2020 iPad Pro Reviews: Minor Upgrade Today Paves Way for New AR Capabilities in Future

The first reviews of the new iPad Pro have hit the web and we've rounded them up below.

Given that trackpad support is coming to all modern iPad models with iPadOS 13.4, set to be released later today, the actual hardware changes to the 2020 iPad Pro are rather minor. Reviews confirm that the device's new A12Z Bionic chip has very similar CPU performance as the previous A12X chip, and beyond that, the only additions are an Ultra Wide camera, LiDAR scanner, and better sounding microphones.


Moreover, the LiDAR scanner is more about the future than today. The Verge's Dieter Bohn noted that the sensor "improves some current apps for free, but there aren't any third-party apps that take full advantage of it yet."

"As I used the iPad Pro this week, I kept coming back to that LIDAR sensor," said Bohn. "It's a powerful and interesting sensor and Apple's total control over software and hardware means that it 'just works' to improve existing apps. But as powerful as it is, I'm not super sure a lot of users will be able to take advantage of it — it's an extra thing they may not even use."


There are some benefits to the LiDAR scanner today. For example, all existing ARKit apps will now have instant AR placement, improved motion capture, and people occlusion, while the Measure app can more quickly calculate someone's height.

Apple has been heavily invested in augmented reality for years, and with rumors suggesting that the company is working on an augmented reality headset, the LiDAR scanner will likely have much more significance in the years to come.

As for the A12Z Bionic chip, Apple told WIRED's Lauren Goode that it has enhanced thermal architecture, meaning that it should heat up less when pushed to the limit. And while the A12Z does not move the needle with CPU performance, it does have an eight-core GPU — up from seven in the 2018 iPad Pro — for a modest boost in graphics performance.

The new Ultra Wide camera is mostly what you would expect based on the iPhone 11 Pro, enabling 0.5x zoom for those who take photos with an iPad.

2020 iPad Pro Reviews


We've also rounded up 2020 iPad Pro unboxing videos here.
Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tag: reviews

This article, "2020 iPad Pro Reviews: Minor Upgrade Today Paves Way for New AR Capabilities in Future" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

2020 MacBook Air Reviews Praise Magic Keyboard and Faster Performance at Lower $999 Starting Price

The media has got its hands on the new MacBook Air and first impressions of the notebook after a day or two of usage are largely positive.

Following in the footsteps of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the new MacBook Air features a redesigned Magic Keyboard with scissor switches that deliver 1mm of key travel for a comfortable and stable key feel. As with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, reviews find the keyboard on the new MacBook Air to be far better than the problematic butterfly keyboard of recent years.


TechCrunch's Brian Heater:
Unlike other iterative attempts to update the butterfly mechanism, the move back to a scissor switch is a marked improvement. The keys are still relatively soft compared to other systems, but the feel is much improved — not to mention not as loud while typing. The feeling here is pretty similar to what you get with Apple’s Bluetooth Magic Keyboard peripheral. Honestly, that makes it a valuable upgrade in and of itself.
CNBC's Todd Haselton said "I'm pleased to report that the new keyboard is a vast improvement."

Engadget's Dana Wollman went as far as putting "buy it for the keyboard" in the title of her piece.

Apple significantly redesigned the MacBook Air in 2018, but it also increased the base price of the notebook from $999 to $1,199. Fortunately, the 2020 base model not only starts at $999 again, but also comes with a doubled 256GB of storage. Writing for Six Colors, Jason Snell said this price "finally sets the bar at the right place."

One caveat of the new $999 base model is that it is equipped with a 1.1GHz dual-core Core i3 chip, but it is a newer 10th-generation Intel processor. Apple told CNBC's Todd Haselton that the Core i3 chip is a "big upgrade" from the 8th-generation 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 chip in the base model 2018 MacBook Air.

Still, many reviews recommend spending an extra $100 to upgrade to a 1.1GHz quad-core Core i5 chip — the first quad-core MacBook Air configuration ever.

One criticism that Haselton offered is that the new MacBook Air continues to have a 720p webcam, with many customers wishing that Apple would offer a 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera on its notebooks.

More first impressions were shared by CNET's Dan Ackerman, Business Insider's Lisa Eadicicco, TechRadar's Gareth Beavis and Matt Hanson, PCMag's Tom Brant, Pocket-lint's Stuart Miles, and the Daily Express' David Snelling.

