Nope, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Apple has finally refreshed the long-neglected MacBook Air and Mac mini, both of which haven’t seen upgrades for over three years. Along with the new iPad Pro lineup, prepare to empty your pockets for the holiday season.
It’s no secret that the Air has been left for dead since the introduction of the MacBook in 2015. Still, as the entry-level Mac device and lightest option on the market, the Air remained a popular option, so popular in fact that Tim Cook started his presentation by calling it the most loved laptop ever.
The Air receives a slew of upgrades to bring it in line with modern technology, the most noticeable change being the inclusion of a Retina display. Retina displays have been a staple of the Mac lineup since 2012 but were long missing on the Air range. The giant bezels of 2015 are also gone, and the body is now made of 100% recyclable aluminium.
Touch ID will also be making its way to the new Air, along with Apple’s prized butterfly switch keyboard.
Specs wise, the Air ships with Intel Core i5, up to 1.5TB SSD storage and up to 16GB of RAM. Battery life is expected to last up to 12 hours.
The new MacBook Air ships November 7, with the base model starting at SGD$1789.
The Mac mini will also be receiving a much needed refresh. Now sporting the space grey finish we’ve all come to love, the Mac mini has also been made of 100% recyclable aluminium.
Performance is the biggest change here, with almost fives times better performance than the previous iteration. This is thanks to the updated four-core Intel 8th gen processors (with an option for six-cores) up to 64GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. Connectivity is the same with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, HDMI, Ethernet and yes, a headphone jack.
The new Mac mini’s local release date is currently unknown, but will start at SGD$1179 for the base model.
This is what the future looks like, notchless and near bezel-less. And yes, the home button and Touch ID are officially gone too. Face ID comes to the iPad Pro, with the sensors resting in the top bezel. Unlike the iPhones however, Face ID will also work horizontally on the iPad Pro.
The new iPad Pro is powered by Apple’s A12X Bionic chip that houses an eight-core CPU and seven-core GPU, with up to 1TB of storage. This means the iPad Pro outclasses nearly every other portable PC, while delivering Xbox One S levels of graphic performance. Apple will also be moving away from the Lightning cable in favour of USB-C, allowing it to charge a connected iPhone or connect to external displays.
Together with the iPad Pro comes a redesigned Apple Pencil. The new Pencil now charges wirelessly when connected to the iPad, and tapping the screen with the Pencil wakes the device and launches Notes.app immediately. Additional third party gestures can be configured to the side of the Pencil once developers start updating their applications.
The iPad Pro launches November 7, with the base 11″ model starting at SGD$1199 and the base 12″ model starting at SGD$1499.
The second generation Apple Pencil launches with the iPad Pro for SGD$189.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Everything You’d Want in a Smartphone
Not to be confused with the Huawei P20 Pro released earlier this year, the Mate 20 Pro is Huawei’s latest flagship (at least until the P30 Pro comes out) and packs a lot of features you’ve come to expect from a 2018 smartphone. In fact, it’s almost as if Huawei made a checklist of all their competitors’ features and combined everything into one undeniably attractive package.
Mate 20 Pro features the same triple camera set-up found on the P20 Pro, and more recently, the LG V40 and Samsung Galaxy A7. Fortunately, they’ve gotten rid of the 20MP monochrome sensor in favour of a 20MP ultra wide angle lens, flanked by an impressive 40MP main lens and 8MP telephoto lens. Leica branding is still present, as is Huawei’s AI scene detector that’s been updated to recognise over 1500 scenarios over 25 categories.
While some might prefer a more hands-on approach to their photography lest AI over-aggressively tweaks the photo, the update is definitely a welcome change to the average consumer who prefers the simplicity of point-and-shoot.
AI is Huawei’s biggest push. Thanks to the capabilities of their latest 7nm Kirin processor, AI computing is more efficient, allowing for better optimisation of system processes.
The iPhone-like notch hides the sensors necessary for what is essentially Face ID. For those who prefer good old fingerprint verification, an in-screen fingerprint sensor is also an option. That’s right, the fingerprint sensor is located smack in the middle of the screen under the glass. Sick.
Everything else is as you’d expect. A 6.4” OLED screen, 4200mAh battery, IP68 water resistance, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage expandable with a nano memory card, USB-C fast charge and Qi-compatible wireless charging. Huawei has actually taken wireless charging one step further by introducing reverse wireless charging, which is exactly what it sounds like. Turn it on and the phone becomes a portable wireless charger for other phones. However, audio purists are out of luck as the headphone jack has been removed.
A non-Pro version, Mate 20, is also available with watered down camera specs, a standard LED screen and no face unlock capabilities, although that also means the notch is a dewdrop notch instead.
Both phones will be available from October 27, available in Huawei’s iconic hued colourways. The Mate 20 will set you back $998, while the Mate 20 Pro will set you back $1,348.
Google Pixel 3 and 3XL big on software enhancements
After weeks of leaks, Google has officially announced Pixel 3 and 3 XL, successors to the Pixel line of smartphones. Both phones will be available in Singapore via Singtel, Starhub, or the Google Store from November 1.
Much like last year, this year’s models come in dual-tone designs with an accented lock button. A new salmony pink colourway dubbed Not Pink is also available in addition to black (Just Black) and white (Clearly White).
Both phones come with 12.2MP rear cameras powered by Google’s machine learning capabilities, Snapdragon 845 processors and 4GB of RAM. The 5.5” Pixel 3 packs a 2915mAh battery compared to the 6.3” 3 XL’s 3430mAh.
