Apple iPhone 13 – Marginally Better Camera, Smaller Notch, Recycled Plastic (An honest guide to the new iPhone)

The fact that you’re here reading my opinion on the new Apple iPhone 13 is a responsibility I take incredibly seriously, but I’ll be honest… a lot of times innovation just gets sugar-coated. Throwing statistics like saying an iPhone is 40% faster and 10% lighter sounds incredibly enticing, but at the end of the day, a consumer is hardly expected to sit and measure an iPhone’s screen to see how much larger it is compared to its predecessor, or simultaneously run games on both phones and see if the newer one has 20% better graphics thanks to a 5-core GPU. As much as nerdy stats sound exciting, they honestly mean nothing to 99.9% of consumers when push comes to shove. So here’s my simplified overview of the new iPhone 13 – no technical jargon, no over-complicated charts, just simple facts.

The simple reason behind why I’m choosing this format is because there’s nothing measurably better in this year’s lineup. I’ve honestly seen the climate go through more drastic changes in a single year than the iPhone has this year. (And I’m not knocking on Apple… I just think this forced tradition of launching a new phone every year is getting tiring)

Apple introduced 5G and MagSafe with last year’s iPhones, so this is almost like a placeholder year for the company as the world combats a pandemic + chip shortage, and also as Apple prepares for much higher demand next year as people who bought the iPhone 11 and 12 will want to upgrade to the iPhone 14. So what’s new with this year’s iPhone? Not much if you’re looking for major changes. The notch is now slightly smaller (yet still very noticeable), the battery slightly bigger, the chip slightly better, the cameras have night mode, and you can now shoot cinematic videos where the focus shifts from one subject to another, like in films. Oh, and the iPhone 13 also uses plastic from recycled bottles in its antenna strips.

What just about visually sets the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini apart from last year’s iPhone 12 and 12 Mini is the marginally smaller notch (although a 20% size reduction isn’t really enough to make a difference), and the new camera layout on the back. The new diagonal layout, Apple claims, adds more space between the two lenses, allowing the internal sensors to be bigger. It’s enough to make this year’s iPhone 13 camera as good as last year’s 12 Pro. Pretty cool, but it isn’t unexpected to see cameras get better every year.

The new iPhone 13 and 13 Mini run on the A15 bionic chip, come with a slightly larger battery, and house a stronger Ceramic-Shield glass on the front. The antenna strips on the side of the phone use recycled plastic (from single-use bottles) along with recycled rare earth magnets, tungsten, gold, and other materials used in the phone. Like their predecessors, they support 5G and MagSafe, are available in 5 colors, and will ship without a charger.

The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini are accompanied by the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, which come with the same shimmering stainless steel body and glass front and back. The front sports the smaller notch, while the back looks exactly the same. The Pro series come with 3 lenses, although Apple claims they’ve made major changes to all three of them, giving all of them Night Mode and the ability to shoot incredible shots no matter the lighting. A notable upgrade to the iPhone’s camera capabilities is the addition of Macro photography, which lets you now zoom in on really small subjects to capture tinier details.

The new cameras on the 13 and 13 Pro editions also support a rather interesting video feature called Cinematic Mode – which allows the camera to automatically and intelligently shift focus from subject to subject while you’re taking a video, just like in Hollywood films. Here’s a quirky little short film they shot entirely on the iPhone to show the Cinematic Mode in action.

Ultimately, the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro aren’t as game-changing as one would expect, although I partly blame us consumers for having such lofty standards each year. Yes, they’re incrementally better (as they absolutely should be), but not in a way that’s directly measurable… or warranting of an upgrade (unless you absolutely need it). If you’re looking at your iPhone 12 and wondering whether to line up outside the Apple Store for an upgrade, I’d tell you to sit this one out. Apart from a slightly smaller notch, you’re really not missing much; and if you want longer battery life, perhaps a $99 MagSafe battery pack could solve your woes?

Designer: Apple

The new Apple iPhone 13 may ‘connect directly to satellites’, allowing you to get cellular coverage even in remote areas

Steve Jobs was famous for disrupting industries. He started with computers, then music, then cellphones, and finally revolutionized the digital marketplace with the app store… Cook continued that legacy by further disrupting watches, and then conveniently reimagining payments, through the newly launched Apple Card. Seems like the iPhone 13 is set to disrupt connectivity as we know it, being one of the first consumer-grade phones to have direct satellite connectivity.

