OnePlus has taken iPhone copying to a whole new level

OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X

It’s no secret that Android manufacturers “take inspiration” from Apple’s work on the iPhone. It makes sense — Apple does the same thing! After all, when you have thousands of engineers all trying to make similar rectangular slabs as simple and elegant as possible, it’s almost impossible to work in a vacuum.

But OnePlus has always followed Apple more closely than the rest. It’s evident in the design of the OnePlus 5, which is nearly indistinguishable from the iPhone 7 Plus. It was clear when OnePlus debuted a brand-new Face Unlock feature just days after the iPhone X’s Face ID launched. And if there was any lingering doubt that OnePlus cribs from Apple, it just vanished.

With its latest update, OnePlus is throwing any shred of shame out of the window. In the latest beta build of Android Oreo for the OnePlus 5T, the company has added a feature that lets you disable the software navigation bar along the bottom in favor of gesture controls. Those gesture controls will feel oddly familiar to anyone who’s used an iPhone X: It’s the same kind of upwards swipe to go to the home screen, and a swipe-and-hold for multitasking. Swiping from the left or right side of the screen takes you back.

Honestly speaking, this is a good thing for OnePlus 5T owners. The whole point of the all-screen smartphone design that became popular last year is to maximize the amount of real estate available for content and apps. Gesture controls provide the same functionality as physical or digital buttons, but without taking up the same amount of room. Apple’s gesture controls feel natural and intuitive enough not to be a pain, and they’re certainly simple. If OnePlus forced users to draw out a circle to return home, rather than just mimicking Apple’s swipe up, that would be a poor design decision taken purely for appearances.

When OnePlus launched the OnePlus 5T, the designers told BGR that they first tried to make a phone that looked less like the iPhone 7 Plus. But they also said that “the company never wants to be different for the sake of being different. Instead, it tries to make design choices that are familiar to users.” It’s not a bad idea in the slightest — maybe just try to be more subtle next time.

Apple – BGR

Apple ‘vindicated’ as iPhone X is a top-three best-seller globally

iPhone X sales: Apple profits data

The week started off on a note of doom and gloom for Apple. A report from Nikkei Asian Review yesterday suggested that Apple had cut its iPhone X orders “in half,” sparking a market slump for Apple’s shares and some truly doomsday blog posts from all corners of the internet.

But let’s just pump the brakes a little. No-one has actually seen Apple’s own sales numbers yet, and according to third-party sales data, the iPhone X isn’t a failure. Actually, stats from the well-respected Kantar Worldpanel says that the iPhone X was a top-three best-selling phone in every major market in the month of December, which is a long way from it being an abject failure.

“The flagship iPhone X made it into the top three best-selling devices in the month of December across Europe, Urban China, Japan, Australia and the United States,” Kantar’s report says. iOS loyalty (existing iPhone owners upgrading to another iPhone) hit a new high of 96 percent in the US, while iOS market share in Europe creeped up to 24.8 percent, an improvement of 0.7 percent.

“The full results for the last quarter of the year show that Apple’s decision to release three new handsets over a staggered period, including the ultra high-end iPhone X, has been a sound one,” Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Global Director Dominic Sunnebo said. “Given that in December iPhone X made it into the top three best-selling devices across all key regions, particularly in urban China where it was the top selling model, the pricing strategy seems to have been vindicated.”

By every rational measure, the iPhone X was a huge success. It’s clearly been selling well, despite the late launch and sky-high price, and Apple has every reason to be satisfied with its 10-year-anniversary iPhone.

The only problem here is the outsized expectations that the stock market attached to the iPhone X. From the moment that Apple decided on launching three new iPhones in 2017, with one of them being the most expensive ever, it should have been clear that no one individual iPhone model was going to set sales records. That just makes sense — offer more models, and you might sell more iPhones overall, but no one individual model will hit new sales records.

Unfortunately, the market was keyed up for almost a year for a “super-cycle” of iPhone upgrades, of a magnitude that the world had never before seen. We’ll have to wait for Apple’s own sales data to see if this was a “super-cycle” or just a regular Apple money-printing cycle, but either way, it’s unlikely that the sales figures can live up to the inflated hype.

