Tag Archive for ‘Camera’

iPhone Eleven Pro

iPhone 11 Pro

I was hesitant to move into this new era of iOS hardware design. When Apple announced the iPhone X in 2017, I opted to purchase the more traditional iPhone 8. I just wasn’t convinced that the removal of the home button was a step in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect Apple to go back to making home button iPhones, but at the very least, I wanted to give them a couple more years to refine the experience.

After Apple’s most recent event, where they introduced the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, I knew which model I was going to order. The iPhone 11 Pro was the right choice for me. The iPhone 11 Pro is the only new phone in Apple’s lineup that’s even close to the same physical size as the iPhone 8 I was upgrading from. And I’m not quite ready to move to the larger screen. I want a device that fits comfortably in my pocket and can be used with one hand.

I hemmed and hawed a bit on what color to choose, though. I’ve historically went with the black or space gray models because I liked the look of those devices from the front. Having a black front panel meant that it was difficult to distinguish where the display ended and the bezel began. I liked that effect quite a bit so I always stuck with black or space gray. But with these newer style devices, the front panel is black regardless of what color you choose. I took this as an opportunity to pick something different — silver this time around.

Design

It’s striking just how handsome the iPhone 11 Pro is in person. The shiny metal band around the edges and matte finish on the glass back looks quite sharp. And I’ve grown to accept the necessity of the camera bump — I find this year’s camera array to be much more pleasing to the eye when compared to the look of the two camera setups in previous year’s iPhones. The lenses have a certain utilitarian sense to it, which gives you the feeling that you’re carrying an advanced piece of tech with you.

The new finish on the glass back has a unique feel. It feels like it might be more slippery than my iPhone 8, but in practice, I haven’t found it sliding around on surfaces quite as easily. The sheer size of the camera bump might have something to do with that, honestly, but it’s hard to say for sure. What I can say for certain, though, is that it feels premium.

iPhone 11 Pro Next to iPhone 8

The placement of the Apple logo was a bit odd at first glance, but I think moving it to the center helps keep the phone’s design more balanced. Especially since they removed the text from the back entirely. Keeping it at a third of the way from the top would have made the phone look visually top-heavy. It also helps that the Apple logo is so much more subtle with this revision. At many angles, the logo is impossible to see — almost as if Apple is relying on the design of their camera lens array to pick up the slack, from a branding perspective.

Around the front of the device, the display doesn’t seem noticeably better than my iPhone 8’s most of the time. I know it is, but during normal use, I don’t see a difference. The only instance where I was surprised at the display quality was when viewing a mostly black screen in a dark room — the black portions give off zero light. I’m not much of a dark mode person and don’t watch a lot of videos on my iPhone, so I’m not going to see that too often. But I’m glad to see Apple moving to OLED and pushing their hardware further.

Coming from the iPhone 8, this is the first device I’ve owned with a notch. And I can say definitively, it’s fine. Of course it would be better if it didn’t exist, but you don’t really notice it during use — it’s small enough that it’s out of the way. It’s more noticeable when playing games and watching video, but not enough to be annoying. If you’re still hesitant to move to the newer device designs because of the notch, you can put that out of your mind, you’ll be fine with it.

Face ID

Despite the twelve years that I’ve spent using iPhones with home buttons, I was surprised at how quickly I’ve transitioned to the new interface. There’ve been a few times where I’ve reached for the home button, only to realize there wasn’t one. Those have been few and far between, though.

And I’ve been pretty impressed with the reliability of Face ID. Touch ID has improved so much over the years and felt instantaneous on my iPhone 8. Face ID isn’t quite that fast, but it’s really close. And the nature of Face ID feels so effortless, you aren’t actually performing an input of any kind, you’re just using your phone the way you normally would and the system takes care of the authentication for you.

I don’t have any experience using Face ID on previous iPhones, but I’m aware that it was limited in the angles in which it functioned. This is supposedly improved in the iPhone 11 models it has been impressive in my use. It’s failed for me when I was extremely far off axis — while laying on the couch with my iPhone sitting flat — but it’s been excellent for me in all other scenarios.

There is a part of me that wishes I could have the home button back. I picked up the home gesture quickly, but app switching still feels clunky. It’s not nearly as natural as double pressing the home button and it doesn’t feel as quick to invoke. But even if I had the option to bring back the home button on this device, I’d still prefer to keep Face ID. That is absolutely a huge leap forward compared to Touch ID, so much so that I don’t ever want to go back.

Internals

The iPhone 11 Pro is the fastest computer I’ve ever owned. And that includes Macs, which is still astonishing to me. Compared to the iPhone 8, the 11 Pro is about 45% faster in single and multi-core tasks.

