoom, just to name a couple of examples.

    The iPhone not only changed the way we interact with mobile devices, but it also brought a much more prevalent and larger revolution, the mobile app revolution. Again, the iPhone was not the first to have apps, but it was the device that help usher in a new digital economy. While it is entirely possible to use a mobile device using only the provided applications, it is very very likely that every smartphone user has installed at least one additional app to their phone.

    Skeptics

    At the time of its launch, there were many who did not think as though Apple could pull it off. For instance, Nokia’s Chief Strategist at the time, Anssi Vanjoki stated:

    The development of mobile phones will be similar in PCs. Even with the Mac, Apple has attracted much attention at first, but they have still remained a niche manufacturer. That will be in mobile phones as well.

    Another example is from Palm CEO Ed Colligan, he said

    We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.

    The last example is from Research in Motion’s Co-CEO of Blackberry, Jim Balsillie,

    It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers. But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.

    At the same Macworld event Steve Jobs stated that Apple was hoping to sell 10 million iPhones in all of 2008, which would have been one percent of the overall market at the time. It took Apple just over 74 days to sell their one millionth iPhone. Apple did reach their goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, when they sold 6.9 million iPhones in their 4th fiscal quarter, alone, which was from July to September 2008.

    Personal Journey with iPhone

    As for my own personal journey with the iPhone, that is an easy one. I did not buy an iPhone on launch day. I actually waited until the second day, June 30th. While there was definitely less fanfare that day, it was actually probably better because I was the fourth person in line when I went to get mine. I can clearly recall the delight of being able to use a whole new type of cell phone. My Motorola Razr V3 was still a great phone, but the iPhone was different.

    Since that day, I have only had an iPhone as my preferred mobile device. While I would prefer not to give up my iPad, if I had to choose only one device between the iPhone and the iPad, I would choose the iPhone every time. My iPhone the device I use the most. It is usually not more than a few feet away from me at any point throughout the day. The iPhone has come a long way in the last 15 years. Will the iPhone last forever, no, nothing ever does. But I am sure it still has a long life left in it.

    We now have many things that were not present on the first iPhone. Things like Copy and Paste, Multitasking, and vastly superior cameras and even video recording capabilities. The original iPhone did not even have 3G capability, that would come in 2008 with the release of the iPhone 3G. It is strange to think that the iPhone that begun the entire journey of modern smart phones can no longer be used as a cell phone. Even its four successors, the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S will no longer be capable of being used more cellular connectivity as of July 1st, 2022.

    While there are many who prefer to use Android-based phones, they cannot argue that the iPhone is the device that pushed Google to create Android. I do not think that today’s modern technological landscape would be nearly where it is today if it were not for the iPhone. It was, and remains, a truly revolutionary device that has transformed an incalculable number of ways that we do things. It will be interesting to see the next 15 years of the iPhones life will be like. It is possible that the iPhone may be a secondary market and something else may take over.

    Original iPhone as compared to an iPhone 13 Pro Max
    Original iPhone as compared to an iPhone 13 Pro Max

    You can watch the full Macworld keynote on YouTube.

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: A Review

    iPhone 13 Pro Max: A Review

    When Apple introduced the original iPhone in 2007, no one outside of Apple knew how often there would be a new iPhone model. The cadence turned out be every single year. Since 2007, they have introduced at least one new iPhone every year, with some years having more models than others. On average though, it is closer to two per year, with the last two years being the outliers with five iPhones introduced throughout 2020, and four new iPhones this year. Each new iPhone brings its own set of features and enhancements.

    Even though Apple has an increasing number of products and services in its repertoire, with desktops, laptops, iPads, and accessory hardware, and an ever increasing number of services, the biggest product for Apple is the iPhone. The iPhone is the largest portion of all of Apple’s revenue and since the fourth quarter of 2009 this has been the case. At that point, the iPhone overtook the Mac for the largest percentage of revenue for Apple and has remained there since then.

    2021 actually marks the 15th year of iPhone releases. This year’s iPhone 13 lineup make it a total of 33 different phone models. The iPhone has seen its share of changes over the last 15 years, and the biggest amongst these was not the flat sides of the iPhone 4 in 2010, or even the first new screen size with the iPhone 5 in 2012. The biggest change came two years later.

    Starting in 2014 Apple eschewed the standard single screen size for its flagship phones by introducing two brand new sizes. These were the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. These phones set a demarcation point that marked a shift to use larger screen sizes Each subsequent year introduced either two or three discrete screen sizes.

    As has likely been the case with many people, how I use the iPhone has changed over the years. At first its primary usage was as a phone and music player. Soon, it shifted to being a game and app platform, music player, and social media consumption device. My usage of the iPhone has not expanded too much beyond that, except for the fact that it is also the camera that I use most often.

    I have been lucky enough to be able to purchase a new phone every year since the original, and I have either picked up or received it on release day. From 2007 to 2013, the model of phone, storage size, and color have all varied, depending on the year. Here is a complete list of all of the iPhone that I have purchased over the years:q

    Model Color Size
    iPhone 4GB
    iPhone 3G Black 16GB
    iPhone 3GS Black 16GB
    iPhone 4 Black 32GB
    iPhone 4S Black 32GB
    iPhone 5 Space Gray 32GB
    iPhone 5s Space Gray 32GB
    iPhone 6 Plus Space Gray 64GB
    iPhone 6s Plus Space Gray 128GB
    iPhone 7 Plus Space Gray 128GB
    iPhone X Space Gray 128GB
    iPhone XS Max Space Gray 128GB
    iPhone 11 Pro Max Graphite 256GB
    iPhone 12 Pro Max Pacific Blue 256GB
    iPhone 13 Pro Max Graphite 512GB

    Since I upgrade every year, I am not on a typical upgrade path. Most people do not upgrade every year. When the iPhone was first released it had subsidies from the carriers, so It is more likely that they upgrade their iPhone every two or three years. Now though most people keep their iPhones for a longer amount of time, typically for two years, but possibly three to four years.

    As you can see I typically opt for Black, Space Gray, or Graphite. With the introduction of the iPhone X in 2017, the phone color itself became less important to me because the bezel on all of the phones was the same color, black.

    Last year I purchased an iPhone 12 Pro Max in Pacific Blue. This was the first departure from the Space Gray, Black, and Graphite choices I made previously. The reason I opted for the Pacific Blue is two fold. The first is because the color was a dark shade of blue that I did not mind. The second is that it is getting handed down to someone else, who had some input on the color choice and if I didn’t like the color it would be likely gust I would only be using it for a year,

    The iPhone 13 Pro models come in four colors, Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue. I thought about getting the Sierra Blue, but the product photos indicated that the phone was a bright blue, and it looked to be a bit too pastel for my liking, so this year I opted to go with the trusty Graphite.

    As you can see the last few years I decided to get 256GB of storage. This is generally enough storage space for my needs. But this year I moved up the storage to 512GB of storage. The reason for this is future proofing, not necessarily for myself, because it is quite likely I will end up buying a new phone next year and the iPhone 13 Pro Max will get handed down to someone else, and they will continue to use it until it is their turn for another handed down phone.


    Picking Up the iPhone

    Given the times that we live in, I debated on doing delivery or an in-store pickup. Last year I opted for delivery. The downside of this is that there is no way to know when my phone would actually be delivered. If I recall properly, it was almost 5pm when it was delivered last year, so instead I opted for in-store pickup. I got the earliest pickup time possible, so I would have a ton of time to do the actual setup of the phone.

    Given that this is the 15th year that iPhones have been released, the physical Apple Stores have a quick and orderly process for being able to get everyone through the store. Part of the quick process is that they were not allowing any setup of phones in the store. This meant that they could get more people through the pickup process even quicker because they would not be staying in the store very long,

    If you want to know how popular picking up an iPhone is, at the store I picked up my iPhone there were over 800 in-store pickups for launch day, and that was just what already scheduled. They still had slots open for those who wanted to see if they could manage to get a phone on launch day. Many were able to, but, as you might expect, there was a limited supply and limited quantities of phones to purchase on launch day.

    This is not my first time picking up a phone from the Apple Store, so I knew what to expect. From the time I entered to the time I left it was a total of 5 minutes, from start to finish. So, it was definitely orderly. Next, let us look at setting up the device.


    Setup

    When you get a new iPhone, you will need to do the initial setup. If you are buying a new iPhone for the first time, and do not have any Apple devices, then you can do the setup as a new phone. Even if you have had an iPhone previously, this is always an option.

    However, most opt to transfer the information from their old phone to their new phone. There are a few different approaches to restoring data onto your new iPhone. These options include:

    1. Restoring from an iCloud Backup.
    2. Performing a device to device transfer.
    3. Restore using an encrypted backup from your computer.

    Each of these options has its own benefits and downsides.

    iCloud Backup

    It is likely that many users restore using their iCloud Backup. This is the method that usually takes the least amount of time, which is a plus. However, you do need to re-download all of the apps and media that were previously on your phone. So this can take a while, however you will be able to use your new device much faster, even if you have to wait for the apps and media to download.