Video Impressions and Unboxings







Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)

This article, "2020 MacBook Air Reviews Praise Magic Keyboard and Faster Performance at Lower $999 Starting Price" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

iPhone 11 Pro Review Roundup: Significant Camera Advancements and Excellent Battery Life

iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max reviews are in. The consensus is that the devices are quite familiar and relatively iterative updates as a whole, but with significant advancements to cameras and battery life.

The Verge

Battery Life


Apple claims that the iPhone 11 Pro has up to four hours longer battery life than the iPhone XS, and that the larger iPhone 11 Pro Max lasts up to five hours longer than the iPhone XS Max, and reviews support those figures.

Engadget's Chris Velazco says the iPhone 11 Pro lasted nearly 12 hours per charge, up from 9-9.5 hours with the iPhone XS:
When I tested the brand-new XS last year, it would run for between 9 to 9.5 hours off a single charge on days with heavy use. This year, the smaller Pro dealt with the same general workloads and lasted for closer to 12 hours before needing a charge. The larger Pro Max, meanwhile, routinely stuck around for between 13 to 14 hours on a single charge, compared to the 11 to 12 hours I squeezed out of the iPhone XS Max.
The Verge's Nilay Patel says his iPhone 11 Pro Max has consistently lasted 12-14 hours, up from 8-10 hours with the iPhone XS Max:
So the best I can tell you is that Apple has historically been good about meeting its battery life claims, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max I've been using every day for a week has consistently run for 12 to 14 hours on a single charge, with over 10 hours of screen-on time reported in the battery settings per 24-hour period.

That's compared to 8 to 10 hours of battery life at most for my iPhone XS Max, which is a marked improvement. It's not enough to make me stop charging at my desk throughout the day, and I'll definitely still carry a battery pack on trips. But it's a big bump, and it's better than most Android phones we've tested.

Cameras and Night Mode


iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models share the same triple-lens rear camera system with a new ultra-wide-angle sensor complementing the existing wide-angle and telephoto lenses on last year's high-end models.

Patel believes the iPhone 11 Pro models have "the best smartphone camera on the market right now":
It appears Apple took all of those criticisms to heart because the iPhone 11 Pro cameras are an enormous improvement over the XS, and they beat the Pixel and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus in most of our side-by-side comparisons. In fact, I think the iPhone 11 Pro is the best smartphone camera on the market right now.
Mashable's Raymond Wong believes that the iPhone 11 lineup's new low-light Night Mode, activated automatically when necessary, is both better and more convenient than the similar Night Sight mode on Google's latest Pixel smartphones:
Sure, Google did night mode first, but the feature is more intuitive on the iPhone 11 Pro. On a Pixel, a spinning exposure ring blocks the entire viewfinder while you're holding still, but on the iPhone 11 Pro, you can see in real time an exposure getting brighter as the timer counts down.

And the iPhone 11 Pro's night mode also produces better photos in my opinion — sharper details from corner to corner, and better tones and contrast to preserve a scene's mood. Whereas night mode on other phones brighten a scene to the point it looks artificial or flat, the iPhone 11 Pro's night mode more delicately balances the light and dark areas in both the foreground and background.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of Night Mode on the iPhone 11 Pro and Night Sight on Google's Pixel 3 from The Verge:

iPhone 11 Pro on left, Pixel 3 on right

Design


TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino says the iPhone 11 Pro's new Midnight Green color actually looks more like dark gray in most lighting conditions:
The green looks nearly nothing like any of the photographs I've seen of it on Apple’s site.

In person, the Deep Green is reads as dark grey in anything but the most direct indoor light. Outdoors, the treated stainless band has an "80's Mall Green" hue that I actually really like. The back also opens up quite a bit, presenting as far more forest green than it does inside. Overall, though, this is a very muted color that is pretty buttoned up. It sits comfortably alongside neutral-to-staid colors like the Space Gray, Silver and Gold.
iPhone 11 Pro Max in Midnight Green

Panzarino adds that the new matte glass casing makes the iPhone 11 Pro models grippier than the glossy-backed iPhone XS models:
I'm happy to report that the iPhone 11 Pro's matte finish back increases the grippyness of the phone on its own. The smooth back of the iPhone 11 and the iPhone XS always required a bit of finger oil to get into a condition where you could reliably pivot them with one hand going in and out of a pocket.
As Wired's Lauren Goode notes, all three iPhone 11 models have what Apple claims is the most durable glass on any iPhone:
All three new iPhones have what Apple claims is the most durable glass on any iPhone. However, the back of the Pro phones have a textured and less slippery matte finish, and it's one that I prefer, given my track record for shattering phones. The Pro phones also come in colors that are more understated than the iPhone 11's pastels, contributing to the gravitas of the Pro's.

