The Apple Watch Series 4: Many thousands of songs on your wrist

When Steve Jobs first revealed the iPod many years ago, he proclaimed, “A thousand songs in your pocket”.  Fast forward to today, and with the Apple Watch series 4, you can have many thousands of songs .. on your wrist.

I decided to refresh my contract with EE and get the Apple Watch series 4 for two reasons: 1) the speed and 2) the bigger screen.  With the cellular edition of the Apple Watch, I can leave the iPhone behind and still be contactable.  Plus I can stream music on the go too.  But as it has 16Gb of storage, it means that I can store many hours of music and audio books for offline use.

IMG_0043
Complications galore.  One complaint is that it is still too easy to trigger the screen and accidentally hit complications that require a touch to instigate.

Firstly, I should mention that the S4 SoC (system on a chip) is ridiculously fast on the Series 4 watch.  It’s been measured that performance comes close to that of an iPhone 6.  Boot times are cut in half.  Updates to WatchOS take far less time.  Swiping between apps is super smooth.  It is a responsive device.

One area where I wish Apple would improve on, however, is that I still find that I can trigger complications, utilities built within the watch face that tell you the weather, battery life, start a timer, etc., if I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt or jacket.  Or if I’m showering, the water can kick off a complication without warning.

With 16Gb of storage, I’ve uploaded my favourite playlists and albums from Apple Music and storing them locally on the watch’s filesystem.  With the Audible app for iOS, I’ve uploaded over 100 hours of audio books to the watch too.  Paired with Apple’s AirPods, you’ve got yourself a wonderfully portable entertainment centre.

As for the health tracking abilities – I’ve yet to put them through their paces.  I’m not convinced we’ll see the ECG function here in the UK for a good few years while Apple works with the relevant authorities here to get it classified for general use.  I know I am overweight and need to be fitter – I don’t need a watch to tell me that – but I do know that I’ll find the steps walked and calories burned to be a most useful feature at some point.

It’s a watch.  It’s a phone.  It’s a music and audiobook player.  It’s a health and fitness tracker.  It’s a personal assistant (thanks to Siri integration).  It’s a tracker.  It’s a remote control.  It can inform emergency services if you have a serious fall.  It’s all these things and so much more.  You can take it swimming (up to 50m water resistance), running (as it has a built-in GPS so you can map your route), hiking, jogging or just track your sleep (through third-party apps – it doesn’t support this natively yet).  It’s a wonderful device and Apple are the only ones who have built such a comprehensive device and have done it very well.

Sample iPhone XS Max images

Well, I must say, I’m not disappointed!  Definitely much sharper when examining at 100% resolution.

So here are a few photos I’ve taken – original files in JPG format (exported from Photos app on iOS to Google Drive and uploaded here).  Just click on an image to expand to full size.  Remember: the copyright on these photos belongs to me.  If you’d like to use them, just ask.

The Apple iPhone XL (iPhone XS Max)

Update: See this post for sample photos taken from the iPhone XS Max.

The iPhone XS Max is a bit of a mouthful to really be considered a serious product name.  I’d have called this the iPhone XL (for Extra Large) and kept iPhone XS for (Extra Small) – not that the regular iPhone XS is small – definitely not as small as the iPhone 5 was (4″).  This monstrosity has a 6.5″ screen.

IMG_0092

However, as it was my annual upgrade with EE, I decided to go large, as it were, and ordered the iPhone XS Max as a replacement for my iPhone X (and subsequently before that the Google Pixel 2 XL and iPhone 8).  I really did go XL with the storage – a whopping half a terabyte – 512Gb – which matches that if my iPad Pro 10.5″ and half of that of my 2018 MacBook Pro 15″ which has 1Tb.  Call me mad, but even in the age of the cloud, I do prefer to keep data locally wherever possible.

The only downside?  EE provided me with the wrong colour – I wanted the gold edition but ended up with Space Gray.  That’s fine.  It’s going in a case anyway, so it really doesn’t matter in the long run.

IMG_0093

As practically everybody who has already unwrapped and unboxed their new Apple toy has already said, given the overall cost of the device, why did Apple forgo the usual Lightning to 3.5″ headphone converter, and not provide a faster charger with the phone?  Also, I’m not best pleased with the cost of the privilege of using an official Apple phone case – though I consider them to be far superior to some other cases.

That said, I hope that the unit itself will prove itself worthy.  I’m particularly keen on the improved camera system.  Having examined photos between the iPhone X and iPhone XS/XS Max, there is definitely a marked improvement in quality – both in terms of colour reproduction and noise reduction.  The fake-bokeh is a nice have, but not essential in how I use the camera – but it’s clear that computational photography is clearly the future of integrated devices.  Google’s Pixel 2 XL has clearly demonstrated this.  While I don’t think the photos from the iPhone XS/XS Max is quite as good as the Pixel 2 XL, Apple is certainly playing catch up.  But from what I’ve seen, this is definitely the best camera Apple has created yet.  That’s good enough for me.

I’ll post a review within a week or so of having used the device.  There is some worry of reports that the iPhone XS and XS Max have been having Wi-Fi and 4G signal problems, but equally many reports of increased performance thanks to its gigabit modem.  The Wi-Fi issue can be dealt with easily if I do encounter it, but I guess it will probably be up to both EE and Apple to fix any 4G related issues.  I have 14 days before I can return the unit, so we’ll see what happens in the meantime.

Also coming up: the Apple Watch series 4.  EE are dealing these out like hot cakes, so there’s a potential 30 day wait before my unit arrives.