    Device to Device Transfer

    A device to device transfer is a newer option where you scan a code that will pair your two devices and transfer all of your data from your old iPhone to your new iPhone. The data includes all of the apps, media, photos, and app data. The biggest downside of this method is that it can take quite a while to transfer the data, depending on the amount of data on your old iPhone. While you are transferring data, you cannot use either device, so your old iPhone will be out of commission until it finishes.

    Encrypted Backup

    The encrypted backup is the oldest and least used method. This method is very similar to the Device to Device transfer, but requires a Mac or Windows PC to transfer the data. Along with this, you need enough space on the device to do a full backup of your old iPhone.

    Those are the available options for restoring your iPhone. You can, of course, start completely new with your iPhone as well, if that makes more sense for you.

    How I transferred my data

    I ultimately ended up doing the third option, restoring an encrypted backup. Initially I had started doing a Device-to-Device Transfer, but the estimated time started at 2 hours, but quickly jumped to 7 hours and was staying there. Instead of waiting out that length of time, I opted to do a restore from an encrypted backup.

    I was going to do another backup of my iPhone before starting the restore, but the backup I had was from the night before, and anything that would not be updated could be replicated again. The initial restore that I had done failed, and this was after two and a half hours of attempting to restore. I then attempted to do another restore. This one too also took approximately two and a half hours, but did finish properly.

    One thing I would like to see with this approach is an estimated time until finished. Even if it is not 100% accurate, even an estimate would be helpful. There is an indicator within Finder, but it is a simple progress indicator and does not have any indicator for how much time is remaining until the restore is complete.

    Once I had the iPhone up and running, it was time to actually use the device. The first feature we will cover, is definitely one that you cannot miss, ProMotion.


    ProMotion

    One of the more prominent features of the iPhone 13 is ProMotion. ProMotion is not a new feature to Apple’s ecosystem. ProMotion first appeared on the 3rd generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the 1st generation 11-inch iPad Pro, both introduced in May of 2018. However, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are the first iPhones to have a ProMotion display.

    ProMotion is a technology that can intelligently adapt the refresh rate of the screen, depending on the content that is currently being displayed. In terms of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the refresh rate can range from 10 Hz to 120Hz. This adjustment is done automatically depending on the action being taken. For instance, if you are scrolling the refresh rate will go up to 120Hz. Conversely, when you are not scrolling and you are just reading content, the refresh rate will reduce down to 10Hz. If you are watching a movie, the rate should be around 30Hz, but while playing a game it may be 60Hz, if the game is designed to run at that frame rate.

    When you first see ProMotion on the iPhone 13 Pro Max it may be a bit jarring. For me, at least, this was the case. What I find strange though, is that I do not have any issues with ProMotion on the iPad Pro. I am not sure if it is due to being acclimated to ProMotion on the larger screen and not yet being accustomed to seeing it on the smaller screen.

    ProMotion does make some people ill, or have some other sort of side effects. If you need to disable it, you can do so by using the following steps:

    1. Open Settings.
    2. Scroll down to “Accessibility”.
    3. Tap on “Accessibility”.
    4. Locate the “Motion” Accessibility setting.
    5. Tap on “Motion” to open the Motion-specific settings.
    6. Locate the “Limit Frame Rate” setting.
    7. Tap on the toggle next to “Limit Frame Rate” to disable ProMotion.

    When you disable ProMotion the frame rate will be limited to 60 frames per second, or 60Hz. This should help reduce the sickness that some experience when using ProMotion.

    Upon first realizing what ProMotion is doing, you may think that the constant switching of frame rates might use more battery, where in fact, it can actually save battery power, because the screen does not need to be refreshed as frequently. And since the screen is one of the biggest power draws on an iPhone, instead of refreshing at a constant rate, the adaptive rates of ProMotion will ultimately preserve battery life.

    Not all apps will be able to take advantage of the full 120Hz refresh rate right out of the box, some app developers will need to add support for the screen resolution in order for their apps to be able to take full advantage of the technology,

    ProMotion should make a significant change for many users, particular if you want to be able to view 120Hz videos that you have recorded. On the topic of battery, let us look at that next.


    Battery

    One of the areas of an iPhone that might, or might not, change between each version of a device is the amount of battery life. Of course everyone’s experience will differ depending on what the user does with their iPhone. Games will naturally use more battery power, as will using cellular data.

    It is Apple’s intention to be able to have at least the same amount of battery life as the previous year’s phones. This is the case this year as it has been for every previous release. This year’s entire line of iPhone 13 models have seen improved battery length. Here are the reported battery lengths (in hours) according to Apple:

    Model Video Video (Streamed) Audio
    iPhone 12 mini 15 10 50
    iPhone 12 17 11 65
    iPhone 12 Pro 17 11 65
    iPhone 12 Pro Max 20 12 80
    iPhone 13 Mini 17 13 55
    iPhone 13 19 15 75
    iPhone 13 Pro 22 20 75
    iPhone 13 Pro Max 28 25 95

    As the tables show, the improvements range from 10% for the iPhone 12 mini for audio playback to 108% improvement in the iPhone 13 Pro Max streamed video playback length. Of course these numbers will vary, but even if the iPhone 13 Pro Max only gets 20 hours of video playback, that is still a significant improvement over the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

    Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, not everyone upgrades their phone every year. Therefore, if you are upgrading from an older device, say an iPhone XS or earlier, the battery life improvements will be significant over your current experience.

    Battery life is not the only change, a much bigger change has been the Cameras. Let us take a look at those changes next.


    Cameras

    As mentioned earlier, 2016 marked a big turning point in the iPhone. Beyond screen sizes there was another major change that took place that year, one that focused on the camera that were in the iPhone. It is not that the camera was not important prior to 2014, but it was not the highest priority and not much effort was put into making sure that the camera was the best it could be. The increased size of the phones did allow more that just additional screen real estate. The increased size also allowed for larger chips, additional battery, which all means more space for cameras lenses.

    The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus began a trend for the iPhone where the camera would bugle outside of the back of the iPhone. The reason that this was needed was to allow the camera to be able to improve. If Apple had decided to keep the camera lens flush with back of the iPhone, the camera would likely not be able to improve a whole lot just due to limited space due to the depth of the phone.

    At the time there were many who thought that the camera protruding was not a good idea because the phone would not be completely flat when it was on a surface. For any though, it is not a problem because they put their iPhones in a case, and a almost every case would protrude just beyond the camera lens. The camera bulge, while seen as a negative to many, ultimately lead to the cameras we have today, which are absolutely fantastic.

    One of the biggest uses of the iPhone, for me anyway, is as a camera. I know I am not alone in this. My biggest use for the camera is taking pictures of nature. I also use the camera to take pictures of items that I review. Therefore, I always want to have the best camera possible. The iPhone Pro Max will likely always have the best camera available on an iPhone, regardless of the year.

    The camera on the iPhone 13 makes a number of improvements over the iPhone 12 line of cameras.

      iPhone 12 Pro Max iPhone 13 Pro Max
    Telephoto ƒ/2.2 aperture ƒ/2.8 aperture
    Wide ƒ/1.6 aperture ƒ/1.5 aperture
    Ultra Wide ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view ƒ/1.8 aperture and 120° field of view

    The camera on the iPhone 13 is an improvement in many ways. If you compare the two tables above, you can see that the Wide and Ultra Wide cameras both have lower apertures. When it comes to cameras, the lower the aperture the more light that is able to enter the lens. Subsequently the more light means that pictures should be a bit better and have a bit less distortion, or noise, in the picture.

    • Picture of a lake taken with an iPhone 12 Pro Max
    • Picture of a Maple tree taken with an iPhone 12 Pro Max
    • Picture of a leaf with dew taken with an iPhone 12 Pro Max with 2.5x zoom
    • Picture of a lake taken with an iPhone 13 Pro Max
    • Picture of a Maple tree taken with an iPhone 12 Pro Max
    • Picture of a leaf with dew taken with an iPhone 12 Pro Max with 3x zoom

    The aperture on the Telephoto lens has gone from 2.2 to 2.8. This means that less light will be able to enter into the lens, so when you are in a low light situation the results may not be as good as you might hope. But you likely won’t be using the telephoto lens at night, at least not without a lot of light.

    even though the aperture is not as good as the iPhone 12 Pro Max, there is a good trade off for this. The telephoto lens now has a 3x zoom, which is the equivalent of a 77mm lens. This compares to the 65mm equivalent, with the 2.5x optical zoom on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

    In practice, it is not likely that you will need the telephoto lens while in low light. If you do use it, you may notice a bit more grain and the zoomed in photos may be less clear. Overall though, I think that this is a very worthwhile trade off to make.

    Cinematic Video

    One of the features of the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the new “Cinematic Video”. Cinematic Video is a new feature that can allow you to create videos much like larger and more professional cameras. Cinematic Video will allow you to add depth of field effects to your videos.

    With Cinematic Video you are able to set your desired ƒ stop, between 2.0 and 16, with the default of 2.8. When you switch the ƒ stop the amount of blur of the background will change. The lower the ƒ stop the more blur. Similarly, you can also adjust the exposure for the video. This range is for the exposure can be between -2.0 and 2.0.