More Reviews


Videos





iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max models are available to pre-order in the United States and many other countries, with deliveries to customers and in-store availability beginning Friday, September 20.

Related Roundups: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro
Tag: reviews

This article, "iPhone 11 Pro Review Roundup: Significant Camera Advancements and Excellent Battery Life" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

New iPad Mini Reviews: Capable Small Tablet With Nearly All Features of New iPad Air

Early reviews and hands-on impressions of the new iPad mini came out today. Most publications agree that the iPad mini is a great update for fans of the smaller 7.9-inch tablet with almost identical tech specs to the new iPad Air.


That includes the same A12 Bionic chip, 8-megapixel rear camera, 7-megapixel front camera, Touch ID, Lightning connector, 64GB and 256GB storage options, two speakers, headphone jack, Gigabit-class LTE, first-generation Apple Pencil compatibility, and up to 10 hours of battery life.

The new iPad mini's only notable differences versus the new iPad Air are its smaller screen and lack of Smart Keyboard compatibility.

As The Verge's Nilay Patel notes, however, the iPad mini design is now very old:
You're still looking at the exact same external design, which is now nearly seven years old. If you secretly replaced any previous iPad mini with the new one, there's a chance you might not even notice the difference. All the changes to this new mini are on the inside, and they're significant — which they should be, given the amount of time since it was last refreshed.
And while the iPad mini finally supports the Apple Pencil, it comes with all of the downsides of the first-generation version:
…the iPad Pro came out late last year with a new second-gen pencil that magnetically clips onto the side of the iPad and charges wirelessly, but this new mini doesn’t have any of that. Instead, you’ve got Apple’s first-gen Pencil, which has never been a triumph of design or usability. You still pair and charge it by plugging it into the bottom of the iPad, which looks even more ridiculous on the mini, and the cap is still insanely easy to lose.
As for the iPad mini sticking with the Lightning connector, Apple told Patel that it views USB-C as a "pro" feature — aka iPad Pro.

Patel added that "the display is very nice" on the new iPad mini despite not having the iPad Pro's ProMotion variable refresh rate for smooth scrolling, but found that its same old 8-megapixel rear camera "takes at best medium-good photos."

Most reviews conclude that if you want the smallest iPad possible, the new iPad mini is quite capable and at least somewhat reasonably priced at $399. And with little competition from Android tablets, the iPad mini is one of the only small tablets worthy of consideration in the first place.

Patel's closing paragraph:
But the decision to get an iPad mini is simple: do you want a small, capable tablet? If you do, the mini is obviously worth $399, especially when you consider how long Apple has supported iPads for in the past. There’s just nothing else like it. Let’s just hope that next time we don’t have to wait four years for Apple to remember it exists again.
Lauren Goode of Wired:
I haven't fallen in love with the new Mini, just as I never felt the need to buy one before. But I could see why people would. It's less burdensome than a lot of other things we carry. It's not quite pocketable, but it's close. Again, I can't hold it in one hand, but some people can, I'm sure. The Mini feels personal in a way that other devices no longer do. Not because of its actual newness, but because it is still here, and slightly reinvented once again.
Harry McCracken of Fast Company:
It still looks like an iPad Mini–complete with home button and headphone jack. But after three loooooong years, Apple’s little tablet is finally getting the features it needs to qualify as a modern iPad.
Chris Velazco of Engadget:
I'd actually argue it's perhaps the best small tablet out there right now. There's more than enough power here for most people, and if portability is your biggest concern, there's no denying the mini is more convenient to lug around.
Raymond Wong of Mashable:
There simply isn't a tablet as powerful as the new iPad mini with the same or similar dimensions. You can get a 7-inch Kindle Fire for $50, but it's demonstrably inferior in every way from the construction, to the app selection, to the performance, to the storage, to display, and etc.
Scott Stein of CNET:
An iPad Mini with a faster processor and Pencil support is filling a specific need not everyone will have. It's like a specifically sized screw, or a particular TV size. As Apple keeps splitting its iPad line into more variants, the Mini feels far less essential than ever, particularly as the iPhone screens creep to six inches or more. But if you need an efficient iPad this size and don't want a bigger iPhone for the job... well, this is what you're looking for.

Videos




Other Reviews and Hands-On Impressions

The new iPad mini can be ordered now on Apple.com and will be available in Apple Stores starting next week.

