iPad mini + iPhone 13 Pro > Galaxy Fold

The above is an excellent overview of the new iPad mini and it covered what the benefits are in the real world.

When Michael talked about the Galaxy Fold and the potential of 2 Apple devices fulfilling what it does this made a lot of sense to me. iPhone 13 Pro (£1,049) + iPad mini (£479) = less than the £1,599 Galaxy Z Fold3 5G.

I have never seen a use case that would suggest that a folding phone makes it worth the extra cost and when I compare it to those 2 devices it seems like a no-brainer to me.

HUAWEI GT 2 Pro review (part 1)

This is a very quick first part of my GT 2 Pro review. I simply want to cover the very first impressions a buyer can expect to experience when they open the box. And my first impressions were much more positive than I expected.

I still struggle to understand how £179 can get a watch (any type of watch) with sapphire glass, a titanium case, a good quality leather strap, an excellent buckle and a ceramic case back. This is practically unheard of in the traditional watch industry, but it does make me question how Huawei can do it when the likes of Seiko, Tissot cannot at anywhere near this price point. Take a look higher at Tudor, Oris and even Omega, and you will not see all of these materials together without laying out some serious money.

Even more surprising is the way the case has been made, the quality of the buttons, the design considerations and the consistency throughout. It really does not feel like a smartwatch on the wrist, apart from the lack of weight.

In the box you get a USB C charging cable which attaches to a circular wireless charger, a couple of booklets and that’s your lot. It is minimal and if you pay an extra £20 you get a black rubber strap as well which can be changed using the quick release mechanism. I should add that the quick release used here is the best quality I have seen to date on any watch. The surprises continue.

My very first impressions are extremely positive and I am somewhat bewildered by what you get for the price. I mean, this is Huawei after all. A company we are taught to be wary of, but the hardware is ultra impressive and arguably above the Apple Watch. In part 2 I will cover the display, performance and battery.

Samsung ditches iOS support for the Galaxy Watch

Most smartwatches compatible with Android smartphones usually offer support for Apple’s iOS platform too, but that tune might be changing. With its Galaxy Watch 4 series, Samsung has quietly dropped support for iOS.

If you dive into the specs of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 on the company’s website, you’ll see the compatibility list has been altered since last year’s release. The glaring omission? Galaxy Watch 4 lacks iOS support entirely, a detail that Samsung confirmed to ArsTechnica while saying that the change has no impact on older Galaxy smartwatches. In other words, Samsung won’t be removing that ability on its Tizen products… More here.

That’s a big move when you think about it because it effectively precludes iPhone users from buying the watch. I realise that Apple already does this with the Apple Watch, but I wonder if it is a sign that trying to compete for iPhone owners against the Apple Watch is pointless. I suspect there are numbers behind this move to back that up.

The Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Today we’re getting our first look at the fruits of Samsung’s smartwatch collaboration with Google: the new Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. It’s a big deal in wearables, because after years of trying to go it alone with its own Tizen platform on smartwatches, Samsung is finally biting the bullet and collaborating with Google on its operating system.

I expected more from this release, I really did. The battery performance is disappointing and some of the proposed health sensing feels like a reach, but I am prepared to be corrected over time on that. It just doesn’t feel like a big jump forward to me.

Surprisingly I was much more intrigued by the new folding phones from Samsung. They are shaping up better much quicker than I expected.

Is it time for Apple to ditch the lightning cable?

The PolyCharge is an interesting product and one that appears to offer many advantages. It is on Indiegogo so you will have to gauge the risks, but this kind of product is starting to make more sense every day.

Marques published this video recently and got me thinking about the lightning cable that is becoming a royal pain for me these days. My MacBook uses USB-C, my iPad Air uses USB-C, almost every other device I own uses USB-C and my iPhone uses lightning or wireless charging which is sadly currently lacking in terms of speed.

Marques believes that Apple is aiming for only wireless and I guess this is the future, but something tells me we will need to lose the lightning cable before wireless charging is up to snuff to be comparable in terms of practicality.

The Commodore PET smartphone

It will only mark the attempt of a small company to buy an off-the-shelf smartphone from China and ship it with a white casing and a slightly weird looking take on the Commodore logo. To justify selling under the Commodore name, it will come with a pre-loaded emulator. One that could be installed on any Android phone. (Edit: It seems it will also include an Amiga emulator too, but everything I’ve said here about the C64 equally applies there too)… More here.