    When you select the ƒ stop for the background blur, or for exposure, this data will be saved with the video. This data is not baked into the video, but instead it can be adjusted later so you can get just the right effect that you are going for while you are in the post-production phase of your video editing.

    In order to use Cinematic Video, you will need to choose Cinematic Video mode in the carousel. Once you have selected this mode you can make the adjustments to the depth of field and the exposure by tapping on the arrow button to expand the options. Here you will find both of the buttons. Tapping on either of the will allow you to make the necessary adjustments for the selected option.

    Here is a video example of some Cinematic video that show the focus changing between two Lego minifigs.

    After you have taken your Cinematic Video, you may need to do some editing. While the iPhone 13 models are the only devices which can take Cinematic Video, you are not limited to editing Cinematic Video on your device. You can use any of the following devices for editing including:

    • iPhone XR, iPhone XS or later
    • iPad Air 3rd generation or later
    • iPad Pro 12.9-inch 3rd generation or later
    • iPad Pro 11-inch 1st generation or later
    • iPad mini 5th generation or later

    Complete instructions for Cinematic Video can be found on Apple’s support site. Cinematic Video is not the only new Camera mode, let us look at the next mode, Macro Mode.

    Macro Mode

    The 3x Zoom Telephoto lens allows for a new mode for photos, called Macro Mode. Macro Mode will allow you to more easily take Macro photographic pictures. This mode is not one that you can manually trigger, it is an automatic mode that the iPhone 13 Pro Max will switch to if an object is detected and if you are extremely close to the object.

    When the iPhone 13 Pro Max goes into Macro photography mode, the screen will switch focus to Macro mode. What is actually occurring is that the lens it adjusting its focus in order to be able to capture the detail. When the iPhone 13 Pro Max enters into Macro Mode you will be able to take photos that are super close. Normally when you would do this, the resulting photos might be blurry, but not with Macro photography mode. Instead, they subject of the photo will be very much in focus. Here are a few examples of the results of Macro photography mode.

    One of the downsides of Macro photography is that there is no way to identify which photos were taken using Macro mode. The only way to be able to tell is by looking at the Exchangeable image file, or EXIF, data. From what I can tell, any photos that are Macro should be 77mm with an ƒ stop of 1.5.

    Macro photography mode is not the last camera change, there is one more, called Photographic Styles.

    Photographic Styles

    The iPhone’s camera is capable of being able to take some fantastic photos, without any sort of manual processing or any adjustments at all. Despite this, everyone has their own preferred look for photos. If you do perform some editing after the fact you may have a standard look that you attempt to go for with each picture. With the new Photographic Style, you can possibly save some post-processing.

    Photographic Styles are a means of being able to automatically have each photo you take have the same overall style. There are five different styles to choose from. These are:

    • Standard
    • Rich Contrast
    • Vibrant
    • Warm
    • Cool

    Each of these styles has its own look to them. These looks are accomplished by altering two different values. These values are tone and warmth. The tone and warmth values are modified from the default value of “0” in order create each of the styles. For example, the “Rich Contrast” style has a -50 Tone, and Warmth of 0, while the “Warm” style has a Tone value of 0, and a Warmth value of +50. Standard, has a value of 0 for tone and 0 for warmth.

    Photographic Styles are not filters that are applied after the fact. Instead, the style is applied to each of the numerous individual photos that are taken and combined to create the final overall picture.

    You can choose your default preferred style by performing the following steps:

    1. Open Settings.
    2. Scroll down to the “Camera” settings.
    3. Tap on “Camera” to open the settings for the camera.
    4. Scroll down to the “Photo Capture” section.
    5. Tap on “Photographic Styles”. The available styles will appear.
    6. Scroll through each of the style to find your preferred style.
    7. Tap on the “Use Style” button at the bottom of the screen to enable the specific photographic style.

    After you have set a particular photographic style, it will be automatically applied to all of the photos that you take. Once a cinematic style has been applied to a particular photo, it cannot be changed after the fact. This is because the style is embedded into the photo itself.

    When you select a particular style as your default, that does not mean that you are stuck using that particular style all of the time. You can actually choose the style on a picture by picture basis and even make individual adjustments. To choose a different style, perform the steps:

    1. Open the Camera app.
    2. Tap on the arrow near the Face ID sensor to open up the options.
    3. Tap on the triple square with a slash through it. This will bring up the various styles.
    4. Swipe through each of the styles to select the style you want to use for that photo.

    While you have the settings open you can also tweak the Tone and Warmth individually to your liking. Each of these values can range from -100 to 100.

    If you have changed the values and you want to reset it back to the default for that photographic style, you can tap on the reverse circle with an arrow at the end to reset it back to the particular styles default values.

    The new Photographic Styles allows iPhone users to apply their own individual style to each of the photos that they take. If you have a default style that you prefer, you can set that as the default, but it still leaves room to tweak the options to provide just the right style.

    There are some final things that need to be covered, so let us look at those next.


    Other Changes

    The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a lot of headlining features. However, there are some other smaller changes that have also been made that you might not notice right away. These include changes to the Face ID notch, the weight of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and some changes around the eSim. Let us start with the Face ID Notch.

    Face ID Notch

    One of the changes that appears on the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a smaller notch. Apple was able to do this by moving the top speaker to above the Face ID module and then moving all of the lenses to be closer together. The notch is technically a bit taller, which is not likely noticeable. What is noticeable though is that the notch is a smaller width. This means that the “ears” around the notch are a bit bigger and can provide additional space for icons or buttons, if an app decides to utilize the space. Below is a comparison of the notch on the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is on the left and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is on the right.

    The notch on the iPhone 12 Pro Max compared to the notch on the iPhone 13 Pro Max

    Despite being the prominent feature of all Face ID-enabled iPhones, at this point I do not notice the notch at all. The only time I even really notice it is when I am watching a video in full screen and if I zoom in to watch the video full screen. This is because some of the video is being covered, and then I end up noticing the notch. When I first got the iPhone X, the notch was brand new and not something anyone had become accustomed to yet. Now four years after its introduction, the controversy with the notch has become a non-issue

    Weight

    For me the iPhone is the most used device throughout the day. No matter what else I am doing it is very likely that I am using my iPhone for one reason or another. This is very likely listening to something Luke music, a podcast, or an audiobook.

    Most of the time it is lying on a surface, but there are those times when I am carrying around with me. Having carried the heaviest devices introduced over the last four years, I am not going to notice a 12 gram, or 5 percent difference in weight. However if you are upgrading from an earlier phone to an iPhone 13 Pro Max, you may notice the difference in weight.

    In the overall scheme, the iPhone is not a heavy device. Yet, in comparison to other iPhones that have been introduced, it is quite heavy. Throughout the entirety of its lifetime the iPhone line has ranged from 112 grams with the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, to 240 grams with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The bulk of the weight is due to the battery being significantly larger than previous models. The battery improvements were covered earlier in the review.

    eSIM

    Throughout the history of the iPhone, each phone has had a physical slot for a SIM card. There have been dual physical SIM models of the iPhone, but these are only available in Mainland China where users are required to have a physical SIM for their carrier plans, therefore Apple has had to create custom phones just for Mainland China. Starting in 2018, with the introduction of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, Apple included an electronic SIM, or eSIM, in addition to the physical SIM.

    With an eSIM you can add an existing carrier plan, or you can add an additional one along with the carrier that you have with your physical SIM. The iPhone 13 line has expanded beyond a single eSIM to now have dual eSIMs. This has ramifications in two ways.

    The first being that it has benefitted Apple because they do not need carrier-specific models because all iPhones 13s activated on a U.S. carrier will be activate on one of the eSIMs. The second, is that you no longer need to have a SIM ejection tool, nor visit a carrier, to upgrade your device.

    This change can allow you to activate carrier plans without needing to have a physical SIM card at all, which means you may not need to contact your carrier if you needed to in the past.

    If you have a physical SIM card you can use the physical SIM and an eSIM simultaneously, provided your carrier supports it. It should be noted, that even though there are two dual eSIM cards and a physical SIM, you can only have two carriers activated at a single time. Furthermore, if you have a Physical SIM, you can only activate one eSIM.

    The addition of two eSIMs will make it much easier for those who need to activate an account either while they travel or just on a daily basis. I know that this would have been great when I traveled to London in 2010, because no carriers were able to get me a sim because the iPhone 4 switched to a micro-sim. If I had an eSIM I wouldn’t have needed to try and get a SIM card.

    Benchmarks

    No iPhone review is completely without some benchmarks. Here are some benchmarks to compare the iPhone 13 Pro to various other devices. These benchmarks are not meant to be definitive, but as a means to provide a comparison to other Apple Silicon-based devices. These benchmarks were all run using the latest version of Geekbench 5. I did not run any comparison to Intel-based Macs, because it would not be a worthwhile comparison.

