iOS 15 is now available

Apple is now rolling out iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 to iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV devices. You might not see the updates right away, but when they're available, you'll have access to a bunch more features.

Facetime and Messages have been upgraded on both iPhone and iPad. Facetime supports spatial audio and reduces background noise, while people can join Facetime calls through shareable links on the web and Android. It'll be easier to keep track of things your friends and family share with you in Messages thanks to dedicated tabs in the News, Music, TV and Podcasts apps.

Notifications have also been overhauled. You'll have more control over push alerts and you can let only notifications from select apps and people through when you activate one of the new Focus modes. There are profiles for activities including sleeping and working, and the OS can automatically rearrange your home screen apps to bring the ones you're most likely to use at a certain time to the forefront.

A composite showing three screenshots of Apple's Live Text feature through the viewfinder in the Camera app in the iOS 15 beta. The left screenshot shows a small yellow frame focused on the middle of a bottle of green moisturizer, the middle screenshot shows the middle part of the bottle highlighted with options above it for
Screenshots of the iOS 15 beta

Also new in iOS 15 is the Live Text function, which works in a similar way to Google Lens. The feature can extract written text from photos, screenshots and the world around you. You can edit, translate and share the text. The feature can also identify things like art, landmarks, plants and pets.

Elsewhere, there are new features for the Maps, Photos and Weather apps on iOS. Spotlight searches will have richer results, including your own photos, with Apple using machine learning to figure out what's in each image.

On iPad, Quick Notes are now a system-wide feature — just swipe in from the lower right corner to jot down some thoughts using the keyboard or Apple Pencil. Expect some multitasking and Safari changes too.

iPadOS 15 Quick Notes
Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

One thing that iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 don't have at launch is the SharePlay feature. It lets you enjoy movies, shows and music together with friends over Facetime, and you can share your screen with them. Apple will release the feature on those operating systems, tvOS 15 and macOS Monterey later. Apple also put the child safety features it planned to release as part of iOS 15 on the back burner while it makes improvements.

The watchOS 8 update perhaps isn't quite as extensive. There's a bigger focus on mindfulness and health, including some new workout categories. Apple Watch now has deeper integration with iPhone, with features including Focus mode support and a Contacts app. You can also expect portrait watch faces and multiple timers.

Apple TV now has spatial audio support, including for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, following the tvOS 15 update. You can also connect multiple HomePod minis to an Apple TV 4K and use those as the default speakers.

If you have an iPhone 6s or later, iPhone SE (either generation) or seventh-gen iPod touch, you'll be able to install iOS 15. Those with Apple tablets can run iPadOS 15 on fifth-gen and later iPads, iPad mini 4 and later, iPad Air 2 and later and all iPad Pro devices. Meanwhile, watchOS 8 is supported by Apple Watch Series 3 and later devices.

As for macOS Monterey, Apple has yet to announce a firm release date for the next version of its Mac operating system. Monterey should be available sometime this fall.

Apple is rolling out the major annual firmware updates just a few days before the iPhone 13 lineup and new iPads arrive. Apple Watch Series 7 will be released later this fall.

ZTE Axon 30 review: An ‘invisible’ selfie camera comes at a cost

ZTE’s family of devices is a little confusing at the moment. The Axon 30 is a direct sequel to the Axon 20, which was the first phone to feature an in-screen camera. However, the company has subsequently released the Axon 30 Pro and Ultra in some territories. So, weirdly, the vanilla Axon 30 is the last of the Axon 30 family to appear.

At $500, it’s also the cheapest — another attempt by ZTE to slide underneath the priciest smartphones around and offer a mixture of compelling features, albeit tempered by some compromises. The Axon 30’s headline feature is a much-improved under-display camera (UDC), which is almost invisible. It’s also a ZTE smartphone that’s launching in the US, which doesn’t always happen.

But with increasingly strong midrange phone competition from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and Google, does ZTE’s Axon 30 offer more than just a hidden selfie camera?

So what’s all the fuss about that camera anyway? Well, the under-screen 16-megapixel selfie shooter on the $500 Axon 30 puts the one on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 to shame. ZTE’s implementation is imperceptible unless you really, really look for it. No punch hole, no notch, no pop-up camera.

