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In this week’s top stories: On Tuesday, Apple officially held its first event of the year with the tagline “Spring Loaded.” During the event, the company unveiled updates for the iPad Pro, iMac, its AirTag item trackers, and much more. Read on as we recap everything Apple announced during the event.
Apple kicked things off with an update on its Services products. First, for Apple Card, Apple announced a new “Apple Card Family” feature that lets users share the same Apple Card with other family members. Apple says that it created this feature to “reinvent how spouses, partners, and the people you trust most share credit cards and build credit together.”
Secondly, Apple introduced Podcasts Subscriptions, a new feature in Apple Podcasts that allows users to directly support podcasters through the Podcasts app. The new service will be available starting in May.Purple iPhone
In terms of hardware, Apple announced a new color for the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12. Purple will join the iPhone 12 lineup as the sixth color option from which shoppers can choose.
So this means the iPhone 12 lineup is now available in white, black, blue, green, (PRODUCT)RED, and purple.
The new purple iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 will be available for pre-orders on Friday, April 23, with the first orders shipping on April 30. We’ve got a handful of images of the new color at the link in the show notes below.Video walkthrough
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Following the purple iPhone announcement, Apple shifted its focus to the Find My application and finally introduced its AirTag item tracker, which has been rumored for over two years at this point.
AirTags can be attached to any item in order to track it using the Find My app. For example, you can attach them to your backpack, to keys, to your wallet, or anything else.
Apple touts that AirTags have a “lightweight design,” and there are two key factors to this: water-resistance and a user-replaceable battery. Apple says AirTags are rated for IP67 water and dust resistance.
Apple also says that AirTag offers “over a year’s worth of battery life with everyday use” and features a removable cover that makes it easy for users to replace the battery. The battery inside is a CR2032, which is a standard coin cell battery
The pairing and setup experience is very similar to AirPods, making it a very integrated process within iOS.
Each AirTag incorporates a U1 chip, which Apple says enables unique precision tracking features for users with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12. The U1 chip can be used to more accurately determine the distance and direction to a lost AirTag when it is in range. As a user moves, Precision Finding fuses input from the camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope, and then will guide them to AirTag using a combination of sound, haptics, and visual feedback.
AirTag is also designed with a handful of privacy features in mind. One of the most notable things here is “proactive features” that are there to “discourage unwanted tracking.”
Apple explains that:
Bluetooth signal identifiers transmitted by AirTag rotate frequently to prevent unwanted location tracking. iOS devices can also detect an AirTag that isn’t with its owner, and notify the user if an unknown AirTag is seen to be traveling with them from place to place over time. And even if users don’t have an iOS device, an AirTag separated from its owner for an extended period of time will play a sound when moved to draw attention to it. If a user detects an unknown AirTag, they can tap it with their iPhone or NFC-capable device and instructions will guide them to disable the unknown AirTag.
You can buy a singular AirTag for $29 or a pack of four for $99. Pre-orders begin this Friday, April 23, at 8 a.m. ET/5 a.m. PT. The first orders will arrive on April 30. You can personalize AirTags with engravings and emoji as well, and Apple has a range of different accessories to go with them.Apple TV
The Apple TV was next on the docket. Apple announced a new version of the Apple TV 4K with an A12 Bionic processor on the inside, giving it even more power compared to the competition. There is also support for higher refresh rate content, though full support for 120Hz refresh rates is not there yet.
The new Apple TV will be available to order starting April 30, and the first orders will ship in the second half of May. Pricing is the same as its predecessor at $179 for 32GB of storage and $199 for 64GB. The new Siri Remote will also available on its own for $59.iMac
Next up, Apple introduced its first redesign of the iMac in over a decade. The new iMac features an all-new design with minimal bezels, plus Apple Silicon on the inside.
The new iMac features a 24-inch display with True Tone display technology. It is available in an array of new colors. Inside of the iMac is an M1 processor, which is also what we saw in last year’s Mac mini, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air.
