Apple’s See you on the 7th Event – Review

Apple has now had their September 2016 event where they announced the iPhone 7/Plus and Apple Watch Series 2.

In this post I am going to give you my detailed impressions on each of these announcements and the event in itself in chronological order.

Updates

The opening of the keynote starting with Carpool Karaoke with James Cordon was a great way to announce the series coming to Apple Music early next year and may be a hint that James Cordon is going to be doing the driving/interviews.

Lots of statistics throughout the show:

  • New Carpool Karaoke episodes will debut on Apple Music early next year.
  • Apple Music now has 17 million paid subscribers. 70 new albums debut on service before elsewhere.
  • Apple announced for ConnectED:
    • All 114 ConnectED schools will be running.
    • Mac & iPad for 4,500 ConnectED teachers.
    • Apple TV in each ConnectED classroom.
    • 50,000 iPads donated to students.
    • Everyone Can Code is a new program that works along with Swift Playgrounds.
  • Passed 1 billion iPhone sales.
  • iWork update for Pages, Numbers and Keynote with Real-time collaboration, which will affect Google Docs usage.
  • App Store has had:
    • 140 billion downloads.
    • July to August 2016 has had 106% increase compared to July to August 2015.
    • Most recent quarter had 2x more global revenue compared to closest competitor.
    • 500,000 apps are games, but not all of them are, until…

Nintendo – Super Mario Run

supermario
Shigeru Miyamoto introducing Super Mario Run

OMG! I never saw this coming or at the very least happening today.

Super Mario Run is a new iOS first (Android coming in the future) game where Mario runs by default and you tap on the screen to jump and move through obstacles in the fastest time while collecting the most coins and dodging enemies, all with a similar look and feel to what the New Super Mario side-scrolling games have been like recently.

Shingeru Miyamoto was there representing Nintendo along with Bill Trinen (his well known translator) and it just felt great to not only see Nintendo there doing what they were doing, but seeing them on stage and I really do hope that is how they reveal the NX this month hopefully.

Anyways back to the game, the facts about this game include:

  • Coming to iOS in December.
  • Will involve a single cost to get the full game (either pay up-front or download game then in-app purchase for full-game access).
  • Android version will be produced and released next year.
  • You can play the game single handed as Miyamoto described it, “while on a subway, while eating a hamburger or while eating an Apple”.
  • Will involve time trials that everyone can compete against and separately against friends.
  • A separate iMessage Sticker Pack will launch the day iOS 10 is released.

I also got this impression that it seems like Apple has signed an agreement with Nintendo to release new games like this on iOS first and then Android later, which is only a good thing for both companies to increase sales for both.

I honestly cannot wait to play this and if they sell it for somewhere between $2 and $5, then this will be a massive hit and make Nintendo millions.

Anyways, enough about the italian plumber, lets get back to the Apple stuff.

Apple Watch Series 2

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The first major product announced by Apple today is the 2nd generation Apple Watch, called the “Apple Watch Series 2”.

At first I thought it seemed weird having an extra word in a long name as it is, but the word series makes a lot of sense because of the multiple variants and styles that you can get, it makes it easier to compare them to each generation.

So what can this new watch do:

Improved Water Resistance:

The Apple Watch can now survive in water up to 50 metres deep like a regular watch (including my Lorus dumb watch).

The reason this was not possible on the first generation was because of the speaker being opened and Apple has engineered a way for the water to only go so far into the speaker and the sound waves when the watch plays audio will push the water back out.

This is a really great way of implementing this feature and will definitely appeal to swimmers.

I will say that I watched a few videos the other night by the YouTuber “DC Rainmaker” who did some water tests on the original watch and it survives for everything.

The water resistance only appeals enough to me from a reliability perspective but I’m no distance swimmer so this does not appeal to me as much, but great to have the extra protection.

Built-In GPS:

Series 2 now includes a GPS which is great for people going on a run, or a hike or just want to get directions to a location without relying on their phone and bluetooth.