In comparison, the Fold 3’s selfie cam has a pixelated effect that signposts where the camera is and ruins the whole effect. (Yes, in Samsung’s defense, there’s another front-facing camera on the Fold 3 when it’s closed and you’re using the smaller screen.)

The difference seems to be pixel density, or according to ZTE, the composition of them, with a “special pixel matrix” that ensures the screen appears at 400 PPI — double that found on the Axon 20. If the light catches the unit just right, then yes, you can see it. You’ll probably never notice it again.

There’s also a dedicated UDC chip that apparently works to keep the camera area looking consistent with the rest of the screen. To get a closer look, I used Oppo’s Find X3 Pro, which has a microscope phone camera — perfect for visually explaining what could otherwise get very technical.

ZTE Axon 30 review
Engadget, Mat Smith

As you can see, some pixels seem slightly smaller, or dimmer, than those surrounding them. In this close up you can see the outline of the UDC area, but at this magnification, it’s impressive that it doesn’t look more out of place. I’ll touch on the camera’s performance later, but spoiler: While it might look the part, it’s not quite capable enough.

The hidden sensor also complements the expansive 6.92-inch AMOLED screen, uninterrupted by the presence of any camera notches or holes. With a 2,460 x 1,080 resolution panel and 120Hz refresh rate, the Axon 30 is offering a flagship screen for mid-range prices. You can switch between 120 and 60Hz modes, with an automatic option letting the Axon 30 decide when to increase the frequency. On more expensive phones, like the OnePlus 9 Pro and the recently-announced iPhone Pro 13, there are more refresh rate options that dip even lower, but at this price, this seems like a fair compromise.

Leaving it on auto is probably the best fit for most folks, but the manual options are nice — especially as there seems to be a tangible battery life benefit to the lower setting.

The phone itself is pretty big but feels solid despite its plastic back. ZTE added a translucent reflective effect across the rear of the Axon 30, which I like. I’m less enamored with the giant camera unit, however, which protrudes a few millimeters from the phone, and is likely to be more easily dinged and scratched. Sadly, this design is now everywhere.

The screen might be comparable to a high-end phone, but there are some features that didn’t make the cut at this price, like wireless charging and certified resistance against dust and water.

Performance and software

ZTE Axon 30 review
Engadget, Mat Smith

There are further compromises. The Axon 30 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 processor — which is a little underpowered compared to the Snapdragon 880 and 880 Plus we’re seeing in flagship Android smartphones now.

But at $500, phones like the Pixel 5a (and its Snapdragon 765G chip) are a better comparison to make. The Axon 30 has a more powerful chip than Google’s latest device, though it’s hard to notice a difference in performance between the two.

The Axon 30 handled everything I threw at it, whether that was video streaming, Stadia or playing games on the phone itself. (The Stadia app did flag that the phone wasn’t officially supported, although it worked fine for me.) There was some visible slowdown when recording video at full 4K resolution, and hopping into the gallery, but otherwise, I didn’t have many complaints.

I also have to mention that the Axon 30 isn’t exactly great for 5G support in the US. It only works on T-Mobile’s midband 5G. If you’re on Verizon or AT&T, you’ll be relegated to 4G.

ZTE does know what it’s doing with smartphone power, though. The phone has a 4,200mAh battery that, when I turned the 120Hz refresh rate off, lasted a good two days of typical use before I needed to recharge. And when I did need to, it took hardly any time.

The Axon 30 supports incredibly fast charging speeds of up to 65W with the appropriate charger, which (thankfully) the phone comes with. ZTE estimates it can charge the phone to 100 percent in under an hour, but getting to 50 percent takes proportionately less time — around 20 minutes.

Software is pretty innocuous, which is generally a good thing. ZTE keeps pretty close to the stock Google experience. Its new MyOS 11 skin, based on Android 11, is pretty close to what you’d find on a Pixel. There are a few gesture quirks (shake the Axon 30 for the flashlight!) and a floating shortcut widget that can be minimized to the edges of the screen. It’s similar to Samsung’s Edge panel on its bigger phones. ZTE’s version is called Z-Pop and you can tweak the four shortcuts for system commands and app switching. That said, it’s not something that makes you think “Mmm what a memorable experience this is.”

