Apple’s March 2016 keynote saw the American tech giant showing off two new products directly inspired by previous designs and going small(er) without making big compromises where the user experience suffers.
For fans of compact smartphones, there’s the iPhone SE, a much improved iPhone 5S, that like the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, also comes in rose gold.
We’ve already covered the iPhone SE in a separate post, so today we’re shining the spotlight on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which is essentially the legitimate offspring of the first iPad Pro and iPad Air 2. It is perhaps the best iPad ever built by Apple, having the most power the company has ever crammed into a consumer-friendly device, alongside basic productivity features like split-screen multitasking.
And while the new iPad Pro lacks the ability to run legacy desktop apps — it’s limited to what’s on offer from the App Store — thereby diminishing its appeal as a proper PC replacement, it is nevertheless a fantastic tablet that does tablet stuff as good as anything on the market.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the Apple accessories you can pair with the smaller iPad Pro for smaller sums: the $US99 Apple Pencil stylus is a must for those who love to sketch; the $US149 Smart Keyboard cover may come in handy for pecking out emails and lengthy status updates and editing documents. Even if you don’t give a rat’s posterior about either of those items, it’s nice to think that first-party options are available should they be needed.
Before we get to the hardware, let’s briefly go over the contents of the retail box, which includes the standard Lightning-to-USB cable, a power adapter, some documentation, and Apple stickers. No surprises here, really.
Another non-shocking revelation? The new Pro sports much of the same handsome all-aluminum aesthetics as the original, except in a smaller and markedly lighter package, prompting the inevitable comparison to another 9.7-inch slate Apple still makes. The Pro also meets the company’s superlative standard of refinement and build quality, which are unparalleled in the industry.
The power button, headphone jack, and two of the four built-in stereo speakers are located on the top edge of the device. The right-hand side features the volume up and down buttons, as well as dual microphones, while the left edge houses the Smart Connector for use with a compatible accessory. Along the bottom is where the Lightning port and second pair of speakers can be found.
The rectangular unibody shell is smooth and has rounded edges, making holding the tablet for extended periods of time more pleasant than we anticipated. It also has a slightly protruding camera assembly around the back, but thankfully the lump isn’t big enough to make the Pro wobble when it’s resting on a flat surface.
Speaking of which, the 12- and 5-megapixel rear and selfie cameras are the same modules the iPhone 6S has, meaning, yes, they’re great and the rear-facer can shoot 4K video, and, no, this still isn’t a solid enough excuse to hold a tablet up vertically during a concert.
The 9.7-inch, LED-backlit display supports a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 and works out to 264 pixels per inch, so it isn’t any sharper than the Air 2’s. It is, however, well-saturated and impressively bright — possibly brighter than those of earlier iPads — which is to say the panel is more than good enough to take outdoors and view in direct sunlight.
The size of the screen also lends well to running two different apps side-by-side; we’d like it to be bigger, sure, but that would mean stretching the hardware to accommodate a larger display, not to mention stealing the thunder from the original Pro.
As for the new Pro’s True Tone display that uses ambient-light sensors to measure the light in a room and autocorrect the screen’s color temperature, we found it to be a great addition to the iPad’s feature set. In fact, we liked it so much we decided to leave it turned on.
Now, about the A9X chipset with 2GB of RAM tucked away in that metal chassis: It’s deserving of the praise it’s earned so far; the smaller iPad Pro is in the same league as Apple’s top-of-the-line slate, despite a slower CPU clock speed and half the RAM. We half-expected it to struggle with intensive apps and heavy multitasking, but it didn’t happen. This machine just keeps chugging along regardless of what’s in front of it.
So, Pro distinction aside, is this the standard-sized iOS tablet to get? If you can afford spending $US200 more than what you’d pay if you purchased the iPad Air 2, then yes. Even without the accessories, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is an excellent product that offers plenty of power and portability for more demanding users. Just don’t expect it to replace your laptop.
The new iPad Pro comes in silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold and starts at $US599 for the base configuration with 32GB of storage and WiFi-only connectivity. Adding 4G LTE support generally adds $US130 to the retail price.
Watch our unboxing below.
Honor 10 Unboxing and Hands-on
Huawei P20 with a cheaper price tag
Huawei’s sub-brand is making a name for itself with the launch of its flagship phone to the world, the Honor 10.
The phone sports the same features as the pricier Huawei P20: Kirin 970 with neural processing chip enabled, the latest EMUI 8.1 software based on Android 8.1 Oreo, a fingerprint sensor in front, and dual cameras. Two of the biggest differences are the lack of Leica branding and inclusion of a headphone jack — all in a cheaper price tag.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
Vivo unwraps X21 World Cup Edition
It’s less than a month until the 2018 World Cup in Russia and FIFA’s official smartphone sponsor is pulling out all the stops before kickoff. After announcing the much-awaited launch of the retail model of the Vivo APEX concept phone, Vivo is treating fans to what the company dubs the Extraordinaire Edition of the X21. And as expected, it has World Cup extravaganza written all over it.