In terms of design, the new iMac features a slim profile with smaller bezels around the display, but the chin is still there and is similar to the previous-generation iMac design but without the Apple logo.
To go along with the new iMac, Apple has also announced a new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. This marks the first time that Apple has expanded Touch ID to an external keyboard, and it allows you to unlock your Mac, authenticate for Apple Pay and App Store purchases, and more. The keyboard is also color-matched to the color of the iMac itself, as are the Magic Mouse and the Magic Trackpad.
In terms of pricing, there are essentially two tiers of the 24-inch iMac.
$1,299 – 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU with 8GB of unified memory, 256GB SSD, two Thunderbolt ports, a Magic Keyboard without Touch ID, and a Magic Mouse.
Available in: Green, pink, blue, and silver.
$1,499 – 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU with 8GB of unified memory, 256GB SSD, two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3 ports, a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, a Magic Mouse, and Ethernet connectivity.
Available in: Green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver
You’ll be able to pre-order the new iMac starting on April 30, and the first orders will begin shipping during the second half of May.iPad Pro
Last but certainly not least, we also got a new iPad Pro lineup during Tuesday’s Apple event.
The 2023 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro feature the 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU M1 chip and a new Thunderbolt connector (over the same USB-C port). The larger 12.9-inch model also sports a new mini-LED screen, which Apple calls “Liquid Retina XDR.”
Apple says this new display “offers an even more expansive view and a stunning HDR experience.” The iPad Pro has around 2500 local dimming zones, enabling a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 1600 nits peak brightness.
The new iPad Pro also features an upgraded camera system for photography and augmented reality use cases. The front camera now features a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens. For FaceTime calls, the new ultra-wide camera now automatically pans around to keep the person in frame as they move around the room.
The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 – the same as its predecessor – and the 12.9-inch model starts at $1,099, which is a $100 price increase.
Both models are available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and an all-new 2TB configurations. There’s also 5G connectivity for the first time, including mmWave 5G support in the United States.
11-inch iPad Pro with cellular and 2TB storage: $2,099
12.9-inch iPad Pro with cellular and 2TB storage: $2,399
The new iPad Pro will be available to pre-order on April 30 and start shipping in the second half of May.
Alongside the new iPad Pro, Apple updated the Magic Keyboard accessory with a new white color option, but the functionality is the same.Other tidbits More 9to5Mac coverage
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Siri for Mac with OS X 10.12, iTunes and App Store redesigns, improved iCloud encryption, and original programming for the Apple TV. These are just a few of the projects Apple has reportedly been working on and they are also likely candidates for stage time at its upcoming WWDC press event and developer conference. Add in the last of the Macs that are due for updates and the usual dose of new developer tools, and we already have a lot to look forward to at WWDC slated for June 13-17.
Below we take a look at the latest rumors and reports for all of the expected product updates and new features in the cards for the event.
We haven’t had a lot of leaks for iOS 10 (yet), but after some references to internal testing alongside OS X 10.12, we do know a little about what Apple is planning for the next iOS release that usually gets an official unveiling at WWDC. One thing we do know: Apple is planning an App Store revamp and that could be a big feature for the release and likely a highlight of the iOS portion of WWDC, especially as reports say Apple is aiming to fix browsing and possibly introduce paid search results rather than just introducing superficial UI updates. It will also be the first event since Phil Schiller took over the App Store and recently responded to developer complaints about longstanding issues with app search and discovery.
Mac OS X
Mark reported back in February that Apple was working on Siri for Mac as one of the big new features for the upcoming 10.12 OS X release, “Codenamed “Fuji,” that like iOS 10 is expected to get a WWDC unveiling in June. And Apple has an iTunes for desktop redesign in store that Apple execs Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi revealed in a recent interview. It was already supposed to see a release but didn’t, so it’s very possible Apple is now saving it for WWDC. It also looks like Apple is planning a name change from Mac OS X to simply MacOS, which would help the OS name fit in with iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
As for what else Apple has in store, Mark noted in his February report that Apple is also working on “minor user-interface tweaks across core system application windows,” but that “the changes will not be as notable as those in 2014’s OS X Yosemite update.” Otherwise, the release is mainly focused on performance-focused engineering much like the company emphasized in OS X El Capitan.