I tend to agree with Jonathan on this one and mainly because the PET name has been used with no real logic apart from the fact it is a well known name. However, this kind of branding of low level technology, and indeed other products such as jewellery and watches, is far from uncommon and happens a lot more than you may expect.

Freedom Phone: what a bunch of ***’s

The Freedom Phone is a free speech and privacy first focused phone. With features like tracking blockers and an uncensorable app store.

What a bunch of sh*t’s they are for promoting this to people who know no better. $499.99 for what is effectively a phone that costs less than $200 elsewhere.

Now that you know the general idea behind the phone, let’s dissect the device itself. The official website for the Freedom Phone is scarce on details, but it mentions that the phone works with all US domestic and international carriers, comes with pre-loaded conservative sites and apps, and runs a “free-speech first operating system” called FreedomOS (not to be confused with the custom ROM with the same name) that features a privacy tool called “Trust.” The phone is priced at $499, and thanks to the company’s generous affiliate program, many right-wing personalities and influencers in the US are hyping it up… More here.

I can guess some of the people making money out of this garbage, and one of them in particular. Big phone, small hands, big profits.

Apple TV 4K vs Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD

My Apple TV is old and a pain to use these days; the software is noticeably slow compared to any other device I use, starting a streaming seems to take forever and the remote is completely unintuitive (and gets lost far too easily).

I cannot blame the product itself due to the age, but when considering what to replace it with the options are stark. Do I buy an Apple TV 4K for £169 or an Amazon Fire Tv Stick 4K for £49.99? That is quite a gap, but when Prime Day appeared and the Fire Stick dropped down to £26.99 I decided to try the latter option because Apple TV+ is now supported.

A few days later and the Fire TV Stick interface is used 95% of the time on my TV. It has taken over the Samsung smart TV interface which has always felt ‘not quite good enough’ and it plays all of my Apple TV content and streams perfectly every single time.

With support for YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, BBC iPlayer, a big selection of apps and games, gaming controller support and so much more it is hard to fault for the price. Throw in the Alexa remote control feature, which for example lets you just say a film name and it will find the best platform it is available on, and you have a winner which covers every single base.

Then consider Dolby Atmos Audio support, Up to 4K Ultra HD with support for HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision and a remote control that is completely intuitive and I feel like my £26.99 was a very small price to pay for what I got.

And then I look at the Apple TV 4K for 6 times the Prime Day price and I scratch my head at the pricing, and I start to believe that this is an example where when Apple opens up it loses.

I would get some features not available elsewhere such as High Frame Rate HDR, colour calibration and Fitness+ support, but to be honest the first two would barely be noticeable in the real world and the third can be used on other devices anyway (and also mirrored from an iPhone using the Replica app).

The remote control is touted by Apple as running circles around other remotes, but with Siri inside it immediately falls behind because Alexa is better. It simply is better.

It is not often that Apple makes a product that is so completely out of line in terms of pricing against the competition, but the current Apple TV is surely the perfect example. It literally offers nothing tangible compared to other, much cheaper, products and it is an outlier in the Apple product range.

I often tout the value in the iPhone, the Apple Watch and the Macs, and even in an Apple One subscription, but I cannot get close to recommending a new Apple TV.

And if I forget that the hugely expensive Apple TV exists, I have to give credit to Amazon because the Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD is just superb. It makes me think about other hardware options if Apple was to open up iMessage and the Apple Watch to other products and it makes me think twice about the hold the company has on me.

Leica makes a phone iPhone owners will look twice at

The Leica Leitz Phone 1 is not an original phone as such because it is a rebadged Aquos R6. It is, however, an object that jumped out at me in an instant.

Just look at the image above. The Leica badge stands out of course, but to me it is the way the screen wraps into the case and the overall design of the phone. It feels timeless and ultimately a design that will still look good in ten years, just as some of the older Nokias do.

Some may say it is just a phone attached to the camera, or vice versa, but we are beyond that in 2021. A phone needs a camera and most phones are our only cameras so why not try to merge both and create something distinctive?

From one perspective at least the Leica Leitz Phone 1 is a surprise in a world of design iterations and it shows that phones can still appeal on aesthetics alone.

Why people do not move from the iPhone?

If you go to this link on your iPhone you can experience what a Samsung Android smartphone feels like to use. It is a clever interactive website that attempts to offer a representation of how it would feel if you decided to move from your iPhone to a Samsung phone.

Android on my iPhone.

