Should I buy one of the new iPhone 11 smartphones?

NY team members welcomes first guests

The new iPhone 11 is out, and the world has taken notice. This year, Apple released all three phones the same day (iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max), and Everyone took it to Twitter, YouTube, and Podcasts to complain about how this new iPhone isn’t as good as it should have been, to tell us how much of the new capabilities are things that other devices already had, and also to make it a point how expensive they are. And yet, a lot of us can’t wait to get our hands on one of them.

Apple’s new iPhones have something this year that they didn’t have in the past few years; A considerable better camera(s), and much, much better battery life. Also, if you are already an Apple consumer, if you are in their ecosystem, getting a new iPhone with a better battery, and a better camera makes sense… if you do have the money for it.

For current iPhone users

If your iPhone battery is on red by the end of the day, go get the new iPhone.
If you appreciate photography, if you make videos, especially interview or vlog type videos, go get the new iPhone 11 Pro; yes, the one with the 4 cameras.
If the battery life of your current phone is right for you, and the camera takes the photos you like, there isn’t really a need to upgrade to the new iPhone, in my opinion.

For everyone else

There is probably a good reason why you aren’t an iPhone user, you either dislike the hardware, the software, the price, or all three of these things. I understand, people like and prefer different things and switching to any of the new iPhones isn’t going to give you anything that a new smartphone from Samsung or the Google Pixel won’t give you.

However, if you have a Mac, iPad, or iMac, using an iPhone gives you access to some really nice features that you won’t get with the other smartphones. And by the way, these features aren’t limited to the new iPhones, these sweet things are part of the software and will work with any iPhone as long as the software, iOS, is up to date. An example of the apps that make users very happy and productive within the Apple ecosystem is AirDrop (transfer files easily between your devices), Safari (you can view tabs from the other Apple devices), etc.

The good

The new iPhones are fast, very fast, you won’t be disappointed. The new custom-built A13 Bionic chip is as amazing and unique as it sounds. To most of us, it just means that the new iPhone can run the latest and also demanding apps and games. It also means you can do some photo and video processing right from your smartphone. I do prefer to do my photo and video editing using a much larger screen, but that’s just me.

The cameras, let’s talk about the cameras of the new iPhone, specifically, the iPhone 11 Pro. This smartphone, it’s a camera with high-end camera software. On the back, you have 3 new cameras, the ultra-wide camera, the wide camera, and the telephoto camera. That’s right, this new setup would give you a chance and flexibility to take some outstanding photos, and almost under any condition.

The battery last longer, and if you are a heavy iPhone user, you know how important that is. The battery is larger, but it also lasts longer, well done Apple, it’s about time.

The new iPhone 11 starts at $700, which is $50 less than last year’s iPhone XR. The Pro model is $1,000, and the Pro Max is $1,100.

The bad

It’s a good camera, it’s a good smartphone, but in a year or two, you’ll probably change it for a newer one.

The ‘notch’ is still very visible, other smartphones have made good progress making the ‘notch’ less visible, but Apple hasn’t.

The iPhone 11 fingerprint scanner is gone, which means you have to either type your password or use Face ID, which not everyone is happy to do use yet.

The iPhone 11 Pro is heavier than last year’s model, it weighs 188 grams while the iPhone XS was 177 grams, and the Samsung Galaxy S10, it’s just 157 grams.

Remember, if your budgets allow for it, and you are already in the Apple ecosystem, getting a new iPhone is not a bad idea if you appreciate having a much better camera and definitely much better battery life. It’s up to you, and please remember that if you are happy with your current’s phone camera, and your battery is still keeping up with your life then you are probably OK keeping your current phone a bit longer.

Commentary: Home devices are becoming less cool and more creepy

Amazon, Google, Apple, and now Facebook are now all pushing for home invasion, they are fighting hard to get conquer the consumer’s home (and possibly your car), and while competition is great for us consumers, not everything about this is good for us.

When Amazon released Echo with the wonderful digital assistant Alexa, I was pretty excited, I bought one, and I’m still pretty happy with it. It took Google and Apple a little bit to respond with their own flavor of a smart speaker/home assistant, but they did. So far so good.

I have to admit, when the Google home device was released, I started to worry about all of this. The Amazon Echo, while creepy sometimes, it’s not entirely aware of my life, it knows what toothpaste I buy and how often but it doesn’t know about my contacts, my email, etc. Also, it’s good to know that Amazon’s primary business model isn’t advertising, and neither is Apple’s.

Now, Google is another story, but I’m still trusting them with my email, and only some of my searches and internet browsing (I’ve switched to Firefox as my primary browser and DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine).