There isn’t too much that I do on my iPhone that can really put that power to good use, though. I do some light photo editing from time to time and use and build Shortcuts a lot. But that’s about the extent of my power user tasks. The majority of the time I’m writing, checking Twitter, reading news, or listening to podcasts.

I wish that I had more heavy duty tasks to do on my iPhone, like converting video for Plex. That’s a task that’s still done on my Mac Mini because of the lack of software, but would certainly be quicker to perform on my iPhone. Maybe one day, when Apple loosens the reins a bit and lets us install software from outside of the App Store. That’s the sort of thing that isn’t going to happen for a good number of years, though.

Setting aside the performance of the chips for a moment, the battery life on this thing has been incredible. I haven’t done any formal testing, but my iPhone 8 would regularly end the day with around 10-20% left. The 11 Pro hasn’t dipped below 50% after an average day of use. To some extent the age of the iPhone 8’s battery is a factor, but even when the 8 was brand new, it would typically hit 30% before I plugged it in at the end of the day.

That’s a substantial improvement over my previous iPhone. And I expect most people upgrading will see similar gains over their previous devices. Battery life was one aspect of iPhones that users would always complain about. Any improvements that Apple made over the years seems to have been matched by an increase in usage. But this is such a leap forward that I think they actually hit it out of the park this time. The battery life on iPhones is actually great now.

Camera

I’m no photography expert, but I dabble in the hobby from time to time. One of the biggest draws for me toward the iPhone 11 Pro, as opposed to the iPhone 11 is the third camera lens. With Joshua in our lives, I wanted as much camera in my iPhone as I could possibly get.

I won’t spend too much time discussing the new camera system, though. If you’re interested in a more technical overview, I would suggest reading one of the more in-depth reviews. But I’m more than happy to share my brief thoughts after a week of usage.

Comparing the three iPhone 11 Pro Camera Lenses

(Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide lenses.)

The additional two camera lenses over my iPhone 8 has been a game changer. I’m finding myself switching between all three lenses regularly, often shooting with multiple lenses in a single session. I’ll take a photos of Josh laying on the couch with the Wide lens and then switch to the Ultra Wide to get a shot or two that captures a bit more context and scale.

It was immediately obvious that the Ultra Wide lens would be useful in situations when I wanted to photograph something large — like a mountain range, a city scape, or a group of people where stepping further backward isn’t practical. But I didn’t expect it to be useful when I wanted to help convey how small something is. Joshua is such a tiny little dude and it’s hard to convey that with the standard Wide lens, but the Ultra Wide is great in those situations. By showing a bit more of the room around him, it helps to show just how small he really is.

I haven’t had as much use out of the Telephoto lens, but I’m certain it will see more use when I’m out of the house more often. With Josh so young, my wife and I have mostly been homebodies. When we start going on walks and getting out of the house to go to parks and whatnot, the Telephoto lens will undoubtedly have more applications for me.

Comparing Night Mode on iPhone 11 Pro to iPhone 8

(Night mode on 11 Pro compared to the same lighting with iPhone 8.)

The picture quality has been excellent as well. Especially in low light situations. Joshua is waking up a handful of times throughout the night and we’ve been keeping a bedside lamp with a Hue bulb at 10%, This gives us just enough light to maneuver around the room and see him when he wakes up.

That’s the sort of lighting situation that previously would have been impossible to take photos in. With the Night Mode on the 11 Pro, though, I can capture all those late night smiles and funny faces. The resulting pictures are surprisingly good too. They’re not quite as bright and vibrant as photos taken in the daylight, but they’re more than passable. It helps if the subject remains still while taking the photo — movement can cause a bit of blurriness. I’m so happy to have this as an option, though. There are so many moments that just would have been lost and forgotten if I only had my iPhone 8 camera to work with.

Portrait mode is another new feature that I didn’t have access to with my iPhone 8. And it’s not something I’ve spent much time with — I’ve only taken a handful of shots with it so far. The feature seems neat, but it’s less useful when your subject is very close to the background beyond them. Since I’m mostly taking photos of Josh and he’s not even able to crawl yet, portrait mode just isn’t something I’m too excited about right now.

Overall

I’ve been very happy with the iPhone 11 Pro. It’s an excellent device that feels like a substantial upgrade from my previous iPhone. Face ID, battery life, and the camera system have been the standout features for me so far. The device isn’t without faults, though.

The 11 Pro is actually quite heavy. A full 30% heavier than the iPhone 8. That doesn’t seem like too much, but the device is longer and the position of the camera system makes it feel a bit top-heavy. It’s not much of an issue when using the iPhone with two hands, but when one-handed, it’s a tad much. I’ve been doing that thing where you cradle the device in your hand and rest the bottom of it on the inside of your pinky. Even with lighter phones that can be tiring, but with the extra weight of the 11 Pro, it can get painful.

