One Week with the iPhone X

So I’ve had the iPhone X for around a week now. I wanted a new phone, but I was actually planning on getting the iPhone 8 Plus. Without going into too much detail I didn’t think the iPhone X held significant benefits over the 8 Plus and the 8 is a tried and tested design.

So why did I get the iPhone X? Well, actually, it was because someone I know reserved multiple devices at a local Apple Store and wanted to know if I’d like one of them. So I thought why not!

I ended up with the iPhone X (256GB) Silver model

The following is my assessment of the device after only a week of use. 

Design 

The first impressions I had was wow! My prior phone was a iPhone 6 Plus. I’d always found the phone to not be very grippy. The iPhone X is narrower, in fact it has a similar footprint to the iPhone 7. Its better for gripping and there is additional weight to the device which makes it fit and sit more comfortably in the hand. In all, its much more aesthetic from usability perspective. 

On the negative side is the glass body and the potentially huge repair cost if dropped. As a result I put the device in an Otterbox Signature Case from the Apple Store and complimented it with a Belkin Invisiglass Film. There are thinner cases, but I wanted good protection. As such, with this case, my iPhone X is the same footprint as the iPhone 8 Plus now. The grip is phenomenal with the case on, and I don’t feel like my device is fragile anymore. 

The edge to edge screen is very nice, I certainly don’t miss the ‘chins’ on the old iPhone design in every day use. Do I miss the button? No, not really. In fact after just a week of use I have found myself staring at my iPad waiting for it to just unlock, forgetting I need to put my finger on the button. Sure, Face ID could be improved, but I see this method of unlocking being the way forward for sure. 

User Interface

Due to the removal of the home button, there have been changes in the UI for navigating. The tap of the home button to go, well, home has been removed. Now you swipe up from the bottom to get home. This used to invoke the control centre. 

From a usability perspective, swiping up is very quick and intuitive. What is does mean is your control centre gesture has now changed to a swipe down from the top right corner. In one handed use this is not a good location for it, especially for left handers. 

The widget and spotlight gestures are the same so no comments there. 

ApplePay is now invoked by a double tap to the power button and a glance of your face to authenticate. My personal opinion is that its way less user friendly than pulling the device out of your pocket with your finger on the button and paying that way. There is a greater physical interaction required now. Its not a show stopper, just something to be aware of. 

Closing applications has been made painful. When you get to the app switcher you are no longer able to just swipe up to close an app. You need to press and old on one of the apps to invoke ‘close mode’ then you can swipe up to close the apps. 

Rearranging apps is as easy to do, but getting out of ‘wiggle mode’ isn’t. You now need to hit a ‘done’ button in the top right corner. 

Face ID

One of the most contentious technologies in the iPhone X is Face ID. Humans are always resistant to change, and this is a big change. It is also the first generation of the technology and it isn’t without its flaws. 

In everyday normal use where I am holding the device to look at it, the unlocks are flawless. I’d say its slower authentication than Touch ID in its current state, however, that time is reduced as there is no need to manipulate the device to get your thumb down to the sensor. So in all, its slightly quicker in my opinion. 

I’ve had authentication fail in a number of situations, and its repeatable. If the phone is on a table and I am looking at it, the angle and proximity is pretty important and it tends to fail on me. Similarly, when I am lying in bed, even looking directly at the device it seems to fail. I don’t know why, but I think it maybe something to do with my head sunk into the pillow and this is interfering with its 3D scan of my features. I’ve heard this reported on various podcasts. 

The settings can be changed to reduce the security of Face ID so you don’t have to be looking squarely into the device. I have yet to test this. 

I do love the way that my notifications appear as I look at the device – its pretty smart!

Battery Life

So far, I have found the battery life to be awesome. Using the phone from 7am – 7pm I usually have 50% left. Apparently the device has fast charge. I use the Anker 6 Port USB Hub, I don’t notice it charging any faster that any other iPhone I have. 

I’ve yet to test wireless charging, and I’m going to wait for the official Apple wireless charger that also charges AirPods and the Apple Watch at the same time. 