Related Roundup: iPad mini 5
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: iPad Mini (Buy Now)

This article, "New iPad Mini Reviews: Capable Small Tablet With Nearly All Features of New iPad Air" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

MacBook Air Reviews Roundup: ‘Best Computer for Most People’ Again After 2018 Refresh

Apple's embargo lifted today on the first full-length reviews of the new MacBook Air ahead of the notebook's release on Wednesday.

The new MacBook Air via The Verge

The new MacBook Air features a faster 1.6GHz dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, a Retina display, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage, and Intel UHD Graphics 617. It also has Touch ID, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the same third-generation butterfly keyboard as the latest MacBook Pro.

Review Highlights


The Verge's Dieter Bohn:
So let me just bottom line it: this new MacBook Air is faster than the old MacBook Air, but not by the kind of margin you'd expect after three years (or even one, if you happened to buy the 2017 model). You can do all of the same stuff you can do on your current Air. I have been running a half-dozen apps at a time along with more than a dozen tabs in Chrome, and everything is pretty okay. I think for what most people will do with this laptop, it's fine. …

If you're hoping you'll be able to upgrade and get way faster video editing or process a ton of RAW photos at once, get a MacBook Pro. Those kinds of tasks will bring this Air to a chug and spin up those fans. I have found it to be more capable and powerful than the 12-inch MacBook, but, again, the difference is not as big as I'd hoped.
And:
People like the Mac. It's great to have a computer that does all of the computer stuff you want in a way you're familiar with. Until recently, the best computer for most people was the MacBook Air, and Apple took way too long to update it. So people have been waiting. And waiting.

Now, the wait is over. But if you were hoping that lightning would strike twice and this new MacBook Air would be as revolutionary as the old MacBook Air, well, it's not. It's basically a MacBook that finally includes all of the stuff that has been happening with laptops for the past few years. It is on par with the rest of the laptop world, but it hasn't moved beyond it.
Wired's Lauren Goode:
What might push you towards the Air, though, more so than any other Mac laptop, is its battery life. …

Not surprisingly, the laptop drained much more quickly when I used the MacBook Air to charge my iPhone, something I do often. But in another recent test—browsing in Safari, running Slack and iMessage, editing a few photos in Lightroom, all with the display between 60 to 70 percent of maximum brightness—it lasted just under eight hours.
TechCrunch's Brian Heater:
There's no doubt the new Air marks a sizable update. It's pricier, too, though Apple's kept things more in check here than with the Mac Mini. With all of its upgrades and lower price point to boot, the Air is the clear pick over the 12-inch MacBook in practically every way.

As a matter of fact, barring some major future upgrade, the 12-inch likely isn't long for this world. And that's perfectly fine. The new Air is very clearly the better buy.
Engadget's Dana Wollman:
This is the same screen technology already in use on the 12-inch MacBook, and the color spectrum Apple is touting is actually sRGB -- a common spec for laptops in this price range. In fact, that's one of the main differences between this screen and the MacBook Pro: For the money, Apple's highest-end laptops step up to the professional-grade P3 color spectrum. I don't miss it, but if you do, the Air wasn't the right laptop for you anyway.
Six Colors's Jason Snell:
If you're shopping for a Mac laptop, start with the MacBook Air. Want a cheaper model? The old Air is there for as long as it lasts. Want something even smaller and lighter, and are willing to trade some power, port flexibility, and money for it? The MacBook is for you. Want something more powerful, and are willing to take on a slightly heavier and more expensive device? The 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar is for you. Want even more power? The 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros offer numerous opportunities to upgrade specs and spend more money.
AppleInsider's Andrew O'Hara:
When we compared the display of the new MacBook Air to our 15-inch 2017 MacBook Pro, they both looked pretty solid, but we noticed at least one difference —the new Air doesn't get quite as bright. When we checked out the specs page, Apple outlines the newest Pros can reach up to 500 nits of brightness, while the new Airs only max out at 300. This would be more noticeable for anyone working outside, but isn't a big deal in an office environment, or even a bright room.

Review and Unboxing Videos








More Reviews

The new MacBook Air is available to order on Apple.com, with deliveries to customers and in-store availability starting tomorrow. The notebook now starts at $1,199, while Apple continues to sell the previous-generation model for $999.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

iPhone XS and XS Max Reviews: Not Dramatically Better Than iPhone X, Consider Waiting for iPhone XR

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max reviews have hit the web, three days before the smartphones are released in stores.


