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It’s the time of year again: the latest Apple devices have arrived. We spent time with all the new products of the company and reported on their successes and failures. First, Cherlynn Low tested all four new iPhone 13 models to see which ones are worth your money this year. Valentina Palladino spent time wearing a redesigned iPad mini, which does everything a small tablet should. Also, Devindra Hardawar found another reason to recommend the Dell XPS 15, and Mat Smith took an average selfie with the “invisible” ZTE Axon 30 front camera.
On paper, Cherlynn Low says there’s not much reason to get excited when it comes to the new iPhone 13 and 13 mini. Gradual upgrades, such as larger batteries, better displays and faster chips, are all standard annual improvements. Key features of the new phones are improvements in the cameras. The rear sensors have been improved, the ultra-wide lens lets in more light, and the A15 chip has a faster image signal processor.
Cherlynn especially liked the Photo Styles add-on, which allows the user to select the contrast level and color temperature profile for photos. She also said that Cinematic Mode, which blurs the background behind the theme, is the most intriguing of the new video features. But at the given intensities, the blur looked weird and artificial – and the cinematic mode only works at 1080p / 30fps, regardless of the quality you set for camera shooting.
Other aspects of the phone were very similar to previous models: the speakers are still good enough to watch videos, and both phones easily cope with switching between multiple apps, uploading photos and other tasks. However, Cherlynn was quick to point out that the phones still have 60Hz screens, which made them feel backward compared to phones that have faster screens. All in all, she said that, as expected, they are great (although a bit boring) phones that have nothing to complain about.
Cherlynn Low says make no mistake: The only thing that really makes the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max stand out is the new ProMotion screen. With faster screens that can adjust the refresh rate depending on the task, phones can finally take advantage of their large OLED screens, whether you’re watching video or simply browsing social media. The two new models are also 25 percent brighter for better outdoor viewing and, thanks to the 5-core GPU on the Pro, can handle graphics-intensive tasks faster.
Cherlynn said the A15 Bionic chip combined with a higher refresh rate did everything from YouTube and music streaming to Catan games and chatting with friends look much more sensitive. The two new Pro models also have an extra telephoto camera and a new way of macro photography, but all that power comes with extra weight. The 6.1-inch 13 Pro is 7.19 ounces, and the 6.7-inch 13 Pro Max runs at 8.46 ounces; Cherlynn said the larger phone is uncomfortable to use with one hand for more than a few minutes. If that’s not an offense, then he says any of the phones would be a worthwhile upgrade for iOS users.
Although the iPad mini has a special fan base, it hasn’t changed much since its debut nine years ago. But the 2021 small tablet edition has enough upgrades to make it feel like a smaller iPad Air. Valentina Palladino says the new full-screen design, flat edges, top button with TouchID capability, support for the second-generation Apple Pencil and USB-C charging provide much-needed refreshment for the tablet. The frames helped her hold the device comfortably as she read and made FaceTime calls, and a lightweight 100 percent recycled aluminum case made it easy to carry.
Valentini also liked that the new design allowed the second-generation Apple pen to be magnetically glued to the right edge of the tablet. She reports that the mini makes a capable digital notebook thanks in part to the stylus and quick note function in iPadOS 15. In addition, she said the A15 Bionic chip and larger screen make it easier to use the device instead of the iPhone for a wide range of tasks, including video streaming and lightweight gaming. However, the new mini only comes in 64GB and 256GB models – priced at $ 150 – and these are significant differences in capacity and price. Valentina says a significant update will be great for fans of small tablets, but she’s not sure if the iPad mini will win others in the market for iPad standard sizes.
Devindra Hardawar was already a fan of Dell’s great XPS 15 laptop, but says the addition of an OLED screen makes the whole package even better. The show’s star, a 15.6-inch screen, has some of the thinnest bezels on the market and uses a 3.5K OLED touchscreen that supports Dolby Vision HDR (of course, this panel costs extra, and there are two LCD options to choose from as well) . While watching new ones Matrix the trailer, featured real blacks, brilliant elements like explosions and a juggling scene with light and dark aspects.
Devindra said he has never browsed websites so much fun because of the incredibly sharp text. The only further improvement he could think of was the faster refresh rate, however, he had no complaints about the performance of the octa-core Intel i7 CPU or the 45-watt version of NVIDIA’s RTX 3050 Ti GPU, which transcoded a minute of 4K video files into 1080p in 35 seconds. Devindra says you can expect to handle the most intense workloads with ease, even though it’s not a gaming machine, it’s capable of achieving 70 fps in Overwatch at the highest graphics settings.
A sequel to the Axon 20, ZTE’s Axon 30 features an enhanced 16-megapixel camera, below the screen (UDC) with a dedicated chip that keeps the area consistent with the rest of the screen. In practice, Mat Smith was pleased to report that the UDC was almost invisible, but was less impressed with the resulting photographs. His selfies had obscure details and suffered from flashing lenses and flushing due to strong backlighting. The mat got much better images when shooting with a series of four cameras on the back, which includes Sony’s 64-megapixel sensor.
However, the Axon 30 has more to offer for its $ 500 price tag: The smartphone also has a 6.92-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2,460 x 1,080 and a refresh rate of 120Hz. It is powered by a Snapdragon 870 processor, which handles everything Mat has thrown at it from Stadium games to video streaming. It also has a dedicated battery that lasted two days of typical use with a 120Hz refresh rate off, and the phone can be charged to 100 percent in less than an hour. Matt liked the new MyOS 11 skin, which closely mimics Google’s experience, except for a few shortcuts and widgets. But the smartphone lacks wireless charging and certified dust and water resistance, and Matt says 5G support isn’t great in the U.S. because it will only work on T-Mobile’s mid-range 5G network.
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