Facebook is where I feel the line has been crossed into creepiness, I just don’t trust the company now, and I am definitely not feeling that bringing Facebook’s eyes and ears into my house is a wise choice. And how can we trust them? They haven’t been playing nice with consumer’s privacy and why would they? Facebook’s business model is advertising, and their success is the result of highly targeted advertising that is only possible by them collecting multiple data points from us, our contacts, and our online (and offline) behavior to create detailed profiles that can be bundled and offered to whoever needs them.

I invite you to read Ben Thompson’s weekly article with the title The Battle for the Home which inspired this brief commentary.

Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 – The laptop that is what the Macbook Pro should have been

MacBook Pro and Surface Book 2 images

It has taken a few years for Apple to make any considerable upgrades to its most powerful line of laptops, the MacBook Pro (MBP). This I believe, has given Microsoft the opportunity to release a second and better iteration of a product that has both a new design and a set of features that can potentially make MacBook Pro users switch to this Windows laptop, at least for now. So what’s Apple to do?

Well, perhaps nothing if they aren’t as excited as they were once about pursuing the high-end laptop market which is made of, undeniably, of many of their existing customers via iPhone and iPads. The MacBook Pro has always been considered upscale and the high-end of laptops for professionals. The premium materials and powerful specs of the MacBook Pro were still on par with its high price, which made it hard for Windows laptop companies to compete.

The MacBook Pro

Presently, I consider the current MacBook Pro overpriced for what it offers. The 13 and 15-inch MBP models are priced only $100 less than Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 laptops of the same size with similar specs. But I consider that the Windows laptops while still expensive, offer a computer with better specs than the MacBook Pro where it counts. The Surface Book 2 includes a much better battery life (up to 17 hours vs. MBP’s 10 hours) a 10 point multi-touch display, better connections including a full-size SD card reader, and the versatility to be not just a laptop but also a tablet, and portable studio all-in-one.

The Surface Book 2

The Surface Book 2 also has better options for storage, Microsoft offers four storage options for the 13-inch model, and 3 storage options for the 15-inch model which range from a Solid state drive (SSD) 128GB to a roomy 1TB PCIe SSD, and you’ll still be under $3,300 while the Apple MacBook Pro will cost you over $4,000 if you choose a drive larger than 512GB.

The Surface Book 2 also features two cameras, a 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video and an 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p Full HD video. In comparison, the MacBook Pro includes a 720p FaceTime HD camera. To be honest, I haven’t really used the Surface’s rear-facing camera yet, I just haven’t found a use case for it, so not sure what advantages exists for having it.

The main advantage

The versatility of the Surface Book 2 is also no joke, I was a bit skeptic of it, but I’ve been using this laptop for two months now, and the tablet and studio options have been handy for me. When you detach the screen to use as a tablet, you end up with an incredibly light and powerful tablet.

The design is something I wasn’t a fan of when I first saw it, but it has grown on me. The hinge adds a bump to the Surface Book 2 profile, but it doesn’t bother me. This powerful laptop isn’t the thinnest, but it is indeed not the heaviest either. The 13.5-inch model wights 3.38 lbs while the 15-inch model is at 4.2 lbs. In comparison, the new Apple MacBook Pro is at 3.02 lbs for the 13-inch model and 4.02 lbs for the 15-inch model.

Another advantage of the Surface Book 2 is its QWERTY keyboard, it feels good, and it is definitely much better than the MBP’s keyboard equipped with the low-profile butterfly switch mechanisms.

The main disadvantage

The most significant disadvantage of the Surface Book 2 is that it falls short in memory options as you can only get up to 16GB while the MacBook Pro is configurable to 32GB of memory. This is important to a lot of people, having the extra memory comes handy when using memory hungry applications while coding or using photography and/or video editor applications.

Apple failed to impress with the release of the new options of their MacBook Pro line earlier this summer. In contrast, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is already a great laptop, and there are rumors that the Surface Book 3 release might be around the corner. There are good chances that the Surface Book 3 will include a 32GB memory option, and perhaps a better screen resolution if they want to stay ahead of Apple’s MacBook Pro line.

Bottom line

Most people who have gotten the Surface Book 2 would agree that Microsoft is changing the game and it’s regaining the attention of creators in search of a powerful and capable laptop, while Apple has a hard time keeping up after leaving their line of laptops unattended for so long.

Yup. Microsoft got its mojo back, and there is competition again.

Image credit: By SimonWaldherr [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Should you buy the Apple Watch Series 4?

My first Apple Watch was a gift from my wife, she invited me to lunch for Valentine’s and surprised me with a stop at our local Apple store to get me one of these new Apple watches. I got one, the 42mm stainless steel watch with the silver Milanese loop band and I have been using it since then. I wasn’t convinced it was a useful device for a while until the software started to get better and also some handy apps came along.