    Device Single Core Multi Core Geekbench ML
    M1 Mac Mini (Late 2020) 1753 7758 N/A
    iPhone 13 Pro Max 1739 4691 2744
    12.9-inch iPad Pro (5th Gen) 1703 7316 2700
    iPad mini (6th Gen) 1603 4543 2543
    iPhone 12 Pro Max 1593 3726 2469
    iPhone 7 Plus 768 1397 419
    iPod Touch (7th Gen) 565 1077 308
    iPod Touch (6th Gen) 278 533 N/A
    iPhone 5s 259 498 N/A

    As you can see the iPhone 13 Pro Max with its A15 processor came in just under the M1 Mac mini in terms of single-core performance and does significantly better in multi-core as compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. There is one last thing to cover, the Apple Silicon Case.


    Midnight Silicone Case with MagSafe

    Box of an iPhone 13 Pro Max Case in Midnight

    Purchasing an iPhone is not generally a tasks that someone does on a whim, mostly due the cost of the device. The price of an iPhone ranges from $399 for a 64GB iPhone SE 2 all the way up to $1599 for 1 TB iPhone 13 Pro Max. Regardless of how much you pay for an iPhone you will likely want to protect it. This is typically done by purchasing a case. There are endless choices available when it comes to selecting a case for your iPhone. I typically go with the Apple Silicone cases. Not only because I know that they will fit, but because I like the feel.

    I am not one who typically goes for a color that varies too wildly from the color of the iPhone. Much like the color of iPhone, I have purchased a color that was very similar to the phone color, typically a Black case. Last year with the iPhone 12 Pro Max I stuck with a similar color, specifically the Deep Navy silicone case. I have continued sticking to a close color, this time I went with an Apple Silicon Case with MagSafe. There are no physical differences in the features or the feel for case from the iPhone 12 Pro Max version. Where it does differ is in the look, and not just the fact that this case is not a shade of blue.

    The Midnight case looks like it is dark gray, but at some angles you can absolutely see hints of blue in the case. Here is an example of where it looks blue, as opposed to dark gray.

    The Midnight case is aptly named because at midnight it is not actually black because there is still faint light, thus making it a very deep shade of bluish gray.


    Closing Thoughts

    At first glance you might think that the iPhone 13 Pro Max is just a slight upgrade over the iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, there are a number of features that make it worth looking at. This includes the ProMotion display, the battery, and the cameras.

    The new ProMotion display can adaptively adjust the refresh rate of the screen to be able to match the content that you are consuming, whether it is a video, game, or an app. if you are not doing anything but just reading the screen, the refresh rate will drop down to 10Hz. What this ultimately means is that battery should improve.

    The battery levels on the iPhone 13 Pro Max have increased significantly. Specifically for the streaming video has improved 108% or 25 hours, up from 12 hours with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Similarly, watching video has improved 40%, and audio listening has improved 18%, to a whopping 95 hours. These are significant improvements. The trade off of this improved battery life is the iPhone 13 Pro Max is 5% heavier at 240 grams, up from 228 grams.

    The most important reason that people upgrade their iPhone is for the cameras. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a slew of new camera features, like cinematic video, photographic styles, and macro photography mode.

    Cinematic Video will allow you to create videos similar to those you see out of Hollywood. Photographic styles allows you to create customized looks to the photos that you come out of your iPhone.

    The last big change with the cameras is the new macro photography mode. Macro Photography allows you to take close up photos that are detailed. Macro photography mode is an automatic mode that the iPhone will switch to when it detects an object.

    If you are upgrading from an older iPhone, like an iPhone 11 or earlier, the iPhone 13 Pro Max will be a fantastic upgrade. If you are looking to upgrade your phone I recommend giving the iPhone 13 Pro Max a good look, while it may be the heaviest iPhone ever produced, the weight may be worth upgrading, even if it is just for ProMotion and the new cameras.

  • Apple Releases MagSafe Battery Pack

    Apple Releases MagSafe Battery Pack

    Today Apple quietly released a new MagSafe accessory called the MagSafe Battery Pack. The MagSafe Battery pack is a MagSafe accessory that attaches magnetically to your iPhone, or MagSafe Case. Therefore, it is compatible with the iPhone 12 line.

    The MagSafe Battery Pack can charge either wirelessly or with a lightning cable. It is recommended that you use a 20-watt charger, or higher, to get the maximum charging speed.

    You can order a MagSafe Battery Pack in any color you want, as long as it is white. The MagSafe Battery Pack is available to order now for $99, or the equivalent in your local currency, and it will ship in 3 to 5 business days.

    The MagSafe Battery Pack does require iOS 14.7, so be on the lookout for that to be released soon. I have ordered a MagSafe Battery Pack and will do a review of it in due time.

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: A Review

    iPhone 12 Pro Max: A Review

    The iPhone 12 line of phone represents the 14th family of iPhones, but it is not the 14th iPhone. In fact, to date there have been 25 different iPhones, across 14 different processor families, introduced prior to this fall’s crop of iPhones.

    Early in the life of the iPhone, the improvements that one would see from year to year were more significant than they have been lately. However, that is it not to say that any year’s iPhone is a dud. There is a segment of users who do upgrade every year, like myself. We are not the norm, and the differences that we see are less pronounced, compared to most iPhone users.

    Most people when they get a phone, they will use that phone for multiple years, and sometimes the iPhone that they are using is one that has been used by someone else, prior to them receiving the iPhone. The typical upgrade cycle for most users is around three years. If you were upgrading to one of the iPhone 12 line, your last phone would have possibly been an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or even an iPhone X.

    This review is going to cover a few different areas and some accessories. These will include, the form-factor, the cameras, 5G, the Silicone Case with MagSafe, and the MagSafe Charger. Let us turn to something a bit more practical, the form-factor of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

    Form Factor

    The iPhone has seen a significant change to the way each phone looks. The original iPhone had its own distinct shape, replete with rounded corners and the 3.5-inch screen.

    The iPhone 3G and iPhone 3Gs improved upon the original iPhone’s design with a more tapered shape. With the release of the iPhone 4 though a whole new design was undertaken, one with squared edges and glass on both the front and back of the phone. The iPhone 4s had the same form factor as the iPhone 4.

    The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s took their cues from the iPhone 4, but instead of a glass back, there was a metal back, but the square corners remained. Furthermore, the iPhone 5 was a slightly taller screen, which was the first change in screen size.

    The phones released in 2014 changed everything and was the biggest change to the iPhone. No longer were the older iPhones. The 3.5-inch and 4-inch screen sizes were no more. Now, there were two new sizes, 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches. Along with this screen size differences, the square edges were also gone in favor of rounded edges.

    The form-factor of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus remained the same for both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. The next big change came along with the iPhone 8 with a brand new form factor on a whole new phone, the iPhone X.

    The iPhone X introduced a slew of new features, like the removal of the home button and the inclusion of Face ID, in place of Touch ID, and a rounded screen. The rounded screen allowed a whole new interaction mechanism with the home bar at the bottom of the screen and using gestures for navigation instead of relying on the home button.

    The entire screen of the iPhone X, through the iPhone 11, had the edges of screen wrap around into the case of the phone. This provided a smooth transition from the screen onto the other portions of the screen. This was particularly useful when you were attempting to use the home bar and sliding up from the bottom of the screen.

    iPhone 12 Pro Max next to an iPhone 11 Pro Max
    iPhone 12 Pro Max next to an iPhone 11 Pro Max

    The iPhone 12 Pro Max does not follow the same form factor as the other Face ID-enabled devices, insomuch as the outer case is no longer rounded. Instead, it more closely mimics the iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and iPhone 5s by using squared edges.

    The square edges of the iPhone 12 Pro Max provides a bit more bulk to the iPhone, despite it being 0.7mm or 0.29 inches smaller. The item that adds the bulk is the square corners. This is because with the previous five phones have all had rounded corners.

    There is one last item to cover regarding the iPhone 12 Pro Max, The screen size.

    Screen Size

    I have been fortunate enough to be able to get a new iPhone every year that there has been a new one. At first this was made possible because AT&T was subsidizing the price. I made the decision to no longer be held into a contract and instead starting paying for the phone at its full price. This started with the iPhone 5s.

    Having owned an iPhone every year, I have seen a significant number of changes to the iPhone, in particular, the screen size. The first of these was subtle. This was with the iPhone 5, when the screen size went from 3.5-inches to 4-inches. While only a change in the vertical dimension, it was still a noticeable change.

    The bigger change came two years later, with the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. I purchased the iPhone 6 Plus and it was a huge jump going from a 4-inch screen to a 5.5-inch screen. This change required a different method of holding the iPhone. The additional screen real estate also allowed for a split view when held in landscape, as well as a new “reachability” feature that would slide the entire screen down so you could reach an element in the upper corner.

    Even if you did not get the iPhone 6 Plus, and instead opted for the iPhone 6, you would still get a phone with a 4.7-inch screen. This alone was still a 17.5% increase in diagonal screen size. Still a significant difference.