We just went over everything we know about Apple’s upcoming laptop updates, and that was right before Apple did its 12-inch MacBook refresh yesterday. Now that the 12-inch is out of the way, Apple has the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro line to deal with, both of which are approaching or passing the one year mark since last being updated. In March we reported new MacBook Pros were being planned for the second of half of 2023. And recent reports have pointed to new, thinner 13- and 15-inch MacBooks coming around July as well as that redesigned thinner MacBook rumored for mid-2023.
Back before the launch of the new Apple TV 4 last year, Mark reported that a streaming video service from Apple was in the works but would have to wait until sometime in 2023. And that was before the many recent reports of Apple working to acquire talent for original programming that we can only assume will be used to differentiate its streaming service and the Apple TV from competitors. Will we get a taste of what’s to come from Apple TV at WWDC? Even if the streaming service isn’t ready for the show, it’s likely tvOS will get some behind the scenes improvements for developers at the very least. Apple is also yet to bring the Siri Remote features to the iOS Remote app, something it previously said was coming this year:
Word is that Apple is developing stronger iCloud backup encryption and iPhone security features following the controversy with the FBI and the San Bernardino case. And there have also been several recent reports on Apple’s efforts to bring more iCloud infrastructure in-house to improve the service as reliability continues to be one of the biggest complaints among users of the company’s various cloud services.
Apple has reportedly been working on a person-to-person payments feature for Apple Pay that could launch sometime this year, and that will certainly be something we’ll see at WWDC if it’s ready for a reveal. At the very least the company will also likely use WWDC to update us on recent progress for the payments platform as it continues to expand to new regions and supported card issuers, retailers and banks.
We recently discovered hints at a possible embeddable Apple MapKit API that is likely coming soon for developer use, and Apple will certainly have a lot of improvements to talk in terms of developer tools— it recently started overhauling its Developer Center— and the usual tie-ins with iOS and Mac OS X announcements regarding what’s new for developers. There was also word recently that Apple was developing support for paid subscription content for its News app and the App Store revamp mentioned above will almost certainly be a highlight for developers if it’s ready in time for the event.
Check back as we add the latest in the lead up to WWDC…
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The days leading up to an Apple Spring Loaded event can be fun. It’s a chance to speculate about what products Tim Cook and his work pals have been cooking up for the past few months. This year’s first big Apple even will take place on Tuesday, April 20th. While we’re not expecting it to be a game-changing batch of announcements, there’s likely some cool gear in the hopper. We’ll know for sure on Tuesday, but for now, here are some products that we might see coming out of Apple HQ.iPad
Rumors suggest the new iPad Pro displays will draw on mini LED backlight technology, which is currently the hot thing happening in high-end TVs. It’s unclear if we’ll get any kind of substantive hardware redesign, but we’re fans of the current squared-edge design, which has partially trickled down to the iPad Air as well.
The event could also bring a new version of the Apple Pencil.Apple TV
If you’re running the latest Apple TV 4K, it’s currently equipped with an A10X Fusion processor inside. That dates back to 2023, which is quite old when it comes to this kind of tech. The popular rumors suggest an upgrade to HDMI 2.1 to support higher refresh rates, which is particularly handy when playing games.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the popular gossip also suggests that Apple may finally be ready to replace the easy-to-lose and annoying-to-use Apple TV Remote with something more robust. If any of the rumors are true, a remote with some buttons might be the most exciting.