2018 is what is known as a "S" year—hence the XS branding—in which Apple retains the same physical design of the iPhone, for the most part, and instead focuses on internal improvements to the display, camera, performance, and so forth. Previous examples include the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 6s series.

Not only that, but Apple said last year's iPhone X set the standard for the next decade of the smartphone, with its premium design and nearly edge-to-edge display, leaving the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with big shoes to fill.

All that considered, let's dive in and see how they stack up.

After nearly six days of trying out the devices, many media outlets and YouTubers agree that the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are "evolutionary, not revolutionary," as Wired's Lauren Goode put it. TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino went as far as labeling the smaller-sized iPhone XS as "one of Apple's most 'S' models ever."


That's not necessarily a bad thing. As in many "S" years, if you already own the previous-year's device—in this case the iPhone X—Panzarino said there are only "about a half-dozen definitive improvements" in the iPhone XS. But, for customers upgrading from an older iPhone, he said they'll be in for "a huge win."
As an upgrade over an iPhone X, I'd say you're going to have to love what they've done with the camera to want to make the jump. As a move from any other device, it's a huge win and you're going head-first into sculpted OLED screens, face recognition and super durable gesture-first interfaces and a bunch of other genre-defining moves that Apple made in 2017, thinking about 2030, while you were sitting back there in 2016.
In terms of specific features, The Verge's Nilay Patel has good impressions about Face ID, the rear camera, performance, battery life, and more. As he reminds readers, the only differences with the iPhone XS Max versus the smaller iPhone XS are its larger 6.5-inch display and longer battery life.


Patel on Face ID:
Other than the minor speed increase and secondary appearance support, Face ID is still Face ID: it doesn't work in landscape or upside down or anything like that. If you wear glasses like me, you'll still have to enter your passcode every morning when you wake up because you're holding the phone too close to your face for it to work. And sunglasses that block IR light will still prevent it from working — Apple says it's working with sunglass makers to ship new kinds of sunglasses that support Face ID.
On the rear camera:
The camera upgrades on the XS over the X are significant — the XS makes the X camera look terrible most of the time. But we've been saying the best smartphone camera on the market is Google's Pixel 2 for a year now, so that's the standard to beat. And… I think the Pixel 2 still has a better camera than the iPhone XS. Don’t get me wrong — most people are going to like the photos they get out of the iPhone XS. It has a solid camera, and I prefer it to the Galaxy S9. But compared to the Pixel 2, the XS doesn't really do it for me.
Performance:
Last year's iPhone X had an A11 Bionic chip, and this year’s iPhone XS has an A12 Bionic. In terms of CPU performance, the A12 really isn't that much faster: Apple only quotes a 15 percent performance improvement, and I didn't really see a noticeable speedup over my iPhone X.
Battery life:
I mostly tested the XS Max, and it did great — better than even Apple's claim of 90 minutes more than the X. In fact, I got a full 12 hours of battery life out of the XS Max without low power mode, and that's even under my heavy daily use of constant Slack and email usage, video watching, photo taking, and browsing. The smaller XS is rated to get 30 minutes more than the X, which has run for about 8 hours for me this past year. It's solid.
If you are a diehard Apple fan who can't wait to get your hands on the latest and greatest iPhone, you're probably going to choose the iPhone XS, or specifically the iPhone XS Max, regardless. For others, it may be best to wait until Friday, October 19, when the lower-priced iPhone XR becomes available to order.

iPhone XR is often described as the iPhone X for the rest of us. While reviews of the device are not out today, we know it has a nearly edge-to-edge display, Face ID, glass casing, wireless charging, and many other advantages of the iPhone XS, including new camera features such as Depth Control and Smart HDR.

CNET's Scott Stein:
Both the iPhone XS and XS Max are great phones, fantastic refinements and incredibly promising hubs for your super-connected universe. As you'd expect, they're the best iPhones at the moment. But here's the twist: That third new iPhone, the iPhone XR, may be the best pick for anyone upgrading from any iPhone other than the 2017 iPhone X.

It has many of the same features as the XS, but with a larger yet lower-resolution 6.1-inch LCD screen compared to the XS, and -- according to Apple -- better battery life. And it's $250 cheaper to start -- only $50 more than the iPhone 8's starting price this time last year.
The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern:
The new iPhone XS and XS Max are great phones but the XR, due out in October, sounds more like a great deal…

Imagine Goldilocks only tested the cold and hot porridges and never found the one that was "just right." Her life might have been entirely different. That's how I feel about testing the iPhone XS and XS Max—without the iPhone XR—for the past week…
Many other publications have shared iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max reviews that are worth a read. We've rounded up links below.
iPhone XR reviews will likely hit the web around Wednesday, October 17.

