18th September 2019
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Austin Mann:

I’m here as I continue on-going work photographing The Bach Project w/ Yo-Yo Ma, a world tour where Yo-Yo is performing Bach in unconventional places around the globe. It’s been a privilege to photograph this amazing journey, and when I considered how to test the iPhone 11 Pro’s new capabilities, I thought a shoot on this project could be a great fit as many of these shoots have been in extremely low light!

Of course, I’ve also been anxious to see what this Ultra Wide lens can do, so shortly after the performance I popped out to the countryside to find some epic landscapes and have been out exploring this big, beautiful country ever since.

The iPhone 11 Pro announcement was really about one thing: camera. (ICYMI, see this video pretty much summing it up.)

The big camera features I was most interested in testing were obviously the Ultra Wide (13 mm) lens, the new Night mode, Capture Outside the Frame, and things like iOS 13 photo management, editing tools, etc.

Austin Mann’s iPhone reviews are one of the few reviews that I read every year. As the main improvements to iPhone over the recent years being the camera, I can’t think of anyone else to better it all.

And as always, it’s packed full of great photography. It’s a must read.

13th September 2019

In recent years, the expected battery life of new iPhones have always been given in relative values. I saw this as a challenge to try and calculate what the raw number is.

The first place I went to was the technical specifications pages for the three new phones, the 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. They all had relative values based on the previous generation. Of course, my next step was to look at those values. Again, they were relative.

So I followed the chain until I came to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Their technical specifications no relative or fixed estimates for the battery life. There were estimates for audio playback, video playback, internet usage, etc. But I just wanted a single figure for an estimated use. As that’s what I expect the relative values on recent iPhones to be based on.

As far as I can tell, Apple didn’t talk about the battery life of the 6s generation iPhones when they were first announced. Therefore, I’m going to be basing these on overall estimates that I’ve found online. The numbers I found from various tests were around 8 hours for the 6s, and 10 hours for the 6s Plus.

Using these numbers, I calculated the estimated battery life for the 11 iPhones that were released since.

Here are the numbers (all amounts in hours):

iPhone Relative Values Resolved Values
6s 8
6s Plus 10
7 6s + 2 10
7 Plus 6s Plus + 1 11
8 7 10
8 Plus 7 Plus 11
X 7 + 2 12
XR 8 Plus + 1.5 12.5
XS X + 0.5 12.5
XS Max X + 1.5 13.5
11 XR + 1 13.5
11 Pro XS + 4 16.5
11 Pro Max XS Max + 5 18.5

One thing to point out is that the XR and XS batteries seem to last the same amount of time-based on the 6s/6s Plus estimated values, and then following Apple’s information. It was widely reported that the XR has superior battery life, which makes the numbers seem a bit odd.

But then again, we don’t know what type of data Apple is using for their estimates. Are they going on values that they have for a brand new iPhone when it was announced? Or are they based on the previous generation, but running the most up to date version of iOS? A lot of these things can skew the results.

While I would have preferred if along the chain there was at least one fixed overall value I could have used for a base. However, I do find the data to be interesting. Even if you just look at the relative differences between them. For example, we don’t know the official estimates for the 6s/6s Plus, but we do know that the 11 Pro Max supposedly lasts 8.5 hours longer than the 6s Plus. So a rough 2 hours increase in battery length every year.


Update:

To help visualise the data, here are two charts. The first using only the relative values that Apple provide, and the second including the estimate base values for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

iPhone Battery Life Changes Relative to iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (in Hours)

iPhone Battery Life Using Estimated Base Values for iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (in Hours)

23rd October 2018
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Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

Essentially, Smart HDR was choosing the wrong base frame for HDR processing when you took a selfie. Instead of choosing a frame with a short shutter speed to freeze motion and preserve detail, it would sometimes choose a frame with longer shutter speed. The front camera also does not have optical image stabilization, so it takes blurrier shots at the same shutter speed as the rear, stabilized camera. The result is a loss of detail that looks like smoothing on the front camera.

I knew it was something to do with Smart HDR, but it’s interesting to know the exact detail of why it was happening. 



Maybe one of the main benefits of computational photography, is that it can be continuously improved, and sent out in regular software updates. It’s intriguing to think what the difference in the camera will be in a years time, compared to how good it is now, even with no hardware change.

25th September 2018

Just as I started using Hobi to track the TV shows I watch, they released a pretty impressive update!

