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Sep
13
Goodbye jack: Apple has killed off the last iPhones with 3.5mm headphone sockets
Posted by Stephen Lambrechts on 13 September 2018 01:51 AM

Following the announcement of its 2018 iPhone range, which includes the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, it's been revealed that many of its previous iPhone models, including last year's tenth anniversary iPhone X, are being phased out by Apple, as reported by The Verge

The discontinued handsets, which have now been removed from the Apple website, include the iPhone 6S and iPhone SE, meaning you can no longer buy an iPhone with a 3.5mm headphone jack from the Cupertino company. 

Good news for fans of huge bezels: Apple is still selling the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on its website, making them the only notch-free iOS handsets that you can buy direct from the source. 

If you were looking forward to charging your new iPhone on an AirPower mat, you'll have to keep waiting – Apple's upcoming Qi wireless charging solution has also completely vanished from the company's website, putting the likeliness of its release up in the... ahem... 'air' for the time being. 

The new iPhone range will be available for pre-order from September 14, with a global release date of September 21. 


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Sep
13
The iPhone SE and iPhone 6S are dead, and that's not good for the iPhone SE 2
Posted by John McCann on 13 September 2018 01:04 AM

It's no secret that Apple tends to bump off an older iPhone variant when new handsets are launched, but this time round one of the fatalities is a little more poignant.

As the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and Apple Watch 4 grabbed the headlines, the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and, most importantly, the iPhone SE quietly disappeared from the firm's website. 

The removal of the 6S duo is no surprise, as Apple likes to keep a three-generation range available, and with the arrival of the new iPhone trio means they're surplus to requirements below the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 offerings.

Remember when it was this easy to hold (and operate) an iPhone?

It's the official loss of the iPhone SE, and zero sign of the iPhone SE 2, that will disappoint fans of the smaller form factor.

Pour one out

It means we can pretty much kiss goodbye to any remaining hope that Apple would reboot its smaller form factor, popular among fans for its size and price. 

It seems Apple is don't with small screen phones for good, with the 5.8-inch iPhone XS the smallest of the three new handsets. 

The 'affordable’ (but still $749) new iPhone XR - billed as a more accessible iPhone by Apple - boasts a large 6.1-inch display, which really isn't what most SE fans are looking for.

We'll certainly miss one of these

If you're looking for a 'cheap’ iPhone, the iPhone 7 has had a price cut, but it still doesn't have the core feature that attracts people to the SE – a compact form factor. 

So, as the XS, XS Max and XR continue to capture the eye, let's take a moment to reflect, remember and pour one out for the iPhone SE and Apple's compact smartphone. It's been a pleasure.


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Sep
13
Spotify's latest update triples download limit for offline listening
Posted by Sharmishta Sarkar on 13 September 2018 12:49 AM

With strong competition from Apple Music, Spotify has been tweaking its music streaming service to make it more appealing to its users. It’s already testing a new Lite version of its platform in Brazil, and has even introduced unlimited ad skips in Australia for users on it free tier.

However, the biggest recent change was seemingly done quietly, with the latest update to the platform tripling the number of songs a user can download and store for offline listening, while also increasing the number of devices this feature can be used on.

After years of limiting users to downloading a somewhat arbitrary 3,333 songs per device, Rolling Stone has reported that Spotify has raised that limit to 10,000 songs per device for offline listening. 

The music streaming platform has also upped the number of devices per account which are allowed to download and store music, going from three to five, meaning Spotify Premium users could, in theory, now listen to a whopping 50,000 songs when not connected to the internet.

“At Spotify, we’re always working on improving the experience for our users,” a spokesperson for the Swedish company told Rolling Stone. “We can now confirm that we have increased the number of offline tracks per device – from 3,333 on three devices to 10,000 tracks per device for up to five devices.”

While it’s not quite the smorgasbord of over 35 million songs that online access to Spotify will net you, for music junkies this is definitely a huge improvement.


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Sep
12
New Beats Solo3 Wireless colors will match your iPhone XS and XS Max
Posted by Nick Pino on 12 September 2018 09:14 PM

While Apple’s Beats brand might not have shared the spotlight during this morning’s keynote, Apple doesn’t want you to think the brand is AWOL in 2018. 

To that end, Apple and Beats have announced two new colors for the Beats Solo3 Wireless – a satin gold and a satin silver color that matches the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max – as well as a trio of ultra-colorful options for the Urbeats 3

The variants for the Beats Solo3 Wireless, an on-ear pair of headphones with a 40-hour battery life, are available starting today for $299 (£249, AU$397), while the wired in-ear Urbeats 3 will be available in yellow, blue, and coral for $59 (£59, AU$99) later this year. 