I’ve been more conscious of this over the last few days and have been trying to adjust my grip as a result. I could probably get something like a Pop Socket to alleviate the issue, but that’s not exactly my style. My plan is to just soldier on with an adjusted grip and hope for the best.

I’m also disappointed with the removal of 3D Touch. I didn’t realize how important it was to my daily usage until it was taken away. All of the features I used 3D Touch for can be accessed in other ways. Like using long presses on icons to show an app’s contextual menu. The big downside with this is that using a long press instead of 3D Touch inherently introduces some hesitation when performing the action — 3D Touch is quick where long presses force you to wait.

And I’m still trying to get used to the new way of moving the text insertion point. Being able to 3D Touch anywhere on the keyboard has become an important tool whenediting text on my iPhone. And just like with the app icon menus mentioned above, long pressing on the space bar to invoke the cursor trackpad just feels slow and clunky in comparison.

I’m sure Apple removed 3D Touch because it led to some confusing situations for users — when they intended to tap and accidentally activated 3D Touch instead, which is even more annoying if the user doesn’t know the feature exists and has no idea what caused it. But it’s the sort of power user feature that I wish would return in the future. Even if that means that it’s disabled by default. I mean, macOS still ships with right mouse clicks disabled, why can’t they release iOS hardware with 3D Touch built in that has to be enabled by the user before it can be used?

Those really are relatively minor complaints, though, and things that I’ll get used to with time. It’s a bit of a cliché, but this truly is the best iPhone I’ve ever owned. There are attributes of devices from the past that I have a fondness for, but to be honest, I wouldn’t trade the 11 Pro’s camera system for any of them. It’s such a massive step forward for me and at the exact perfect time in my life.

In twenty or thirty years, when I look back at photos of Josh from this time period, I’m going to be so glad that the camera I had with me, was the best camera I could have in a smartphone.

Seen on the Seventh

I can’t say I was too impressed with the opening video of Tim Cook riding to the event with Pharrell Williams and James Corden — whoever that is. It felt a little bit too much like every other “hilarious” CEO video that never quite manages to be funny, or even interesting. But Apple delivered an impressive set of announcements — headlined by a second-generation Apple Watch, new iPhones, and wireless headphones.

I wasn’t able to watch the event live — aside from a handful of moments in 5-10 minute chunks. Instead, I kept a close eye on my Twitter timeline and watched the full event earlier this morning. The following is my impressions of each of the major announcements, in the order they appeared on stage.

Nintendo

There’s been this hope within the Apple community, for the past several years, that Apple would purchase Nintendo and make a big push for gaming on their platforms. But having Shigeru Miyamoto on stage is proof that an acquisition wasn’t necessary. Nintendo is bringing a brand new game to iOS — Super Mario Run — but that’s only the beginning.

It wasn’t discussed on stage, but Nintendo also plans on releasing at least two more games this spring — one based on Fire Emblem and the other on Animal Crossing. If this is a successful endeavor, I expect we’ll see them bringing even more properties to iOS in the future. It’s a little unfortunate that their first game feels a bit like mobile fodder, but even with its simplistic gameplay, I’m sure it’ll be well received.

What I’m excited about, though, is a future where Nintendo is building games for Apple’s platforms. Nintendo has a knack for building some of the most innovative and entertaining games on the market. And paired with Apple’s hardware prowess, we could be in for something really good.

Apple Watch

Apple has announced Apple Watch Series 2 — the second-generation Apple Watch. They’ve made some solid improvements over the previous model, but I’m not convinced it will spur existing Apple Watch owners to upgrade. I don’t currently have any plans to purchase a Series 2, but don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Apple doesn’t need to convince every existing Apple Watch owner to upgrade, they just need to continue iterating and expand the Apple Watch’s appeal. I think the water proofing improvements and GPS will do that. They’re clearly positioning the Watch more as a fitness device — between swimming and being able to map your route while running — and I think that’s the right move.

Apple’s learned very quickly that fitness tracking is the killer app for smartwatches. At least for now. I expect they’ll continue to focus on this aspect of their wearable until third-party developers find that next big killer app. We all know that it’ll come eventually, but I don’t think anybody will be able to pinpoint what it is until it’s already upon us.

Series 2 comes in the familiar aluminum and stainless steel metal casings — just as the original did — but Apple has replaced the incredibly expensive gold model with a slightly less expensive ceramic edition. I have to admit, it’s an absolutely stunning model based on the product shots on Apple’s website. I have no interest in spending over twelve hundred dollars on a smartwatch, but I can appreciate Apple’s interest in exploring new materials.

