Apple Hardware 2018

Hey, guess what? That’s right, it’s new Apple mobile technology announcements.

Note the lack of an exclamation point at the end of the previous sentence. ‘Cause really, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get excited about Apple’s hardware, especially in the mobile space.

Considering that the most exciting bit of news they could come up with to kick off their event is that the Apple Watch is “the number one watch in the world,” I have to figure even Apple is finding it hard to get excited about their own products.

There’s a heck of a lot of marketing gimmickry in that claim, by the way. Number one by what measure? Are we including all the different versions and variations from launch, or just the current models? What time period? And why do we care, anyway? Apple isn’t (officially) a watch company after all.

Anyway, yes, there’s a new set of Apple Watches coming: the Series 4. They’re about a third bigger than last year’s watches. Does this sound familiar? First we have smartphones getting bigger and bigger, to the point where they’re inconvenient to pull out for a quick look. So we get smart watches. Which are now getting bigger and bigger.

What happens when your watch gets too big for your wrist? Will we see a return of the pocketwatch? I rather hope so, actually. Though that chain across my chest could be a bit awkward at times.

Anyway, that extra space can be used to display all sorts of information: sports scores, exercise data, or Apple’s favorite app, the one that reminds you to alternate inhalation and exhalation.

The new CPU is so fast it’ll display a minute in thirty seconds. (That is what “twice as fast” means, right?)

One bit of actually useful functionality: the Series 4 watches can detect the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” scenario and call your emergency contact. It’s too bad you have to buy a $500 watch* to get the feature, because it’s literally lifesaving.

* Yes, you can get a Series 4 for $399, but those variants don’t have cellular capability. To make calls, you’re looking at a minimum of $499. Or get last year’s Series 3 for a measly $279–though it won’t have the fall-detection capability.

On a somewhat related note, the watch will also alert you if your heart rate is too slow. Better take the watch off before your afternoon nap. (It’ll also alert you to signs of atrial fibrillation and let you take your own ECG. I’m less enthusiastic about these features. FDA clearance or no, they seem designed to appeal to the hypochondriac in us all.)

Moving on.

The iPhone X is now, Apple claims, the number one smartphone in the world. Again, no indication of how they’re measuring that. So, this being an alternate year, we’re getting the iPhone Xs.

Which is just like the iPhone X, but with a bigger screen and smaller bezels so the device as a whole is smaller. Unless, of course, you opt for the iPhone Xs Max, which has the largest iPhone screen ever. Remember what I said about phones getting bigger and bigger?

Look, I like my Pixel 2 XL, but I freely admit it’s big. Well designed to be usable at that size, and I’m sure the same is true of the Xs Max, but it can still be awkward. The Max is even larger than my XL.

Of course, the new phones are faster than last year’s. 15% for the CPU (and 40% lower power draw), 50% for the GPU. Better cameras (dual cameras on the back, and a single, faster camera on the front.) Other fasters–networking, for example–and tweaks, such as dual-sim capability. But really, couldn’t you have guessed that this year’s phones would be bigger and faster than last year’s?

Well, except for the iPhone XR. It’s a bit smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus (albeit with a larger screen). Think last year’s iPhone X, but a bit smaller and cheaper. Slightly.

The XR starts at $749, the Xs at $999, and the Xs Max at $1099. Of course, that means price cuts on Apple’s older phones. You’ll be able to pick up an iPhone 8 for a mere $599, or if you’re a real cheapskate, you can get an iPhone 7 for as little as $449. No more iPhone 6s (or original X, for that matter).

So, are you more excited about Apple’s new hardware than I am? You couldn’t be less, that’s for sure.

2 thoughts on “Apple Hardware 2018

  1. Speaking of “smart” phones, our new(ish) Galaxies just arrived from Credo, complete with little stickers, to be placed, I gather, over the camera lenses- presumably so “they” can’t watch us through our own phones.
    My first thought was that paranoia had gone mainstream, but, no: my Facebook (of course) friends assure me that “they” can not only watch, but hear me, as well, if they want to. I’m assured, by some, that it’s not uncommon for conversations in the vicinity of their phone to generate ads for the object discussed, popping up on their timeline.
    As bizarre as this sounds, I have no substantive reason to disbelieve it. The shadowy entity, “They” have long since proved that they are smarter than I, and I suppose if they want to listen, or watch, there’s not much I can do about it, other than shutting my phone off between uses- a tactic some of my friends actually suggested.
    If it’s come to that, I say to Hell with it: go ahead and listen, or watch, and enjoy…or, whatever it is you do. I’ve got a lot of other things to worry about, and this one is pretty far down the list.

    Like

    • It gets even worse–I’ve seen it seriously suggested that turning it off isn’t sufficient to ensure privacy. It’s certainly true that a micro-os could be running when the main operating system isn’t, with the sole goal of recording audio and/or video to be uploaded the next time you turn on the phone. But I’m not sure I believe it’s actually happening.

      I do not believe claims that phones have concealed batteries to enable the above power-off recording even if you take the battery out (on devices where that’s possible).

      Bottom line, though, you’re right. Everyone has to draw their own line on what they’re willing to accept and how much inconvenience they’re willing to put up with in the name of convenience.

      Like

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