Potential Issues

Having had a scout of the various forums, I have seen a number of issues that appear to be cropping up on the device. How widespread these issue are is not really known at this point in time. 

The first is a green line that appears vertically on the screen. This issue has also been seen on Samsung phones and is likely an OLED issue. This issue isn’t apparent from day one and is randomly appearing on devices. It is device independent, in other words there is no certain model that seems to be affected. 

Cracking speakers is also being readily reported and I believe mine suffers from this issue. When putting things on speaker phone I think that cracking/distortion is coming from the ear piece speaker. The bottom spears appear to be clear. This maybe solvable by a firmware update. 

There is also reports of the display becoming unresponsive in cold weather. Apple has acknowledged this one and it will be a software fix. 

Conclusion

In all, I’m happy with the device so far. I also thing I’d have been very happy with the 8 Plus. The UI has changed a little but is very quick to adapt to. Face ID is also pretty solid. Combine that with an awesome screen and great battery life and the iPhone X is a good buy. However, If you are wondering which (8 or X) you should buy, there is very little in it in my opinion. However, one driving factor for me is the inconsistency in features across Apple devices. I want to move to wear this is going to in the future so that all my new devices are using Face ID. The rumour is already starting that iPads will be next and I can see macs also getting this tech. I don’t want my devices to be split between Touch ID and Face ID. I keep my devices for a good few years so this was a push to the future for me.

Have you got an iPhone X? What do you think to it? Let me know in the comments below or on the Apple Resource Facebook page or Twitter

Review: Powerbeats3 Wireless

I got my hands on the Powerbeats3 Wireless headphones that were released today in the UK. I’m an owner of the Powerbeats2 Wireless headphones, having used them for a couple of years and made the upgrade for a couple of reasons.

The main reason for my upgrade was the addition of the new Apple W1 chip that will feature in the new AirPods when Apple finally release them. The W1 boasts advanced power management and a better Bluetooth experience.

I was getting tired of Bluetooth pairing issues I was experiencing with the Powerbeats2. Something I don’t think is a unique issues with those headphones but a Bluetooth issue in general. The W1 chip promises to solve this issue, and also make it easy to switch between different devices. For me, this is really helpful as I have my earphones paired with an iPhone and two iPads. 

Thanks to the advanced power management of the W1 chip the battery life of the headphones has doubled in this new version to 12hrs. I never ran out of charge with version 2, though sometimes when I had forgotten to charge then I did come close. So, 12 hours should be more than enough.

Unboxing

The box was weighty and felt like good quality in my hands, with the headphones in nice presentation. I don’t remember my Powerbeats2 being so well packaged which maybe a result of Apple taking over Beats. 

 Apple Quality Packaging 
Apple Quality Packaging 

The headphones come with a few ear inserts to choose from which hopefully means you can find a size that will fit your ears correctly. 

 One for any ear...
One for any ear…

It also comes with a rubber case to store the headphones in. I will note that this case is no where near as good as the case that came with the Powerbeats2 headphones. That one was of a more rigid construction and has a zip that went most of the way around.

It also comes with a short USB to mini USB charging cable. I have also noticed another shortcoming compared to version 2, the mini USB rubber plug protector has been removed from version 3. This seems a weird omission given that these are sports headphones, and will likely be used in damp, sweaty and potentially dusty and muddy environments.

Pairing

So was the pairing experience really as Apple said it would be? Simple answer, yes!

All I had to do was turn on my Bluetooth and turn on the headphones and then the below screenshots show the simple two dialogues that popped up, that was it.

Sound

The sound has not changed from the Powerbeats2 unit. I’m not going to dive into the audio as it is such a subjective topic. Personally I like the audio on these headphones. It has a good range of sound, from bass to vocals and sound great when listening in a quiet environment. Like any none noise cancelling headphones their sound quality will be affected by external audio noise.

Conclusions

There have obviously been a few changes between the Powerbeats2 and Powerbeats3 some for the better and some, I personally feel are for the worse. The lack of rubber mini USB protector and a flimsy rubber case are the negatives. On the positive though, the W1 chip and its battery and Bluetooth improvements.