Building devices out of ceramic may be expensive today. In the future, that might not be the case. But the only way we’ll ever see an improvement in the kinds of materials used in consumer products is if someone actually takes the time to work with them — I’m glad Apple’s still trying to push the industry forward.

Returning to their focus on fitness, Jeff Williams invited Trevor Edwards on stage from Nike to talk about Apple Watch Nike+ — a special edition of the Watch designed for runners. Apple has had successful partnerships with Nike in the past — the Nike+ kit for iPod immediately comes to mind — and I expect this to be no different. The design doesn’t particularly appeal to me, but judging by the current lineup of Nike running shoes, I think Watch Nike+ will become a highly sought-after product.

I think it was a really smart move to keep the existing Apple Watch in the product line. It gives me hope that they’ll continue to support the first model for several years to come and it gives them a much more affordable price point to get people in the door. I have a suspicion that the Apple Watch isn’t going to explode in popularity until they reach a sub-$200 price point. And continuing to sell last years model is a great way to help them inch closer to that pivotal price.

iPhone

It’s becoming harder and harder for Apple to keep the new iPhone under wraps before its unveiling. As with previous years, most of the design details had leaked weeks (or months) before yesterday’s event. But despite the amount of information we already knew about the product, Apple still managed to impress me with the new iPhone.

Apple conveniently broke down the iPhone announcement into ten landmark features and I’ll tackle each of them individually.

Design: They’ve introduced a new finish — jet black — which has a glossy appearance. This gives the illusion, when the display is off, that the entire device is made from a single material. They’ve also introduced another color — black — which looks a lot like space gray albeit in a much darker hue.

Of the two new colors, I prefer the standard black option. Granted, I haven’t seen them in person, but I’m not typically fond of glossy finishes on devices. It is unfortunate that jet black is only available on the two higher-end storage tiers, but I suspect that’s because of the additional engineering work that goes into manufacturing it.

Home Button: Apple has redesigned the home button and, much like the latest trackpads, removed the physical mechanism. The home button is now Force Touch enabled and uses a Taptic Engine to provide feedback when pressed.

This is something that I’ll have to experience for myself before I pass judgement on it. I’ve read mixed reports on Twitter, from members of the press, with some saying it feels exactly like a button and others saying the opposite. I was initially skeptical of the Force Touch Trackpads when they were introduced in the MacBook, and while I haven’t used one on a day-to-day basis, I was very impressed by them when I tried it out in-store.

Water and Dust Resistant: The iPhone 7 is rated as IP67, which means it is capable of surviving immersion up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. That will protect you from accidental spills or drops in a puddle, but I wouldn’t suggest taking it in the pool.

This was my biggest disappointment from the entire event. I suppose I got my hopes up with my theory of Apple hitting it out of the park with water proofing, but I shouldn’t have let that get the best of me. If my theory was true, there would have been many more rumors about it. Maybe they’re saving it for next year’s model.

Camera: Apple completely redesigned the iPhone’s camera system this year. The iPhone 7 feature’s optical image stabilization, a larger aperture lens, a new high-speed sensor, a quad-LED True Tone flash, and a brand new image signal processor. It’s a pretty impressive upgrade from last year’s model.

Apple didn’t stop there, though. They have further widened the gap between the 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhone cameras by adding an additional camera assembly. Using these two 12MP cameras — one with a wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto lens — the iPhone 7 Plus will have optical zoom, digital zoom with drastically improved image quality, and a new portrait mode which uses software to mimic a shallow depth of field.

The new camera features really have me torn — along with many others, I presume. As much as I enjoy having a 4.7-inch iPhone that actually fits in my pocket, the two lens camera is intriguing to me. I don’t take photos as often as I’d like to, but when I do, I’m usually taking pictures of my nieces and nephews. The shallow depth of field effect in the new portrait mode looks like a killer new feature. And I suspect there will be a lot of users who upgrade to the larger device just for that feature alone.

Retina HD Display: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus displays are now 25% brighter and sport a wider color gamut. There isn’t too much else to say about the new iPhone’s display. It’s always been impressive and nothing’s changed there. The additional brightness should help when using the device in direct sunlight and the wider color gamut will allow for more rich images.

Speakers: For the first time in an iPhone, Apple has added stereo speakers. This will allow for twice the volume output of previous iPhones and offers an increased dynamic range. Even though I have Bluetooth speakers, AirPlay devices, and headphones, I still find myself regularly using my iPhone’s built-speakers. I’m happy to see they’re making improvements on this front.