Related Roundup: iPhone XS
Tag: reviews

Discuss this article in our forums

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Called ‘Worthy Rival’ to iPhone X as Reviews Hit

Galaxy S9 and S9+ reviews are officially out, and they're mostly positive. The consensus is that Samsung's latest smartphones are iterative but improved versions of its already-impressive Galaxy S8 devices.


We've linked a handful of the reviews below for anyone interested, but since we're an Apple-centric website, we've chose to specifically highlight some comparisons made to Apple and the iPhone X in particular.

Highlights


The Wall Street Journal's David Pierce believes that Samsung and the Galaxy S9 once again "set the bar for smartphone design":
Nobody makes better-looking phones than Samsung. Last year's Galaxy S8 was a particular gem of a device, glassy and stark with that "infinity display" stretching almost entirely across the front. It was thoughtfully designed on a level only Apple used to be able to achieve. As a result, it flew off shelves.

So why change anything? Nine versions in, Samsung feels it has landed on the right design for its Galaxy S phones. A company spokeswoman compared Samsung's approach to the way a luxury car maker might build new models: Nip and tuck, but dont change what people already love.
CNBC's Todd Haselton described the Galaxy S9 as "a worthy rival to the iPhone X" in his review. However, he said Samsung still lacks a Galaxy S smartphone that "pushes the boundaries a bit more" like the iPhone X.
I don't normally compare Android phones with the iPhone because the product ecosystems are so different […] There's no question the Galaxy S9 is a worthy Android rival to the iPhone X, with a great screen, camera, wireless charging and more. If you're buying an Android phone and don't like Apple products for whatever reason, this is a safe bet.
This brings up a larger point: Samsung's Galaxy S9 feels a lot like the move from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 8. It's an upgrade, but not really a huge bump in a lot of ways. Samsung needs something in the Galaxy S range that pushes the boundaries a bit more, like the iPhone X does in Apple's lineup.
Samsung finally included stereo speakers on the Galaxy S9, and Haselton believes they sound "noticeably better" than those on the iPhone X.


The Verge's Dan Seifert said Samsung's new "AR Emoji" feature is "built just to compete with Apple" and "not very good":
There are a couple issues with Samsung's AR Emoji. First, Samsung isn't using any special tech to capture your face or movements, it's just relying on the front or rear camera, so tracking is bad. Second, the characters it creates are on the wrong side of creepy, and everyone I've tested it with has been completely turned off with the results. The animal characters are similarly weird. It's definitely something that Samsung built just to compete with Apple, and it's not very good.
Quartz's Mike Murphy said what irks him most about the iPhone X is that it can only be unlocked with Face ID or a passcode, whereas the Galaxy S9 has a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, facial recognition, or a passcode.

However, he adds that the Galaxy S9's iris scanner and facial recognition system are both slower than Face ID on the iPhone X.
While it's nice that there are multiple ways to unlock the S9, the iris and face scanners aren't as quick as the iPhone X. The iris scanner requires you to hold the phone pretty much at eye level and takes a few moments to scan, whereas Apple's Face ID technology seems to work almost instantaneously, at a range of angles.
Mashable's Raymond Wong touted the Galaxy S9 camera's variable aperture, but he said low-light photos aren't necessarily better than those shot with an iPhone X or Google Pixel 2. Most reviews agree it is a matter of personal preference.
Yes, the camera is smart enough to identify the amount of light in a scene and switch to the suitable aperture, but the photos don't stomp all over the iPhone X's or Pixel 2's shots, even in low light scenarios.

The iPhone X still takes the prize for color accuracy. The S9 camera still over-saturates and over-processes photos. And the Pixel 2 XL is still the sharpness and low-light champion.

More Reviews

Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ can be pre-ordered on Samsung's website for $720 and $840 respectively. The smartphones launch March 16.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

iPhone X Review Roundup: Face ID Works Well as Life Without Home Button Takes Getting Used To

Apple has lifted its embargo for iPhone X reviews today, but many of the articles and videos are more like early impressions, given that it provided many media outlets with less than 24 hours of lead time with the device.

iPhone X via The Verge

We've rounded up some notable excerpts from iPhone X reviews below. The general consensus is that the smartphone has a gorgeous design and that Face ID works well. However, the smartphone definitely isn't for everyone, and using an iPhone without a Home button seemingly takes some time before feeling natural.

