On Friday, Charles and I talked about three of the latest lines of smartphones on shelves now, Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the OnePlus 5, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note8.
Tech round-up for October 13: Three new smartphones – Galaxy Note8, iPhone 8 Plus, OnePlus 5 – awesome in their own ways
There’s still some ten weeks until Christmas, but with all the new smartphones having been released recently, you may think it’s come early.
I’ve been using three handsets in the past while, and have found that they all have their advantages and cool aspects.
The party’s only just begun, though. LG’s new flagship phone, the V30, releases in Canada next Friday. Google’s next versions of its Pixel phones are also due soon, with the Pixel 2 getting into hands next week, and the larger Pixel 2 XL arriving on November 14.
And there’s this other phone from Apple you may have heard about. The iPhone X will have devotees lining up well before the morning of November 3 (you can place a preorder in two weeks).
Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
While other phones have been supporting wireless charging for a few years, it’s new to Apple’s iPhones, and it’s quite the convenience. Being able to charge your iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus without having to plug in is one reason that the new handsets are made with glass on the front and the back, with a ring of aluminium.
The battery life is somewhat improved, too, and the True Tone colour feature changes the colour tone and brightness of the screen based on the colour and brightness of the light in the surroundings you’re in. So you don’t have to worry about being blinded by your screen when you’re in the dark.
The cameras are more versatile, with the front-facing camera able to shoot 4K video and providing high dynamic range (HDR) with every photo.
The technology in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus was also designed to support augmented reality experiences, like the new Ikea Place app that let’s you virtually place Ikea furniture in your living space.
- iPhone 8: $929 with 64 GB storage or $1,139 with 256 GB storage
- iPhone 8 Plus: $1,059 with 64 GB storage or $1,269 with 256 GB storage
- iPhone X: $1,319 with 64 GB storage or $1,529 with 256 GB storage
Even though OnePlus has only been on the scene since 2013, the OnePlus is the company’s fifth handset.
The killer feature of these phones is that they support two SIM cards. In some countries, India is one, customers have one provider of cellular phone service, and another provider for data.
Here in Canada, this can be convenient if you regularly travel to the United States because you could have one SIM card with a Canadian carrier, and a different SIM card in the phone for when you travel to the U.S. It’s a system you could use for travel anywhere, in fact.
The OnePlus 5 is one of the fastest handsets available, too, due to the powerful processing chip aided by a lightweight operating system. This is one reason the OnePlus is favoured by some tech savvy developers.
While OnePlus started out as a budget smartphone manufacturer, the company has been upping the production value which comes with an increase in price point. But the OnePlus 5 is still cheaper than many other high-end smartphones with similar features.
- $649 with 64 GB storage
- $719 with 128 GB storage
Samsung Galaxy Note8 handset
Samsung’s latest handsets, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, were joined by the new Galaxy Note8 this summer.
Like it’s cousins, the Note8 has a lovely wraparound screen, support for wireless charging, and improved Bluetooth (Bluetooth 5 to be exact). And they can all be used like computers using the DeX dock connected to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
What sets the Note8 apart is that it comes with the S-Pen stylus, which enables a bunch of cool things like Live Messages, which are animated GIFs of your handwritten message. And Screen Off Memo, which lets you to write notes on the screen when the device is sleeping.
My one complaint is that the fingerprint sensor, on the back of the phone, is beside the camera lens. This is also a problem with the S8 and S8 Plus. But for now, the Note8 is the best Android phone available.
- $1,300 with 64 GB storage
Which phone is right for you?
The Verge has put together a handy comparison chart with all the technical specs on the handsets, if you want to get into the details.
For me it’s a bit easier to make a recommendation.
The iPhone 8 (and 8 Plus) are for most users who want a device that works as expected and is reliable. If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem and need a new handset, this is what you want. If you can spend a couple of hundred dollars more, though, wait for the iPhone X. By all accounts it’s a game changer.