EarPods: Apple is removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. There’s been plenty of articles written about why that is or isn’t a good idea, but truthfully, I don’t really care. In my life, there are only two items that I connect to my iPhone with an audio cable — the Apple EarPods that ship with the device and my car stereo. Both of these are easily fixed when I eventually upgrade to a device without a headphone jack. I can simply use the Lightning EarPods that Apple ships with the iPhone and I can use the included Lightning to headphone adapter in my car. Super easy.

I understand that this is a major concern to people who regularly use the same pair of headphones with a handful of devices. Not all of them have a Lightning port and some of them don’t support Bluetooth. The good news is that you can continue using your headphones with the Lightning to headphone adapter. It isn’t the most elegant solution, but it’ll certainly get you by until all of your devices support the newer technologies.

I think Apple did an excellent job explaining why they were moving on from the headphone jack. The key to it all is that handset manufacturers are doing everything they can to pack as much technology into their devices as possible. Space is at a premium and it doesn’t make sense to waste so much of it on a single-purpose connector. As annoying as it may be to a large number of users, I think any rational individual can understand why Apple’s doing this.

AirPods: Apple has removed the wires from their EarPods and engineered their own W1 Bluetooth audio chip to produce a set of wireless earbuds. They use infrared sensors to detect when they’re in your ear which will prevent them from wasting energy by unnecessarily playing back audio. They last up to five hours with their built-in battery, but come with a charging case that can provide a total of 24 hours of listening.

The pairing process is quite impressive — which is exactly what I would expect from an Apple product like this. You simply open the AirPods’ case near your iPhone and tap the connect button. The headphones are then automatically setup with your iPhone and Apple Watch. They even use iCloud to propagate the pairing to your iPad and Mac.

Apple’s AirPods are impressive from a technological standpoint, but I don’t think I’ll end up buying a pair. They’re fairly affordable, at $159, but I’m not too keen on truly wireless headphones. Having two independent earphones leaves me worried that they’ll get lost too easily.

And I’m not thrilled about the five hours of battery life either. I frequently wear headphones at work for several hours at a time, I don’t want to take them out for a recharge just to make it through an entire day. Until they offer battery life in the neighborhood of eight hours, I’m just not interested.

Apple Pay: The iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 will support the NFC standard used in Japan for contactless payments. Apple will be using this to rollout Apple Pay for Japan in October.

Performance: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus include a brand-new generation of A-series chips called A10 Fusion. It features a four-core CPU — two high-speed cores alongside two high-efficiency cores. This allows the iPhone 7 to achieve significantly improved performance on CPU intensive tasks while allowing for better battery life while running less demanding applications. The A10 Fusion will offer improvements by just about any metric and really shows the advantage Apple has over other handset manufacturers — no one else has access to chips like this.

The story of performance is just about the same every year — massive improvements over last year’s model. What’s most interesting to me, though, is that the iPhone 7 is likely at or beyond parity with the performance of the most powerful machines in my house. I haven’t seen benchmarks quite yet, but based on the increases over the iPhone 6s, that means the iPhone 7 will be the most powerful computer many people have ever used in their life. And it fits in their pocket. That would have been unbelievable just a few years ago.

My Tech Travel Bag

Early last week, my wife and I flew to Jamaica for our honeymoon. We had a wonderful time relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, and eating some of the best food we’ve ever had. This trip was also an opportunity for me to evaluate the tech we bring with us on trips and whether we could pare it down to a more simple kit. This is what we brought with us:

What's in my bag?