    As mentioned earlier, the next big change came in 2017, with the release of the iPhone X. This was the biggest change with the removal of the home button and Touch ID, the inclusion of Face ID, and the most significant change, edge to edge screen. With the screen going edge-to-edge, the physical size of the screen increased to a 5.8-inch screen. Even though the actual difference is only 5.4% different, the entire iPhone being screen does make the screen feel significantly larger than it actually might be.

    In 2018, Apple took the iPhone X, introduced just a year earlier, and added a larger version. This larger model created the largest screen for any iPhone, to that point, with a 6.5-inch screen on the iPhone XS Pro Max. The successor to the iPhone XS Max, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, retained this same screen size.

    Comparison of iPhone Models, iPhone X, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and iPhone 12 Pro Max
    Comparison of iPhone Models, iPhone X, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and iPhone 12 Pro Max

    The iPhone 12 Pro Max has now usurped the iPhone XS Max and iPhone 11 Pro Max as the largest iPhone, to date, with a 6.7-inch screen. The screen is now 3% larger. Even though this is the smallest jump from the previous model, it is still a noticeable change.

    As has been the case with all of the previous changes in screen size, after a couple of days, picking up the iPhone 11 Pro Max, it now seems a bit small. I am pretty sure that if I had to go back to the smaller phone, I would be able to do so after a few days.

    If you are going to go for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and you have not had a “Max” phone, be prepared for a whole different experience. The larger phone does mean that your thumbs will need to reach even further than before in order to interact with an element on the screen.

    Now that we have covered the screen, let us look at an aspect to the phone that is entirely superficial.

    Let us start with something that makes no difference in the function of the phone, but is a change, for me anyway.

    Pacific Blue

    I have purchased an iPhone every year since 2007. While I have not always gotten the phone with the highest amount of storage, I have traditionally gotten the phone which was either space gray, black, or graphite. For the first three iPhones, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS, the color would not have mattered, as the front glass was black.

    Starting with the iPhone 4, through the iPhone 7 Plus, the only way to get the front plate to be a dark color was to get the Space Gray/Black/Graphite iPhone. So, this is what I did. However, since 2017 and the introduction of the iPhone X, there have been no bezels on the front of the phone, so in reality the color would not matter. However, the iPhone X and iPhone XS Max only came in three colors; Gold, Silver, and Space Gray. If I would have ended up with a Silver iPhone X or iPhone XS Max, it probably would not have mattered to me, in the long run. However, I do not like gold, so that would have been a non-starter.

    Last year with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple did offer a Midnight Green color. I was tempted to get this color, but I was not sure that the color would be what I wanted. Instead, I went with the Graphite iPhone 11 Pro Max.

    Back of a Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro Max
    Back of a Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro Max

    This year I did something different. I went with the Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro Max. I opted for this color for two reasons. The first is that it is likely that I will only have the phone for a year, so if I did not like the color, I would not have to have it that long. The second reason I went with the Pacific Blue is that the person who is likely to be getting the phone next year indicated that they like the Pacific Blue. Therefore, I opted to go with the Pacific Blue model.

    Having had a Space Gray/Black/Graphite phone for so long, I never even really noticed the color on the phones, most of the time. I did notice that the shade of gray was different, but after looking at it it initially, I would not think about it.

    Overall, I like the color. The color is diffused on the back, due to the glass that covers it. The stainless steel edges of the iPhone are a different shade of Pacific Blue. The edges match the Apple logo on the back of the phone, which is a nice touch.

    The next topic is something that was initially introduced in 2017 with the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. That feature is wireless charging.

    Wireless Charging

    When Apple announced the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X in 2017, it introduced a new feature, wireless charging. All three of the phones used the standard known as Qi. Any new iPhone that Apple has released since 2017 have all had the ability to charge wirelessly. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is no different. If you have an existing Qi Charger, it will work just as it would with any other Qi-enabled phone.

    At the same event where Apple introduced the iPhone X, they also announced another device called AirPower. AirPower was designed to allow you to place your iPhone or Apple Watch anywhere on the AirPower mat and have your device charge. Unfortunately, the product itself was never released. But the idea of charging without wires did not go away.

    Even though AirPower never made it to market, you can still use Qi Chargers, however there is a new line of products from Apple called MagSafe.

    MagSafe

    From time to time Apple has been known to repurpose names of previous products for new products. Sometime the old product and the new product do not have any correlation, as is the case with the original iBook being a laptop, but the name being repurposed for an e-book format, called iBooks.

    Apple has done the same thing again, however in this case it is actually a much closer repurposing. At its keynote at MacWorld Expo in January 2006, Apple introduced a new product, the first MacBook Pro with an Intel Processor, specifically the Core Duo. Besides being the first Mac notebook with an Intel processor, it also had a new feature, the MagSafe power connector.

    The MagSafe power adapter allowed power to go from a power brick into the MacBook Pro, but the connection was magnetic. This had a significant advantage, if you tripped over the power cord, the power cord would not drag the laptop with the power cord, instead it would separate. This was possible through the magnetic connection between the power cord and the MacBook Pro itself. With the introduction of the MacBook Pro in 2016, the MagSafe power connector was replaced with USB-C connections. This left the ability for Apple to use MagSafe for another product.

    Apple has done just that with a new line of accessories, specifically for the iPhone 12. The MagSafe line of accessories is more than just power, but it still uses magnets to connect the accessories to the iPhone.

    MagSafe Charger

    The line of accessories includes cases, wallets, sleeves, and power adapters. The one that will likely be used by a majority of people is the case, let us look at the Apple Silicone case with MagSafe. One of these is a power adapter specifically designed for cases and sleeves. The MagSafe power adapter takes its cues from its older brethren and uses magnets to secure a connection to case or sleeve and will provide power to the iPhone.

    The MagSafe Charger has the MagSafe Charging pad on one end and a USB-C connection on the other. You can use any USB-C power adapter, however, you may not get the fastest charging possible. In order to get this, you will need to use Apple’s 20-watt USB-C charger. To provide a way to gauge the size of the MageSafe Charging Pad, here is a comparison of the Mophie Wireless Charging Base, the MagSafe Charging Pad, and the Apple Watch charger.

    Mophie Wireless Charging Base with the MagSafe Charging Pad stacked on top, and a Apple Watch charger on top of the MagSafe charging pad.
    Mophie Wireless Charging Base with the MagSafe Charging Pad stacked on top, and a Apple Watch charger on top of the MagSafe charging pad.

    According to Macworld’s testing, when you use the Apple 20-watt charger you will get up to 17 watts of power to charge the phone. During my testing I was never able to get more than 14 watts of charging for my iPhone 12 Pro Max. It is possible that the reporting of my Eve smart switch was not reporting the proper usage.

    For most users this is not necessarily a problem, unless you really need to charge quickly. Even when I plugged in directly to the iPhone I only got 18 watts of power to the iPhone. So, that is actually more than Macworld got in their tests.

    I also tried using the 18-watt charger. When I used this I only got 14 watts of power, This is approximately 77.7% of the 18-watts that I got with the 20-watt power brick. So this is still quite acceptable.

    Just to complete the testing, I also used a 29-watt USB-C charging brick that I have purchased for use with my iPad Pro. The highest it ever got was actually 10-watts, which is most surprising given that it can provide more power.

    While the power rating that I saw is less, it makes sense because Apple cannot guarantee the power capabilities of the USB power brick that you use, therefore Apple is capping the amount of power allowed to be pushed to the iPhone. This is designed as a safety measure.

    While you may be annoyed that you are not getting the highest throughput, in day to day usage it is not a problem. Any USB-C power adapter that you use will work perfectly well, just at lower speeds. Give that most users charge their phones overnight, this really is not an issue.

    I would remiss to not mention that the Apple MagSafe Charger is a standard Qi-compatible charger. This means that you can use it for anything that is compatible with Qi-charging. This includes the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case, any iPhone introduced after 2017, as well as any other Qi-compatible device. This means that even if you do not have an iPhone 12, the MagSafe charger may be a worthwhile investment. Next, let us cover one of the new accessories that works with the MagSafe charger, the silicone case.

    Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe

    Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Silicone Case box.
    Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Silicone Case box.

    While it likely Apple’s intent that people do not use a case on their phones, the fact that a new iPhone is at minimum a few hundred dollars, there are many, myself included, who do not feel comfortable using their iPhone without some sort of case on it.

    The success of the iPhone has created a market for third-party cases. It would not surprise anyone if the third-party market for cases vastly outsold Apple’s own cases. There are a couple of reasons that this may be the case that come to mind. The first reason being options available. Apple has traditionally only provided a few different types of cases. Typically these have been silicone and leather. There have been Apple cases for each of the iPhone models and sizes.

    The second reason that many choose third-party cases is due to price. Apple has not been a company that is afraid of charging a premium for their products, accessories like cases included. Apple has been selling its own cases for almost as long as the iPhone has been around.

    I have used a case with each and every iPhone that I have owned. This includes the original, the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 3GS, which all could have handled not having a case on them. Having spent so much money on them, I wanted to protect them.