If you regularly read the gadget blogs, you may very well be sick of hearing about the long-rumored AirTags by now. Speculation about them has literally been around for years. Recently, however, Apple issued an update to its Find My service to include devices from third-party manufacturers. So, if other companies want to build Find My into their own gadgets, you can track them down just like you would with a lost iPhone or iPad.
It makes sense that Apple would release its own tracking hardware around the same time that it starts letting third parties in the door. No one is really sure what they’ll look like, how much they will cost just yet, or if they even actually exist.Airpods
While the excellent AirPods Pro are still relatively fresh, the stock AirPods haven’t changed much in years. There’s very little out there, even on the rumor front, about the possibility of new AirPods, but it feels like time for an update. With so many people possibly headed back to school or work later in the year, a fresh set of white AirPods would probably sell extremely well.M1-powered Macs
This one is a long shot, but it’s not out of the question that Apple could drop more machines powered by its Apple Silicon hardware. The initial wave of M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro machines have been extremely well-received, so it’s likely Apple wants to continue updating its line in a timely fashion. Rumors suggest this Spring event may include a new version of the iMac desktop computers. Even if Apple doesn’t drop a new M1 (or better) Mac at this event, we’re only a few weeks away from the company’s big World Wide Developers Conference, which provides another opportunity for big announcements.
Be sure to follow along on PopSci for live coverage of the Spring Forward event happening at 1 p.m. Eastern on April 20th, 2023.
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It’s Fall. That means it’s time for changing leaves, overly complicated Halloween decorations from Target, and a new iPhone. We’re buckling down to watch the Apple Fall 2023 product announcement event and would love for you to watch along with us.
The new iPhone tends to steal the show during these Fall events. This year, we’re expecting iPhone 13 to follow last year’s iPhone 12 lineup. Rumors suggest we could also get a new Apple Watch 7 to replace the Apple Watch 6 at the top of the lineup. We also may get a new AirPods update since the vanilla version of Apple’s super-popular earbuds, which went into version 2 back in 2023.Let’s start the event
We’re kicking things off with a very elaborate musical tribute to the state of California. It’s jaunty. Now we’re digging into the upcoming content on Apple TV+. Ted Lasso’s big smiling face is there along with some prestige dramas and sci-fi action. Billie Eilish was in there for some reason, too. Now it’s time for the hardware.
We’re starting with the iPad, which is unexpected. Cook says iPad has grown more than 40 percent since last year.iPad
The base level iPad gets an update. Apple
The new base-model iPad now has an A13 Bionic chip up from the A12 in the previous model. That translates into a 20 percent speed boost according to Apple. The company doesn’t miss the chance to mention that it’s faster than the vast majority of Chromebooks out there. The front-facing camera has gotten a big update to 12-megapixels and 122-degree field of view. It also has the iPad Pro’s Center Stage feature, which tracks people in the frame to make calls feel more dynamic.
The iPad display now has True Tone so it changes color balance depending on the ambient light in your surroundings. It still only supports the first-generation Apple Pencil.
The old connector port and the legacy Pencil compatibility might seem outdated, but for schools that have already invested in accessories for their iPad hardware, upgrading can be tricky.
The new iPad starts at $329 for the base 64 GB model. If you’re a school, it starts at $299. It starts shipping next week.iPad Mini
The new Mini looks great Apple
The screen is now 8.3-inches and the TouchID feature lives in the button on the top right of the device. It really does feel just like a mini version of the iPad. It’s a Liquid Retina display with True Tone, too.
Compared to the old Mini, it’s 40 percent faster when it comes to CPU performance and 80 percent faster when we’re talking GPUs. Apple keeps talking about how pilots can use it to do fancy things during flights, which must be a big market I didn’t know about.
It connects to a computer via USB-C instead of Lightning. Is that foreshadowing for the new iPhone?
The back camera now has a faster lens and a built-in flash. You get an ultra-wide camera and stereo speakers. It also supports Apple Pencil 2, unlike the base model iPad. This seems like a solid option for people who want a small screen.
