New iPad Pros! And Magic Keyboard!

Apple suddenly announced a pair for brand new iPad Pros, coming sometime next week. It features an updated CPU with more horsepower than the previous model, even promoting as being faster than most computer notebooks currently out there on the market. It also features new cameras and LIDAR technology all packed into a tiny package with the camera bump at the back of the iPad Pro. This enables a better augmented reality experience for creative apps and for gaming.

However, after looking at the specs, aside from the faster CPU and new camera technology, I still feel that my current iPad Pro is blazingly fast for my type of use. I also don’t use the camera much on the iPad Pro. In other words, there isn’t really much the new iPad Pro has on offer that would make want to upgrade. However, the new Magic Keyboard is another story altogether.

A floating cantilever design, that allows for better height and angle adjustment caught my attention the moment I laid eyes on this new Magic Keyboard.

Apple will also release a new Magic Keyboard that not only feature a Touchpad, (bringing touchpad support to the iPad for the first time), but also a unique cantilever design, allowing the iPad to ‘float’ once it attaches magnetically at the back. This allows the iPad Pro to have better height and angle adjustment than before, allowing you to get the perfect viewing angle. And the best part is that the Magic Keyboard is compatible the previous generation iPad Pro.

Personally, I find the new cantilever design on the Magic Keyboard just look sick and a little futuristic. I mean, this is a tablet. But once you attach the tablet to this Magic Keyboard, it becomes this whole different beast. Design wise, I think Apple nailed it this time round. I think it is safe to say, that this will greatly enhance the experience of using the iPad Pro. Finally, desk bound users of the iPad Pro can look forward to an accessory that will make the entire setup look professional, hence the name, iPad Pro.

A couple of other great features include USB-C passthrough that allows charging and backlit keyboard. Now, its a little too early to tell how the keys will feel while typing onto his new Magic Keyboard. It appears that it is going back to the chiclet style keys on the keyboard or maybe the scissor mechanism. I all in when it comes to the backlit feature, but not too sure about the feeling of the keys yet. I love the feeling of the current Smart Keyboard Folio. I really allows me to type fast and accurate with just the right amount of key travel. Even the size is just perfect on the 11 inch model.

Now, the disappointing part of the new Magic Keyboard is the price. Holy hell, its more than SGD300 just for the Magic Keyboard! It’s close to 500 for the 12 inch version. Once I saw the price, I am now hesitant. Should I really get the new Magic Keyboard. I think it all boils down to the feeling of the keyboard. And that is something I must try before I buy.

Apple Watch S5: Some thoughts

It’s been a couple of weeks wearing my new Apple Watch Series 5 and I have some thoughts about it.

Performance

First off, the performance on this watch is a pretty big upgrade from the series 3. While there was nothing to complain about in terms of overall performance, the series 5 is a much snappier watch. Apps load much faster, you see less of the spinning dots denoting that the app is loading or fetching data, and switching from one watch face to another resulted in less lag overall. You just don’t realise how much faster the series 5 watch is until you compared it against the series 3.

Same size, bigger screen, gorgeous new watch faces.

The series 5 watch has a bigger screen, but retaining the same size overall. This resulted in narrower bezels. The amount of usable screen now almost touches the edge of the watch. With a bigger screen, everything else is larger and more prominent. Typing my passcode to unlock my phone is much more accurate and the digital buttons are much bigger. With a bigger screen, you get a whole range of new watch faces that a series 3 user just isn’t able to enjoy. The new watch faces can now cram in more information then ever before. Now, you can have a really crowded watch face showing all sorts of information and data or you can have a simple but stunning watch face that really draws you in, thanks to the bigger screen.

Slightly thinner profile, more glass on the back.

The back of the watch which contains the sensors for detecting your hear rate now has a bigger glass surface. Because of that, the back of the watch feels more premium. It is also slightly flatter than the series 3, making a larger contact to your wrist. Overall the watch has a slightly thinner profile that the series 3, which is much appreciated.