While the specifications alone are just incremental changes from last year’s Pixel 2, the true show stealers were all of Google’s impressive new software functionalities.
Starting with the camera, Pixel 3 now boasts better low-light conditions and comes with a variety of new features.
The first is Top Shot, which works similarly to Apple’s Live Photos where the camera will shoot a quick succession of photos before the actual shutter button is pressed so you can choose the best, or most candid, one.
— Google (@Google) October 9, 2018
Next, Super Res Zoom, a new digital zoom technology keeps photos sharp when zoomed in.
Lastly, Playground, which makes use of augmented reality for you to insert fun characters and stickers into your photos.
Create and play with the world around you. With Playground, your Pixel 3 photos and videos come to life with cameos from superheroes, animated stickers and fun captions. #madebygoogle pic.twitter.com/ch8ebwQmfa
— Google (@Google) October 9, 2018
Thanks to the two front-facing cameras, you are now able to take wide-angle selfies that will fit 30% more content into the photo, perfect for those large group selfies.
There are also a bunch of quality of life improvements that come with the Pixel 3. Thanks to Google Assistant, the Pixel 3 will screen phone calls received to filter out unwanted spam. You can also flip over your phone to easily silence your notifications.
You can also purchase the Pixel Stand, a wireless charger, to transform your phone into a smart speaker that makes full use of Google Assistant.
Also revealed was the Google Home Hub, a smart display without a camera, perfect for the privacy nuts, and the Pixel Slate, a tablet that runs Chrome OS. However, there’s currently no word on when these will become available in Singapore.
The 64GB versions of the Pixel 3 will start at SGD$1249, while the Pixel 3XL starts at $1399. The Pixel Stand is available at SGD$119.
Here’s everything Apple unveiled today: iPhone Xs, Xs Max, XR and Apple Watch Series 4
The successors to 2017’s lineup of iPhones are officially here. This year, Apple will be offering three new models based off the iPhone X design. Yep, this means that Touch ID and the home button are now officially relics of the past.
The first two models in the 2018 lineup are the 5.8-inch Xs and the 6.5-inch Xs Max (pronounced 10S and 10S Max). Both feature gorgeous Super Retina OLED panels and come with the new A12 chip that’s 50% faster than the X.
Camera hardware has been slightly updated as well. Both phones now have a faster sensor in the 7MP front camera and a larger rear sensor in the rear 12MP main lens with improved true-tone flash. The big improvements come on the software front thanks to the A12 chip’s processing power. The Xs and Xs Max now come with a new smart HDR feature with zero shutter lag, allowing for more dynamic photos in any lighting.
For the first time, you will be able to manually edit depth of field in portrait mode photos. For video enthusiasts, you can now natively record sound in stereo thanks to a new four microphone set-up.
Both phones will also have marginal improvements to battery lives over the X. Dual SIM also comes to the iPhone in the form of eSIM (currently only supported by Singtel). This means you will be able to keep two different phone numbers and plans on the same phone, perfect for when you’re travelling. China models will be getting a physical dual SIM card tray instead of eSIM.
Rounding up the 2018 lineup is the 6.1-inch iPhone XR (pronounced 10R) that comes in a slew of fun colours. Although it is aimed to be the budget model, the XR still packs the X’s form factor and most importantly, Face ID.
Instead of an OLED panel, the XR comes with what Apple touts as the most advanced LED display – Liquid Retina. It will use aluminium and glass casing rather than the stainless steel found on the X.
Although the XR only has a single 12MP camera with OIS, portrait mode is still a possibility thanks to the software. Additionally, the XR will also able to edit depth of field like the Xs.
On the watch front (pun: intended), the Series 4 will also be making its debut with a 32% bigger screen, slimmer form factor and louder speakers. The Series 4 watch face (pictured) will allow for more complications. On the hardware front, the Digital Crown now packs a haptic feedback motor for a more connected user experience.
Thanks to the updated gyroscope and accelerometer, the Series 4 will also be able to detect when you fall and send for help. You will now be able to take an electrocardiogram reading right from your watch as well simply by putting your finger on the Digital Crown.
Lastly, on the software front, iOS12 will be dropping a week from now (September 17), while Mac OS Mojave will drop in two weeks (September 24). iOS12 brings with it a ton of quality of life improvements such as improved performance and grouped notifications. There will also be new features like Memoji (customisable Animoji), screen time statistics and control, and Siri Shortcuts. Mac OS Mojave comes with the much anticipated Dark Mode, among other improvements.
Pricing and launch
Xs and Xs Max will come in 64gb, 256gb and 512gb configurations. Xs will set you back SGD$1649, SGD$1889 and SGD$2199 respectively, while the Xs Max will set you back SGD$1799, SGD$2039 and SGD$2349 respectively. Both are available in Silver, Space Grey and a brand new Gold colourway. Preorders will begin September 14, at 301pm via the Apple website, and ships starting September 21.
Xr will come in 64gb, 128gb and 256gb configurations at SGD$1229, SGD$1299 and SGD$1469 respectively. Choose from six distinct colourways: white, black, blue, yellow, coral and PRODUCT(RED). Preorders will begin on October 19, at 301pm via the Apple website.
Series 4 will start at SGD$599 for the base non-cellular model, and SGD$749 for the cellular model (note: currently, only Singtel offers plans for the cellular model). The Series 4 drops on September 21.