  1. Tom Bihn Ristretto: This isn’t the current version of the Ristretto, it’s an earlier iteration that’s designed to fit the 11-inch MacBook Air. I like it because of its sturdy construction and numerous pockets for all our gear. The newer Ristretto features a zippered front that helps prevent your stuff from spilling out. The one thing keeping me from upgrading is that Tom Bihn no longer offers it in the smaller size. Which is unfortunate, because this size makes a great iPad bag.
  2. Canon PowerShot G9 X: We bought this a few months ago, upon the recommendation of The Wirecutter. It’s a compact, lightweight camera with more features than we know what to do with. We were looking for something that was easy to use at the start, with more advanced features we could learn down the road. We wanted something that gave us photos that were better than those taken with our iPhones and the G9 X fit the bill perfectly without costing us an arm and a leg.
  3. 32GB SanDisk Extreme SDHC Card: This SD card was available for free alongside the G9 X when we ordered it earlier this year. Unfortunately, that deal is no longer available, but it’s still a great product. I’m sure there are better SD cards available, but I’ve been more than happy with this one.
  4. Tom Bihn Medium Clear Organizer Pouch: I like to keep my gear as organized as possible when I’m traveling and these zipper pouches from Tom Bihn are perfect. Their best feature is the little clip on the corner that can be used to secure the pouch to the inside of your bag. I left it attached the entire trip and only pulled it out of the Ristretto just enough to get the cables or adapters I needed without having to separate the two.
  5. Two Apple EarPods: While most of our friends have upgraded to fancier in-ear headphones, my wife and I have stuck with Apple’s white earbuds. I’m sure we’d be happier if we bought something else, but these work just fine. We find them comfortable to wear and the audio quality is perfectly acceptable given that we spend most of our time listening to podcasts with varying degrees of audio quality.
  6. Case Logic Ultra Compact Camera Case: I needed something to protect our camera from drops and prevent damage if it was jostled inside our bag. This was an inexpensive case that claimed to fit the G9 X and that’s exactly why I bought it.
  7. Lightning to SD Card Reader: While the 32GB SD card was more than enough storage for all the photos we took during our trip, I still wanted to offload images onto the iPad before we got home. That way we could view the images on a larger screen, edit, and share them throughout our trip. We could have used the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, but this is a much cleaner solution.
  8. Canon Battery Charger: In hindsight, I don’t think I would have packed this item. We used our camera quite a bit and never ended up needing to charge it. But even if we did, the cameras in our iPhones would have sufficed. If we were going on a longer trip, maybe, but at just five days, it wasn’t necessary.
  9. Original TwelveSouth Compass and Sleeve: I bought this for my first-generation iPad several years ago and I continue to use it today. If I was in the market for one now, I’d probably purchase the Compass 2. Although, saving about $20 by buying the older model is also appealing. There isn’t that much difference between the two models and, in my experience, they last forever.
  10. iPad Air 2: Since I purchased this device 18 months ago, it has slowly taken over as my primary machine for nearly every task. I still have a Mac mini which serves as our backup target for iOS devices and hosts our iTunes and Photos libraries. But for all of my day-to-day work, this is what I use to get it done. I own the 64GB, Wi-Fi-only model in space gray. Although, I do have my eye on the iPad Pro lineup. I expect, when I eventually upgrade, I’ll purchase the newest 9.7-inch Pro with at least 128GB of storage.
  11. Tom Bihn Small Halcyon Organizer Pouch: All the features of the clear pouch, but with a punch of color rather than a translucent side. I use this one to house small adapters and cables.
  12. Anker PowerPort 4: I’ve written about this already, but the PowerPort 4 has just enough USB ports to charge all of my devices when I travel. Since I didn’t bring my Apple Watch, I could charge my iPhone, iPad, portable battery, and my wife’s iPhone from a single wall outlet.
  13. Anker Micro USB Cable: The one I have came with the PowerCore 13000 and is about two feet long. It doesn’t seem to be available separately, so I decided to link to a one-foot cable instead. The Anker battery is the only item in my bag that uses it and I’d rather have a shorter cable anyway.
  14. Apple USB Power Adapter: Like every person in the world, my wife prefers to charge her iPhone on her side of the bed. We have — what seems like — dozens of these laying around the house and they’re incredibly compact and perfect for traveling.
  15. Anker PowerCore 13000: Anker seems to have the market cornered on portable batteries. They’re inexpensive, well-built, and reliable. I bought this one specifically because it hit the sweet spot between size and capacity while also featuring two USB ports. In an ideal world, we’d never have to use this. But if anything happened to go wrong on our trip, this would be a godsend.
  16. Anker Battery Pouch: I could have listed this alongside the Anker battery — as I did with the Compass — because it comes in the box and isn’t available separately. But I don’t think I’ll be packing this again. It’s not made out of particularly good materials and it’s just unnecessary. It only holds the Anker battery and I already keep that in its own pocket inside the Ristretto.
  17. Three Apple Lightning to USB Cables: We brought two iPhones and an iPad, they have to get charged somehow. Like the Apple USB charger, we have dozens of these laying around the house and haven’t had any reason to buy new ones. I have my eye on the Night Cable by Native Union for use at home, but I’ll probably continue using Apple’s Lightning cables for travel until they don’t work any more.
  18. Herschel Supply Co. Anchor Sleeve: A very simple sleeve built out of quality materials. I’ve only had it a couple weeks and I’m already impressed by it. I don’t keep my iPad in a case, but if it took a tumble inside this sleeve, I have confidence that it would make it through unscathed. The Anchor sleeve comes in several colors — I considered getting it in black, to match most of my kit, but thought it would be wise to add a little color to my life.
  19. Tom Bihn Key Strap: This is usually just for keeping my keys from falling out of the bag, but we occasionally use it to keep oddball items that we pick up in the airport from getting lost.
  20. 3-Foot RadioShack HDMI Cable: We got this for free as part of a special deal when we ordered our fourth-generation Apple TV. There’s nothing special about it, but it works just fine for our needs.
  21.  Lightning Digital AV Adapter: We hate cable television. And although we don’t spend too much time watching TV when we travel, we like to have it on for an hour or so before we fall asleep. This lets us connect our iPhones or iPad to the hotel TV and watch Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube, just as we do at home.
  22. Tom Bihn Mini Halcyon Organizer Pouch: This was a last minute addition to our travel kit. I wanted a small zippered pouch that we could keep our headphones and a single Lightning cable in for quick access. I was more than happy with the small Halcyon Pouch we had bought previously and decided to buy another one in the “mini” size. It was just big enough to fit the items that we would need during travel while still being small enough to fit inside one of the pockets in the Ristretto’s front compartment.