The later far outweigh the negatives. An additional 6hrs battery life and easy connection and transfer of connection make this a worthy upgrade and I’d recommend these headphones wholeheartedly. 

Get your Powerbeats3 Wireless now on Amazon.

 

Review: Anker PowerCore 20100 Ultra High Capacity Portable Battery Pack

In todays modern battery powered mobile world it is very inconvenient to be caught out of charge. Usually when you first get your device it never seems to be an issue but as your device ages the battery never seems to last as long. I have 3 mobile devices and decided it was a good time to buy a mobile battery pack. The first one I bought was mostly dead after one charge of my iPhone 6 Plus. It was time to look for a larger capacity and thats when I found the Anker PowerCore 20100 Ultra High Capacity Portable Battery. I’d bought other Anker products and been really impressed at the quality and thoughtfulness in their design. A list of other Anker products I’d recommend can be found at the bottom of the post. 

Tech Specs

  • Anker in general has some great technology and this product is no different, below are the tech specs from Anker:
  • Ultra-High Capacity: It can charge the iPhone 6 seven times, the Galaxy S6 five times or the iPad mini twice. Recharges in 10 hours with a 2 amp charger, phone chargers (generally 1 amp) may take up to 20 hours.
  • Fast Charging Technology: The trademarked PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technologies combine to deliver the fastest possible charge up to 2.4 amps per port or 4.8 amps overall. Input: 5V / 2A.
  • PowerIQ: Discovers and replicates the charging protocol of the device’s original charger.
  • PowerIQ: Device safely accepts its fastest possible charge speed.
  • VoltageBoost: Detects the cable resistance and adjusts current accordingly to provide the fastest, most steady charge, whatever cable you use. 
  • Certified Safe: Anker’s MultiProtect safety system ensures complete protection for you and your devices.
  • Short Circuit Protection
  • Temperature Control
  • Output Voltage Surge Protection
  • Output Current Stabilizer
  • Power Overload Recovery
  • Battery Cell Protection
  • Auto Shut-off Sleep Mode
  • Input Voltage Surge Protection
  • Output Current Limiter
  • Low Voltage Protection

Other Good Stuff

Anker has a superb warranty, a whole 18 months which shows faith in their products. The device also come with a micro USB charging cable and a travel pouch. The pouch is a nice idea to keep your device safe and looking good.

Note: All other cables needed to charge your devices are sold separately. I’d recommend the lightning/micro USB hot swap Spigen cables

Uses

My PowerCore goes everywhere with my in my bag, it doesn’t take up much room and I don’t notice additional weight. I’ve used it in many different situations but some key ones have been on a transatlantic flight to top up my devices prior to landing. I’ve used it in coffee shops and even at the top of a mountain to keep charge on my mobile phone. The device is rugged, versatile and highly mobile thats to its high capacity. 

Summary

In summary, if you are looking for or considering a mobile power solution then I would highly recommend the Anker PowerCore

Other Anker products I own and I’d recommend include:

  • Anker PowerPort 5: 5 port USB charging hub utilising all of the charging technology mentioned above in a portable hub.
  • Anker PowerDrive 2: 2 port USB charger for the cigarette charger (12V outlet) in your car.


Review: Bose QC25 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Note: Ironically the very day I wrote this review the headphones broke! The right hand ear piece died completely. Apparently this fault isn’t uncommon, having asked a few people in my office. All were clear, as am I, that the Bose support is fantastic. One 5 minute call to Bose and they are sending me a UPS label to send the headphones back and a replacement will be sent out. No hassle or questions given!

If you’ve never used noise cancelling headphones before, or you are seeking your first pair the Bose QC25 headphones will blow you away! I first picked these headphones up on a transatlantic flight back from Houston. I was in economy with the cheap and nasty headphones provided by the airline, the hum of the cabin still clearly audible. I couldn’t use my wireless headphones so I was out of options, until I opened the duty free magazine. I promptly ordered the headphones on the plane and within 5 minutes was in noise cancelling heaven. 