While some insiders believed Apple wouldn't release any new Beats headphones in 2018, these two new color variants prove that Apple still cares about its uber-popular headphones brand even if it's forced to take a backseat to the company's staple products like the iPhone and Apple Watch.


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Sep
12
iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus
Posted by James Rogerson on 12 September 2018 09:13 PM

The iPhone XS Max has just been announced and like the name suggests this phone is big. It’s the largest of the three new iPhones, which makes it something of a successor to the iPhone 8 Plus, even though it has more of the iPhone X’s DNA.

With that in mind we’ve compared Apple’s old phablet with its new one to see what exactly has changed and what you’ll get for the large amount of money Apple is asking for the XS Max.

Read on for a comparison of the two phones across all the key categories, such as design, screen and camera.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus design

The iPhone XS Max is a very different beast to the iPhone 8 and that’s most clear from the front, as while the XS Max has a notch and almost no other bezel, the iPhone 8 has large bezels above and below the screen complete with a home button.

The lack of a home button on the iPhone XS Max means you don’t get Touch ID, but it has Face ID instead, which the iPhone 8 Plus doesn’t.

There’s less difference on the back and sides though, as both phones have a glass back and a metal frame. However, the orientation of the cameras on the back does differ – on the iPhone 8 Plus the two lenses are side by side, while on the iPhone XS Max they’re stacked vertically.

The iPhone 8 Plus is bigger despite its smaller screen

Of course, the dimensions and weight also differ. The iPhone XS Max is 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm and 208g, while the iPhone 8 Plus is 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm and 202g. In other words, the iPhone XS Max is slightly smaller, despite having a larger screen.

And the colors differ too. The iPhone XS Max is available in silver, space grey and gold, while the iPhone 8 Plus comes in all those and also adds red to the mix.

One not so visible difference is their water resistance, as the iPhone XS Max is IP68 rated (meaning it can be submerged up to 2 meters deep for up to 30 minutes), while the iPhone 8 Plus is IP67 rated and can only withstand depths of up to one meter.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus display

Both these phones have big screens, but the iPhone XS Max’s is by far the largest at 6.5 inches, while the iPhone 8 Plus is 5.5 inches.

The iPhone XS Max is all screen on the front

The XS Max is also higher resolution at 1242 x 2688 and 458 pixels per inch, compared to the 1080 x 1920, 401ppi display on the iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone XS Max has a narrower aspect ratio too, and it uses OLED, while the iPhone 8 Plus has an LCD display.

The difference in display tech means you can expect better contrast and more vibrant colors from the XS Max.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus OS and power

A new year means a new chipset, in this case you’re getting the A12 Bionic in the iPhone XS Max, while the iPhone 8 Plus has its predecessor, the A11 Bionic. That’s no slouch, but you can expect truly top-tier power from the iPhone XS Max.

Specifically it’s up to 15% faster and up to 50% more energy efficient – depending on which combination of its six cores are in play. The GPU and neural engine have also been vastly improved for the iPhone XS Max.

There’s less difference when it comes to the operating system. The XS Max ships with the brand-new iOS 12, but you’ll be able to update the iPhone 8 Plus to that shortly.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus camera and battery

Both the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone 8 Plus have a dual-lens 12MP rear camera, powering things like optical zoom and portrait mode, but the iPhone XS Max has optical image stabilization on both lenses, while the 8 Plus has it on just one.

There are other improvements to the iPhone XS Max’s camera too, including new features like the ability to adjust the depth of field after you’ve taken a photo.

Both phones have dual-lens rear cameras

There’s less difference around the front though, as both phones have a TrueDepth front-facing camera, which allows for depth-sensing in Portrait Mode and powers Face ID.

We don’t know how big the battery is in the iPhone XS Max, but it’s supposedly the biggest one ever put in an iPhone and quoted as lasting for up to 15 hours of video playback or 13 hours of internet use. The iPhone 8 Plus meanwhile has a 2,691mAh battery, which we found in our review amounted to all-day life, but not much more.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus release date and price

The iPhone XS Max will be available to pre-order this Friday (14 September) from $1,099 (£1,099, AU$1,799), and will arrive in shops on September 21.

The iPhone 8 Plus is already out of course and has had a price cut, bringing it down to a starting price of $699/£699/AU1,149, so it’s a fair bit cheaper.

Takeaway

The iPhone XS Max looks to be a big upgrade on the iPhone 8 Plus, not just completely changing the design but also packing in a much larger screen. Add to that the extra power and this is quite a substantial change given that we’re in an ‘S’ year.

If you’re choosing between the two phones then on paper at least the iPhone XS Max looks substantially better – though you might want to wait for our full review to be sure.

Of course, the XS Max is also a lot more expensive, so it’s worth considering how important the upgrades are to you.