    Typically Apple releases two different types of cases, leather cases and their silicone cases. Apple has added additional cases over time. Some of these include clear cases, leather folios, and even smart battery cases. Apple has charged $35 or $39 for silicone cases. Meanwhile, they have charged either $45 or $49 for the leather cases.

    This year’s set of Silicone and Leather cases include a MagSafe charger, therefore the price that Apple is charging has increased. For the silicone cases the new price is $49 and for the leather cases, it is $59.

    Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Silicone Case in Deep Navy
    Interior of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Silicone Case in Deep Navy

    The case I have purchased has been the official Apple Silicone case, in the same shade as the phone. As mentioned earlier, I have always, until this year, gotten the Space Gray/Black/Graphite case that has gone with the phone. This year Apple has not made a case that exactly matches the color of the Pacific Blue iPhone. Therefore, I got the closest one that I could, and I opted for the Deep Navy Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe. I would have preferred one that matches exactly, but that is not the approach Apple is going with this year. Apple does release new cases quarterly, so maybe they will release one that does match the Pacific Blue color. If they do, I am not sure I would end up buying it, but you never know.

    One of the features of the previous iPhone cases, not all of them, but those introduced since the iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus, and in particular iPhones with Face ID, is that the Apple cases have not had is a bottom lip on the case. This has been the form-factor on all of Apple’s Silicone and Leather cases since they were introduced.

    With the iPhone 12 the official Apple Cases have a lip at the bottom. For those who have become acclimated to not having any barrier when swiping up from the bottom of the phone will need to adjust. It is likely that there will be third-party cases which do not have a lip around the entire screen.

    I have found that it is strange to have to deal with the lip on the bottom of the case. While it does not affect the functionality, it is a different experience after using cases without the lip.

    There are two reasons that I can think of why Apple would make this change. The first is symmetry for the entire case. The second reason may be that having a case cover the entire iPhone will allow the cases to last a bit longer. These are merely speculations, as Apple has not provided a reason for the change.

    The Apple Silicone case with MagSafe has, as the name implies, a MageSafe magnet embedded in the case. The MagSafe magnet provides two functions simultaneously. The MagSafe within the case provides a passthrough for charging either via the MagSafe charger or via any Qi-compatible charger.

    If you have used any Qi-enabled iPhone at all, undoubtedly you have placed your phone on the charger at night and then when you went to look at it in the morning realized that it had not charged because it was misaligned.

    The second function, and the one that is probably most welcome by users, is the fact that the magnets within the case allow you to easily line up the MagSafe Charger with the the case. This will allow optimized charging, which is a common problem when using any Qi-enabled iPhone with a Qi charger.

    Given that the third-party case market is a thriving one, Apple is not limiting MagSafe to their own products. Instead, third parties will be able to offer not only their own MagSafe cases, but also their own MagSafe accessories. Companies like Belkin, Otterbox, and Pitaka have already made MagSafe accessories, like cases and chargers. It is only a matter of time before additional companies begin making accessories that will work with MagSafe.

    If you plan on using any of the MagSafe accessories by Apple, or third-parties, you will likely want a MagSafe case and while the Apple case does have some tradeoffs, like the increased price and full lip at the bottom of the case, it seems like a pretty good case for use with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Time will tell if the case holds up or not.

    There is another aspect to the MagSafe Charger and Silicone Case that needs to be highlighted. Those items are related to some animations. When you put the iPhone 12 Pro Max into a Silicon MagSafe case, you will see an animation with the color of the case that you have. Similarly, if you place an iPhone 12 Pro Max on a MagSafe charger, you will see an animation of the current battery power, in a circle, that looks a lot the MagSafe charger. While neither of these animations is necessary, it is a nice touch to see both of them work on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

    Animation after putting an iPhone 12 Pro Max into an Apple MagSafe case
    Animation after putting an iPhone 12 Pro Max into an Apple MagSafe case
    Animation after placing an iPhone 12 Pro Max on to an Apple MagSafe Charging Pad.
    Animation after placing an iPhone 12 Pro Max on to an Apple MagSafe Charging Pad.

    There is one more thing to mention about the case, but that can be done in the next section, which will be about the Camera.

    Cameras

    iPhone 12 Pro Max in the Apple Silicon Case with focusing on the Camera lenses.
    iPhone 12 Pro Max in the Apple Silicon Case with focusing on the Camera lenses.

    One of the major reasons for anyone to upgrade their iPhone, particularly if they are on an every two or three year upgrade cycle, is the improvements that are made to the camera system. Normally, if you upgrade every year the changes in the camera are not that great. They are undoubtedly better cameras, but they may not be noticeable to most people. That is not necessarily the experience if you were to go from the iPhone 11 Pro Max to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, as I have.

    The first thing you will notice you the cameras is how large they are. One easy way to compare the increase in size is by putting the iPhone 11 Pro Max into the case of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. You can clearly see the difference in the sizes of the entire camera module.

    Back of an iPhone 11 Pro Max in the case of an iPhone 12 Pro Max.
    Back of an iPhone 11 Pro Max in the case of an iPhone 12 Pro Max.

    The size difference brings the last change about the Silicone case to mention. The Apple Silicone case for the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a hard plastic bumper around the cutout of the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera system. The reason for this is likely to protect the lenses when the iPhone is moved around as well as to prevent scratching should someone place the iPhone on its back.

    The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a new feature, a LiDAR sensor, although it is not the first device with this sensor. The 4th generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and 2nd Generation 11-inch iPad Pro, both introduced earlier in 2020 received this sensor first.

    The LiDAR sensor has a few different applications. The first is that the iPhone 12 Pro Max can be used for augmented reality applications. This could be apps like Wizards Unite or Pokemon Go, or even room mapping applications.

    While some augmented reality apps are popular, the second application for the LiDAR sensor is one that users will likely encounter more often, taking photos in low-light environments. The LiDAR sensor will allow objects, specifically people and faces, to be more easily recognized when the amount of light might be limited.

    One the topic of low-light, let us look at the changes in the actual lenses. The iPhone 12 Pro Max still has three lenses, a wide angle lens, an ultra-wide lens, and a telephoto lens.

    The iPhone Pro Max ultra-wide lens is still a 0.5x zoom lens, while the wide angle lens is still 1x, however the zoom lens is a slightly different than previous models. With the iPhone 11 Pro Max, it was a 2x lens. Now, however, it is a 2.5x zoom. It should be mentioned that all of these are optical zoom, meaning that the lenses themselves will be able to have those particular zoom levels.

    With the new optical zoom of 2.5, this means that the maximum digital zoom has been increased from 10x to 12x. While this does not sound like a big jump in actual numbers, you have to realize it is a 20% increase in optical zoom. This should allow you to take even better pictures when you zoom in.

    Here is a good comparison between what the iPhone 11 Pro Max vs the iPhone 12 Pro Max. These were taken in low light.

    iPhone 11 Pro Max photo taken of a HomePod mini box. The photo was taken in Low Light. The image is a bit blurry.
    iPhone 11 Pro Max photo taken of a HomePod mini box. The photo was taken in Low Light. The image is a bit blurry.
    iPhone 12 Pro Max photo taken of a HomePod mini box. The photo was taken in Low Light.
    iPhone 12 Pro Max photo taken of a HomePod mini box. The photo was taken in Low Light.

    The reason that iPhone 12 Pro Max is able to take even better low-light photos is due to the bigger aperture in the lens. When it comes to low-light pictures, the more light that you can let in, the better the image can be. The iPhone 11 Pro Max improved low light photos by leaps and bounds. Still, the iPhone 12 Pro Max improves upon this.

    Here is another comparison of some clouds taken with each phone. If you look carefully, you can see that the iPhone 12 Pro Max represents the colors more accurately than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

    Photo of pink clouds taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max. The colors appear a bit washed out.
    Photo of pink clouds taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max. The colors appear a bit washed out.
    Photo of pink clouds taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max. The colors appear a bit more vibrant
    Photo of pink clouds taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max. The colors appear a bit more vibrant.

    One of the major reasons that I waited for the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the cameras. I use the iPhone as my exclusive camera. It is always with me, or at least not very far. From what I have seen so far, the improved cameras were worth waiting for. Next, let us look at a feature that is new to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and that is improved cellular connectivity.

    5G

    5G Speed OMGGGGG.
    5G Speed OMGGGGG.

    One of the most touted features of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the other iPhone 12s, is the inclusion of 5G connectivity on the device. I use AT&T for my service, and I have since before the introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

    When the original iPhone was introduced I bought one on the second day and immediately signed up for the unlimited plan. I continued to use the same plan since then. AT&T stopped offering unlimited plans in 2010. However, if you had an existing plan you could continue to use it. I, of course, kept using my unlimited data plan.

    Over time AT&T had increased the price of the unlimited plan from $30 to $35 in 2015, and then to $40 in 2017, and to $45 in 2018. I continued to dutifully pay the increase prices. I was on a family plan, so switching to either another carrier or to a different plan was not as simple as you might expect.

