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5 things you need to know about the new MacBook Pro

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Apple’s got a new MacBook Pro.

That in and of itself isn’t really big news. Almost every year their iconic notebook computer gets a speed boost, minor cosmetic changes, and a nip and tuck here and there.

But this year, Apple is making BIG, newsworthy changes.

There’s plenty to rave about, but before you scream, “take my money”, here’s what’s new, what’s changed, and how these changes will affect you.

The Apple logo glows no more

From now till I upgrade, I’m going to use my now obsolete MacBook Pro facing a mirror; that way I can occasionally glance at the glowing Apple on the back of my machine. I recognize that all these years, I’ve hardly ever looked at it, and it has no effect whatsoever on productivity, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one who’ll be sad to see the glowing Apple go.

macbook-pro-c

The new MacBook Pros that ship in two weeks will have a shiny black Apple logo on their lids instead of the iconic illuminated one.

There are more significant design changes too. These new MacBook Pros are not just thinner and lighter, but smaller as well. The screen sizes stay the same – 13 and 15 inches – but take up 20% less space.

They’re still formed from a single slab of aluminum, but now come in two colors: the original silver and space gray.

macbook-pro-thickness

Despite the reduction in size, these new portable Macs are still as powerful as ever, with the latest Intel processors and graphics improvements. Apple says the new MacBook Pros have a Retina display that is 67% brighter, speakers that are 52% louder, and a trackpad that is twice the size of the original.

You’ll either love or hate the new keyboard

To get everything thinner, sacrifices must be made. One way Apple saves space is with a new keyboard, similar to the one found on the impossibly thin MacBook. This second-generation “butterfly switch” keyboard isn’t going to be as clickety as that on the older MacBook Pro – which arguably has the best keyboard experience on a laptop in the world.

macbook-pro-keyboardExpect this new keyboard to be a bit polarizing. You’ll either love it or hate it. But like all things Apple, we’ll get used to it, maybe even love it.

There’s a new game-changing touch bar

Nope, the Mac is still not getting a touchscreen. Instead, depending on how you see it, Apple gives you the next best thing, or something even better.

The Touch Bar is a multi-touch OLED glass strip on top of the new MacBook Pro’s keyboard. It works just like any touchscreen; you can tap and slide your fingers on the color display just as you would on your smartphone.

The Touch Bar works with open apps, providing you with a set of tools and new ways to do things. For example: If you’re chatting with friends, you can use the Touch Bar to find the perfect emoji. If you’re editing a photo, you can use the Touch Bar to preview and swipe through filters. And if you’re watching a video, the playback controls on the Touch Bar let you play, pause, and scrub through the video.

macbook-pro-touch-bar

You will only be able to make the most out of the Touch Bar when your favorite apps support the new feature. But apps like Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, and Microsoft Office have already been updated to work with it.

To make room for it, Apple is taking away the top-most row of your keyboard where the function keys, escape, and power buttons used to be. Those buttons are still available as touch buttons.

macbook-pro-touchid

Just like on the iPhone, you can now log in to your MacBook Pro using your fingerprint. Located on the right-most edge of the Touch Bar, Touch ID on the new Mac laptops lets you power on and sign into your device with a quick tap. You can also use your fingerprint to authenticate website logins or online payments.

The headphone jack survived the cut, but other ports weren’t as lucky

No other tech company is a fan of killing off ports more than Apple.

Not too long ago, they decided to take away the headphone jack from iPhones, and we were almost certain the MacBook Pro would lose it too.

Thankfully, the new MacBook Pros got to keep their headphone jack.

Apple MacBook Pro ports

There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack

Sadly though, everything else has been removed. There are no standard-sized USB ports, no SD card reader, and not even the MagSafe adapter that saves your laptop from falls when someone trips on your power brick.

Instead, users get four Thunderbolt 3 ports. They’re USB Type-C-shaped and support USB, HDMI, VGA, and even power, meaning you can charge using any of the four ports.

Some day in the not-too-distant future, you won’t even miss any of these ports, but in the interim, the transition will be painful and expensive. For now, you’ll need new flash drives, new cables, and new adapters to get your other accessories to work with your new Mac.

The new features cost more $$$ than usual

Normally when Apple refreshes its MacBook Pro line, Apple retains the previous year’s pricing – if not dropping them altogether. This year’s 13-inch and 15-inch base models are $500 and $400 more expensive compared to previous models, respectively.

While there are many possible build combinations. Apple is selling 3 main models – a 13-inch MacBook Pro without the new Touch Bar which starts at $1499; a 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar starting at $1799; and a 15-inch MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar starting at $2399.

Apart from all the new improvements, the new base models now have twice the amount of storage space (256GB solid state drives up from 128GB from a year ago), so that could also be a reason behind the price increase.

macbook-pro-reveal

[irp posts=”7194" name=”Happy birthday: Apple’s iPod turns 15"]

Best Smartphones

Best Premium Smartphones above $600

November 2019 Edition

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If you’re looking for the very best high-end smartphones available, you’ve come to the right place! Every month, GadgetMatch updates this list with the finest devices money can buy, no matter how much they cost.

Updated monthly, this list takes every newly launched flagship costing more than US$ 600 into consideration, but doesn’t discount the smartphones that continue to make an impact since their launch last year.

Here they are in no particular order:

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (US$ 1100)

The Samsung Galaxy Note series continues to set itself apart by being the premiere smartphone that comes with a stylus. It doesn’t hurt that the smartphone is also pretty darn good at pretty much any other thing you might think of doing on a smartphone. While it’s not necessarily elite at one thing, it’s pretty darn good at everything.