The iPad Mini starts at $499.Apple Watch Series 7
The new larger screen can handle up to 50 percent more text at once. Apple
The Apple Watch has gotten a bigger screen. It now has a thinner bezel and a much larger actual display. The screen on the front is curved to make the device feel more cohesive.
Apple Watch Series 7 also has IP6X durability ratings, which makes it tougher than its predecessors. It charges up to 33 percent faster thanks to a new fast-charging USB-C cable.
It will come in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium, just like its predecessor.
Series 3 stays in the current lineup for some reason. The SE is sticking around for $299, and the new Series 7 will start at $399. Apple is updating Fitness+, which it sees as a big selling point for the Apple Watch. This part of the presentation feels passive aggressive since I’m eating pizza while watching it.iPhone 13
Hello new iPhone Apple
Now we’re getting to the main event.
The new camera system has the diagonal lens arrangement from the leaked images. The camera system on the front is smaller now to interrupt the screen less. The notch is 20 percent smaller.
There’s a regular version and a Mini version, both of which have a screen that 28 percent brighter than its predecessor. It does P3 wide color and has a max brightness of 1200 nits in HDR mode.
Inside, the new A15 Bionic chip will handle the computing. It has 15 billion transistors, which sounds like a lot.
The new CPU has six total cores, two of which are performance and four of which are high-efficiency. A15 Bionic also has a four-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine. These numbers are hard to parse and act as a nice reminder of why people stopped paying attention to hard specs when it comes to phones.
A look at the specs. Apple
The camera system now has bigger pixels and a new f/1.6 lens to let in more light. iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini are both getting sensor shift image stabilization from the old iPhone 12 Pro Max. The new Ultra Wide camera has also gotten an image quality bump.
For video, iPhone 13 is getting a new Cinematic Mode. It’s about rack focusing. It can tell when a subject is going to enter the frame, which is very cool. The blur creates weird halos around people, though, especially around their hair.
You still get MagSafe, but the new leather MagSafe wallet also supports Find My, so you can locate it if you misplace it. That’s smart.
iPhone 13 starts at $699 for the Mini or $799 for the iPhone 13. The base storage option checks in at 128 GB and goes up to 512 GB.iPhone 13 Pro
Gaming is a big emphasis for the new 13 Pro. Apple
Now we’re into the high-end hardware. 13 Pro comes in four shiny colors with stainless steel bands around the outside. The True Depth camera system is 20 percent smaller as with the iPhone 13.
Inside, it has the new A15 Bionic, which isn’t much of a surprise. You get a 5-core GPU up from four in the non-Pro version. Apple keeps referring to the Snap Dragon 888 as “the competition” in case you were curious about that.
The new display now supports 1,000 nits peak outdoor brightness. The screen now gets Pro Motion, which means it can go from 10 Hz to 120 Hz depending on what you’re doing. That 120 Hz framerate promises smooth motion and scrolling. This is something we’ve been waiting for from Apple for a while. The screens come in 6.1 and 6.7-inch options.
The new cameras include a 77mm telephoto camera with a 3x optical zoom, a new main sensor with more real estate, and a wider aperture for the super-wide.
The ultra-wide camera now offers “macro” photography. It can focus down to 2cm thanks to its super-wide focal length.
Photographic styles now let you customize the editing applied to your images. It’s like preset image settings that come in many cameras.
When it comes to video, it shoots Dolby Vision HDR footage. Apple is big on Cinematic Mode. Coming down the line, the iPhone 13 Pro will shoot 4K 30p ProRes. If you don’t know what that means, you don’t need it. 13 Pro starts at $999 and 13 Pro Max starts at $1,099. You can now get up to 1 TB storage in the Pro models.
That’s a wrap on the event! Look for more coverage in the coming weeks!