Continuing the theme of Nintendo, Pokemon Go was officially announced to come to the Apple Watch this year, and I do question if it is too little too late with the hype dying down now, but I see this does have the potential to sell a few more watches.

Niantic Labs also said that the game has been downloaded 500million times and players have walked a combined 4.6 billion kilometres.

If I were to get the Series 2 watch, one of the main reasons would be for the GPS chip, in case I want to develop stuff with it, then I would have the right hardware for testing and also with the speed improvements thanks to the chip being built-in.

Brighter Display:

The original watch has a maximum screen brightness of 400 nits.

The Series 2 watch can now display at 1000 nits which is not just 2x brighter but is the brightest display Apple has ever shipped in its history of products.

I’m yet to look back at old Apple Watch 1 reviews, but I do remember some people complaining that the screen was not bright enough in direct sunlight and if that’s fixed in this release that alone would tempt me more to get the Series 2.

Apple S2 Chip:

We do not know incredibly fine details currently, but the S2 chip is the CPU and GPU for the Apple Watch and is:

  • Dual Core Processor (S1 was a single core)
  • 50% faster in CPU performance, and
  • 2x faster in GPU performance.

The S2 Chip has also been announced to come into a revamped Apple Watch Series 1, which will hopefully result in fixing a lot of the speed issues with the watch that was launched originally.

Prices and Dates

Series 2 Sport: AU$529 for 38mm & AU$579 for 42mm.

Series 1 Sport: AU$399 for 38mm ($30 cheaper) & AU$449 for 42mm ($50 cheaper).

There is also a new ceramic model called Apple Watch Edition, updated Hermes models, Nike+ model of the watch through a partnership and the US$18,000 gold model is no longer available.

You can pre-order the watches September 9th and they are available from September the 16th.

watchOS 3 is also being released for 1st generation watch owners on September 13th.

iPhone 7/Plus

iphone7

Apple then went on to announce the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which both have 10 new features in them.

1. Design

The design remains very similar to the 6/6s/6 Plus/6s Plus but there are a few minor changes:

  • Less antenna lines on the back.
  • No Headphone Jack but has matching speaker grills on each side of Lightning port on the bottom.
  • Comes in Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black which replaces Space Gray and a new Jet Black colour.

The Jet Black colour is not available on the 32GB models (at least at launch) but based on a disclaimer on Apple’s website has the potential to get scratched easily, suggesting that you should always put a case on it, which would spoil having that design in the first place.

The Jet Black looks amazing but I would not get it from the scratching perspective and go for the matte black model instead.

2. Home Button

The home button is no longer pressable like on all iOS devices to date, but rather is a flat surface that works with the Taptic Engine to simulate a click.

This is done to make the device have less opened ends.

3. Water and Dust Resistance

waterresistant

Both phones have an IP67 water and dust resistant rating.

The device was anticipated to get the same rating as the watch being IPX7 which is no dust resistance so this is a nice bonus.

To explain what IP67 means, the first number represents dust resistance rating (6 being common) and the second number represents water resistance.

The 7 rating for water resistance means you can submerge your device in up to one metre of water for up to 30mins which is more than enough for any user as no one will want to use their phone in the water on purpose (that what I hope) but it’s not as high of a rating as phones like the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge/Note 7 which has an IP68 rating which is water resistant up to 1.5 metres for 30mins.

Honestly, the difference between IP67 and IP68 is not work carrying on about for the average user. For the majority of people like myself, we can view the new iPhones as water resistant.

It must be said though that water damage is still not covered by Apple’s warranty that comes with the device, but you’d hope this won’t be an issue if the device is water-resistant.

4. Cameras

iphone7

The iPhone 7 4.7inch has an upgraded camera with:

  • f/1.8 aperture
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • New Image Processor
  • RAW Image Capture support.
  • 7MP Front Facing Camera.
  • 6 Element Lens.
  • New Quad-LED True Tone Flash.