    I called AT&T about changing my plan and they informed me that it would cost me $15 more to switch two phone lines, even though one of them was a flip phone. I was able to move the second line off of my account and then I was able to switch to one of AT&T’s newer unlimited plans. I wanted to make the switch in anticipation of getting an iPhone 12 Pro Max, with 5G. And the older AT&T plan that I had would not have provided me with 5G, nor did it allow me to use the hotspot functionality that has been available on AT&T plans for a while, but those latter two are a different story.

    Prior to getting my iPhone 12 Pro Max I did look at the AT&T 5G coverage map to see if I would be able to get 5G in my area, and I am able to get 5G coverage. Here are three different comparisons that I did with the iPhone 12 Pro Max using the SpeedTest app. These compare AT&T’s LTE, which they label as “5Ge” (do not get me started on that), and true 5G. These results are in Megabit per second, or Mbps.

      LTE Download LTE Upload
    Server 1 35.50 1.81
    Server 2 5.60 0.44
    Server 3 12.50 3.67
      5G Download 5G Upload
    Server 1 30.90 4.57
    Server 2 42.50 2.95
    Server 3 36.90 6.50

    These tests were all done about the same time. Each of the servers used for each test are the same. Servers 1 and 3 are located in Chicago, while Server 2 was a local server. As you can see in some cases 5G was significantly faster, but in others, LTE was faster. The biggest difference is the difference in upload speed.

    One thing mentioned in the iPhone 12 keynote was that macOS Big Sur has a bit more optimized when connecting to a hotspot on an iPhone. I did some testing to see if this was true.

      LTE Download LTE Upload
    Server 1 3.79 0.44
    Server 2 7.06 0.43
    Server 3 19.50 0.27
      5G Download 5G Upload
    Server 1 40.00 3.35
    Server 2 25.30 3.95
    Server 3 38.0 4.47

    When tethered wirelessly to LTE and 5G, the same general outcome is shown, where 5G was faster, but particularly so with upload speeds. Your experience with 5G is definitely dependent on many things, including current congestion, usage, number of devices on the same cellular tower, the servers you are using, and many more factors.

    I have mixed thoughts on 5G for the iPhone 12. On one hand, it is great to see that 5G is available on the iPhone. At the same time, I do not think that most will notice the difference at this point in time. However, in a few years users may actually notice a difference. If you combine this with the fact that many users will hold onto their phones, it may be worthwhile having 5G in the iPhone 12. Furthermore, even after one person has upgraded, their old phone may go to another person and therefore having 5G would be a nice upgrade for them.

    One of the benefits to using a standard like 5G is that should there be any improvements that can be made via software, the iPhone 12 Pro Max will get that benefit, through a firmware update. Should there be an improvement that can only be made with hardware, they will not get it, but the likelihood of a change requiring a hardware change is quite low. The last thing that we will tackle is just some benchmark comparisons for various devices.

    Benchmarks

    Would it really be a full review without some benchmarks? I do not know if it would be. So here are some benchmarks for comparison. These were all run using the Geekbench 5:

    Device Single Core Multi Core
    iPod touch (7th Gen) 553 1077
    Early 2015 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 684 1400
    Late 2018 Mac mini 992 4442
    Mid-2017 27-inch iMac 1068 4377
    12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd Gen) 1124 4680
    Late 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro 1170 5391
    iPhone 11 Pro Max 1328 3252
    iPhone 12 Pro Max 1604 4297

    While the iPhone 12 Pro is not the fastest when it comes to Multi-Core performance, it is the fastest when it comes Single Core performance, at least of the devices that I own at this point. The iPhone 12 Pro Max out performs the iPhone 11 Pro Max, quite easily. Benchmarks are only one aspect to overall performance, but they can be useful to give you a comparison to how a particular device might perform, compared to other devices.

    Closing Thoughts

    The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a large phone. A very large phone. The increased screen size, which is only 0.2 inches or 5.08mm, is still quite noticeable. The width and height have also increased slightly, which accounts for the larger screen. The squared off edges are a nice touch that harkens back to the old iPhone 4, 4s, 5, and 5s form factors. It is good to see the old form factor come back in a new revision of the iPhone.

    The Pacific Blue color is a nice color and the fact that stainless steel edges match the Apple Logo on the back is a nice touch. Although, to be honest I probably will not be seeing much of the back or the sides, because I will have a case on the phone. The new Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe is a pretty good case, albeit with an increase in price. The increase in price does include the new MagSafe charging feature.

    The MagSafe charger can be used with any Qi-compatible charger, not just the MagSafe Charging pad. However, if you opt to use a standard Qi-compatible charger, you will not get the full fast-charging capabilities that come with the MagSafe charger, but that may be worth the tradeoff. I know for me, I almost always charge overnight, so I do not need the fastest charging possible. Even so, the magnetic aspect of the MagSafe Charging case, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max in general, means that if you do use the MagSafe Charger, you will always have a charged phone. You will no longer need to worry about a misaligned charger and therefore a phone that did not charge overnight.

    The addition of 5G, may not make a meaningful difference right now. In the future depending on what applications and use cases arise with having 5G, it may become an absolute necessity at that point. For now though, if you do not have 5G in your area, it is not necessarily a deterrent for not upgrading to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

    As has been the case with previous years. If you have an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS Max, then upgrading to the iPhone 12 Pro Max may not make sense. However, if you have an iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, or older phone, then upgrading to any of the iPhone 12 Pro Max may be a worthwhile upgrade, but be prepared for a significant jump in physical size and screen size. The larger screen real-estate, combined with the improved cameras may make it an easy choice for some users.

    Here are a few more examples of some photos taken with the iPhone 12 Pro Max.\

    Two Space Gray HomePod minis on a shelf.
    Two Space Gray HomePod minis on a shelf.
    Lego Super Mario Brothers set taking up the full frame.
    Lego Super Mario Brothers set taking up the full frame.
    Lego Super Mario Brothers zoomed in using the 2.5x zoom lens.
    Lego Super Mario Brothers zoomed in using the 2.5x zoom lens.
  • Apple Announces iPhone SE

    Apple Announces iPhone SE

    Today, Apple announced the iPhone SE. The iPhone SE is a 4.7-inch Retina HD display. This is the same size as the iPhone 8. The iPhone SE still has a Touch ID sensor, so if you are accustom to that and do not want to upgrade to a phone with Face ID, this is definitely the model you should be looking at.

    The biggest difference between the iPhone 8 and iPhone SE is the internals. The iPhone SE has an A13 Bionic. This is the same processor as the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Having an A13 means that you can use many of the same feature of iOS that the iPhone 11 line can. This includes

    There are some other tidbits about the iPhone SE to know about. The iPhone SE can be charged wirelessly using a Qi charger, and get up to 50% charge in 30 minutes with fast charging.

    The iPhone SE has Portrait Mode with all six modes (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, and High-Key Mono) including controlling the depth mode of the photo. Along with this, there is Portrait mode on the front-facing camera, which was not available on the iPhone 8. For connectivity, the iPhone SE feature is that the iPhone SE has 802.11AX, also known as WiFi 6.

    The last feature to mention is that the iPhone SE has dual-sim support. A physical sim as well as an e-sim. So if you need to have multiple carriers for some reason, the iPhone SE can accommodate.

    The iPhone SE is available in 3 colors, Black,White and (PRODUCT)RED. Unlike previous phones, the front face is black on all three of the phones, where as previously most models had a white faceplate.

    The iPhone SE comes in three sizes, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The prices for these are $399, $449, and $549 respectively.The iPhone SE can be ordered starting at 5AM Pacific Time on Friday, April 17th. AppleCare for the iPhone SE is $3.99 per month, or $79 for two years. AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss is $7.99 per month or $149 for two years.

    With the release of the iPhone SE, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are no longer available for purchase as new, but may be available as refurbished.

    Source: Apple

  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: A Review

    iPhone 11 Pro Max: A Review

    Every year Apple releases at least one new iPhone and this year is no different. In fact they released three new models. The iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. It has been the case that I have purchased a new iPhone each year. I have done so again this year.

    Over the course of its history, the iPhone has been available in six different screen sizes, ranging from 3.5 inches to 6.5 inches. The biggest change occurred in 2014 with the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The old 4-inch screen size, introduced in 2011 with the iPhone 5, was replaced with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively. The next big change occurred in 2017 with the release of the iPhone X and its 5.8-inch edge-to-edge screen.

    Last year, when I purchased an iPhone, I decided to stick with the 5.8-inch screen size. I did this because I was not sure if the 6.5-inch screen would be too large. In contrast to last year, I decided to get the iPhone 11 Pro Max. If I do not like the screen size I can always downgrade the next time I get a phone. Normally when I review a phone, I would talk about a bunch of its features. However, this year, I will focus on a few of the new features. The first of these will be how my upgrade went.

    Upgrading

    Having had an iPhone since 2007 and having done 12 upgrades and countless restores due to various issues, I have developed an upgrade path which has worked for me with very few problems. That upgrade path is as follows:

    1. Unpair my Apple Watch. This will create a backup of the Watch on the iPhone.
    2. Perform an encrypted backup using iTunes of the iPhone after the watch has been unpaired.
    3. Restore the new phone using the encrypted backup that was created.
    4. Pair the watch with the newly restored iPhone.