Superb battery life (if you switch off the Always-On-Display)

The battery life on the series 5 is superb, much better than the series 3, which in itself is already great based on my usage. Wearing the series 3 watch from 9am to 9pm, I can easily get it down to 65 to 70% battery life. Plenty of room to spare. With the series 5, I can get it slightly better, 70% to 75% battery life left after wearing the whole day.

However it comes with a caveat. Based on my experience, if you want to have the best battery life you can possibly get out of the watch, then you should turn off the always-on-display feature. While the option to have a display that is switched on permanently is nice, I find that after a week, this feature is kinda overrated and that I would prefer having a longer battery life than the ability to have my watch’s display to be always switched on. Eventually, I switch off the AOD so that I don’t have battery anxiety on my watch, especially when I am about to wear it from dawn till dusk, while squeezing in an hour of workout at the end of the day.

Noticeably louder speakers

The speakers in this tiny little package is a noticeable upgrade to the series 3 watch. The volume emitted by the series 5 watch is much louder and more solid. Using Siri on the watch, I noticed the voice to be louder and words to be more clearly enunciated.

Overall a better experience

Overall, I am glad to make the upgrade. I was afraid that the new features that comes with the series 5 will not bring up meaningful upgrades for someone who already owned a series 3 watch. However, I underestimated how much I enjoyed using the new watch faces, cramming more info in it and looking at it every now and then. The AOD feature is overrated in my opinion but I can see its usefulness in certain situations and it is good to have the option whenever you need it. I have yet to use the ECG feature and the noise alert feature extensively so I can’t really make a comment on those two features yet.

I bought the Apple Watch Series 5

So today on Christmas, I decided to walk into the Apple store at Orchard Road and came out with a brand new Apple Watch series 5. It was a spur of the moment thing. Previously when the series 5 watch was released in September, I actually pre-ordered it. But at the very last minute, I cancelled the order and pre-ordered the iPhone 11 Pro Max instead.

The exact model that I got. The Apple Watch series 5 space grey aluminium Nike edition with the Nike sport loop.

Now I bought the space grey aluminium, Nike version Apple Watch series 5. And I am really happy with the purchase. I managed to sell my series 3 (scratches and all) on carousel for about S$150. It’s not much, but I was pleasantly surprised by the number of buyers willing to buy my watch for S$150. It was an easy deal. And I am happy to sell it at a low price to someone who might potentially need an Apple Watch, even if it isn’t the latest model.

Initially I was quite hesitant in getting the same space grey aluminium version, especially after accumulating a fair number of scratches on the watch face after using it for two years. While the series 3 watch that I bought two years ago still works admirably, the glass on the watch face just couldn’t stand up to the rigours of rough daily use. I find it quite disappointing that the aluminium version doesn’t come with a more durable and scratch resistant glass. The stainless steel version however comes with sapphire crystal glass, which in most cases would be resistant to scratches.

I nearly wanted to get the stainless steel version but decided that the price difference between the stainless steel and the aluminium just wasn’t worth it, especially when all I am getting is a more durable (and heavier) material and sapphire crystal on the watch face. Everything else is essentially the same. No doubt I am certain that I will accumulate scratches on the glass after a couple of years, but so long as it still functions and functions exactly the same between the different models, I couldn’t care less. If the Apple Watch is a device that I will be upgrading once every two years or so (if the upgrades are substantial enough), then it doesn’t really makes sense paying extra for better material that does not give you meaningful return in terms of general usage and functionality as far as a smart watch is concerned.

For now I am enjoying my new watch a lot. I really love the bigger, brighter screen that comes with it. Even the new watch face designs that is only available in the series 5 are absolutely beautiful. So beautiful, in fact that I can’t take my eyes off the watch, which makes the always-on display that much more attractive.

For now, I will definitely be updating more often of my experience with the new watch. The new watch will definitely spur me to become healthier, and adopt a more active lifestyle, which is great timing, since, now is the time when I start writing my new year’s resolutions for 2020.

One week to go before my big Iceland trip!

I am really excited to be going back to Iceland for another road trip adventure. This time bringing my parents along and we will see a different side of the country to the one I experience before. We will be going during the autumn season, with significantly less snow, as compared to February, the month I went with my friends a few years back. The differences are night and day. Snowy landscape vs stark, treeless, rocky environments. This is going to be a unique experience, despite the fact that I have already been there before.

