Apple Watch Series 4: ECG and Fall Detection

image from Apple

The newly announced Apple Watch Series 4 pushes their smartwatches to be more health-focused. Equipped with an ECG (electrocardiogram) and fall detection, it is the first Apple Watch to have significant improvements over its predecessor and the potential to provide real-world benefits.

image from Apple

Lets go through the basic technical changes:

  • New dual-core 64 bit S4 Processor
  • Larger rounder edge screen with 40mm and 44mm sizes
  • Updated accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Digital crown with haptic feedback
  • Louder speakers
  • Back of the watch is now black ceramic with sapphire crystal.
  • Electrocardiogram

The two features that are really exciting are the electrocardiogram and fall detection feature. The electrocardiogram feature has received clearance from the FDA (this is different from FDA approved). What this means is that the electrocardiogram should be used by someone who is over the age of 22 and should not be used for people who have been previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. It also should not replace any traditional diagnostic tools. The electrocardiogram provides your doctor with information regarding your daily heart rhythm. This has the potential to provide additional insight for your doctor and should be very helpful.

The fall detection feature could help save lives. The watch is now smart enough to detect falls and can notify emergency services if you do not get up. It will also notify any emergency contacts you have on the phone.

Is it worth the $399 price tag? Well, I think that will really depend on the user. It is, however, years ahead of what the Wear OS platform is able to offer. Google really needs to step up on this one.


iPhone XR: The Colorful Bunch

image from Apple

I would say one of the more interesting iPhones that Apple announced yesterday was the iPhone XR. At a starting price of $749 and an array of color options, the iPhone XR is the more compelling upgrade for anyone that is looking for a new iPhone.

A cheaper “iPhone XS” with little compromise

The iPhone XR has many of the features of its more expensive brother the iPhone XS. You still get the new A12 Bionic CPU, the improved Face ID, and near bezeless screen. There are a few noticeable differences between the XR and the XS models.

LCD Screen instead of AMOLED

Instead of the AMOLED screens that the XS and XS Max has, the XR has an LCD screen. Without seeing the device in real life, it will be hard to tell whether this makes too much of a difference. You’ll also probably notice that the bezels on the iPhone XR are larger than the XS models.

Screen size in the middle with lower resolution

The screen size of the XR is 6.1 inch which sits right in between the XS (5.8 inches) and XS Max (6.5 inches). The resolution of the XR is also lower compared to the XS models. At 828 x 1792 pixels and 326 pixels per inch, the XR will have similar sharpness as the iPhone 8.

No 3D Touch

For whatever reason, the iPhone XR does not have 3D Touch. Instead, it will have the ability to long press in order to access a lot of those 3D touch functionality.

Aluminum instead of Steel construction

The iPhone XR will use aluminum instead of steel for the outer construction. The average user probably will not really notice this different at all.

IP67 instead of IP68 rating for waterproofing

Instead of the new IP68 (up to 2m for 30 mins) rating that the iPhone XS and XS Max has, iPhone XR has a slightly lower IP67 (up to 1m for 30 mins) rating. Given that the iPhone X has the same IP67 rating. I don’t see this to affect day to day.

Single back facing camera with Portrait mode support

image from Apple

The XR comes with a single back facing camera that is able to take Portrait pictures just like how the Pixel 2 phone have been able to with a single camera. You will also retain the Depth Control feature that is on the iPhone XS and XS Max as well.

A 128GB Variant

The iPhone XR will be the only new iPhone that will have a 128GB variant. The iPhone XS models automatically go from 64GB to 256GB. If you are one of those people who does not want to spend the amount of money for a 256GB model but the 64GB is too small, the XR is a great choice.

Colors, Colors, Colors

There are now six different colors you can choose from for the iPhone XR. There is a Product Red version, Yellow, White, Coral, Black, and Blue.

Reasonable Price

image from Apple

The price of the XR is quite competitive to other flagships on the market. This pricing is right in line with the Pixel 2 and rumored Pixel 3. Without having any hands on time with the device, I would say this is the better value for anyone looking for a new iPhone this year.


iPhone XS and XS Max: The Post Grand Era

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Apple has announced three new iPhones today. Two of which are the iPhone XS and XS Max. These two iPhones are the top of the line and start at a ridiculous starting price of $999 for the 64GB variant. Although the Samsung Note 9 also starts at this price tag. It is when you get to the largest storage size when the price gets mind-boggling. For the 512GB XS you are looking at $1349 and the 512GB XS Max $1449. (The 512GB variant of the Note 9 is $1250.) With mid-range phones getting better and better, let’s see what exactly you get for the grand.

A Faster CPU

Both the iPhone XS and the XS Max comes with the new A12 Bionic chip. The A12 Bionic chip is the first 7mm chip on the market and is one of the fastest mobile CPUs on the market. Its already been blowing the Snapdragon 845 out of the water in terms of benchmarks. Although, in terms of real world performance, I have not seen Apple use the chip in a way that revolutionizes the mobile experience. What you will actually experience with the new A12 chip is faster face ID unlocking and some minor improvements in responsiveness.

Better waterproofing

Waterproofing has been upgraded from IP67 (up to 1m for 30 mins) to IP68 (up to 2m for 30 mins). Don’t expect too much change in day to day use with regards to this. I still would not recommend anyone dip their iPhone in the pool (due to chlorine) or take a dunk at the Beach (sand and salt water is very bad for your phone)

Cameras has been upgraded

image from Apple

Coupled with the new A12 Bionic chip, there is improved image processing with improved HDR, better noise reduction, and better low light. An improved Portrait mode now allows you to change the bokeh blur post shot (Depth Control). Most of this seems to be a software improvement and there may be a possibility that it may also work on the iPhone X.

Slightly better battery life

Apple has also said to expect better battery life on the XS and XS Max compared to the X. Not too sure how much of this battery improvements is due to the new CPU and software rather than an actual increase in battery capacity. I suspect the XS Max will at least have the battery capacity increased to handle the larger screen size.

The XS Max

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The XS Max is identical to the XS except for being a larger device. The XS Max bumps the screen size from 5.8 inches to 6.5 inches. The price also increases due to the screen size.

New Gold Color

image from Apple

The only way you will know that someone has the new iPhone XS vs the iPhone X is if they have the new Gold color. The iPhone X looks identical to the iPhone XS.

Ridiculous Price

image from Apple

What started last year as the thousand dollar smartphone trend, has now broken a new ceiling. The highest configuration iPhone now costs a whopping $1449. Let us bring some context into this. The iPhone XS Max 512GB cost nearly as much as a Macbook Pro 256GB. You can get almost three OnePlus 6 and almost five Poco F1.

image from Apple

I think the pricing scheme of Apple’s iPhone has gotten a bit out of hand. Even with the enormous amount of R&D Apple is putting into developing their own chip. The iPhone XS and XS Max do not provide enough value to warrant their price tags.

iPhone XR looks more reasonable

I’m just going to straight up and say it. Based on what we know so far, the iPhone XS and XS Max are not good values. I don’t see any compelling reason to upgrade from the iPhone X to the XS or XS Max. Even for those who are still using the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus or below, the iPhone XR is probably a greater value for your money.


Apple will update iOS to block police hacking tool

Apple is adding an “USB restricted mode” that will turn off all data communication from the lightning port if the device has not been unlocked within the last hour. This feature will protect against the GrayKey phone-cracking tool that current law enforcements are using in order to get into encrypted phones. One of the major benefits of this feature is that it should prevent a whole class of attacks that target the iPhone’s lightning port. Currently the feature is in the developer betas for both iOS 12 and iOS 11.4.1.

Source: Verge