If you’re doing any traveling to other countries where having a phone that can accommodate a SIM from another provider, or if you want a cheaper device and are willing to sacrifice some of the photo capabilities, the OnePlus 5 is your best bet.
If using a stylus is built into your smartphone use, you need the Samsung Galaxy Note8, but if you’re just looking for the best Android handset, I suspect that Google’s Pixel 2 will become the best option soon.
On Friday, Charles and I talked about all of the new products announced by Google last week, how Telus is connecting cars and trucks, and some of the new things that you can do with your Apple products thanks to new updates to the iOS and macOS operating systems.
Tech round-up for October 6: Google's new gear, Telus' connected cars, and Apple's updated operating systems
This week, some of the new features in Apple’s new operating systems, and Telus has come up with a way to get all your cars connected. But first, Google shows off lots of new gadgets.
Okay, Google, tell us about all the new hardware
At a press event in San Francisco earlier this week, Google held a press event to show off the new hardware the company is rolling out in the coming months.
The tech company is really doubling down on its hardware presence as indicated by the recent acquisition of part of HTC’s mobile division.
The new Google product line is anchored by two new smartphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
As Apple did with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Google has dropped the headphone jack from the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, so you can get the Pixel Buds instead, which feature real-time language translations.
There’s also a new tablet/laptop, the Pixelbook that is more like a Microsoft Surface tablet than any Chromebook before it.
Rounding things out are two new Google Home devices, the Mini and the Max which are designed to work with Google Assistant, and a new virtual (VR) headset in Daydream View, which works with the Pixel 2.
Telus wants you to have a connected car. Or truck
If you are interested in having a connected vehicle, you can retrofit your existing car or truck to get the same kind of functionality as newer automobiles.
Telus Drive+ is a device, service, and smartphone app that modernizes your car.
For now, it’s free to get started. You’ll get a device that plugs into your vehicle’s on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) port. That device will allow you to get diagnostics on your vehicle and it also connects to Telus’ cellular network, so you can track your car’s location and turn it into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
This is all enabled by Vancouver tech company, Mojio.
You’ll need a Telus plan with shareable data to participate. Adding your vehicle to your plan only costs $15 a month.
Apple’s latest operating systems roll out and make your devices faster
Changes in iOS 11
One of the most significant additions to the mobile operating system is a “do not disturb” function that disables your device while you’re driving. You can even set up a response to let people know that you’re driving so they understand why you didn’t respond to their last text message.
The new Control Center might take a bit of getting used to – it’s packed with information – but it’s also customizable, so you can put the tools you use most in there for quick and easy access.
You can use the Notes app as a document scanner that operates using the camera and saves things as PDF files.
You can take screenshots and mark them up, too.
The iPad becomes much more productive with iOS 11, with the ability to drag-and-drop things like images, links, and files that are open in split view mode.
Changes in MacOS High Sierra
Some of the most significant changes with the new computer operating system are under the hood. This includes a new file system and updates to Metal 2, Apple’s graphics technology.
Other changes include a new video standard to support 4K video playback and support for virtual reality content.
There are also incremental changes to Mail, Photos, and Messages to make them work better for you.
Changes to Safari
You don’t need to upgrade to High Sierra to get Safari 11, which you are going to want on your Mac computer. Built in to the new browser is some ad limiting features. Safari now automatically blocks audio and video on websites unless you either whitelist a website, or interact with the media intentionally (as opposed to mousing over a video).
Safari will also block websites from tracking you as you move through the Internet.
Changes to iTunes
Apps for your iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch are no longer managed in iTunes, which has been refocused on audio and visual entertainment. You’ll now manage your mobile apps on the devices themselves.
On Friday, Charles and I talked about three recent announcement by major technology companies. Netflix is dropping Can$500 million on Canadian film and television productions, Dyson is working on an electric vehicle, and Twitter is giving you double the characters for your messages.