The news comes as a rumor from renowned analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo. While it’s common to make predictions only to have them fall slightly short, Kuo’s analyses and ‘leaks’ have an incredibly high success rate… and the veteran analyst just dropped a big bomb-shell a few hours ago – that the latest iPhone might have the ability to make satellite calls.

In a note to investors, Kuo made claims that the new iPhone would be able to connect directly with Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites thanks to a customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chip. Low Earth Orbit satellites recently gained popularity, thanks to Elon Musk’s efforts with his Starlink project – an initiative to flood the lower atmosphere with satellites that would provide internet to all corners of the globe. Operating at a level much closer to earth than traditional satellites, LEOs tend to avoid some of the more common pitfalls of satellite internet, like high latency, and frequent blackouts. Starlink is one of many companies launching these LEO satellites into space, and Kuo hints that the Qualcomm X60 chip in the iPhone 13 may just support some form of satellite connectivity. In layman’s terms, this would translate to better 5G coverage in areas that may not have the 5G towers or infrastructure… or even 3G or 4G connectivity for that matter. Sounds interesting, although my doubt remains… how much more expensive would this connectivity-feature be?

Featured Image via MacRumors

Could the Apple MacBook Air 2021 finally come in the iMac’s candy colors?

After the iMac got a refurbish this year at Apple’s Spring Loaded event, with a new slim 11.5-millimeter design, an M1 architecture, and those beautiful candy colors, it only seems natural that Apple carry that approach to its other Macs. Designer and visualizer, Devam Jangra’s put together a view to show us what candy-colored MacBook Airs could look like, and I won’t lie… I really like it!

If the colorful iMacs were a hat-tip to the candy-colored iMac G3 computers from 1998, these vibrant MacBook Airs most certainly pay a tribute to the old iBook G3s from 1999. It’s certainly been a while since Apple’s experimented with colored laptops – their latest foray was 6 years ago, with the rose-gold MacBook Air. Jangra’s concept video definitely shows why Apple should be less reticent and more open to creating colorful MacBooks… they spark joy, don’t they?!

Rumors of colored MacBooks have been in the air for a little over a month now. In a video back in May, famed leaker Jon Prosser stated that the company would reveal a MacBook lineup “very close if not identical to the shades that you see on the stands for the new 24-inch iMacs.”

Another noteworthy feature that’s rumored to make a comeback apart from the candy colors, is MagSafe charging. Apple ditched the crowd-favorite technology a few years back for Thunderbolt charging, but if the leaks are credible, the wildly loved snap-on magnetic charging port is due to make a comeback. Jangra’s video showcases this too, while also putting two USB-C ports beside the charging port for good measure. The MacBook Air even comes with the iMac Keyboard-inspired TouchID key on the top right corner.

There’s really no saying if and when Apple would launch these. While the rumors DO come from credible sources, we’ve already had 3 Apple keynotes this year, and the only one left is the keynote in September/October, when Apple unveils their new iPhones, AirPods, and the Watch. That being said, maybe we could see this debut sometime next year, along with Apple’s highly anticipated M2 chip! I wouldn’t mind me some candy-colored iPads too!

Designer: Devam Jangra

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Get the iMac-style workflow on your iPad Pro with Brydge’s standalone trackpad for iPadOS

Your M1 iPad Pro is as good as an iMac… Brydge’s iTrack trackpad brings iMac-style functionality to it. Up until last month, Apple marketed the iPad as a laptop replacement, however that perception changed when the iPad was introduced alongside the iMac at Apple’s SpringLoaded event at the end of April, both with Apple’s supercharged M1 chip. The iPad is more than just a laptop now, it’s a machine with more processing power than most machines with Intel chips, and its graphical power is comparable to high-end gaming consoles. In short, it looks and behaves like an iMac with a touchscreen, so it just made sense to bring the iMac’s accessories to it too.

The iTrack comes from the fine folks at Brydge, who’ve developed some of the best accessories for Apple products over the years (they released a keyboard+trackpad attachment for the iPad before Apple did). Debuted at CES back in 2020, the iTrack (which officially launched just last week) is a compact multi-touch trackpad that’s designed to give your iPad workflow a significant upgrade. Styled to look just like Apple’s own Magic Trackpad 2, the iTrack is much smaller (with a 6.1-inch diagonal) and sports the same space-grey aluminum body and touch-sensitive glass top.

