Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews, looking at iPhone sales, Apple’s 5G problem, the strength of MagSafe, a closer look at the iPad Air, the ARM-powered MacBook has a launch date, iOS 14 updated, and the New York Times gets a widget.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
The New iPhone Reviews Are In
Cnet’s Patrick Holland takes a closer look, including the design that harks back to an older design:
“Apple’s idea of premium differs from the flash and spectacle we see in flagship Android phones. Body colors don’t appear to morph from one to another depending on the light. The screen doesn’t wrap around the edges. In fact, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro don’t have curved edges at all.
“Instead, a straight-edged polished stainless steel band defines the iPhone 12 Pro (it’s matte aluminum on the 12), much in the way it did on the iPhone 5, 5S and SE, just without the chamfered edges. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro have a bold, striking look without any frills. The build and finish on the 12 Pro are extraordinary.”
Read the full review at CNet. Meanwhile the iPhone 12 Pro leans far more into the camera and imaging potential of Apple’s latest smartphones. The Verge’s Nilay Patel has more, and the basics are covered nicely:
“The main camera has a very slightly brighter lens than last year, which helps it in low light, and Apple’s new Smart HDR 3 processing seems to be, well, a little smarter. The noise reduction is improved and looks better than the iPhone 11: photos look less grainy, and there’s a little more detail. The photos are also slightly more contrasty; every year, Apple seems to be more willing to let highlights be highlights and shadows be shadows, which is a look I’m personally fond of.
“All four cameras on the phone can do night mode now, which is very nice to have, but it’s most useful on the front camera for night mode selfies. Using the tele or the ultrawide for night mode shots works, but I’d stick with the main camera. It’s the best camera on the phone, and it takes the best images.”
How Popular Will The Popular iPhone 12 Be?
As the new iPhones are being opened by consumers around the world, the questions around how well they will sell in the topsy-turvy year that is 2020 are also arriving. Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the numbers are certainly, but not enough to suggest a ‘super-cycle’ spike in sales. Ben Lovejoy reports:
“Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimates that iPhone 12 preorders are more than twice the level seen for the iPhone 11 last year. He says that preorders reached somewhere in the 1.7M to 2M range within the first 24 hours, contrasting this with a 500k to 800k range for the iPhone 11.
“However, while it has been widely predicted that Apple’s first 5G phones would generate another ‘super-cycle,’ similar to that seen when the company launched the first larger-screened devices which debuted in the iPhone 6, there isn’t yet the evidence to support this scale of demand …”
Walking And Chewing 5G At The Same Time
Meanwhile the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not without problems. Apple’ decision to go for a thinner design has led to some unwanted repercussions on the battery, especially when 5G is not very much a required feature for network support. I talked about the lack of power earlier this week:
“That 5G connectivity draws more power than 4G will not be a surprise, but Apple’s approach to the iPhone 12 design language has turned this feature into a flaw. Where rival smartphone manufacturers have increased the battery size on their handsets to provide a stable amount of ‘real world battery life’ compared to previous handsets, Apple made the curious decision to fit smaller batteries in the latest handsets. The iPhone 12’s 2815 mAh battery is ten percent down on the iPhone 11’s 3110 mAh.”
How Strong Is MagSafe?
One of the new features in the iPhone 12 is the collection of circular magnets in the rear. Primarily used to line up the proprietary MagSafe charger, it also allows peripherals to be attached to the rear. One of those is Apple’s own MagSafe Wallet… but is there enough attraction to be secure? Alan Truly looks at the evidence:
“…several early reviews of Apple MagSafe accessories note that the magnetic grip is not as strong as expected. This is particularly obvious with the MagSafe Wallet. Since the Wallet attaches to the back of the iPhone 12 and the only thing holding it is magnetic force, it is doomed to failure. Rene Ritchie was prepared for a strong snap, when placing the Wallet on the iPhone 12, but found it was fairly mild and came off easily.
“This really falls on Apple designers that apparently didn’t think anyone would ever want to put their iPhone in a pocket. The moment it slides into a pants pocket, the Wallet comes loose, as demonstrated by Marques Brownlee. While it may be fine in a jacket pocket, the likelihood of loosing any valuable cards stowed in the MagSafe Wallet brings the name into question.”
iPad Air Reviewed
Apple’s latest tablet sports the same A14 Bionic processor you’ll find in the iPhone 12 family, and no doubt in the next iPad Pro update (presumably in March 2021). Should you be waiting, or is the iPad Air going to be everything that you need? Dan Grabham reviews the tablet:
“We’re calling it now – unless you want the higher storage, ProMotion higher refresh, or dual cameras, you’re just as well getting the iPad Air as the iPad Pro 11. The iPad Air has so much to offer and belies its position in the range.
“Aside from the rapidly rising price if you add accessories, a single annoyance in terms of functionality is the lack of Face ID. It’s a shame, but the compensation is that the new method for Touch ID works very well.”
Here Comes Your Next MacBook
With the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch launches out of the way (as well as all the other peripherals) the stage is clear for this year’s last major Apple release… the ARM-powered Mac family. Expected to open with a MacBook/macBook Pro device, this will be the first consumer Mac running on Apple’s own ARM-based silicon. And we have a launch date:
“As well as playing a big game of specification and benchmarking bingo, presumably with the phrase “the best Mac we’ve ever made”, I’ll be looking for a few things from the presentation. The big question is over emulation. Apple will be delivering Rosetta 2, but what exactly will it be emulating? Will it be every single macOS app that can run under Catalina? Will it be a subset of those apps depending on what hardware is expected? Or will Apple play a forcing move and limit emulation to Catalyst apps?”
Read more on the release plans here. One of the key points of that presentation will be how Apple handles older MacOS apps developed for Intel architecture. While Rosetta 2 is expected to pick up emulation duties (to what extent we do not yet know), is there another answer?
“’m looking forward to using Apple’s first macOS on ARM laptop. Much like the Surface Pro X, I’ll be looking to get a machine with the absolute minimum specs for a real-word test, and I’ll be looking to use it in much the same way as the Pro X. So much of modern life uses the web browser to access services online, but web browsers on their own are limiting in terms of access to the device. Progressive Web Apps bridge that gap nicely, encourage developers to create better services in languages they are familiar with, and create a better experience for the user.”
Flaws Found In Latest iOS Update
With the release of iOS 14.1, Apple will no doubt be looking tops the upgrade to as many handsets as possible. Should you be looking to make the move, or is it best to wait? Forbes’ Gordon Kelly weighs up the options, especially as a familiar flaw has returned:
“Perhaps the biggest deal breaker in iOS 14.1, however, is it reintroduces a variant of the bug in iOS 14 where your choice of default mail and browser apps is reset. First spotted on Twitter and confirmed by The Verge, after installing iOS 14.1, whenever your chosen third party email and browser apps update, your selections will be removed and revert to Apple Mail and Safari. There’s no easy fix for this, and Apple will need to issue another iOS update to address it. ”
With iOS 14 and the latest iPhones now available, the home screen widgets are popping up. This week its the turn of the New York Times:
“…and today, we’re adding another feature to that list: a widget for Apple’s iOS 14 that will feature the latest news headlines.
“This new widget will allow readers to quickly catch up on the most important news of the moment. Readers who install the widget to the home screen of an iPhone or iPad running iOS 14 or later will see two headlines that will refresh as new content is published.”
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.