Initially, the Apple Watch wasn’t received well, people were mocking it and making fun of Apple for producing such a device (see screenshot below). The truth is that the first edition or Series 0 wasn’t ready, they just weren’t good enough yet.

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Personally, I was impressed by it, I really liked the design and the functionality, yes the series 0 was the thickest, the slowest, and the software was full of bugs, but it was still impressive. For example, the activity and heart rate apps where pretty good since the beginning, and in my opinion, there wasn’t anything as good and accurate as the Apple Watch.

Early competition

At the time, a lot of people where buying Fitbits, including myself, but while these devices were convenient and inexpensive, the quality and durability was pretty bad. In contrast, the Apple Watch not only kept track of my steps but it also did a lot more, like checking my heart rate, and it had some useful apps.

A few years have passed since the first Apple Watch was released, its popularity has grown, sales of it have increased, and let’s be honest, the new Apple Watch is way better than the first version. The reality is that this watch is for people who love Apple products. The point is, Apple isn’t the only company who improved their Smartwatch line and its features, there are new competitors who in my eyes, have built much better products for exercise tracking, with much better battery life, and they also look great.

Garmin, for example, made a smart move by releasing GPS Watches of various price levels and needs. Gamin’s GPS Watches are well built and well designed, and in my opinion, they are still the best GPS Watch you can buy today. The battery life in all models of their GPS Watch surpasses that of the Apple Watch, and this is an essential factor for anyone serious about their fitness training.

The new Series 4

Apple-Watch-Series4_LiquidMetal_09122018

The new Series 4 is definitely a good watch and a big improvement over the Series 3. Below is a summary of what’s new and how it compares to previous versions.

The Series 4’s come in two new sizes, a 40mm case (977 sq mm display area) and a 44mm (759 sq mm display area).

It’s also thinner, almost as thin as the Series 0’s 10.5mm (if you can remember), the Series 4 is 10.7mm thin while the Series 3 is 11.4mm thin.

It has a faster processor, a 64-bit dual-core S4 processor which makes it up to 2x faster than S3 processor.

The best new feature – in my opinion, an Electrical heart sensor (ECG app), the ECG app is coming later this year.

Second-generation optical heart sensor, Fall detection, and a Digital Crown with haptic feedback.

The main disadvantage

The new Apple Watch series 4 didn’t have an improvement to its battery life when compared to the series 3. By looking at the technical details for the series 3 and 4, the battery hasn’t improved much, if any. Watches on both series 3 and 4 have a battery life of up to 18 hours and up to 5 hours with GPS, according to Apple’s website.

All-day battery life is based on 18 hours with the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 30-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours.

In contrast, one of the most popular GPS Watches, the Garmin Fénix 5 Plus has a battery that will last for up to 12 days in smartwatch mode and 8 hours in GPS mode, with music, according to Garmin’s website.

Battery performance: up to 12 days in smartwatch mode and 8 hours in GPS mode with music (depending on settings)

When it comes to watches and its use as fitness watches Garmin is winning, and this is why Garmin’s line of watches is still a better choice than an Apple watch if you are looking to keep track of your workouts such as running, cycling, and swimming.

The main advantage

Apple did a great improvement to the Apple Watch Series 4, this device seems to be focused not only on fitness but it is now a viable and potentially reliable medical device that can help save lives. The introduction of features like the ECG feature is getting a lot of attention, and I think with reason. Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said it himself

We know this feature is going to save lives.

I agree with that statement, having the ability to monitor not only your heart rate but also having an electrocardiograph right there on your wrist is definitely something amazing.

President of the American Heart Association Dr. Ivor J. Benjamin discusses the benefits of the new Apple Watch Series 4 heart health features.

The ECG feature wasn’t the only thing that Apple surprised us with, the new Series 4 will also bring advanced activity and communications features, along with revolutionary health capabilities, including a new accelerometer and gyroscope, which are able to detect hard falls. 

The fall detection feature could be useful for anyone, but this seems to be a great way for Apple to tap into a new user base that hasn’t paid attention to their Apple Watch in the past.

Should you buy the new Apple Watch Series 4?

If you have any of the previous versions, you will definitely see the benefits of the new version + the two main health-related features. If you are older or are at risk of a heart disease, buying this watch could save your life. With the ECG app (to be released later this year), users touch the Digital Crown and after 30 seconds, receive a heart rhythm classification. It can classify if the heart is beating in a normal pattern or whether there are signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), a heart condition that could lead to major health complications. All recordings, their associated classifications and any noted symptoms are stored in the Health app in a PDF that can be shared with physicians.