Designed to work seamlessly with iPadOS (versions 14.5 and higher), the iTrack automatically and instantly connects with your tablet via Bluetooth, providing an experience as seamless as Apple’s own trackpad. Sensors within the device detect subtle pressure differences that let you tap, scroll, swipe, and use other multi-touch features on your iPad Pro. Just like a Trackpad or a Magic Mouse, you can work within programs, intuitively select and edit text and spreadsheets, and switch between apps… besides, the iTrack even works seamlessly with other connected accessories like a keyboard or Apple Pencil, complementing most workflows.

The iTrack debuted back in 2020, but its launch wasn’t until last week, owing to delays because of the pandemic. It ships for $99.99 (that’s $20 cheaper than Apple’s Magic Trackpad 2), has a USB-C port for charging, and boasts of an impressive 6-month battery life on a full charge, with 2-hours of use every day.

Designer: Brydge

Unusual iPhone 14 (2022) render shows a smartphone with an L-shaped secondary display

What happens inside Apple’s design studio remains one of the world’s most closely guarded secrets… it’s bad for consumers (because they’re often taken by surprise), but it’s great for concept designers who get tonnes of leeway when it comes to making experimental versions of their favorite gadgets. Meet the iPhone 14 concept from the mind of Max Burgos – for the most part, it looks just like a normal iPhone, except for the unique secondary display located on the back, wrapping around the camera module.

The iPhone 14 concept shows the unique symbiotic relationship displays have with cameras. On the front, the camera results in a notched display, on the back, however, the camera causes the display to take on an L-shaped design! As unusual as this secondary display may be, it actually serves as a way to reinforce Apple’s app ecosystem – here’s how. The secondary display could be prime real estate for interacting with Apple’s OWN apps. Apple’s clock would show up on the back, iMessage notifications could pop up on the screen, and it could even serve as a dashboard for AirTag tracking. The L shape provides a lot of freedom as far as interfaces go – Burgos even demonstrates how a rear-facing camera app would look, allowing you to click wide-angle selfies using the iPhone’s main camera!

While entirely conceptual (the iPhone 14 isn’t due for another 16 months), Max Burgos’ iPhone 14 exists as a fan-made design that reinforces HIS OWN wants and aspirations from an iPhone. It’s rare that the execs at Apple ever reach out for customer feedback, so these concepts are perhaps the only way in which consumers can actually express interest in new features or visual details. I’d even throw a 3.5mm jack into the concept, just for kicks!

Designer: Max Burgos Morjaen for ConceptsiPhone

Is Apple relaunching the iPod on its 20th Anniversary this year? Here’s why it could be a smart idea…

Four words – Lossless Audio, and Apple Arcade. These four words could just as easily the new iPod’s design brief. The Twitter rumor-mill’s working on overdrive after a few sources claimed that Apple could announce a new iPod this fall. A few designers even went so far as to create renders based on hearsay and leaks, and I’m absolutely here for it. A new iPod could be a pretty nifty product for a variety of reasons. Here are my thoughts.

Only last week Apple announced that lossless audio was coming to Apple Music. With a new iPod, it’ll be like Apple going into the music-streaming war guns-a-blazing. Spotify’s slowly but surely dominated this space, and the new iPod could almost be Apple signaling that it’s taking the music domain pretty seriously. The iPod could drum up major interest the same way the Moto RAZR did – nostalgia is a powerful force. Moreover, the hardware would be no different from the iPhone 5 or the iPhone SE, given that the renders look pretty much exactly like those devices.

Secondly, the new iPod has the ability to become Apple’s gateway device for a variety of iOS features (and probably even MagSafe, who knows). Kids could use it for listening to music, but could also potentially use the iMessage service on it. The iPod could leverage the power of Apple Arcade too, becoming a very affordable device that parents would buy for their kids in a heartbeat, tying them into the Apple ecosystem at an early age. The iPod has always been an impulse purchase (as opposed to the iPhone)… reissuing the gadget on its 20th anniversary absolutely makes a world of sense!!

Image Credits: Steve Moser, AppleLe257, and Apple_Tomorrow

Is this the new Apple Watch Series 7? First-look renders show a flat-edge design inspired by the iPhone 12

I was today years old when I learned that the Apple Watch is the most popular watch in the world, overtaking Rolex to gain that title. Anyway, now that we have that tidbit aside, famed tech-leaker Jon Prosser is alleging that the world’s most popular watch is getting a redesign. Currently in its 6th series, the Apple Watch has seen only two major redesigns (with the second arguably boasting of a screen with thinner bezels) but it seems like the Cupertino-giant has giant plans for the 7th edition of its popular smartwatch… and it involves homogenizing its design to fit in with the iPhone and iPad’s form language.