I brought my Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II micro four thirds camera the last time I went, but this round, I am going to keep that at home. At my disposal for taking beautiful shots of Iceland, will just be my trusty (and latest) iPhone 11 Pro Max. With the new ultra wide lens, the trifecta of lenses behind the new phone will be sufficient in taking a myriad of different scenes and landscapes in and around Iceland. Bringing less gear is another main reason why I look forward to going on this trip.

If the pictures do look great when I look through them after the trip, then I will be mightily impressed by the capabilities of the new iPhone 11 Pro Max’s cameras.

iPhone 11 Pro Max first 24 hour impressions!

Right off the bat, the biggest improvement I have noticed is how amazing the cameras are in this new iPhone. With the new ultra-wide lens, I think users will find creative and beautiful ways to take advantage of this new lens and create amazing shots.

The triple camera system that Apple now adopts for it’s latest iPhone 11 Pro phone models.

Starting with the physical characteristics of the phone, briefly, the phone does feel noticeably heavier, but not necessarily thicker. You will be hard pressed to notice the difference in thickness between the XS Max and the 11 Pro Max right away. The difference in weight is subtle, but more substantial than the difference in thickness.

The size is exactly the same as the previous model. At the back though, is where the similarity ends. Matte finish back with a protruding smooth finish glass housing the three lenses set equidistance from each other. Like my previous observation, it gives the 11 Pro Max a new look, one that might need some time to get used to for some users. Love it, or hate it, they are there with new properties to allow users to take better photos.

And indeed the iPhone 11 Pro Max does take better photos. I was at Changi Jewel today and managed to take some shots of the place, and of the food for lunch, and immediately the improvements were obvious. The ultra wide lens finally gives the place justice, able to take all the beautiful vistas and amazing architecture in a single shot. Just like the one below.

The overall grandeur of the place, the iPhone 11 Pro Max perfectly captures it in all its glory.
Raising the phone just a little bit, capturing more of the donut-shaped ceiling just accentuates the architectural marvel of this place. This image has been edited slightly.

With that being said, shooting with an ultra wide lens isn’t that simple. When you are able to take more in a single image, compositing your shots becomes more important. Personally, you need to be a little bit more mindful in how to compose your shots, in order to look artistic and aesthetically pleasing. There are definitely certain conditions where using the ultra wide lens is just not very suitable. But then again, I am pretty sure that with the introduction of the ultra wide lens, people are going to come up with creative ways to take good shots using the ultra wide lens.

Food shot! Grilled duck!

I don’t usually take pictures of my food, but it’s a great example on how much improved Apple has made to implement the lens and using computational photographic algorithms to make the images sharper, clearer and more textured.

Tinkering with the filters while in editing mode.

I just love the new camera system that Apple has implemented in their latest phones. I have never been excited for a new phone because of its cameras. And this iPhone 11 Pro Max that I have in my hands, could just be beginning where I could ditch my Olympus Micro Four thirds without worrying about missing out on a great shot.

I got the phone!

I successfully managed to get the iPhone 11 Pro Max on launch day. And it was a harrowing experience! (Sort of)

So what happened was that I missed the pre-order window when the pre-order page was up on the 13th October at the official Apple online store. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about upgrading my iPhone but instead pre-ordered an Apple Watch series 5 (the aluminium version). But after looking at the unboxing video, and staring at the promotional pictures of the new, midnight green model of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, I was seduced by its beauty and elegance.

The 256GB midnight green model. The longer your look at it, the more beautiful it looks.

I cancelled my watch pre-order, but couldn’t secure a collection slot on launch day at the Apple Store for the Apple iPhone, because a few days have passed since the pre-order window opened and all the slots were either full, or the midnight green model is already sold out on launch day.

I was getting desperate. I refreshed the online store page several times throughout the day for a couple of days but no avail. The slots just wouldn’t open to more customers. The shipping date for the midnight green models were pushed back all the way till mid October. That is just ridiculous.

My heart flutters every time I open a brand new box containing a brand new iPhone. Look how gorgeous it is! And how prominent the camera lenses are. It’s tastefully done, but might take a while to get used to it.