But I think focusing on sales from the months surrounding the iPhone X launch is a little closed-minded. What Apple has done with the iPhone X is far more important for its long-term plans than for two quarters of sales. It’s proved that you can charge $ 1,000 for a smartphone and have it top the best-seller lists, rather than being an oddity like Vertu. Going forwards, that’s going to be far more important to Apple’s bottom line than one or two quarters of outsized sales.

Apple – BGR

Why can’t iPhone owners just accept the fact that Google can save them?

iPhone X Review

There shouldn’t be much question at this point that Apple tends to put a bit more thought into its products than rivals. Perhaps that’s why so many consumer electronics companies have copied Apple products over the years. The good news is Apple has forced other companies to up their game, and up it they have. Android phone makers now put far more time and energy into product design and unique feature than they ever have in the past. Remember how ugly, cheap, and plasticky Samsung’s flagship phones used to be? Now they’re stunning, and Samsung fans have Apple to thank; Samsung simply couldn’t continue to get away with releasing crummy plastic phones while Apple sold sleek iPhones made of glass and metal.

Apple doesn’t just put more thought into its products than rivals, however. It also seems to put more thought into how to make money. A perfect example is Apple’s move to add exclusive features and upgrades to its more expensive Plus model iPhones, thus adding further encouragement for consumers to opt for higher-margin iPhones. Again, Samsung will finally catch up with this smart strategy in 2018 when it launches the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.

Another example is storage. Unlike most other smartphone companies, Apple refuses to add microSD support to its iPhones. The main reason for this, of course, is that it forces people who want more local storage to buy more expensive, higher-margin iPhone models. While it’s a brilliant move on Apple’s part, this is an example of a smart business strategy that is decidedly anti-consumer. What many iPhone users still don’t seem to realize or don’t want to accept, however, is that Google can save them from spending that extra cash on an iPhone with more storage.

Google is one of Apple’s top rivals in a few key areas. Of course, Android is the one most people focus on since Apple and Google own the two biggest mobile platforms in the world. Google isn’t a platform company, however. It’s a services company and an advertising company.

Android exists as a delivery mechanism for Google’s various software and services, and it serves its purpose quite well. But it would be silly of Google to confine its services to Android. Google wants access to as many users as possible, so it supports every popular software platform it can. That obviously includes iOS. Google would never confine its services to Android like Apple does with most of its software services. Apple is a hardware company and it uses software and services to lock customers in. In a way, Apple is Google’s opposite.

That brings us to one of my personal favorite Google services, Google Photos. For those unaware, Google offers a service that includes unlimited storage for high-quality photos and videos for free. Well, for “free” — the price of most Google services is access to your data, of course. That’s a price many people happily pay, myself included.

iPhone users have been running out of storage space ever since the first iPhone was released more than a decade ago. In 2017, there are two main culprits. The lesser issue is typically the Messages app, since many people are unaware that all those photos and videos they receive are stored locally on their phones. That often adds up to gigabytes upon gigabytes of storage that gets gobbled up by media that will never be viewed again.

The bigger issue, of course, is all the storage that’s eaten up by photos and videos captured by the iPhone itself.

As smartphone camera quality continues to improve with each new smartphone generation, photo and video sizes get bigger and bigger. Apple’s new high-efficiency photo format was developed to help matters a bit, but it makes sharing photos with anyone who doesn’t also have an iPhone a huge pain. (Don’t worry, you can disabled it by going to Settings > Camera > Formats and selecting “Most Compatible.”)

But Apple’s HEIC photo format only does so much. People still often take hundreds of new photos with their iPhones each week, and 4K video files can be massive. Even if you pay an extra $ 150 to bump your iPhone up to 256GB of storage from 64GB, all those gigabytes still tend to disappear quickly. That’s where Google Photos comes in.