The rumor-mill of a new Apple Watch started back in 2020 when prominent Apple Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo hinted that a new design was in the works and could drop as soon as 2021. Now that we’re well into the year 2021, Prosser’s collaborated with Ian Zelbo to bring rumors and leaks to life in the form of pretty life-like renders. The renders are based on real images and CAD-file screenshots supplied to Prosser by his network of sources. In order to protect the sources yet still share the designs with everyone, Prosser and Ian created these renders to show us exactly what they saw, and it seems like Apple is really beginning to streamline their design language. The ‘magical slab of glass’ analogy seemed to work really well for the iPad and its flat-edge design language finally carried onto the iPhone 12 last year and the iMac this year. According to the renders, the Apple Watch is getting a similar design upgrade with flat sides as opposed to the rounded ones, giving its screen a larger-than-life presence with minimal bezel interference.

It’s worth noting that these renders do come with some caveats. For starters, they’re literally just renders. Prosser couldn’t get his hands on a spec sheet, so we don’t have any idea what’s on the inside of the watch and if there are any new sensors or features. In fact, the watches go by codenames in the supply line too, so for all we know, this might not necessarily even be the Apple Watch Series 7 but rather an incredibly early look at Series 8! One thing that definitely stands out is the Watch 7’s new color-schemes, especially that rather soothing moss green color that doesn’t just exist on the strap, it’s present on the anodized metal body too (iMac 2021 much?) I wonder if Apple’s planning on releasing an iPhone 12-style purple variant too.

Image Credits: Jon Prosser and Ian Zelbo

Clever 3D-printed case lets you attach an AirTag tracking device to your Apple TV Remote

I’ve often felt like Apple‘s multiple product departments work separately, with a minimal informational exchange. How else would you explain the fact that in the same event, Apple announces the AirTags that expand on the company’s massive FindMy network, and also announces a new Apple TV with a redesigned remote… that can’t be tracked.

A major problem with the Apple TV remote up until now was (apart from its stunningly bad UX) that it was a ridiculously thin gadget that often got lost by slipping in between cushions or just sitting somewhere inside a magazine. The sleekness of the Apple TV remote wasn’t a feature, it was a flaw, and people were constantly complaining about losing their remote and never being able to find it… so when Apple redesigned their remote, many were expecting the 2 trillion-dollar company to address this problem too. However, all Apple managed to do was redesign the remote’s controls by bringing an iPod-style jog-dial on it.

For the thousands of people who don’t see themselves buying a new remote just so that they can face the same old problems, Etsy-maker PrintSpired Designs has a neat workaround – a 3D printed case that not only gives the old Apple TV remote some volume and thickness but also allows you to slip an AirTag in so you can track your remote when it inevitably gets misplaced.

Click Here to Buy Now – $12.99

It’s worth noting that even with the case on, the remote isn’t that thick. The case measures 14mm in height, which is about as thick as 2 iPhones stacked together. The printed case doesn’t weigh much either (given that it’s printed with support structures which basically makes it hollow on the inside), so it’s still comfortable to use. The case makes enough space for one AirTag to fit right into its design, and when the remote sits in place, it still lets you access its charging port.

The remote-case itself is available on PrintSpiredDesigns’ Etsy store for $12.99. However, if you’ve got access to a 3D Printer, you can download the STL file for $1.99 and print your own. I’d prefer buying the case though because they come in color options, including even one printed from glow-in-the-dark filament!!

Designer: PrintSpiredDesigns

Click Here to Buy Now – $12.99

Unusual Apple iPhone 13 M1 render finally ditches the notch… for a bump.

Whoever says ‘beauty comes from within’ makes a rather compelling case for this iPhone 13 concept, because it surely is, well… unconventional on the outside. Marking a clear departure from Apple’s old style of iPhones, this concept by Antonio De Rosa ushers in a new age for a new iPhone – the M1 iPhone. The ‘beauty on the inside’ for this concept is surely its M1 chip, which has definitely made a massive splash with the rest of Apple’s high-end consumer electronics… while the design change in question is in the very product’s silhouette. Unlike every previous iPhone, which has had a rounded rectangle shape from the get-go, the iPhone 13 comes with an outward notch that houses its front-facing camera.

This is probably the most unusual camera bump I’ve ever come across because for once, it isn’t on the back of the phone… it’s on the top. Marking a rather clear deviation from the design trend of the iPhones before it, the iPhone 13 concept tries to do things differently by breaking the mold and probably questioning those self-evident rules of smartphone design. The video which De Rosa put together for his concept highlights the beauty in ‘strangeness’ by looking to nature, which is filled with strange things too. His reinterpretation of the iPhone brings about the same feeling as you would get seeing an unusual animal or plant. It makes you curious, makes you question it, and makes you give it your 100% undivided attention.