The Verge's Nilay Patel said Face ID "mostly works great," but he noted authentication was inconsistent in certain lighting conditions.
I took a walk outside our NYC office in bright sunlight, and Face ID definitely had issues recognizing my face consistently while I was moving until I went into shade or brought the phone much closer to my face than usual. I also went to the deli across the street, which has a wide variety of lights inside, including a bunch of overhead florescent strips, and Face ID also got significantly more inconsistent.
Patel added that apps that haven't been updated for the iPhone X's display have "ugly" black borders along the top and bottom.
Apps that haven't been updated for the iPhone X run in what you might call "software bezel" mode: huge black borders at the top and bottom that basically mimic the iPhone 8. And a lot of apps aren't updated yet: Google Maps and Calendar, Slack, the Delta app, Spotify, and more all run with software bezels. Games like CSR Racing and Sonic The Hedgehog looked particularly silly. It's fine, but it's ugly, especially since the home bar at the bottom of the screen glows white in this mode.
Wired's David Pierce took the iPhone X for a test drive while bouncing on a trampoline in the video below.


TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino took his iPhone X to Disneyland in California to test the device in a real-world scenario.

Panzarino also noted that Face ID "works really well" and was "incredibly easy to set up."
You choose to enable it and then rotate your nose around the points of a clock twice. That's it. Second, it worked the vast majority of times I tried it, it never once unlocked using a picture of myself or another person's face and the failure rate seemed to be about the same as Touch ID — aka almost never. As hoped, it's definitely faster than the first generation of Touch ID, though perhaps slightly slower than the second gen.
Panzarino shared some photos shot with iPhone X. In good lighting conditions, he said there is almost zero difference between the cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, given the devices have the same sensors and image signal processors.

Shot on iPhone X by Matthew Panzarino via TechCrunch

Panzarino said he hasn't seen any screen burn-in on the iPhone X yet, a problem Google's new Pixel 2 XL has faced, but he hasn't been using the device long enough to say it's "burn-in proof" with confidence.
I haven't been using the phone long enough to determine whether it is "burn-in proof" or whatever you want to call it, but Apple insists that it has done a ton of work to mitigate the problem. And I do use Twitter, with a static menu bar, a whole heck of a lot and see no burn in so far. That's the best info I can give you besides that the Pixel 2's burn-in started showing up pretty quickly.

The Washington Post's Geoffrey A. Fowler said Face ID worked "nine times out of 10" in his initial testing, but not with a fake beard.
In my initial tests, it worked nine times out of 10. You really have to hold it in front of your face like you're taking a selfie. Too close, in particular, and it won't work. It recognized me in the dark, and when I put on sunglasses — but not when, in the interest of science, I put on a fake beard. (Apple says it adapts to handle beards when they come on more slowly.)
CNET's Scott Stein said it takes time to get used to the iPhone X's new gestures and button combinations for returning to the Home screen, multitasking, and invoking Siri and Apple Pay.
A number of new gestures take the place of the old home button. I kept reaching for the phantom button over the first few hours, feeling like I'd lost a thumb. […]

Meanwhile, there's a new, large side button that brings up Siri and Apple Pay. I instinctively pressed and held it to shut down my phone, then I realized that is not what that button does. (To turn off the phone, you now hold that same side button *and* the lower volume button at the same time, which feels far from intuitive.)

Those gestures added up to some difficult maneuvers as I walked Manhattan streets in the Flatiron between my office and a local barber shop. At the end of the first day, I admit: sometimes I missed the simple home button.
Since many reviewers were provided with less than 24 hours of time with the iPhone X before Apple lifted its publishing embargo, we'll have to wait for a truly in-depth look at performance, cameras, and other features.

We've rounded up a list of many other iPhone X reviews, first impressions, and videos, and we'll be sharing more tidbits throughout the day.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

List of iPhone X Reviews and First Impressions After Just 24 Hours

Apple has lifted its embargo for iPhone X reviews today after providing many media outlets with the device less than 24 hours ago.


MacRumors is combing through the first impressions published so far to find interesting tidbits about the iPhone X, and in the meantime, we've compiled a list of both text and video reviews of the device in one convenient place.