Cameras

ZTE Axon 30 review
Engadget, Mat Smith

While the front-facing 16-megapixel camera is technically impressive, it doesn’t take great selfies. Don’t get me wrong, it shoots far better pics than the UDC on both Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Axon 20. The work done to pixel-bin for low light performance, as well as algorithms to help the camera ‘see’ through the AMOLED panel make this the best UDC so far. But it still offers up middling to poor photos. It’s a bit of a time warp, to be honest, giving me the kind of pictures I used to get on smartphones years ago. Details are fuzzy, and any strong backlighting leads to lens flares and washout.

There’s also an AI assist mode that doesn’t seem to help much — if anything, modes like brightness seem to wash out skin tones even further, and they’re a little gray to begin with. Even if you turn this off, images seem pretty unnatural.

ZTE Axon 30 samples
I couldn't mask how disappointed I was in these selfies.
Engadget, Mat Smith

It does still capture enough detail to offer face unlock functionality if you prefer that method to fingerprint unlock. And yes, there’s also a fingerprint reader built into the screen. Face unlock worked fine for me nine times out of ten, and was plenty fast enough, but I used a combination of the two. Fingerprint unlock seemed more reliable in darker environments.

But what about the rest of the cameras? On the back, the Axon 30 has a four-camera array, led by a 64-megapixel Sony sensor. While you’ll mostly be taking pictures that fuse a lot of these pixels together for less noise and better performance in low-light, ZTE has kept the ability to take full-resolution stills if you want to. There’s also an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 5-megapixel macro camera and finally, a 2-megapixel depth sensor to aid your bokeh photography efforts and help with focus. You get up to 2x optical zoom, which is what you’d generally expect at this price point.

While shooting pictures with the Axon 30 during a family event, images of friends and family seemed particularly good. There is a softness to some shots, likely due to the photos being shrunk down from the 64-megapixel original, but the phone was able to handle most things I threw at it.

ZTE Axon 30 sample images

There’s a night mode — of course — but the Axon 30 takes pretty functional shots in low light without having to resort to using it. It did help further reduce noise and improve detail a little, but I’d also advise testing shots with AI mode on and off, as sometimes I found it meddled a little too heavily, especially with people as subjects.

And the macro camera isn’t worth your time. I suggest using the primary camera with zoom for generally better results in most situations. The problem with the macro camera seems to be that the phone has to be so close to the subject that it blocks a lot of light. That’s not great for detail-oriented photography.

Video camera modes are generally the same across most mid-range phones in recent years, and the Axon 30 isn’t hugely different. It can handle up to 4K at 60fps and a multi-camera mode lets you record from both the wide-angle and the primary camera at the same time, which is a nice trick we’ve occasionally seen on flagship phones. Due to sluggish autofocus, however, the recording quality isn’t great. If you’ve got a stable subject and good light, videos will generally come out nicely. At other times, you’ll struggle to record anything functional. Just because a phone can record 4K, it doesn’t mean you should.

Summary

ZTE Axon 30 review
Engadget, Mat Smith

With the Axon 30, ZTE has proved it can successfully camouflage its under-display camera. But that doesn’t mean it’s up to the task. Image quality from the secretive selfie lens really isn’t good enough, even if the implementation is impressive. Aside from that, the Axon 30 has a gorgeous, fluid screen and a decent rear camera setup. The lack of wider 5G support in the US is frustrating in a 2021 phone, but there is still a lot here for $500. The bigger challenge is that competition is tough in the middleweight phone arena. Google’s latest Pixel, the 5a, rings in at $450, and offers better-performing cameras, front and back. If you’re struggling to pick between the two, the decision loosely boils down to a bigger screen or better selfies.

India says Google abused Android dominance

Google stifled competition and prevented the development of Android rivals in India, the country's antitrust regulator has decided in a report seen by Reuters. In 2019, Competition Commission of India opened a probe into whether Google abused Android's dominance in the market where devices powered by the OS are prevalent. In its report on the probe's findings, the regulator wrote that Google flexed its "huge financial muscle" to reduce manufacturers' ability to develop and sell devices running Android forks. 