This setup worked well and there isn’t much I would change about it. I’ll probably drop the Anker battery pouch and, unless I’m going on a longer trip, I don’t think I’ll be packing the camera charger again.

I would like to add a headphone splitter, though. On the plane, my wife and I ended up sharing a single pair of headphones because we wanted to listen to a podcast episode together. A headphone splitter would let us listen from a single device without accidentally pulling the earbud out of the other person’s ear.

One last thing that’s worth pointing out: I didn’t bring my Apple Watch. My original packing list included my Watch charging cable and a couple extra bands, but I decided against bring it on this trip. Don’t get me wrong, I still wear my Watch everyday while at home, but I didn’t want yet another device to keep track of and worry about charging during our travels.

Travel Kit Additions

In just a couple of weeks, my wife and I will be sitting on a beach in Jamaica on our honeymoon. And of course, I’ve been thinking a lot about the gear we’ll be taking with us on the trip. We previously purchased a Canon PowerShot G9 X to take pictures of our surroundings and a Lightning to HDMI adapter, so we could watch movies on the TV in our room. But Sunday night I ordered a few more products in an effort to further upgrade our kit.

All of these items should be arriving later this week and they may be the subject of a future review, if I feel there’s something interesting to say about them. But either way, I’ll certainly be sharing my first impressions on Twitter as the products arrive.

Mini Halcyon Organizer Pouch: we own two medium-sized clear pouches from Tom Bihn already and they’re absolutely fantastic. This is how we keep all of our cables and adapters organized inside of our Ristretto bag.

But we were looking for something a little bit smaller where we could keep all the items we want quick access to — headphones, lightning to USB cables, and so on. The Halcyon Organizer Pouch fit the bill perfectly and looks pretty stylish to boot. My favorite feature is the clip on the corner that we can use to secure it to the inside of our bag ensuring that it’ll never fall out accidentally.

Case Logic Ultra Compact Camera Case: This little camera case is nothing special. It’s big enough to hold our PowerShot G9 X and an extra SD card. It has a carabiner that we can use to secure it to the inside of our bag or on a belt loop.

I’m sure I could have found a camera case from a more high-end brand, but this one was advertised as being able to fit our camera. The last thing I wanted was to order something that I thought would fit, only to have it arrive and find that it’s either too big or too small. There’s not much time to order a replacement if it doesn’t work out, so I just went with the safe bet.

Herschel Supply Co. Anchor Sleeve: This is the item I’m most excited to get my hands on. Up until now I had been using an Incase sleeve for my iPad Air 2 that was designed to fit the original iPad. I’ve been meaning to buy a new one since I purchased the iPad last year, but it wasn’t until now that I had a good reason to.

The Anchor sleeve doesn’t have a lot of features, it’s just a single compartment with a zipper closure. There’s a lot of little design details, though, that made me choose this one over the other options. The fleece-lined interior, the rawhide zipper pull, and the striped pattern just inside the compartment makes this sleeve look like a high-end product, even though it’s available for only $30. That’s a small price to pay for such a stylish iPad sleeve.

Headphone Jack Theory

There’s been a lot of talk about the potential removal of the next iPhone’s headphone jack. Unfortunately, the vast majority of it has been overtly negative and has focused on the reasons why Apple shouldn’t make the change. But I thought it was worth while to share my theory on why Apple might be removing this ubiquitous hardware feature.

I get it, if you’ve spent a lot of money on high-end headphones, use standard audio cables to run music into your car, or frequently charge your device while listening, there’s going to be an annoying period of adjustment. But I don’t think it’ll last too long and I bet we’ll look back at the headphone jack and see it in the same way we do the parallel port. We’ve all lived through changes like this in the past — whether it be the transition to optical discs, USB, or Wi-Fi. In hindsight, all of these moves have been for the better and I think the end of the headphone jack will be no different.