 

The moment I flicked the power switch on the earphones, the noise evaporated. I could now here the plane movies clearly, all the little intricate sounds which were previously masked by the cabin noise. The great thing about the QC25‘s is they come with a battery and with an airline adaptor to connect to the planes sound system. It means you can use them literally right out of the box. The unit takes a single AAA battery and there is a holder for a spare battery in the case, very functional!

Skip ahead 24hrs and I was in the office, the very definition of hell, open plan! Unable to concentrate due to the talking in the office I put on the QC25‘s and again, the noise was gone! I could vaguely here conversations going on around me when there was nothing being played through the headphones. As soon as the music started there was no way I could hear any of my surroundings, bliss!

The Bose QC25‘s are not cheap, but you pay for what you get. Not only that, but if you do use them in the office environment then they will pay themselves back in terms of increased productivity and stress reduction. These really are one of the best investments I have made with respect to technology, I wouldn’t be without them now. Bose has recently released the QC35‘s which are a wireless version of the QC25. However, if we forget the difference in audio quality between wired and wireless the major drawback is that the battery is not useable replaceable. When I pay over £300 for a set of headphones, I don’t want them to have a shelf life governed by a battery. In my opinion, that makes the QC25’s a better purchase at this time. 

Review: Verbatim MediaShare Wireless – Turn a Hard Drive into a Wireless Hard Drive and Stream Files, Movies and Data Wirelessly to Your Mobile Device

Disclaimer: This was a personnel purchase, as such it is being reviewed completely independently.

Buy now in the United Kingdom or in the United States

What is it?

The Verbatim MediaShare Wireless is a wireless hub turning a ‘wired’ hard drive into wireless hard drive that provides a way to share files and media between up to 5 connected devices on its private wi-if network via its file manager app. With 9 hrs of continuous battery life there is plenty of juice on the device to keep you going for a long plane flight or work day, it can even help charge your mobile device if needed.

Unlike wireless hard drive units this device acts more like a hub allowing you to connect a USB hard disk or thumb drive as well as an SD card. This has pros and also some cons. The pros are you can connect any USB hard drive to the unit and are not limited to a single drive, another advantage of which is the ability to then connect those drives to a Mac and back them up with Backblaze. It also provides you the ability to insert a camera SD card and transfer them wirelessly to a hard drive whilst on the road, also allowing you to view them on any mobile device. The obvious cons are that you need to carry both this unit and a storage unit, and you will need to connect the two together which might be a hindrance whilst travelling unlike a traditional wireless hard drive. 

 

Who is this for?

This device appeals if you are looking to do the following:

  1. Carry a lot of media (movies etc) on the road with you when you are travelling without a laptop. 
  2. You want to transfer photos from your camera SD card to a large hard drive when you are out and about, allowing you to take more pictures.
  3. You want to go iOS only.
  4. You travel with kids. This is great to keep them (and you) occupied on a long flight. You could also wire this into your car 12v supply and tuck it neatly away in your boot (trunk) with a hard drive attached. This would create an in car media hub. 
  5. You need to share large files or media with a project team quickly and securely.
  6. You want more flexibility than a wireless hard drive unit. 

How Well Does it Work?

The hardware itself works really well. It is well designed, feels solid and is easy to access. 

However, where the whole package falls down is the app software, at least on iOS. It works well, but hasn’t been updated and looks just plain weird on iOS. Verbatim need to update it ASAP from a visual perspective. I’ve been able to stream movies, open PDFs, pictures all with great speed and ease. When opening a movie file, there was no buffering or lag at all. There isn’t a desktop app, so you are limited to mobile devices. Obviously with removable media this isn’t an issue. I’m not sure if the dedicated wireless hard drives come with desktop software, but if not, this could be a distinct benefit of going with this unit.

Conclusion

The main point of a product review description is should you by it or not? Well if you need to share a large storage device with one or several mobile devices or you travel with kids then the answer is simply yes. If you want more flexibility that a wireless hard drive whilst effectively converting multiple wire hard drives into wireless hard drives then this product is for you. The software needs to be updated urgently, but still functions fine. The hardware is solid and fast as well as nice and compact.  You can buy the device from the links below, and if you do please leave a comment on your thoughts of the device.

Buy now in the United Kingdom or in the United States