Now less than a week away from Apple’s ‘See you on the 7th’ iPhone 7 event, there’s a lot we know about the device and other product announcements Apple has planned for next week. A dual-camera system for iPhone, a new and improved Apple Watch 2 with GPS, new wireless headphones, and much more. Here’s what we expect to see at Apple’s iPhone event next week…
Same design. iPhone 7 will mostly be the same physical design as iPhone 6s apart from repositioned antenna lines. As you can see in the image below, the antenna lines will be redirected along the edge of the device leaving a smooth backside free of the antenna lines visible on the back of current iPhone models.
Dual-camera system. One of the big hardware upgrades that Apple will surely highlight on stage is the dual-camera tech it’s expected to introduce with far better zoom capabilities. It looks like the new dual-camera could be limited to the larger 5.5-inch models, while one report claimed the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 models will get optical image stabilization, a feature previously limited to the larger 5.5-inch Plus models. Both models will get new 12 megapixel cameras according to the latest supply chain reports.
Redesigned Home button. We reported back in June that sources indicated Apple was working on a designed Home button, and since others have backed up our report that the new Home button with haptic feedback-like features could be included in the iPhone 7.
No headphone jack. Apple is removing the headphone jack and forcing you to use wireless or Lightning headphones or adapters.
32GB-256GB. It looks like most iPhone users will get a storage upgrade this cycle with several reports pointing to a 32GB base model and a new higher-capacity 256GB model on the high-end.
New Space Black color option. We reported previously on Apple’s considerations for a new darker color for iPhone 7. Now with some fresh component leaks adding to our report, it’s looking even more likely that Apple will offer a new color option. And if the part leaks are accurate, it will likely be a darker Space Black-like model. One recent report from supply chain analysts KGI noted both a darker space black and a glossier piano black finish will be offered making for five total color options alongside the current silver, gold, and rose gold.
iOS 10. Currently in beta, you can expect an announcement for the public release of iOS 10 at the event, which means the new and improved Messages features alongside a very long list of other new features will arrive for all. I’ll let Jeff walk you through 75 of them in the video above.
GPS. One of Apple Watch 2’s standout features will likely be the inclusion of a new GPS chip, offering more freedom from the iPhone by enabling the device to offer an enhanced standalone fitness experience and other GPS features.
Same design. Apple Watch 2 will include largely the same design according to the supply chain reports, but that doesn’t rule out some new strap and model configurations that could breathe some new life into the current lineup. Apple has reportedly experimented with titanium and other casing materials that could in theory be introduced without changing the overall design of the device, but it’s likely Apple won’t have any other major design changes in store for the second generation Watch.
Improved battery life. The watch is also said to include improved performance and battery life, according to the latest component leaks claiming to show a larger battery for the device and other tweaked parts.
watchOS 3. One thing we know Apple Watch will be getting is watchOS 3, with notable new features including improved performance, a new Control Center feature, quick access to watch face switching, improved messaging and more. Check out our hands-on with the beta release above.
Beats Wireless Headphones. Apple’s Beats PR team this week leaked what appeared to be plans for a new line of Beats headphones to launch alongside iPhone 7. That followed hints at three new wireless Beats models in the works from recent trademark filings.
AirPods? Will new Beats wireless headphones be the only thing Apple has for the first iPhone without a headphone jack? We reported earlier this year that it has truly wireless, cord-free earbuds in the works, and later leaks have speculated that hints at “AirPods” branding could be connected to the product. Whether to not Apple will have these ready in time to launch with the iPhone 7 remains to be seen.