That isn’t to say that I completely approve of this design direction. I like it, but I’m not sure if my reasons for liking it are based on logic or on sheer emotion. It’s clearly ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking – literally too… and maybe that’s enough to make people really like this concept. It isn’t conforming, it isn’t a sheep. It’s unique and has character, standing out against a sea of smartphones that look absolutely identical when viewed from the front. No matter how you cut it, the iPhone 13 looks unique – from the front, the back, and even the sides.

The bump serves a practical purpose too. For once, the modern iPhone doesn’t have a notch. The iPhone 13 comes with a complete screen, as all the cameras and sensors that enable FaceID sit on top, within that tiny 3-4 millimeter bump. Looking beyond it, however, the phone comes with speakers on the top as well as the bottom. The camera bump shifts slightly upward too, ensuring it’s perfectly aligned with the raised edge, thanks to the bump. Lastly, the conceptual phone flexes its muscles with its greatest feature yet, the Apple-made M1 chip.

Apple’s slated to debut the iPhone 13 in the fall of 2021, although an M1 iPhone is probably a distant dream for now (Rene Ritchie explains why). However, that’s never stopped concept creators like Antonio De Rosa from making their own concepts that embody what they themselves are looking for in future iPhones… and personally, I’m here for this upward camera bump! It’s probably practical design-wise, but my positive response to it is more reptilian than logical.

Designer: Antonio De Rosa

Here’s what the M1 iMac would look like if Apple ditched the white bezels and large chin for a 100% display

Needless to say, some people were quite annoyed with Apple’s latest M1 iMac design. Notably, YouTuber MKBHD found it outright ugly, mentioning that sure, it was slim… but those white bezels, that massive chin, and the lack of a black version made the iMac look too chirpy and playful. For a computer that was capable of incredible heavy-lifting, it didn’t quite look the part. Designer Virgile Arlaud decided to take that feedback and create his own iMac concept. Arlaud’s iMac Pro M1 concept addresses every single pain-point MKBHD had with Apple’s original design

Instead of opting for a radical overhaul, Arlaud’s iMac Pro M1 concept takes the classic iMac Pro design and gives it minor yet significant visual upgrades. The conceptual all-in-one computer sports the crowd-favorite wedge-shaped profile with that slightly bulbed back. However, it absolutely gets rid of the bezels and chin on the front, sporting a gloriously infinite edge-to-edge display that’s an absolute pleasure to look at. Sure, the M1 may be the highlight of this computer, but that screen is the icing on the cake. If the M1 works behind the scenes to give you a great computing experience, that 100% screen on the front amplifies it, surrounding the user in Apple’s incredible, unmatchable UX.

This design direction obviously has some major pros, along with a few small yet unavoidable cons. Firstly, the lack of a bezel gives the iMac Pro M1 no space for a webcam, which played a pretty important role in Apple’s own iMac. The webcam ran 1080p video and used the M1’s processing power to run ISP algorithms for an incredible video. One could argue that the presence of a webcam is a pretty trivial feature in the workhorse that is the iMac, and that an iPhone running face-time would make a pretty decent replacement. One wouldn’t be wrong.

The absence of a chin also means that the iMac Pro M1 concept would lose out on that speaker array found in the original 2021 iMac. The down-firing speakers would have to be replaced with back-firing ones, and I’m no expert, but there would definitely be a small loss in sound quality and clarity. That being said, there are quite a few innovations that allow the screen to act as a speaker… so while Arlaud’s concept doesn’t really illustrate where a speaker would sit, I’d like to believe that this concept has that feature.

What’s really nice about this iMac Pro M1 concept is that it takes an “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” approach to the computer’s overall design. There’s really no need for an all-in-one computer to be 11mm thick (we’re not carrying it around in our pockets), so that slightly bulbous back and the seamless wedge-shaped design really feels like a nice design format that doesn’t need an overhaul. It even sticks to its original inspiration – Dieter Rams’ LE1 speaker design for Braun! The M1 chip sits somewhere within the curved back of the iMac Pro, along with vents for cooling, a USB-C power input, and a whole host of ports on the back, including two USB-C and two Thunderbolt ports, a card-reader, and the old-favorite 3.5mm jack. Let’s also not forget that slick, pipe-shaped stand that’s definitely another hat-tip to the iconic Braun LE1 speaker!

Designer: Virgile Arlaud