The problem for Samsung is that more people move from Android to iOS than the other way around, but it isn’t the case that this statistic is overwhelming. We have to remember that the vast majority of smartphone users have little allegiance to a particular operating system and within that a decent percentage barely understand much beyond the apps they want to use. This is not because of a lack of intelligence, it’s simply because they have better things to do with their lives.

For those of us who have nothing better to do or who use their phones so much that certain things become important there is a long list of reasons why it is hard to move away from the iPhone. Some of these are forced upon us by Apple, in good and bad ways, and some are simply because of the failing of other manufactures.

iMessage is often discussed as the killer iOS feature and rightly so. It is extremely reliable, as simplistically presented as you could wish for and it is divisive. The use of green and blue bubbles causes division immediately by effectively stating that you are either on a secure system that will cost you little to nothing (blue bubble) or you are using the less secure and aged SMS technology which can cost you extra through many mobile operators if you dare to include a picture (green bubble). The superiority of iMessage over SMS is stark and for those of us who have used it for many years the thought of going back to SMS seems crazy. And Apple ensures that iMessage is not useable on any other non-Apple platform.

Privacy is always a hot topic and the perception that iOS is more secure than Android is well known. It is true as it happens, but maybe not to the extremes that some people believe, but it remains one of the major reasons why I use a Mac and not a Windows PC, why I use an iPhone and not an Android phone and why I use an iPad in favour of… do other companies still make tablets?

Support is also very high on my list of reasons why I stick with Apple. This is forced by Apple in a good way because it is a critical differentiation to many other manufacturers. Where would I go if my Android phone broke or my Windows PC? I know people who have been through that process and the difference when compared to Apple’s retail footprint and online support is huge! These tools are important to me and I need them to work 99% of the time, and having efficient options open to me is vital should something go wrong.

Pricing is often thrown at Apple as a negative and on the face of it that appears to be a valid criticism. I don’t like how Apple limits certain memory options on iPhones and iPads to push you to buy the more expensive option (and Apple memory is strangely expensive compared to others) and it is often the case that the base point for Apple products precludes many from ever buying an Apple product. However, take a look at the flagship devices from the likes of Samsung and others, and you will see that the differentiation is not anywhere near as large as you may initially perceive. Also, and this is very important, the longevity of Apple products, particularly Macs, can make the initial cost much more viable. I have mentioned it a few times, but my daughter still uses my iMac from 2010 to write and to browse the internet every single day. Her iPhone is 4 years old, works perfectly, my son’s is 3 years old, has never had a problem, and so the story goes on with only my 2016 iPad suffering a big battery issue. I am convinced that the longevity of Apple products, and the many year support for OS updates, makes them excellent value when compared to the competition.

The ecosystem, which is often cited as a part of the legendary walled garden, is a forced feature from Apple that can be viewed as good or bad. As it has grown over time the number of ecosystem tweaks that bring all of your Apple devices together becomes very hard to break away from. iCloud, unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch, automatic copy paste from iOS to Mac and vice versa, AirPods switching between devices seamlessly, SMS and iMessages on all devices, automated backups, Apple One which covers all devices for the family and so the list goes on. The amount of fiddling and manual intervention to do the things you would otherwise have to complete multiple times every day is minimal.

Security, along with privacy, is another factor that I would find hard to leave behind. From apps that are checked before publication on the App Store to the plain fact that macOS is attacked much less often than Windows are cleared advantages in this regard. We do not have to deal with updates every few days like Windows and to this day I have never installed an anti-virus solution on any macOS or iOS device I have owned. The downside is a lack of flexibility that Android, for example, can offer, but I genuinely feel that I can do everything I need to on my devices and in a way that offers some peace of mind for good measure.

The Apple Watch can only work with an iPhone and while this is a forced restriction by Apple it likely helps to grow the number of iPhone users. I have used many other smartwatches from the likes of Garmin, Samsung, Fitbit and Huawei, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Apple Watch, as a daily wear smartwatch, is streets ahead of the competition at this time.

Stability also remains high on my list and the reliability of every iPhone, Mac and iPad I have owned has been extremely high. This, alongside, all of the above breeds a very high degree of loyalty simply because they work every day over so many years.

It is not about being an Apple fan boy or having any loyalty to the brand. Apple is a tech company like any other and likely just a capitalist organisation trying to grab as much money as it can, but there are so many reasons why it is a) hard to leave an iPhone because you have gotten used to features Apple does not offer to other platforms, b) hard to leave an iPhone because it is so ridiculously reliable and powerful enough to cope with anything you throw at it and, c) it works with all of your other Apple devices that have formed a protective cloak around it to stop you ever moving to the Android side.