    I use this procedure because it restores everything, including Health data, two factor codes, and other private data. This procedure has worked quite well. I debated on using this same procedure, but this year I decided to do something different. I used the Direct Transfer method that was introduced in iOS 12.4.

    Direct Transfer

    Direct Transfer is a method where you allow your old iPhone and your new iPhone to directly communicate with each other to transfer your data from your old phone to your new phone. There are a few things to understand about the process.

    The first is that this will create a direct connection, using wireless between the two devices. This means that you will not be able to use wireless during the transfer.

    The second is that you will not be able to use the devices while the data is transferring. This is because the transfer interface will take over the whole screen. If you have an Apple Watch paired to your iPhone, you will be able to control any audio that is playing and you can change it as well.

    On the topic of the Apple Watch, if you have an Apple Watch paired it should be transferred in the process. However, for me this did not actually occur. I had to open the Apple Watch app and then it recognized the Watch and then the transfer process began.

    Fourth, the last thing to realize is that it will take a while for the transfer to actually occur. For me it took approximately 2 1/2 hours to complete. This was after it failed once and the process had to be restarted. Once it was stopped there was no way to resume it, so it had to be started again. This is faster than the way I had done this before. When I upgraded my iPhone XS to the release version of iOS 13, it screwed up half way through and I had to restore it from an encrypted backup. This process took 6.5 hours, so this new process was significantly faster.

    The Direct Transfer process does have some significant advantages, besides being faster. The biggest among these is that while my downloaded music did not transfer, the fact that it was downloaded on my old iPhone did transfer. So after the transfer process finished the downloaded music began re-downloading. I actually prefer the songs to re-download, as compared to just transferring over. It turns out that a large number of the songs that had been downloaded to my old iPhone were corrupt. I did not really notice until I started hearing songs that I had not heard for a while, despite them being downloaded. What it turned out to be is that

    The last thing that happened after the transfer completed, and is the case with any restore, my applications downloaded. In case you are wondering, the reason that this occurs is because the apps that are downloaded from the App Store are tuned specifically for your device. This includes, but is not limited to, asset sizes and optimizations specifically for the processors in your device.

    Now that we have covered the upgrade process, let us look at the biggest change and the primary reason I upgrade each year, the Cameras.

    Camera and Photos

    This year iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, come equipped with three cameras. These are the Wide, Telephoto, and Ultra Wide lenses. These are equivalent to a 26mm, 52mm, and 13mm lens respectively. The Ultra Wide is new on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. It has been interesting trying to figure out the best use for the Ultra Wide lens. The Ultra Wide camera does add a bit of a curvature to the image, so it can be a bit distorted when you do take a photo.

    Camera

    The Camera app on iOS 13 is specifically designed with the three different cameras in mind. As an example, if you select the Wide or Telephoto lens, the Camera app will actually show the view that the Ultra Wide camera can see. This can help you not only identify which lens you are using, but also assist you to determining the best shot. This is because of the extra information provided by the Ultra Wide camera will be shown behind the control areas of the Camera app’s interface.

    Here are some examples of the Wide, Telephoto and Ultra Wide Photo examples from the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

    Night Mode

    Throughout the history of all iPhones one of the more difficult times to get a good photo is when you are in a low light situation. In order to accommodate for this, Apple has introduced Night Mode. Night Mode does some machine learning to pull in as much light as possible and generate a picture that simulates daylight. Here are a couple of examples.

    You can actually see the subject of the images taken with the iPhone 11 Pro, as opposed to the iPhone XS. You are not able to enable Night Moe on your own. Instead, when there is not enough light the Night Mode will automatically be enabled. You do have a couple of options with Night Mode, when it is enabled. By default the duration is 3 seconds, but this can be adjusted to be 2 or one second. Whichever setting you choose, the Camera will take a series of photos. All of these photos will be consolidated into one single image that will produce an image that will bring out the brightest colors possible. Because the image is a composite, it is possible that there may be some noise in the photos.

    You should keep in mind that Night mode is not night vision. This means that Night Mode does requires some light in order to function. It is not possible for Night mode to work in a completely dark room. If you take a picture with Night Mode in a completely dark room, you will get, a black image. The Night Mode on the iPhone 11 will allow many people to take photos that they may not have been able to get otherwise. Next, let us look going back to the larger phone.

    Back to the Max

    In 2014, Apple did something that it had not done before. It introduced 2 new sizes of iPhones instead of just one, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. These two new size of phones were 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches respectively. In 2017, Apple changed everything again with the release of the iPhone X. As you are likely aware, the iPhone X only came in one size, a 5.8-inch screen size.

    I am not entirely sure why I opted to go back to the larger size this year. I think part of me wants to see whether or not the larger phone is the right choice. Only time will ultimately be able to tell, but my initial thoughts are that the larger screen is nicer. Each year, I end up getting a case, next we will look at a case that I got.

    Clear Case

    Many people are willing to risk using their iPhone without a case. I can understand wanting to show off the iPhone in its unadorned site. I am not one of those people. Instead, I purchase a case with each new iPhone. This year I actually purchased two cases. I bought a Black Apple Silicone case as well as the Clear case.

    The Clear case is made of acrylic and as most other acrylic super slippery. The Clear case is not designed to be removed as easily as the Silicone case is. The Clear case is more difficult to put on and take off as compared to other cases. Of course the Clear case’s biggest assets is the clear nature of the case. This allows the back of the phone, as well as the steel bands, are visible. The clear case is definitely good for showing off your phone, but it is not necessarily the best choice due to its slipperiness. The last feature that we will look at for the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the battery life.

    Battery Life

    The iPhone 11 Pro Max supposedly has 4 more hours of battery life over the iPhone XS Max. I did not have the Max last year, so I can only compare it to the iPhone XS. With my normal day to day usage the battery is around 75% when the day is over. Of course the amount of battery life left varies depending on what I am doing with the phone. If I play some Apple Arcade games for a while, the battery will be drained quite a bit more than if I am merely listening to music, browsing the web, or listening to audiobooks. Overall, this is significantly more battery life than I would have at the end fo the day with my iPhone XS.

    I cannot say for certain, but it could be difficult for Apple to maintain this type of battery life in iPhones going forward. It will not be easy to do, particularly with any transition to 5G, where there has not been the necessary time to perform optimizations for battery life.

    Benchmarks

    In today’s computing world, Benchmarks do not have as much weight as they once did. This is because of the dynamic nature of processors and their power draws. What Benchmarks are good for is proving a relative measurement compared to other devices. I have run a set of benchmarks on 6 different devices, for comparison purposes.

    Geekbench 4 Single Core Multi-Core
    iPod Touch 6th Gen 1302 2314
    iPad Air 2 1848 4512
    iPod touch 7th Gen 2719 4541
    Mid 2014 iMac 3072 5556
    Mid 2011 iMac 3504 8750
    Early 2015 MacBook Pro 3766 7031
    iPhone XS 4840 10496
    iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd Gen) 5017 17879
    iPhone 11 Pro 5489 13863
    Mid 2017 27-inch iMac 5680 19651
    Geekbench 5 Single Core Multi-Core
    iPad Air 2 384 1071
    iPod Touch 6th Gen 384 1071
    iPod Touch 7th Gen 529 929
    Mid 2014 iMac 652 1278
    Mid 2014 iMac 720 1934
    Early 2015 MacBook Pro 709 1636
    iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd Gen) 1111 4613
    iPhone XS 1114 2766
    Mid 2017 27-inch iMac 1214 4664
    iPhone 11 Pro 1337 3494

    As you can see from the results, the iPhone 11 Pro is one of the fastest, in terms of single core. My 2017 iMac and 12.9-inch iPad Pro are still faster in terms of multi-core performance.

    As a note, the Geekbench 4 scores are calibrated using a Microsoft Surface Book with an Intel Core i7-6600U processor as a baseline with a score of 4,000 points.

    Similarly, the Geekbench 5 CPU scores are calibrated using an Intel Core i3-8100 processor as a baseline. Geekbench 5 measures the performance of your device by performing tests that are representative of real-world tasks and applications. Higher scores are better, with double the score indicating double the performance.

    Both of these statements are from the Geekbench knowledge base.

    Closing Thoughts

    The iPhone 11 Pro Max, and by extension its younger sibling the iPhone 11 Pro is a solid phone. This is particularly true if you use your iPhone as your primary camera. The screen of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is definitely a plus. Yet, at the same time, the size can definitely be unwieldy and a bit bulky. I must have forgotten what it was like having a larger phone after owning the iPhone X and the iPhone XS for the last two years. It has been a re-adjustment. The battery life is absolutely incredible and you can easily use an iPhone 11 Pro Max all day without any issues.

    If you are updating from an iPhone X or any earlier model, this will be a great upgrade. The speed increase that you see will be significant and the inclusion of night mode will make the photos that you take in low light that much better. If you are in the market for a new phone, then the iPhone 11 Pro Max could be the phone for you.