In addition, the commission said that Google requiring manufacturers to pre-install Android apps is an unfair condition to make in exchange for access to its mobile OS. It violates India's competition laws, the report reads. The regulator also found Play Store policies to be "one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary." In a statement sent to Reuters, Google said it's looking forward to working with the CCI to "demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less."

The tech giant reportedly responded to the probe 24 times to defend itself, and other tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi also responded to questions from the commission. While CCI still decided that Google illegally stifled competition in the country, the company will have another chance to defend itself before the CCI issues its final decision along with penalties, if any.

Just a few days ago, South Korean regulators also came to the decision that Google used its dominant position in the market to hamper the development of Android rivals. They slapped the tech giant with a $177 million fine. They also banned the company from requiring manufacturing partners to sign anti-fragmentation agreements, which prohibit the creation and installation of alternative versions of the Android OS. 

India says Google abused Android dominance

Google stifled competition and prevented the development of Android rivals in India, the country's antitrust regulator has decided in a report seen by Reuters. In 2019, Competition Commission of India opened a probe into whether Google abused Android's dominance in the market where devices powered by the OS are prevalent. In its report on the probe's findings, the regulator wrote that Google flexed its "huge financial muscle" to reduce manufacturers' ability to develop and sell devices running Android forks. 

In addition, the commission said that Google requiring manufacturers to pre-install Android apps is an unfair condition to make in exchange for access to its mobile OS. It violates India's competition laws, the report reads. The regulator also found Play Store policies to be "one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary." In a statement sent to Reuters, Google said it's looking forward to working with the CCI to "demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less."

The tech giant reportedly responded to the probe 24 times to defend itself, and other tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi also responded to questions from the commission. While CCI still decided that Google illegally stifled competition in the country, the company will have another chance to defend itself before the CCI issues its final decision along with penalties, if any.

Just a few days ago, South Korean regulators also came to the decision that Google used its dominant position in the market to hamper the development of Android rivals. They slapped the tech giant with a $177 million fine. They also banned the company from requiring manufacturing partners to sign anti-fragmentation agreements, which prohibit the creation and installation of alternative versions of the Android OS. 

Android 11’s auto-reset permissions feature is coming to older versions of the OS

When Google launched Android 11 at the end of last summer, it added a feature that automatically resets app permissions. If you don’t use an app after several months, the OS can revoke some of the permissions that the application asked you to grant when you first installed it. It’s a handy feature that’s unfortunately only available on a relatively small number of devices due to the fact most Android manufacturers only support their devices with platform updates for a couple of years. Thankfully, that’s about to change.

Starting in December 2021, Google will begin rolling out that functionality to all devices running Android 6 (Marshmallow) and above, the company announced today in a developer update. The feature will come courtesy of a Google Play services update the company will roll out to “billions” of devices. Once you have the new software installed on your device, apps that target Android 11 or higher will have the feature enabled by default. For those apps that were built for older versions of the OS, you’ll have the option to enable it manually.

This is one of those small quality-of-life updates that most Android users should be able to appreciate since it can be easy to forget all the permissions you may have granted to an app when you first installed it.  

Android 11’s auto-reset permissions feature is coming to older versions of the OS

When Google launched Android 11 at the end of last summer, it added a feature that automatically resets app permissions. If you don’t use an app after several months, the OS can revoke some of the permissions that the application asked you to grant when you first installed it. It’s a handy feature that’s unfortunately only available on a relatively small number of devices due to the fact most Android manufacturers only support their devices with platform updates for a couple of years. Thankfully, that’s about to change.

Starting in December 2021, Google will begin rolling out that functionality to all devices running Android 6 (Marshmallow) and above, the company announced today in a developer update. The feature will come courtesy of a Google Play services update the company will roll out to “billions” of devices. Once you have the new software installed on your device, apps that target Android 11 or higher will have the feature enabled by default. For those apps that were built for older versions of the OS, you’ll have the option to enable it manually.

This is one of those small quality-of-life updates that most Android users should be able to appreciate since it can be easy to forget all the permissions you may have granted to an app when you first installed it.  