I suppose the biggest concern about this move is that no one’s been able to come up with a good reason as to why users should get on board. They all talk about external digital-to-analog converters, simplifying the device with fewer ports, slightly bigger batteries, and so on. But until Apple actually announces an iPhone without a headphone jack we’re left to speculate about what it could mean. And unfortunately, in the words of Doc Brown, we’re just not thinking fourth dimensionally.

I have a theory, though, about why Apple would want to remove the headphone jack. I think they’re going to make a big push towards waterproofing their devices and I think removing the headphone jack is all part of their master plan to do it the right way.

There have been waterproof handsets on the market for years, but there’s always been problems with them. You can’t use the touchscreen while underwater — which limits its use as a waterproof camera — and they can only go to a certain depth for a given duration. Waterproof electronics are typically given a rating, which tells you how deep and how long it can be submerged.

As an example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is rated IP68, which means it’s safe up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. That’s great for accidental spills, but nothing I’d trust to take with me while swimming. I think Apple’s going to go bigger. I think Apple’s building a device that is designed to be taken swimming and the marketing will reflect that.

What if Apple is removing the headphone jack to further improve its potential waterproof rating and to make room for a brand new sensor? A sensor that’s capable of telling when you’re device is underwater and how deep it is from the surface. This would allow your iPhone to offer a warning when it’s going too deep or when it’s been submerged for too long. It could even automatically shutdown the device if it’s in danger — potentially saving it from harm after a few hours of drying.

This sensor would serve a similar role to the temperature sensors that iPhones already include — which allows the iPhone to display a warning if it’s too hot to operate.

But Apple wouldn’t stop there. Traditional touchscreen displays don’t function when they’re submerged in water, even if they’re waterproof. When water sits against a capacitive touch screens the device thinks that the entire screen is being touched at once — there’s no way for the device to differentiate between the water and your finger. As it turns out, Apple built technology into their iPhone displays last year that could help solve that problem — 3D Touch.

When you add 3D Touch to the conversation, things start to get interesting. The 3D Touch technology adds pressure sensitivity to a standard capacitive touch screen and Apple could pair it with the new water sensor to let users interact with their device while underwater. When the sensor determines that the iPhone is submerged it could begin treating 3D Touch presses as simple taps. This would turn your iPhone into an incredible underwater camera that could be used in your backyard pool or during trips to the beach.

Imagine the advertisements Apple could create showing a group of kids jumping into a pool holding case-less iPhones. Or one that shows parents photographing their child while learning to swim. These are the kinds of moments Apple wants to create with their devices and would be a huge selling point to help spur upgrades and lure new customers from Android.

Make no mistake, the ability to use your iPhone underwater isn’t something that you’ll use everyday. But I don’t think there are many features left to add that fit that bill. Apple has to do something to continue moving hardware forward and this is the type of feature that would demo incredibly well and would be difficult for other handset manufacturers to replicate. But more importantly, I think a lot of iPhone owners would be willing to give up their headphone jacks in favor of a waterproof device that they could take with them to the pool without fear of water damage.

KGI: iPhone 7 Plus Likely to Feature Dual-Camera System for Better Photos Using ➝

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI securities is today reporting that they believe the iPhone 7 Plus will come with a dual-camera system option with Linx camera technology Apple acquired last year. By using two distinct lenses, Apple can use the additional image data to create substantially better quality photos. Dual camera iPhones have been rumored for a long time. KGI also floats the possibility that the Plus will feature an optical zoom, with 2-3x magnification.

If true, this will be a major leap forward for the iPhone camera’s picture quality.

The Ultimate iPhone Camera Comparison ➝

Lisa Bettany:

In the past eight years, each new advancement in iPhone camera technology has made dramatic improvements to image quality. The new 12-megapixel iPhone 6s iSight camera is no exception. With 50% more megapixels than the last four iPhone 8-megapixel models, the iPhone 6s boasts a number of key improvements including: improved auto-focus, local tone-mapping, noise reduction, and colour separation, with that fancy “deep trench isolation” technology Apple is raving about.

In this follow-up post to my previous iPhone comparisons, I present a 9 iPhone comparison from all iPhone versions taken with Camera+ including: the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and the new iPhone 6s, in a variety of real-life situations to test each iPhone camera’s capabilities.

Apple May Bring Back Camera Roll ➝

This is what I wrote two days ago:

I would love to see Apple reinstate the camera roll in a future version of iOS, but it isn’t going to happen.

Although iOS 8.1 is still in beta, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I really hope that the camera roll will be here to stay once Apple releases 8.1 to the public.

(Via Engadget.)