Apple’s iCloud service is nifty, but it’s actually part of the problem rather than a solution. iCloud is designed to synchronize photos and videos across devices, which means these massive media files now occupy space on several devices. Google Photos is different. With this smart solution, you can upload all your photos and videos to Google servers and then delete them off of your phone. You’ll still see all the thumbnails in your Google Photos app and you can browse through them anytime you want, then tap on a photo or video and it will quickly be downloaded displayed. You can also take advantages of Google’s AI features like automatic smart album sorting, facial recognition, object recognition, and more. Apple has adopted some of these features in its own photos app, but Google’s AI continues to be vastly superior to Apple’s.

To this day, I continue to see friends and family get the dreaded “Cannot Take Photo” error because they’re out of storage, or the “Not Enough Space” error when they try to update iOS. Emails also come in all the time from people complaining about how quickly they run out of storage. Google Photos is the answer. Download it. Use it. 📸

Apple – BGR

Apple was reportedly planning a new home screen in iOS 12, but it’s fixing iOS 11 bugs instead

iPhone X iOS 12 Update

When Apple unveils iOS 12 five months from now, you shouldn’t expect too many major new features. Instead, Apple has shifted focus to improving the overall stability and user experience of the mobile operating system, postponing bigger changes to next year.

That doesn’t mean iOS 12 will be boring, but the update likely won’t be anywhere near as exciting as its predecessor or next year’s big release, iOS 13.

The news comes from Axios, which learned that Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a meeting earlier this month.

Apple reportedly postponed various features including “a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing, and sharing experiences.”

iOS 12 will have a number of new features focused on augmented reality, digital health, and parental controls. Apple is also “prioritizing work to make iPhones more responsive and less prone to cause customer support issues,” whatever that means.

Axios points out that some engineers inside the team are questioning Apple’s decision, and whether or not it’ll actually lead to better quality. Apple’s software has received plenty of criticism over the past year. On top of that, Apple has had to deal with various security issues over the past few months, as well as the unexpected revelation that it was secretly slowing down older iPhones to prevent unwanted shutdowns.

iOS 12 will be released this fall alongside new iPhone hardware. The report doesn’t provide any details about Apple’s 2018 iPhones, however.

Apple – BGR

Google’s acquisition of HTC’s design team is all about making the Pixel more like the iPhone

Pixel 3 Specs

Google’s parent company Alphabet has closed the HTC purchase. Technically, Alphabet only bought most of HTC’s mobile division, some 2,000 engineers that have helped Google create three of the four handsets released under the Pixel brand. HTC will continue to make smartphones of its own and compete against Google’s Pixel handsets.


But Google’s deal is all about making the Pixel more like the iPhone than any other Android phone.

The obvious advantage the Pixel phones have over any other Android device is that they’re always running Google’s latest Android version. And Google is in control of releasing the updates. That’s what Apple has been doing with the iPhone since its first model.


Down the road, the Pixel will be more like the iPhone when it comes to one critical phone feature. Google plans to build its own smartphone chips, just like Apple does. Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh confirmed as much in an interview with Bloomberg.

The former Motorola exec brought in HTC engineers to help Google go after Apple in the premium smartphone business. The Pixels won’t be affordable phones like the Nexus models that preceded them, as Google seems committed to manufacturing only high-end devices.

Osterloh said that other Android manufacturers, who aren’t necessarily thrilled about Google’s Pixel push, “know why we’re doing this,” Osterloh said. “Quite honestly, Apple is doing really well in developed markets.”

To make better iPhone rivals, Google needs to replicate Apple’s hardware and software integration. And that means it’ll have to ditch mobile chips in favor of custom creations. Osterloh said that Google will keep working with Qualcomm for the foreseeable future, suggesting that the Pixel 3 may pack a Snapdragon 845 chip rather than custom Google-made silicon. The exec did not mention this year’s new Pixel phones during the interview.

So far, Google did create a custom camera chip, which is found inside the Pixel 2 phones. But it doesn’t have a system-on-a-chip that could take the A-series platform that Apple created for the iPhone and iPad.

In an announcement on the company’s blog, Osterloh teased that Google’s hardware division is working “on even better and more innovative products in the years to come,” and welcomed the more than 2,000 former HTC engineers that have just joined Google.

“As our hardware business enters its third year, we remain committed to building and investing for the long run,” the Google exec said. “Today, we start digging in with our new teammates, guided by the mission to create radically helpful experiences for people around the world, by combining the best of Google’s AI, software, and hardware.”