There’s now a new Discover and Statistics section, which really round out the entire app.

In Discover, you can find popular shows by genre or service. Along with collections for what’s currently trending, and also any new or returning shows that are coming this week or month.

The Statistics page shows you some insight on what TV shows you watch. You can see the total time you’ve spent watching TV, how many series, episodes, and also things like what your favourite genre is.

I’m going to start going through all the series that I’ve watched recently and add them to Hobi. I can imagine I’ll have some big numbers in the statistics section.

Download Hobi on the App Store.

30th August 2018

As usual, Apple can’t seem to keep things secret anymore. Leaks are now emerging of the new iPhone XS that will be announced at the event on the 12th September.

I have completely mixed feeling about it this time. It’s a real shame that some of the surprise from the event has been somewhat spoiled. I don’t mind a few bits of information being leaked, but when it’s marketing images of a new product, it feels like someone has really screwed up.

Some people will surely point the blame at the people like 9To5Mac that make these things public, but that’s their job, to release interesting news. And it will certainly interest a lot of people.

I’ve read one article from 9To5Mac which includes an image of the iPhone XS, with new sizes and colour, and I’ve seen a few photos of a new Watch face, but I’m going to try and stay away from anything else. It will be pretty hard, seeing as I follow a lot of blogs that will cover it, and it will be all over Twitter, but I’ll manage.

Guilherme Rambo‏, the main investigator of Apple related leaks nowadays, said that a lot of information is coming from some test streams that Apple clearly didn’t think people were watching:

Apple just can’t seem to keep it in their pants anymore.


I would like to note that I won’t be writing about these leaks, or sharing other links to anything else that may come out. I don’t hold anything against anyone that reads, shares, or does anything with the information. I’ll just try and wait until the official announcement.

13th August 2018

I started a note a while ago to list out the things I want in the next iPhone, but there’s honestly not much that I can think of. I may really want these things, but there’s not many of them.

Just for some perspective, I’m currently using an iPhone 7 Plus, and I’m still really happy with the device. But I got it on release day, so after two years I think I’m due an upgrade. However, taking into consideration the improvements made in the iPhone X, there are just a few things I’d like the next model (whatever it’s going to be called) to improve upon.

The first has to be the battery. I don’t really ever get a full days use out of a single charge, but I do understand that I am a bit of an edge case. I use my phone a lot, whether it’s at work when I’m using it as a test device, or when I’m travelling and I’m constantly taking photos. I would like the battery life to be great for all types of users, not just when it’s new, or for someone who uses it less than me.

Following on the photography side of my iPhone use, I wouldn’t mind the camera getting a bit better. It’s a pretty good camera, and I get some good shots, but I don’t think there has been any major leaps in a while. I know this isn’t a great metric to use as a comparison, but the iPhone 6 had a 12MP camera, and so does the iPhone X. Sure, quite a lot of other things have changed, and the lens makes a lot of difference on it’s own. But I would like to see an aperture lower than f/1.8, improvements to macro photography, and general improvements to sharpness.

One thing that I expect to see, and I kind of really need in my next device, is the ability to use Face ID in any orientation. I’m still unsure about facial recognition, seeing as how reliable and fast Touch ID is, and the fact the iPhone X has to be in portrait for it to be unlocked would be pretty annoying. But with the rumours of this coming to the iPad, I don’t see why the next iPhone wouldn’t also receive it. Maybe even the iPhone X could retroactively gain support for this as well.

My next wish is something I’ve been wanting for a long time now, and it’s a reason why I’ve been tempted to buy a Google Pixel before, colourful hardware. In the past, Apple have offered multiple colour options for quite a lot of their products, the early iMacs, iPods, the iPhone 5C, and of course the Apple Watch straps. I really want a phone that isn’t just a boring slab of monochrome, (I don’t accept the gold options, and the RED edition takes ages to be launched). Why not something with a bit of character? What about adding a few accents to the side buttons like the Pixel, or going for whole colour changes, like the rumoured orange version (😍). And I don’t want any interesting options to be relegated to the cheaper models. I remember when I purchased a 5S, I really wanted the design of the 5C so I could get a bright colour for once, but I wasn’t going to buy one with old hardware. With a $1 trillion market cap, you’d think there’d be room for some more colour options for arguably their main product.