The iPhone 7 Plus 5.5inch has an even superior camera with:

  • Dual 12MP Camera Lenses.
    • Wide Angle 28mm Lens
    • Telephoto 56mm Lens
  • One is a wide-angle and another is a telephoto lens.
  • 2x optical zoom from telephoto lens.
  • 10x digital zoom from telephoto lens with 4x better images.
  • Depth of field update coming later this year.

A last minute rumour was for the camera to get 4K 60FPS support and that did not happen, so not a major loss, just no focus on video recording with these camera upgrades.

I am really digging the camera upgrades especially on the plus model, but the camera is perhaps the least used feature for me on a smartphone, so it’s not a high priority, but when I do take photos, I want to make sure that they are the best that they can be.

5. Updated Display

The display has been upgraded to be:

  • 25% brighter
  • Have a wider colour gamut, which is as accurate as what you would see at the cinemas.
  • Same 1334×750 and 1920×1080 resolutions.

Definitely nice improvements. It is certainly no OLED display and there is no True Tone Display, but is certainly still an improvement which is better than none.

6. Stereo Speakers

The earpiece on the iPhone in combination with the bottom facing speakers provide a stereo speaker setup, which works great in landscape mode going straight to each ear.

This feature alone was one of the main reasons I was considering switching to an Android phone like the Nexus 6P, Moto X, HTC 10 and so on, but now there is no need.

The speakers are also twice as loud as they were on the 6s. What I am most curious to know is how good the speakers are, since the latest Galaxy devices are water resistant but have non-brilliant speakers, but if this is not an issue on the 7/Plus then that’s a major plus for it.

7. Lightning EarPods

Apple has officially killed the 3.5mm audio jack and it did not do so lightly. As they said, they got rid of it because:

  • Lightning is a great alternative that was designed for digital audio since launch in 2012.
  • Valuable space it was taking up inside the phone.
  • Audio via wireless is the future.

I am of-course sad to see it go because of how frequent I use it for headphones and in my car, but being a port that has existed for many, many decades, there was always going to be a future alternative.

Apple is including a new set of EarPods in the box that now have a Lightning connector to them as well as a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter so anyone can then use their current earphones without having to buy adapters. The adapters are also US$9 or AU$12 which is a lot cheaper than I expected as I anticipated AU$20-30.

Now the issue of charging and listening to music via wires at the same time? Well this is not possible due to one less port, but Belkin is working on a Lightning to Dual Lightning adapter with one for charging and one for listening (presume dual Lighting headphone support as well). This is not really an issue for me as I’ve had this issue maybe 6 times in the past 3 years, but if this is an issue for yourself, I would honestly say go down the wireless earphones route to get the best of everything.

I would likely use Lightning EarPods and a couple of adapters if needed and eventually invest in Bluetooth tech as that is the future. Speaking of wireless…

8. AirPods

AirPods.jpg
Apple AirPods in Charging and Travel Case

Apple’s vision for the future of audio, is wireless and one of the main solutions to it include the new AirPods.

These AirPods are a wireless version of Apple’s existing EarPods.

They use a W1 Chip (likely stands for wearables) to communicate with the phone.

These AirPods are suppose to fix a lot of the issues that currently exist with Bluetooth including pairing, dropping split seconds of audio etc.

These AirPods can hold a 5 hour charge and have a travel case to keep them in, to charge them and charge up the earphones on the go with a built in battery that can hold an additional 24 hours of charge. Depending on your use case, these could last for say a week or two on a single case charge and when you need to charge them, they use the same Lightning connection as the Apple TV remote does to charge it up.

In Australia, the AirPods cost AU$229 which is ridiculously expensive in my opinion but kinda make sense for what they do compared to other wireless earphones. I will say that if they were say AU$150, then it would of been a lot more tempting for me to get, if I upgraded my phone.