AirPods Pro drop to $180, plus the rest of this week’s best tech deals

While Apple announced new iPhones and iPads this week, a bunch of its existing gadgets remain discounted. The AirPods Pro are close to an all-time low at $180 and the iPad Air is still at the best price we've seen it — only $500 for the base model. You can also still get $100 off the MacBook Air M1 and the Mac Mini M1, so regardless of your computer-style preference, there are discounted options available. Also, Google's Pixel 4 has dropped to a new low of $379 and Amazon includes a free Samsung SmartTag when you buy the $150 Galaxy Buds 2. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today.

AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro
Billy Steele / Engadget

Apple's AirPods Pro are down to $180, or $70 off their normal price. These remain Apple's best sounding earbuds and we gave them a score of 87 for their comfortable fit, improved audio, good ANC and wireless charging.

Buy AirPods Pro at Amazon - $180

2021 iPad and iPad mini

Apple 10.2-inch iPad
Apple

The latest 10.2-inch iPad and the iPad mini just went up for pre-order this week and Walmart has both for a bit less — the base iPad is $299 instead of $329 and the iPad mini is $459 instead of $500. Both tablets have been updated with better processors, a 12MP front camera with support for Center Stage and now a minimum of 64GB of storage. 

Buy 2021 iPad at Walmart - $299Buy 2021 iPad mini at Walmart - $459

iPad Air

Apple's iPad Air is $100 off right now, bringing it down to $500. All five colors are on sale at Amazon. thanks to automatically applied coupons, although with various shipping times. We gave the Air a score of 90 for its speedy performance and WiFi, healthy battery life and support for the second-gen Apple Pencil.

Buy iPad Air at Amazon - $500

MacBook Air M1

Apple's MacBook Air M1 is back down to an all-time low of $850 thanks to an automatically applied coupon. It earned a score of 94 from us for its stellar performance, attractive, fanless design and its comfortable keyboard and trackpad.

Buy MacBook Air M1 at Amazon - $850

Mac Mini M1

Apple's Mac Mini M1 returned to its all-time-low price of $600 thanks to a sale and an automatically applied coupon. You're getting all of the performance boosts provided by the M1 chipset in a compact desktop package. This is a good machine to get if you have an older desktop that needs replacing, but you don't want to spend a ton of money.

Buy Mac Mini M1 at Amazon - $600

Crucial MX500 internal SSD (1TB)

One of our favorite internal drives, the Crucial MX500 SSD, is on sale for $85 right now, or $15 off its normal price. That's also a record-low, making now a good time to pick up some extra space if you know your machine is reaching its limits. This drive has read speeds of up to 560 MB/s, sequential write speeds of up to 510 MB/s, AES-256 bit hardware encryption and integrated power loss immunity.

Buy Crucial MX500 (1TB) at Amazon - $85

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 bundle

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 revivew
Billy Steele/Engadget

Amazon has a bundle that includes the Galaxy Buds 2 and a SmartTag Bluetooth tracker for $150, so you're essentially getting the SmartTag for free. The Buds 2 are solid budget earbuds that earned a score of 84 from us for their improved sound quality, adjustable ambient sound mode, comfortable design and wireless charging.

Buy Galaxy Buds 2 + SmartTag bundle at Amazon - $150

Samsung Galaxy Note 20

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Chris Velazco / Engadget

Amazon has the Galaxy Note 20 series for up to $400 off right now, so you can grab a Note 20 for $750 and a Note 20 Ultra for $900. These are some of the most premium handsets Samsung has made as of late, and they are good options if you're not sold on foldables and you like the versatility that the S Pen provides.

Buy Galaxy Note 20 5G at Amazon - $750Buy Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G at Amazon - $900

Google Pixel 4

Google's Pixel 4 smartphone is down to a new low of $379 at B&H Photo. We believe the launch of the Pixel 6 to be right around the corner, so you may want to wait if you want the latest phone from Google. However, the Pixel 4 remains a solid handset — we liked its speedy performance, lovely display and stellar camera experience.

Buy Pixel 4 at B&H Photo - $379

Gaming PC sweepstakes

Through September 18, Omaze is giving away another $20,000 to build your ultimate gaming PC. This sweepstakes is free to enter, but funds donated with purchased entries will benefit Schools on Wheels, an organization that provides free tutoring and mentoring services to children experiencing homelessness across Southern California.