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Sep
12
Apple Watch 4 vs Apple Watch 3: how does the new smartwatch compare?
Posted by James Peckham on 12 September 2018 09:08 PM

Apple just unveiled its new smartwatch and you'll be shocked to hear it's called the Apple Watch Series 4.

As ever, there are some interesting features included here that may tempt you to upgrade and throughout this article we want to help you distinguish the key differences.

Below you'll find everything that makes the Apple Watch 4 different to last year's Apple Watch 3.

Design and display

This is the biggest change we've seen to the Apple Watch design since the first-gen was announced back in 2015. The now iconic square watch face design has returned for the newest product, but Apple has squeezed more display into the Watch 4.

Whereas the Apple Watch 3 came in either 38mm or 42mm variants, the newer Apple Watch 4 is either 40mm or 44mm. 

It's only a touch bigger on these, but it allows for Apple to have 30% extra screen on this newer version of the Apple Watch. We think that'll make a bigger difference on the smaller version of the device.

The bezels are thinner on the Apple Watch 4 and so are the screen curves around the edges of the display. While we don't know the exact size of the screen, it looks to be notably larger than the Apple Watch 3 when navigating around the watch.

This should offer lots more space for navigating around app, but that doesn't make the display tech on the Apple Watch 3 obsolete.

We don't currently know much about the exact dimensions of the Apple Watch 4, but you can expect it to sit larger on your wrist. We'll be sure to update this versus once we know more about the size and weight.

You can buy each device in aluminum in silver, space grey and gold colors, while the same color versions are also available for both watches. Any straps you already own for Apple watches will work on both generations of the device.

OS and specs

Apple Watch 4 vs Apple Watch 3

The Apple Watch 4 comes running watchOS 5 software out of the box and those with Apple Watch 3's will be able to upgrade to it later in September, so you'll soon have the latest version of the software no matter what watch you opt for.

It's one of the best versions of a software on a smartwatch, and you'll be able to get all the benefits of the new third-party complications on watch faces as well.

The Apple Watch 4 has a faster processor than the Watch 3 called the S4 which the company claims will be twice as fast as the last generation. Whether you'll notice that performance bump in real-life usage is unclear, but if you want the fastest Apple Watch, you'll need the newer version.

The speaker on the newer watch is also 50% louder than the Apple Watch 3, which the company says is better for the new Walkie-Talkie feature as well as phone calls from your wrist.

Both watches will be capable of a cellular connection - if you buy the more expensive model - but you will want the Apple Watch 4 for the stronger connection.

The rear is made of a ceramic this time that allows for a better connection, according to Apple. How particularly well this will work, we won't know until the time of our full review soon.

Features

Apple Watch 4 vs Apple Watch 3

Apple Watch 3 on the left with the Apple Watch 4 on the right

One of the biggest new features is the fact the Apple Watch 4 can take an ECG reading. That's to do with your heart health, and while it may not be relevant to everyone it's a groundbreaking upgrade for those with poorer heart health.

There's also a new feature that uses a new type of accelerometer to track if you've had a fall and then call the emergency services. This could be particularly useful for the elderly.

The Apple Watch 4 offers most of the same fitness features we saw on the Apple Watch 3 including GPS tracking, a top-end heart rate monitor, a waterproof design and sleep tracking tech.

Everything you're used to on the Apple Watch 3 will be available here, so you're only going to get more features if you opt for the more recently announced watch from Apple.

When it comes to battery, Apple claims you'll get a full day of usage from both watches. We found to be the case with the Apple Watch 3, but we cannot yet attest the same claim for the Watch 4 yet.

Apple also said the Watch 4 will be able to track outdoor activity - through use of a built-in GPS sensor - for up to six hours from a single charge, which is an upgrade over the last generation.

Price

Apple Watch 4

Here's where the Apple Watch 3 comes into its own. As it's a year older it's significantly cheaper, and the launch of the Apple Watch 4 has pushed down its price too.

It's now $279 / £279 / AU$399 for the Apple Watch 3. The Apple Watch 4 starts at $399 / £399 / AU$599, so it's significantly more expensive, and both of these sets of prices are only for the GPS versions of the watch.

That said, there's a lot of new tech in here and it's similar to the price of the Apple Watch 3 when it was first announced last year, around this same time.

Takeaway

Although the Apple Watch 4 isn't going to change everything about the company's wearable game, there are some solid upgrades here that you'll likely be impressed by.

You probably don't need to upgrade to this if you own an Apple Watch Series 2 or 3 (unless you want the ECG features) but the slight redesign is a big improvement and there are lots of reasons to buy the latest over the Watch 3.

That price of the Apple Watch 3 is much more attractive, but if you want longevity, the better design and the extra features you'll have to spend a little bit more and opt for the Apple Watch 4.


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