Lightning EarPods or an Adapter? Another thing we’re expecting to see is either an adapter or Lightning EarPods bundled with the iPhone 7. Even if Apple has its cord-free earbuds ready for launch, it will likely sell those at a premium and offer an adapter or new EarPods with a Lightning connector in the box.
macOS Sierra: Apple will announce the release of macOS Sierra next week, currently in developer and public beta. What can you expect? Above Jeff walks us through a ton of new features in the release that Apple will possibly briefly highlight on stage when announcing availability. The highlight feature of the release is the debut of Siri on the Mac, but it also introduces a new universal clipboard, redesigned Apple Music features, and more.
tvOS 10: Along with macOS Sierra, iOS 10, and watchOS 3, Apple will likely release GM seeds of tvOS 10 for the fourth-generation Apple TV next week. Zac gave us a preview earlier this year showing us the new Dark mode feature, YouTube Siri search, HomeKit, & more.
There have been several reports that Apple is continuing behind the scenes work on a new video service with the most recent report claiming it was developing a universal TV guide feature for Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. But there hasn’t been any indication yet Apple will have anything beyond tvOS 10 to show next week.
New MacBook Pro? (Wildcard) Apple is planning new thinner MacBook Pros for release in the coming months. We’ve reported extensively on the leaks surrounding the new models, which feature a new OLED touch screen panel above the keyboard.
Is Apple planning another event between now and the holidays to announce the new MacBook Pro, or could it possibly be planning to give us a glimpse at the new Macs next week ahead of a release later in the year?
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Now when it comes to Chinese tablets you will find a lot of cheap stuff on the market right now. Sadly, it is a matter of fact that most of these tabs claim to be the Holy Grail while in fact they are nothing more than half assed devices, with more bugs than you can shake a stick at. Unfortunately this is probably the reason why most gadgets lovers aren’t so in love with the whole Chinese tablet market.
Once in a while, there will be a manufacturer who does manage to create a little gem, which works as promised and is well worth the investment.
Again we turn to Cube, who have been doing a lot this year to prove that they are one of the top Chinese Android tablet contenders out their. But is their $192 Cube Talk 9X up to the same standards as their other devices, and more importantly is this a tablet we would recommend?Cube Talk 9X Review: iPad
for the cheap
Cube made huge promises for the Talk 9X, claiming it to be just 7.5mm thin. We have seen before that Chinese manufactures like to fib a little when it comes to dimensions, but in this case Cube hold true to their word. Holding the 9.7-inch tablet in your hands proves that it does feel thin, exactly 7.5mm with the rear camera, and even tapers off to only 6.5mm. Although thin it is hardly light at 560g, but this is partly due to the large display and party through the use of alloy rather than plastic for the body.Cube Talk 9X Review: For indoor use only
Boasting a 9.7-inch IPS OGS panel with a whopping resolution of 2.048 x 1.536, the Cube Talk 9X is really shows what Chinese manufacturers can do on a budget. So on paper we do have a great panel, and for indoor use colors are vivid and the overall image quality is very crisp, but it certainly does lack a little contrast and – more important – brightness. Trying to use this tablet under direct sunlight will seriously impact the readability. Another downside is the digitizer used in here, which isn’t as sensitive as we would’ve liked it to be. Typing on-screen can be a real pain if you as you need to remember to put enough pressure for each tap to properly register.Cube Talk 9X Review: Performance monster
The Cube Talk 9X comes equipped with a Mediatek MT8392 chipset. This octa-core SoC feature 8 ARM Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.7GHz and a Mali 450MP GPU. Seems familiar? Yes, this SoC is the tablet-optimized version of the MT6592 phone SoC.
To beginning with, we were a little worried, as it seemed unlikely this chipset could handle a 2k screen very well. Luckily we’ve been proven wrong with the tablet working remarkably well throughout the test. The Cube Talk 9X really is a potent tablet and proof that Mediatek know how to make a tablet SoC.
Comparing the performance of the Cube Talk 9X to a similar device running the popular Rockchips RK3188, and well there isn’t much of a comparisons! The Mediatek chip offers a smoother overall experience. It even beats the Onda V989 with Allwinner’s new ARM Cortex A80T!
2GB of RAM means there is no way a bottleneck and offers sufficient memory for pretty much every task you expect of the tablet. This is yet another proof for the fact that software optimization is far more important than an impressive spec-sheet.