Based on the box alone you can already tell that this edition of the X21 is not just any other smartphone from Vivo. Unlike the less appealing white boxes we’ve encountered recently, this one is adorned with the 2018 World Cup pattern and an embossed silhouette of the X21 with the World Cup and Vivo logos front and center. There’s also a hint of the in-display fingerprint sensor, a feature pioneered by Vivo that hasn’t rolled out to any other smartphone but the X21.
The special edition X21 comes in two variants — painted with Russia’s colors, either blue or red. The World Cup pattern is a little bit more pronounced in these glass backs and it’s making me sing “Waka Waka” in my head. Wrong song, I know. 😂
Does it not make you go zamina mina éh éh? As far as specs go, it’s the same X21 that launched earlier this year: 6.28-inch AMOLED display, Snapdragon 660, 3,200 mAh battery, 6GB of memory, and 128GB of internal storage, a pair of 12MP and 5MP main shooters, and a 12MP camera up front for selfies.
Flipping the phone around, you get a Russia 2018 wallpaper and a custom Dusha typeface throughout the entire interface. Notice that the phone has a smaller chin bezel thanks to the futuristic under-display fingerprint sensor.
What’s a special edition smartphone without a custom icon pack? I love how the settings icon in this theme looks like a football! It’s subtle design choices like this that makes special edition phones more premium; it’s well thought out and is not just a gimmick.
Speaking of design choices, boy am I ready to see these squads on the pitch! Vivo is also offering custom shells and I’m definitely copping that Argentina case (the blue one) to match my kit. The designs are based on popular teams’ colors, clockwise from bottom left: Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, and what looks like Egypt but is supposed to be Germany — we’ll save the discussion for why it should have had a gold trim instead of white for another time.
The most important question that needs an answer is, did Vivo just predict the Top 4? We’ll find out soon enough. There are also custom themes based on the four teams so it matches your case and your team spirit. They will be available for download on the Vivo theme store.
The best part: Unlike Samsung’s Olympic edition phones, both variants of the X21 will not be exclusive to athletes and officials only. The X21 Extraordinaire Edition will retail for CNY 3,698 (US$ 579), and the blue variant will be on sale starting May 26, and red on June 1.
Samsung Galaxy A6 Hands-on: Repackaging the older series
A combination of the Galaxy J7 Pro and Galaxy A8
The latest midrange phones of Samsung are finally hitting the stores, but they got us a little confused. Since the introduction of the Galaxy A series, it has always been the family of upper-midrange Samsung phones with a premium design. In 2018 though, Samsung is blending the Galaxy A and Galaxy J’s designs; the result is the new Galaxy A6 phones. There’s a regular and a better plus variant, but let’s check out the former first.
This is the Galaxy A6: A phone with a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio or Infinity Display, as Samsung calls it. The resolution of the display is underwhelming at just 1480 x 720 pixels or 294ppi, but it’s still pretty sharp. The Infinity Display of the Galaxy A6 doesn’t curve to the sides unlike with the Galaxy S9 flagship, yet the bezels are minimal.
We have the usual sight in the front including the 16-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera paired with its own LED flash, earpiece, and sensors. There’s no branding on the face of the phone so when the display is turned off, it looks sleek and clean on the table.
Too bad it doesn’t have the Always On Display feature, even though it has an AMOLED screen.
Having the loudspeaker at the side has now been a staple among Samsung midrange phones. It’s a much better placement than on the bottom since you don’t cover or muffle it when viewing in landscape orientation. This is ideal for watching videos or playing mobile games.
Those who dislike making a choice between a microSD card or secondary SIM card will be glad to see the triple card slots of the Galaxy A6. There are two card trays inside the phone: one for the main nano-SIM card and another for the second nano-SIM and the microSD card.
The body of the phone is mainly made up of aluminum with U-shaped antennas similar to the Galaxy J7 Pro’s frame. To be honest, the Galaxy A6 can easily be mistaken for the Galaxy J7 Pro if not for the rear camera. Speaking of, the Galaxy A6 has a 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear sensor inside an area shared with the fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it’s identical to the Galaxy A8’s and Galaxy S9’s placement.
Going further into the internals of the Galaxy A6, it’s powered by an Exynos 7870 processor — the same silicon the popular Galaxy J7 Prime had back in 2016. The processor is getting old, so we’re hoping Samsung will use a newer one in their next release.
Good thing the bigger Galaxy A6+ has the latest Snapdragon 450, or else it’ll be just an under-powered midrange phone.
The variant we have here has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but there’s also a 4GB/64GB combo available in select markets.
The Samsung Galaxy A6 with the 3GB/32GB configuration retails for PhP 16,490 in the Philippines while in India, it goes from INR 21,990 up to INR 22,990 depending on the variant.
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