I will say that EarPods are currently AU$45 (3.5mm and Lightning versions) which means you could buy 5 Lightning EarPods for the price of 1 AirPods, which proves how expensive they are for presumably a similar audio experience. If they do not sell many AirPods in say the next year, I can see a price drop happening.

There are also multiple Beats headsets that have been updated with support for the W1 chip.

I still have multiple questions about these AirPods including what wireless protocol they use if its not Bluetooth, how old of a device can support these and how quick the AirPods recharge in the case itself.

9. Apple Pay

apple_pay

Apple also announced that versions of the iPhone 7/Plus sold in Japan will support the FeliCa technology for mobile payments, which is dramatically faster than NFC.

This is good to see that Apple is supporting local technologies where it makes sense, but does not affect me at all. What does affect me is the rest of the big banks in Australia not supporting Apple Pay. Get on it??

It was also announced in the hours after the keynote that Apple Pay support is coming to New Zealand and Russia alongside Japan this fall (this summer in Australia)

10. A10 Fusion Chip

The next generation Apple A series chip is called the A10 Fusion chip.

What makes it a fusion chip?

Well in short it is a Quad-Core processor, which on an iPhone can be somewhat compared to an octa-core (8) processor on new Android phones when it comes to similar performance.

The Quad-Core processor is made up of 2 high-performance processor which have:

  • 40% faster CPU performance compared to the A9.
  • 2x faster than the A8 in the iPhone 6.
  • 3.3 billion transistors on the chip (A7 = 1 billion, A8 = 2 billion)

The other 2 cores are high-energy efficient processors, which use only 20% of the power that the high-performance processors need.

The device includes an ‘Apple-designed performance controller’, which analyses what the user is doing on their device to ultimately decide which processors to use. So for example, if you are checking your emails, that is just static text so the high-performance processors are overkill and with this, you will get 2hrs more battery on the 7 vs. the 6s and 1hr additional battery life on the 7 Plus vs. the 6s Plus in real-world usage.

The A10 Fusion also has a hexa-core GPU, which results in 50% faster graphics.

In short this processor is exactly what I was hoping to see in a future iPhone and I’ve been wanting a Quad-Core CPU for the longest time now and they’ve done that in the best way possible. Any speed improvements beyond this model in my opinion, is a bonus.

Prices and Dates

They both come with double the storage capacity of before, matching the iPad Pro lineup with 32, 128 and 256GB’s of storage, with the unlocked pricing as follows:

iPhone 7:

  • 32GB: AU$1079
  • 128GB: AU$1229
  • 256GB: AU$1379

iPhone 7 Plus:

  • 32GB: AU$1269
  • 128GB: AU$1419
  • 256GB: AU$1569

Pricing remains the same as the iPhone 6s/Plus, except the Plus models are now AU$40 extra unlocked, of which I would imagine is because of the more expensive components for the dual camera, which is slightly fair.

All colours are available for all models, except Jet Black is not available on any 32GB models.

You can pre-order the phone starting on September 9th and available on the 16th.

iOS 10 will also be released to the public on September 13th for existing iPhone users.

Conclusion

I would go as far as to say this is the best keynote this year and one of the best since Tim Cook became CEO.

Being an iPhone 5s user I really want to upgrade my phone and if I did I would get the 7 Plus 128GB Black model, but with what is coming next year, I really do not know whether or not I should wait or get it now, as the camera in the plus model is not a priority for me. I will at the very least wait for reviews for all the products announced today to be released to make up my decision from there.

I’m asking questions less and less these days but I really, really want to know from you the reader:

Would you upgrade to the iPhone 7/Plus or wait for the 2017 iPhones and why?

Be sure to leave a comment below or on this tweet on my Twitter page.

In short, I was really impressed with what they announced today and the updates to the phone have reduced the idea of me switching to Android.

That’s it for this very lengthy review, thank you very much for reading. If you enjoyed this be sure to give it a like and follow me here and on Twitter @neilh_apps.

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