The Verge
Digital Trends
Forbes
The Washington Post
Financial Post
Business Insider
Mashable
CNBC
TechCrunch
iMore
CNET
The Independent
BuzzFeed News
The Loop
The Telegraph
SlashGear
The Economic Times of India
Tom's Guide

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple TV 4K Reviews: Expensive But With Cheaper 4K Movies, Some Limitations Like 1080p YouTube

Apple TV 4K reviews are out, providing us with first impressions of one of the most expensive streaming media players on the market.


The Verge's editor-in-chief Nilay Patel said the Apple TV 4K is "by far the closest thing to being a fully realized vision for the future of TV that exists," but for now it has some limitations that hold it back.

Notably, the Apple TV 4K doesn't have Dolby Atmos sound and the YouTube app can only play videos in 1080p quality.
But the new Apple TV doesn’t support Atmos. And it doesn’t support YouTube in 4K HDR. And it doesn’t have Disney or Marvel movies in 4K HDR. And it makes some 1080p content look less than great. […]

Apple doesn't support YouTube's VP9 video format, which means YouTube on the Apple TV 4K doesn't support 4K HDR playback. Apple doesn't have any timeline as to when or if that might happen; it's a problem that affects Safari on the Mac and iOS devices as well.
Apple told Patel that the lack of Dolby Atmos sound isn't a hardware limitation, and said support is on the roadmap.


The new Apple TV automatically upscales all SDR video to either HDR or Dolby Vision, depending on which format your TV supports, but Patel and some other reviewers said the end result doesn't always look great.
…Apple's HDR video processing is hit or miss. It was great when I watched HD content from iTunes, but it fell down in other apps. I watched The Dark Knight in HD on HBO Go with our video team, and the Apple TV 4K HDR processing blew out all the contrast in the image, sharpened everything to hell, and turned the film grain into noise.
Most reviews pointed out that the Apple TV 4K, priced from $179, is considerably more expensive than its competitors. Google's Chromecast Ultra is $69, Amazon's Fire TV starts at $90, and the Roku Premiere is $70.

However, the price difference could eventually be made up for with a cheaper selection of 4K movies available to purchase or rent in iTunes. Apple is also upgrading customers' existing iTunes libraries of HD videos to 4K at no cost.

Engadget's Devindra Hardawar:
You'll find Apple's first batch of 4K HDR films in their own section on the iTunes store. So far, the selection includes some major new releases like Wonder Woman, Baby Driver and Alien Covenant. Notably, they're mostly selling for $20, with a few older titles going for $15. Walmart-owned Vudu, which has been selling and renting 4K films for years, currently has those titles for $30. Even the rental prices for 4K are lower on iTunes -- $5 versus $10 on Vudu. And, just as Apple promised, several films I previously purchased on iTunes -- Star Trek Beyond, The Lego Movie and Kingsman were automatically upgraded to 4K HDR.
CNET's David Katzmaier:
All HD and 4K titles on iTunes cost the same. On other services, 4K is typically more expensive. Take a new release like "Wonder Woman." On iTunes it costs $20 to buy and $6 to rent, regardless of whether you get the HD or 4K/Dolby Vision version. On Vudu and Google Play, the HD version costs the same but the 4K/HDR version costs $30 to buy and $10 to rent. It's a similar story with new-to-video movies "Kong: Skull Island," "Ghost in the Shell" and "Transformers: The Last Knight."

Bottom Lines


The Verge's Nilay Patel:
I am very confident Apple is going to figure this TV thing out. It's the only company that has the combination of power and care to actually do it. But the Apple TV 4K's unrealized potential just makes it obvious that the future of TV is still pretty far away, and it's simply too expensive to gamble on in the meantime.
CNET's David Katzmaier:
But let's say you're OK spending $179 to get a high-performance streamer. If you're an "Apple person" with a nice TV and a yen for improved image quality, the Apple TV 4K is definitely worth getting -- and if you already own the non-4K one and you have cash to spare, it's a good excuse to kick that box to a secondary room. The same goes for movie buffs who regularly rent or buy new releases in 4K, thanks to iTunes' price advantage and promise to upgrade to the 4K versions.
TechRadar's Garis Beavis:
If you’re already in the Apple-sphere and want a streaming box, the Apple TV 4K makes the most sense. It’s costly, yes, and there are cheaper options on the market if you just want to get high-quality images beamed into your eyeballs.

But if you also want the wider app ecosystem, and the ability to connect sensors and use it as a workout trainer, play games with kids or control your smart home, then the Apple TV 4K is an easy choice.
More Reviews: Mashable, BuzzFeed News, iMore, Financial Post, TIME

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums