Apple Watch Series 2
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first iteration of the Apple Watch. Apparently I was not the only one. Sales of the Apple Watch plunged dramatically after the initial hype was over. Some analysts estimated the drop to be as high as 55 per cent. To Apple’s credit, the firm doubled down on the product. The marketers and engineers took down the criticism, went back to the drawing board and have finally released the sequel, which it dubbed Apple Watch Series 2. I’ve been wearing the new smartwatch for two weeks now and without trying to be too hyperbolic, it is the best smartwatch in the market right now. Battery life has improved dramatically to the point that you can actually wear it for two days straight (even three, if you’re a light user) with regular usage and the workout function has massively expanded to include lesser-known physical activities such as boxing and rock climbing.
During the keynote, there was quite a lot of hullabaloo regarding the Apple Watch Series 2’s waterproof capabilities. I am happy to report that it works as advertised. I took it for numerous strenuous water activities, which included a long bath sans candles and a far-too-cold shower early in the morning, and the smartwatch continued functioning.
But perhaps the most significant improvement is the fact that you can now accomplish a couple of activities on the Apple Watch Series 2 on its own without requiring the iPhone. One of the biggest problems that plagued the first edition of the Apple Watch was that it was rather useless without the iPhone. Now you can walk your dog or go for a jog without your iPhone and get a fairly detailed route map as well as all the information you need. All you need to do is to activate the GPS function on the Watch. You can even map your swim routes but since the jacuzzi I was in was fairly stationary, the map showed me staying in one spot.
Apple has also released a lot more bands for the Watch Series 2 in a variety of materials and colours. You can easily pair your Apple Watch with your outfit of the day. I’m partial to the woven nylon strap, which is surprisingly comfortable, and the handsome Milanese and Venezia leather loops.
For those who have been holding off buying an Apple Watch due to its niggling faults, I highly recommend the Series 2. For those who are looking to enter the smartwatch eco-system, there’s no better place to start than here.
iPhone 7 Plus
This year, Apple changed its business strategy, making the iPhone 7 Plus markedly different from the iPhone 7 with the addition of the dual lens (wide angle and telephoto) camera system for the former. In earlier numbered iterations, the Plus version just had a better processor and screen. The dual lens camera system is the cornerstone of Apple’s marketing for the 7 Plus, especially since the much-vaunted Portrait Mode will be officially released in iOS 10.1, coming out sometime in October. However you can get your hands (and camera) on the updated iOS in the public beta by signing up here.
While the camera is undeniably great, as is always the case with an iPhone, I thought the new A10 Fusion chip was a revelation. There are four cores and while it isn’t the first in the market to create a chip with quad cores for a mobile phone, the A10 Fusion is different because it comes with two high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores. Essentially the iPhone 7 Plus taps on different cores depending on your activity. If you’re just sending a message, it uses the high-efficiency one. If you’re doing something graphically intensive, the high-performance cores come into play. What this means is a longer battery life. I easily went through a normal day’s usage on the iPhone 7 Plus without needing a charge.
Of course, you can’t talk about the iPhone 7 Plus without discussing the removal of the headphone jack. Apple included a relatively tiny Lightning-to-3.5mm-Headphone-Jack adapter in your kit, which is permanently connected to my earphones now lest I lose it. There is also a selection of Lightning earphones and headphones out there on the market if you’re not looking to go down the wireless route. While the first few days were a tad frustrating, HeadphoneJackGate didn’t bother as much as I thought it would after a week. We are, after all, creatures of habit and I am certain Apple thought the same way, believing that after the initial furor, the public would settle down.
Now, the all-new Home button is a much-welcomed redesign. One of the drawbacks of the previous iPhones was that the Home button could potentially be spoiled, especially if you received a bad batch. The new solid-state Home button solves that problem simply by not being an actual button. Instead it gives you tactile haptic feedback every time you unlock your phone (which is amazingly quick, by the way). It’s quite a subtle but smart touch from Apple.
I’m also really liking the new leather cases that Apple has released for the 7 Plus, which you can see below. They look and feel great.
With everything said and done, the iPhone 7 Plus is not a significant upgrade from the iPhone 6S Plus. If you’re using the latter, I suggest holding off until 2017. That’s when the 10th anniversary iPhone is coming out, and it’s rumoured to come with a boatload of new features. However, if you’re holding on to an iPhone 6 and below, I strongly recommend the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s a legitimately great smartphone.