Enter to win at Omaze

Comic-Con 2022 sweepstakes

Through December 8, you can enter to win four-day passes to San Diego Comic-Con 2022. Along with the passes, you'll get access to a special preview night, reserved seating in Hall H, a personal concierge, a private tour of the Comic-Con Museum, dinner in Balboa Park and tickets to the "Night at the Comic-Con Museum" event. It's free to enter, but funds from this sweepstakes will go to the San Diego Comic Convention.

Enter to win at Omaze

New tech deals

Instant Pot Duo Plus

The 8-quart Instant Pot Duo Plus is on sale for $100 thanks to a $20 coupon you can clip on the product page. This multicooker has nine functions including slow cook, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan, sterilizer and more, and its large capacity allows it to make more than enough food for big families or parties.

Buy Instant Pot Duo Plus at Amazon - $100

Dyson Pure Cool Link purifying desk fan

Dyson slashed $100 off its Pure Cool Link DP01 purifying desk fan, bringing it down to $300. This would be a good addition to a home office because it removes 99.97% of pollutants and allergens, oscillates up to 70 degrees, has a Night Mode if you decide to use it in your bedroom while you're sleeping and it can be controlled with its included remote or via Dyson's companion app.

Buy Pure Cool Link desk fan at Dyson - $300

HBO Max (6 months)

WarnerMedia pulled HBO Max from Amazon Prime Video Channels this week, but it's hoping to entice fans to subscribe directly with a new offer. Through September 26, new and returning HBO Max subscribers can get six months of the service for 50 percent off, which comes out to $7.49 per month. You just have to pay for six months up front and you'll get a great deal on the ad-free service.

Buy HBO Max (6 months) - $7.49/month

ThermoWorks ThermoPop

ThermoWorks knocked 40 percent off its tiny ThermoPop instant-read thermometer, bringing it down to $21. This is a limited-time sale, so we're not sure how long they'll be around for this discounted price. The Pop is a budget alternative to ThermoWorks' more expensive thermometers and we like its cute, splash-proof design, rotating display and speedy temperature reads.

Buy ThermoPop at ThermoWorks - $21

NordVPN

One of our recommended VPNs is running a decent sale on a two-year subscription. You can sign up for NordVPN for $99 for the first two years, which comes out to $49.50 per year, and get three additional months of access for free. We like NordVPN for its speed, its no-logs policy, the thousands of servers it has to choose from and that one account supports up to six connected devices.

Buy NordVPN (2 years) - $99

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Apple’s new iPad mini is already discounted by up to $50

Update 9/18/2021: Amazon is now matching the pre-order sale price on the iPad mini, dropping it to $459.

Pre-orders have only just opened for Apple's latest lineup of products, but you can already find some discounts on the hardware. Along with a price cut on the base iPad, Walmart is offering some savings on the new iPad mini. The 64GB WiFi-only option is $40 off at $459, while the retailer has dropped the price of the 256GB variant by $50 to $599. Walmart isn't offering any price reductions on the 5G iPad mini, though — the 64GB version costs $649.

Buy iPad mini (64GB) at Walmart - $459Buy iPad mini (64GB) at Walmart - $599

It's the first new iPad mini in two and a half years, and Apple has given the tablet a major overhaul. It runs on the A15 Bionic chip (the same SoC as in iPhone 13), with Apple promising a big jump in performance compared with the fifth-gen iPad mini. The 8.3-inch screen runs closer to the edge of the device, and there's no more physical home button. The Touch ID sensor is now built into the power button.

The volume buttons are now at the top to make space for an Apple Pencil 2 that you can attach magnetically to the side. The Lightning port is a thing of the past on iPad mini, with Apple switching to a USB-C port. The cameras have been upgraded, and there's support for Apple's Center Stage feature, which keeps you in the center of the frame during video calls. Walmart says it will ship the tablet by September 24th if you pre-order now.

Engadget Podcast: iPhone 13 and why we’re more excited for the new iPad Mini

So Apple really called it the iPhone 13. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra chat about Apple’s latest announcements, and why the iPhone 13 is more like an iPhone 12S. Also, they discuss why the revamped iPad Mini is the most intriguing new Apple gadget this year. (Hold off on getting a new iPad Air for now, folks.)

Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!


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Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Producer: Ben Ellman
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos,Luke Brooks
Graphics artists: Luke Brooks, Kyle Maack
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

How to pre-order the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro

It's that time of year again when the latest iPhones hit shelves, prompting many to wonder if they should take the plunge into iOS for the first time, or upgrade to a new handset. Apple announced four new iPhones this week at its hardware event, mirroring the last year's offerings. The new iPhone 13 and 13 mini feature smaller notches at the top of their touchscreens, the new A15 Bionic processor and longer battery lives. The higher-end iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max smartphones have fancy finishes, 120Hz Super Retina XDR displays, and improved cameras along with the A15 Bionic chipset and better battery lives. Here's how to order the iPhone 13 series and the iPhone 13 Pro series.

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13
Apple

The iPhone 13 and 13 mini will be available for pre-order starting at 5am PT (8am ET) on September 17 and will be widely available on September 24. The iPhone 13 starts at $799 while the iPhone 13 mini starts at $699.

Pre-order iPhone 13 at Apple starting at $799Pre-order iPhone 13 mini at Apple starting at $699Pre-order iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini at Best BuyPre-order iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini at Walmart

Apple focused on refining the iPhone 13 series this year, trickling down some advanced features from last year's Pro line to the standard models. Both the iPhone 13 and 13 mini have a nearly identical design to last year's iPhone 12s, but they have a 20-percent small notch at the top and screens that are 28-percent brighter. Screen sizes have remained the same, too, measuring 6.1-inches on the iPhone 13 and 5.4-inches on the 13 mini. Apple managed to pack larger batteries in both handsets, so iPhone 13 users will get about 2.5 hours of extra use when compared to the iPhone 12, while iPhone 13 mini users will get about 1.5 extra hours. 

Inside both smartphones is the new A15 Bionic chipset and neural engine and Apple promises 50-percent better performance than the competition. The cameras have been upgraded as well: the dual system has a new wide camera sensor and lens along with the sensor-shift optical image stabilization system that we saw on the iPhone 12 Pro Max last year. Both the iPhone 13 and the 13 mini support expanded 5G as well, which will be available on 200 carriers in 60 countries by the end of this year.

As far as configurations go, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are both available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage capacities. Apple has a new lineup of colors as well: pink, blue, midnight, starlight and Product Red.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
Apple

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will be available for pre-order starting at 5am PT (8am ET) on September 17 and will be widely available on September 24. The iPhone 13 Pro starts at $999 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max will start at $1,099.

Pre-order iPhone 13 Pro at Apple starting at $999Pre-order iPhone 13 Pro Max at Apple starting at $1,099Pre-order iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max at Best BuyPre-order iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max at Walmart

It's all about the screens and the cameras for these smartphones. While screen sizes haven't changed, both the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have new Super Retina XDR displays with ProMotion, 1,000 nits of brightness and refresh rates up to 120Hz. We first saw this technology on the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and now it's been brought down to the higher-end iPhones.

The triple-rear camera system also got a big boost this year. It now features a new 77mm telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, along with a new ultra wide camera that has a f/1.8 aperture and autofocus. The primary "wide" camera is the largest Apple has even put in an iPhone and it features a f/1.5 aperture and 1.9-micron pixels. Apple also made it possible to shoot at up to 6x optical zoom, enabling macro photography, and it added new features like Cinematic Mode for videos, which uses machine learning to get things like better focus, better low-light performance, Time-lapse and Slo-mo video and more.

Inside the Pros is the A15 Bionic chipset with a 16-core neural engine, which Apple says will help the iPhones run 50 percent faster than the competition. The company also touts the handsets' enhanced durability and battery life. The iPhone 13 Pro series includes a surgical-grade stainless steel band and finishes that are resistant to abrasions and corrosions, and the lineup is IP68 water-resistant. As far as battery life goes, the iPhone 13 Pro should last 1.5 hours more than the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max will last up to 2.5 hours longer than its predecessor.

As for configurations, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max come in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage capacities and both are available in four colors: sierra blue, silver, gold and graphite.