Fortunately, I realised that Challenger has its own online store, called Hachi-Tech. They were doing pre-orders too! And they were still selling the midnight green model on their website! I immediately went through the pre-ordering page and managed to secure a set!

On the eve of the launch, I received a collection email, stating that I can officially collect my set on launch day. I was so excited that I couldn’t really sleep. The next morning, I got up early and went straight to the store at Jurong Point to collect the phone. Finally! I managed to get one on launch day! Collection was seamless, although they had some technical issue on their computers, resulting in being unable to process my collection. But after 30 minutes or so, they managed to rectify it.

Such detail. The craftsmanship is impeccable.

I went straight home and voila, immediately set out to load my phone backup from iCloud to the phone. Within the hour all my apps started downloaded and soon after, the entire phone set up was completed. It was easy, seamless and painless.

Now it’s just a matter of tinkering with the phone, getting used to the camera and its various new functions and capabilities. I will probably do a short write up on my initial impressions of the phone soon, probably this weekend or next week after I have run the phone through its paces, using it as part of my daily routine.

I cancelled my Apple Watch series 5 pre-order.

Yes you read that right. With less than a week to go before the official launch of the new series 5 Apple Watches, I decided to cancel my pre-order from the online store.

Somehow I have gone cold turkey to the whole idea of upgrading my Apple Watch. At first, it seemed like a sensible idea to upgrade from the series 3. Always on screen, ECG monitor, bigger screen and a plethora of new features baked into the hardware and software side of things from the upcoming WatchOS 6.

But then over the weekend, I started thinking deeper and harder and realise that the value proposition of plunking down around S$800 (including the AppleCare+) for a new watch is not that great, especially when my primary purpose of the watch for me was to be used as a device to tell the time and as a fitness tracker first and foremost. Everything else is secondary. After thinking it through carefully, I have a feeling that I won’t get the same level of happiness and usefulness out of the new watch compared to when I first started out wearing it, starting with the series 3 that I bought 2 years ago.

Gorgeous color, the more you look at it. If they have the same tint, but in purple, I’ll scream.

So after thinking it through logically and sensibly, I am now going into uncharted waters. I am leaning toward upgrading my phone instead.

Now this is crazy. I told myself again and again that I have no interest in upgrading my XS Max phone. But after looking at the first impressions, the ads, reading through the forums and whatnot, I have succumbed to the idea that maybe upgrading my phone would be a better avenue instead. I know this is an irrational thought. My phone is still perfect. It’s still gorgeous. But for some irrational reason, I am compelled to upgrade to that slick looking midnight green iPhone 11 Pro Max. The more I look, the more beautiful the device actually is. I don’t mind getting the tried and true space grey model. I have always loved that colour. Unassuming, subtle, a familiar presence.

I will be spending another S$2000 just for phone again! But not all is hopeless. The reason why I am compelled to just upgrade my phone I that I managed to find a buyer of my current phone. He is offering S$1200 for the phone with the box and associated accessories. That is a compelling deal. This means that I only had to top up $800 for a new phone. Compared to paying around S$800 for a new watch. I think, I can get better value and usage from a phone than from a watch.

This is crazy. I am going crazy. I am being irrational right now. I compulsively cancelled my Apple Watch series 5 pre-order and now I am camping at the Apple online store to try my luck in securing an Apple store pickup time slot on launch day. I heard that the slots usually updated every day at around midnight. I am hopeful that there will always be people cancelling their orders and giving up their pickup slot. I just need to be quick when the time comes and accept any slot that is available. I am on birthday leave (happy birthday to me!) on Friday, which is perfect as the day happens to be the launch day for the new iPhones and Apple Watches.

There is a subdued interest in the new iPhone models this year and hopefully I can take advantage of that fact and secure myself a phone on launch day. If I cannot get a pre-order pickup slot in the coming days, then I will have to resort to heading to the store at 8am (yes! 8am) and try my luck as a walk-in customer. Like I said, the midnight green model is the priority. If that isn’t available, I am fine with the space grey model. Should be an interesting experience being at Orchard Road at 8am on a Friday!

I think I am obsessed!