HANDS-ON: Samsung Galaxy Note 10

ASUS ROG Phone 2 (Starts at US$ 500)

Nobody asked but ASUS followed up their gaming smartphone. The ROG Phone 2 maxes out every imaginable spec all while maintaining the design language of its predecessor. While the older accessories work, ASUS still introduced a few new ones. Most notably the Kunai gamepad that makes the gaming phone look almost like a Nintendo Switch.

REVIEW: ROG Phone 2

Google Pixel 3 (US$ 799)

As good as the Pixel 3 XL is, we’re recommending its smaller sibling once again. Not only is its 5.5-inch screen the perfect size for one-handed use, but the absence of a notch also makes all the difference in this era of camera cutouts. As expected, the Pixel 3 has the best single rear camera in the biz, plus the extra camera in front adds another dimension to selfies.

REVIEW: Google Pixel 3

iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max (US$ 999)

The iPhone 11 Pro made no leaps in design which is why it somewhat feels underwhelming. It does, however, make up for it with yet another faster than ever processor, and a much-improved camera system. No, Apple didn’t exactly “innovate” but the iPhone is still what you expect it to be — a smartphone who’s hardware and software just works.

UNBOXING: iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max

OnePlus 7 Pro (US$ 669)

OnePlus went all out with its latest flagship smartphone, and although the price is now firmly in the premium category, the OnePlus 7 Pro provides all the high-end featured you’d expect from even pricier phones. The combination of the stunning design, top-of-the-line specs, and impressive cameras all this phone to compete with the Samsungs and Huaweis of the world.

REVIEW: OnePlus 7 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro (EUR 999)

Yes, we are well aware that the Huawei Mate 30 Pro has been released. But one thing that the P30 Pro has over the Mate 30 Pro is Google Mobile Services that’s ready out-of-the-box. The Mate 30 Pro has superior hardware so far, but the hardware can only take you so far. The Mate 30 Pro is a fantastic smartphone, but if the software we expect aren’t readily available, it’s a tough sell.

REVIEW: Huawei P30 Pro

Motorola razr (US$ 1499)

If you’re hell-bent on owning a foldable smartphone, this is probably the easiest choice. The Motorola razr is proof that being first to get new tech out on the market isn’t as important as being the first to get it right.
It’s an old favorite, reinvented. And that’s just flat out brilliant.

HANDS-ON: Motorola razr


Update as of November 2019:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ replaced the Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • Motorola razr has joined the list

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Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

November 2019 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 200 to US$ 400.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Realme XT (US$ 333)

The Realme XT is our choice for best smartphone with a 64MP camera. This smartphone produces flagship-level photos.

REVIEW: Realme XT

Xiaomi Mi 9 SE (US$ 300)

Xiaomi has always been a part of the list and the Mi 9 SE truly deserves its spot. It’s a flagship-grade phone from its design to its specs. It’s dubbed as a “compact flagship” thanks to its smaller-than-usual form factor. If you’re looking for a phone that won’t hurt your pockets both in size and price, check out the Mi 9 SE.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 9 SE

Realme 5 Pro (US$ 232)

A quadruple-camera setup at this price point seems unlikely but Realme made it happen. And it’s not just the setup, the lenses actually take photos with good image quality. That would have been enough to recommend this but it also has a Snapdragon 712 AIE chip with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re looking for a great deal, this is it.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5 Pro

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 (US$ 245)

While not as affordable as its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 still does several things most phones can’t even dream of at this price point. We get an upper-midrange chip, large 5000mAh battery, versatile cameras, and a pure take on Android.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2

Huawei Nova 5T (US$ 367)

Huawei managed to put a flagship-level chip with a glass back and with triple cameras on a midrange phone. These are things you expect from brands like Xiaomi but Huawei was able to pull it off as well.

READ: Huawei Nova 5T

Samsung Galaxy A50s (US$ 345)

Samsung’s pivot to the A series has been fantastic and the Galaxy A50s is another proof of that. It’s a refinement of everything that was good with the Galaxy A50. If you’re a die-hard Samsung fan looking for a midrange phone, the Galaxy A50s is a solid option.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A50s


Update as of November 2019:

  • The Realme XT was added to this list

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

November 2019 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below US$ 200! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order:

Redmi Note 8 (US$ 155)

The Redmi Note 8 is proof that you can put quality cameras on a budget smartphone. It has a 48MP main shooter which is what you’ll find on most flagships and midrangers. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, it should also have no trouble handling basic gaming and other tasks you do on your phone.

READ: Redmi Note 8

ASUS ZenFone Max M2 (US$ 175)

We were disappointed to find out that the ZenFone Max Pro M2 went above the US$ 200 mark, but we still have the non-Pro Max M2 to buy at this price point. Fortunately, the fast Snapdragon 632 processor, large 4000mAh battery, and dual rear cameras remain.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max M2

OPPO A5s (US$ 117)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Realme 5 (US$ 154)

Realme is giving Xiaomi a run for its money on our top-of-mind easy phones to recommend. The Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5

Samsung Galaxy A20 (US$ 190)

Samsung’s revived Galaxy A-series proves that the company cares about every price segment. The Galaxy A20, in particular, is the most well-rounded below US$ 200 thanks to its ultra-wide camera, AMOLED display, and hefty battery.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A20


Update as of November 2019:

  • The Redmi Note 8 replaces the Redmi Note 7 on this list

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