The HTC engineers will remain in Taipei, turning Taiwan into Google’s most significant engineering hub in the Asia-Pacific region.

Apple – BGR

Top Apple insider claims that we won’t see an iPhone SE 2 any time soon

iPhone SE 2 Release

Without exaggeration, the iPhone 6 was nothing short of a game-changer for Apple. For years, Apple had resisted larger-screened phones, with executives claiming that such devices were unwieldy and difficult to use with one hand. In 2014, Apple finally decided to embrace the idea of gargantuan smartphones when it released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, two devices that proved to be incredibly popular with users. Indeed, Apple’s iPhone 6 lineup ushered in the largest refresh cycle Apple has ever enjoyed.

All the same, not all iPhone users were on board with the iPhone 6. For many, the 4-inch form factor Apple first introduced with the iPhone 5 was preferable to the large screens offered up by Apple’s iPhone 6 models. As a result, Apple in March of 2016 released the iPhone SE, a device that essentially packed all of the features of an iPhone 6S — save for 3D Touch — into a more compact 4-inch form factor.

The iPhone SE, much to Apple’s surprise, proved to be more popular than anticipated. With the two-year anniversary of the iPhone SE right around the corner, there are a few reports indicating that a significant refresh is on the horizon. According to recent rumblings from the rumor mill, the iPhone SE will drop sometime in the May-June timeframe, though there are conflicting reports about what new hardware features the device will bring to the table.

While it stands to reason that the iPhone SE will feature much of the same hardware as the iPhone 7, a report that emerged last week indicated that the device might also include wireless charging functionality.

All that said, a recent investor note from Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors) — who tends to be spot-on when it comes to iPhone rumors — relays that a revamped iPhone SE might not be coming anytime soon. As Kuo explains, Apple’s resources are already being pushed to the limit given that the company is planning to introduce three brand new iPhone models later this year. That being the case, if an iPhone SE 2 is truly on the horizon, the odds of it being anything more than a spec upgrade are slim. Put simply, don’t expect an iPhone SE with wireless charging or an edgeless display anytime soon.

Kuo’s note reads in part:

With three new models in the pipeline for the second half of 2018, we believe Apple may have used up its development resources. Also, we think the firm will do all it can to avoid repeating the mistake of a shipment delay for the three new models. As such, we believe Apple is unlikely to have enough spare resources to develop a new iPhone model for launch in 2Q18.

All in all, I think it’s fair to see that iPhone SE lovers would be more than happy with a simple spec upgrade involving a faster processor and a slightly better camera. While features such as wireless charging or an edgeless display would undoubtedly be nice, I don’t think iPhone SE owners would view the lack of such additions as a deal-breaker.

Apple – BGR

Apple will launch three new Macs this year with a brand-new Apple chip, report claims

MacBook Pro 2018 Specs

Every year, Apple updates its Mac computers, but not every upgrade brings over groundbreaking features. For example, one report said recently that while Apple will release new MacBook Pros this year, you shouldn’t expect any major changes, as Apple will likely only upgrade the processing power of these machines. A different story hinted that the MacBook Air series will finally reach end-of-life, as Apple is preparing to debut a 13-inch entry-level laptop.

A fresh story now claims that Apple is working on at least three updated Mac models, including laptops and a new desktop, that will pack a custom co-processor made by Apple alongside the expected Intel silicon. But don’t get too excited just yet.

Many people speculated for years that Apple plans on creating its own custom chips capable of powering MacBooks and iMacs. However, that won’t happen this year.

Per Bloomberg Apple will use co-processors in at least three Mac laptops and desktops. But the report doesn’t specify what kind of co-processors we’re looking at. It also doesn’t name the specific Mac models supposed to get Apple co-processors. The MacBook Pro and Mac Pro are likely candidates given what Apple did in previous years.

So far, Apple has used two different custom chips for its Macs, including the T1 that debuted in late 2016 to power the Touch Bar touchscreen on 2016 (or later) MacBook Pro models. The chip also handles Touch ID security. A year later, Apple released the iMac Pro, which packs its own Apple-made co-processor. This time we’re looking at the T2 generation.

Qualcomm and Microsoft late last year announced that a slew of Windows computer makers will release ultra-portable always-connected laptops that will be powered by the Snapdragon 835 mobile platform. It’s likely that Apple will continue to use T-series chips in future MacBooks, including 2018 models. But these chips will not power the full computer experience.

Separately, the report says that a new iPad is due this fall, and the new tablet should be powered by Apple’s latest chips that include “the Apple-designed graphics engine and AI chip” found inside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Apple – BGR

Top Apple insider reveals details surrounding Apple’s brand new 6.1-inch iPhone

iPhone X 2018

Even though the iPhone X launched a little less than three months ago, we’re already starting to hear rumblings about what Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup has in store. So while Tim Cook a few years ago promised that Apple was going to do everything in its power to double down on product secrecy, it seems that the company’s efforts have done little to stifle KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who, over the past few years, has consistently delivered reliable sneak peaks into upcoming Apple products months in advance.

In recent weeks, Kuo has issued a few research notes which map out what Apple’s upcoming iPhone lineup is going to look like. Simply put, Apple later this year will reportedly roll out three brand new iPhone models: a revamped version of the current iPhone X, a 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus, and last but not least, a 6.1-inch iPhone featuring an LCD display. More recently, Kuo issued yet another research note to investors, this time providing us with more insight regarding what Apple’s new 6.1-inch iPhone will bring to the table.

In a note originally obtained by AppleInsider, we learn that Apple’s 6.1-inch iPhone — which will be positioned as a more wallet-friendly version of the iPhone X — will feature a display that won’t be as edgeless as the company’s OLED-based models. While the notch design isn’t going anywhere, the bezels surrounding the 6.1-inch iPhone are said to be 0.5mm all around, making them slightly larger than the bezels surrounding the iPhone X.

That notwithstanding, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the upcoming LCD-based iPhone will not feature Touch ID. Instead, the device will include Face ID along with support for Animoji. Price wise, Kuo relays that the entry-level price for the device will fall somewhere in the $ 700 range, which sounds about right given that the entry-level iPhone 8 starts at $ 699.

As for some of the more prominent differences between the LCD based iPhone and its OLED counterparts, Kuo relays that the 6.1-inch iPhone will not include support for 3D Touch and will not feature a dual-camera scheme on the back. Further, the device will incorporate an aluminum frame as opposed to a stainless steel frame.

All in all, Kuo anticipates that the 6.1-inch iPhone will prove to be incredibly popular as it will provide consumers with a new form factor without the hefty $ 999 price tag that currently accompanies the iPhone X. To this point, Kuo believes that the edgeless LCD-based iPhone may wind up accounting for 50% of all new iPhone sales next year.

Lastly, Kuo expects Apple to release all three of its new iPhone models in September this year.

Apple – BGR

Apple reportedly slashes iPhone X orders in half due to slow sales

iPhone X Sales

A variety of reports have said over the past few weeks that the iPhone X isn’t selling as well as Apple had hoped. The iPhone X may have been the best-selling smartphone of the Christmas quarter, but sales momentum was apparently lost after that.

Several reports have said that Apple would cut iPhone X production this quarter. Others also claimed that the iPhone maker is considering discontinuing the phone once the 2018 replacements arrive this fall. Now, a fresh story from Asia reveals things may be even worse than we thought, at least for suppliers who live and die by the iPhone.

A report from Nikkei says that Apple will slash iPhone X production volume in half this quarter because of disappointing holiday-season sales. The combined impact on suppliers that make the components for the iPhone X will run supposedly reach into the billions of dollars.

Samsung already reduced OLED production for the iPhone X by 10%, a report said last week. The iPhone X’s OLED screen is the phone’s most expensive component, priced at $ 110. It’s also the reason why Apple sells the phone for $ 1,000 and up. Nikkei says the high entry price of the iPhone X is a likely reason for the drop in sales.

Apple planned to manufacture some 40 million units during the March 2018 quarter, the report says. But Apple supposedly notified suppliers that it’ll cut that initial estimate down to just 20 million units for the period.