To round up my wishes, there’s just one more thing (yeah, I wrote that) I want Apple to include. Nothing big or extravagant, just a USB C to Lightning cable in the box as standard. The USB C market clearly isn’t as big as Apple predicted it would be by now, and I’ve written about how the iPad could improve this, but another push would be if the iPhone connected via USB C.

Anyway, I’ll sit back with everyone else, and await what device we’re all going to be purchasing.

15th May 2018

I recently purchased a little gadget for my iPhone that I think quite a few people may be interested in. It’s a Qi charging coil that turns an iPhone into a wireless charging capable device, which is very handy for my iPhone 7 Plus.

It comes in quite a slim package, and it’s just thin enough to fit behind a case while not causing too much disturbance to the feel of the phone. Although its pretty ugly to look at on its own, and the build quality is probably what you’d expect for a £5 accessory, it works!

At the same time as buying the coil, of course I had to buy a wireless charger. I also opted for the cheaper choice, and bought a dock style charger, that lets me charge my phone, while still being able to use it, and have it in eyesight to see any notifications that appear.

I’m not using it at home though, as I don’t have a need to charge my phone other than at night. So I keep it on my desk at work, where I can wirelessly send new builds from Xcode and test them out while not wasting a port on my MacBook.

I can’t guarantee that it will work with all cases, but I have an Apple Leather case, which it has no problem with. But of course this case is removed as soon as I leave work, because I generally hate adding unnecessary bulk to my phone.

However, it’s a cheap, and acceptable solution for wireless charging for older devices.

Just for reference, here are the products I purchased:

26th April 2018
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Matt Gemmell:

Like most people, my main computer is a phone.

That’s a big realisation. The device that’s always at hand, and is the first port of call for communication and entertainment and convenience, is your main computer. With the apps available now, there’s no meaningful distinction in utility between a phone and any other kind of device. Some tasks are easier and some are harder due to the form factor, but most tasks are possible — and having it permanently within reach is the mother of all advantages.

A common fact most people don’t realise. Most people can, and do, more things on their phone than they realise. Forget “Big Phone”, it’s more like “Small Computer”.

29th December 2017

So, Apple finally came clean with the battery stuff on older iPhones:

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

The situation isn’t ideal, in that they’ve annoyed, and probably confused some of their customers by not making it transparent from the start.

However, the actual power management feature that people are complaining about, actually seems like a really good idea.

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

I’ve seen a lot of news outlets saying that this is Apple trying to move people to newer iPhones, and even that it is causing iPhones to not last as long (Not the battery, but the actual device’s lifespan).

I can only see this update doing the exact opposite. It slowed down performance, but that is to extend the short term battery life, and also the long term life of the device.

The lack of communication is what messes everything up though. Even if you disregard the trust factor of Apple doing this without telling anybody, it leads users to believe that they are affected by it, when in some cases they might not be. So after seeing a small bit of news about Apple slowing down iPhones, someone with a completely unrelated device, or even an affected device with another issue, would more than likely blame this new power management update.

What Apple are doing about this, is actually quite impressive. They’re reducing the price of an out of warranty battery replacement by $50. But more importantly, they’re going to start making the battery heath more visible in iOS. It’s something you have on a Mac, and I will welcome it to iOS.

They could have avoided this whole situation though, as clearly they proved they can be transparent about this feature (although in this case it was forced). So why didn’t they write a small article about a “new power management feature” and how they’re extending the lifespans of older devices, and then just make the whole thing optional.

14th July 2017
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Gordon Kelly, writing for Forbes:

The consistently reliable site reports further iPhone 8 problems exist with the integration of Touch ID into the display, the supply of OLED for the display itself and operation of the new front facing “3D sensor” camera – which will bring unlocking via facial recognition.

In fact these problems are reported to be so severe that several of the functions will not be available when the phone launches, forcing Apple to enable them later via a software update…

“By all accounts, it’s late in the game for Apple to be wrestling with problems as big as those described above,” concludes Fast Company and that’s certainly true. With mass manufacturing usually starting three months prior to release (and a September unveiling locked in stone) solutions are needed, and quickly.

I’m not sure if they just needed to get an article out about the future iPhone 8, but in my opinion it’s a load of rubbish.

Sure, Gruber also said that the charging feature may be sold separately, or just released with a later version of iOS. But it’s not a real problem, that warrants writing about a “serious problem”. The device isn’t even announced yet, let along being released.

I’m really not a fan of rumour posts, and normally I’d just ignore it, but this if Forbes! I would of thought they’d had better things to write about.