Talking about optimization: While Cube did a good job with this in terms of performance, they somehow didn’t in terms of compatibility. The tablet is incompatible with quite a few apps, which is extremely annoying. While some apps that aren’t displayed in the Play Store can indeed be installed and ran through a third party service, the tablet really fails with some important apps like Chrome and Opera, which crash upon loading a website. We hope that Cube is going to fix that with a future software update.
The software part still features some more positive parts though. The most important one probably being the fact that Cube left Android 4.4.2 mostly untouched. They only went for their own launcher, while the remaining items is pure stock. Another nice feature is that there is almost no pre-installed bloatware, leaving you with plenty of free memory thanks to the 16GB of ROM. Not enough? Plug in your micro SD card and you are good to go for more content.Cube Talk 9X Review: The wireless Allrounder
To find an octacore tablet with 2K at this price is pretty impressive, to find that it packs built-in 3G and a GPS is just plain amazing! With 3G access you can load up Google Maps and use the Cube Talk 9X as a large navigation system, or even a travel companion finding new places of interest. 3G, and full service support means you can even leave your phone at home and use the Cube as a huge phablet making phone calls!
For home and coffee shop use, fast Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, is included which is quite the improvement compared to previous Cube tablets we tested previously which suffered from poor WIFI. And yes, Bluetooth is supported and working fine too and allows you to connect a keyboard for better productivity or headphones for relaxing.Cube Talk 9X Review: Are you an entertainer?
Having such a huge tablet with a high-res screen, you of course want to use it for some decent video and audio fun within the comfort of your home. As long as you keep this down to 1080p videos and audio enjoyment through headphones, you won’t be disappointed. But please do not expect 4k video playback. The SoC just can’t cater this demand.
Internal speakers are a huge let down, providing lots of distortion and no bass. The only workaround for this are good headphones, or connection to a sound bar, amp etc.Cube Talk 9X Review: Did we talk about the cam yet?
So far the Cube Talk 9X has delivered a lot for the money and overall has done a good job, so how do the cameras perform? Cube says the Talk 9X comes with an 8 mega pixel rear camera along with an LED flash and a 2 mega pixel shooter on the front. In fact the rear camera only has a real resolution of 5 mega pixels and while the LED flash is nice to have, it isn’t quite bright enough to be of much use. Overall the camera quality on both the front and the rear is acceptable, but nothing more. Don’t expect to take your next vacation pictures with this one. Well, you probably wouldn’t anyway considering the sheer size of this tablet. Overall the camera quality is very similar to the one we’ve seen on the iPad 2.Cube Talk 9X: A battery to die for
Best of all you can squeeze out even more depending on the usage and how you try to save energy. The maximum we managed to squeeze out of this cell is 11 hours of battery life. Playing games non-stop will result in 5 hours of battery life. Still quite incredible, isn’t it?
Of course you pay a high price for such a high-capacity battery: Charging does take an age. 5 to 6 hours depending on if you use the tablet to charge or if you continue to use it while plugged in.Cube Talk 9X: Conclusion
If you are looking for a cheap Android tablet which offers some high-end level specs, this one probably is one of the best choices next to the affordable Intel-based Ramos i-series tablets. The Cube Talk 9X offers unbeivable build quality and performance for only $192, which easily makes it one of the best tablet deals from the far-east. It has some bugs for sure, which probably prevent it from being the ultimate solution for everyone, but for us and most likely for a lot of you as well, it still remains a very good large screen tablet with great mobile connectivity..
Amazingly thin design
Good screen for indoor use
Surprisingly good performance
3G and GPS support
Phone calls support
Large internal memory which is expandable using a micro SD card
OTG and MHL support
Very long battery life
Bad screen for outdoor use
Long charging time
Bad screen sensitivity
No dedicated HDMI port
Bad audio quality (internal speakers)
Thanks to eFox-Shop for providing us with this interesting review device.
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