Slow sales in key markets including China, Europe, and the US are apparently responsible for Apple’s adjustment. The report also notes that Apple will maintain the total production target of 30 million for the other iPhones it currently sells, including the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, but also older iPhone models.

The report says that Apple is reevaluating its LCD vs. OLED screen mix for this year’s phones. Apparently, Apple is considering an increase of LCD iPhones at the expense of OLED models. A recent rumor did say that not only will Apple discontinue the iPhone X in September, but it won’t even make a new 5.8-inch OLED version going forward. Instead, just the next-gen 6.5-inch iPhone X successor will get the OLED treatment, according to that report.

Apple – BGR

HomePod review roundup: Apple’s new speaker lives up to the hype

HomePod Sound Quality

One of the more interesting things about the HomePod is that Apple’s isn’t positioning the device as a direct competitor to products like Google Home and the Amazon Echo. On the contrary, Apple’s strategy with the HomePod is to deliver a speaker that provides unrivaled acoustic performance for less than $ 400. While Siri will certainly figure prominently in the overall HomePod experience, Apple executives have stressed that the HomePod’s underlying allure is its incredible sound quality.

“What we tried to do is deliver something that is a breakthrough speaker first,” Tim Cook said in the wake of the HomePod’s release at WWDC last year. “And so, music is deep in our DNA, dating back from iTunes and iPod. And so we wanted something that sounded unbelievable. I think when people listen to it, they are going to be shocked over the quality of the sound, and of course it does a lot of other things. But we wanted a really high quality audio experience as well.”

All that said, the question on everyone’s mind is quite simple: is listening to music on the HomePod as amazing as Apple has been promising?

As it turns out, nearly all of the HomePod reviews we’ve seen thus far suggest that the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Over the past few days, Apple has been giving select publications about an hour to play around with the HomePod, and the vast majority of those reviews offer up glowing reviews on Apple’s new smart speaker.

Below are a few of the more revealing excerpts.

iMore

To say the HomePod outshone the Echo is obvious: The Echo’s soundscape sounds more like a 90s car radio than a true room speaker, and it struggles mightily when being asked to fill a large open room as the center of attention, rather than background music.

The HomePod, in contrast, is designed for the whole-room experience. The magic that goes on between the A8 chip and its tweeter array allows for vocals and mids that sound like they’re coming from a stage in the HomePod’s general direction, rather than a small speaker.

TechCrunch

There’s little question here that the HomePod is a speaker first, smart second, bucking the trend of the earliest Echo and Google Home devices. Apple’s engineers were able to get a lot of rich and full sound out of that little footprint. The speaker is particularly adept as isolating vocals and maintaining often muddled aural aspects, like background singers and audience sounds in live recordings.

Wired UK’s review was a little less enthusiastic:

First up on our demo is Ariana Grande’s Side to Side. What becomes immediately apparent is the formidable bass the HomePod kicks out. What’s more, the sound remains constant as you walk around the room, no doubt thanks to those beam-forming tweeters. The vocals are clear as a bell, too.

It’s not all good news, however. There is a distinct lack of mid-range, leaving you feeling that something is missing in the mix.

Mashable

OK, yes, the HomePod sounds great. After spending a good chunk of the afternoon with Apple’s new Siri-controlled speaker, listening to tunes in the company’s tony Tribeca apartment meeting space, I’m more convinced than ever that Apple has built an aural triumph in its initial entry to the “smart speaker” space.

Meanwhile, a self-professed audiophile was given an hour with the HomePod and wrote an interesting write-up on the device on the audiophile subreddit.

Having heard it side by side with The Sonos Play One and Google Home Max, A single HomePod is already much better than both in terms of sound quality. I would say the Sonos Play One was 80% of the way there, but it just lacked the clarity of bass and wide soundstage. The Home Max was consistent with the Sonos Play One.

Walk around in the room you never feel like you’re leaving the sweet spot. An impressive feat.

Some other HomePod reviews can be read over at Engadget, CNET, Vogue, GearPatrol, and Alphr.

Apple – BGR