Accessibility updates may hint toward a bigger update for iOS 16 and watchOS 9

Earlier this week, Apple announced a bunch of accessibility improvements for its users on the iPhone and Apple Watch. However, I got deja vu from similar news back in 2021.

Alongside live captions coming to FaceTime calls and other apps in Apple's press release, there's also a door detection feature, which uses the LiDAR camera, found in the iPad Pro, iPhone 12 Pro, and 13 Pro models, to tell where the door handle is, and how far away it is from the user.

Last year we saw other accessibility improvements, where the screenshots showed off a new layout that hadn't arrived to iPhone models at the time, which was confirmed a few weeks later at WWDC 2021, and arrived on iOS 15 in September 2021.

We may be seeing a repeat of these hints for iOS 16, as well as watchOS 9, as we head towards WWDC on June 6.

Hidden in plain sight?

Apple Accessibility Features shown on iPhone and Apple Watch

(Image credit: Apple)

Accessibility is a topic that should be at the forefront of the minds of developers and companies. It's something I always look for in new apps and upcoming updates, as software should be accessible for everyone.

However, these features, which will likely appear in iOS 16 and watchOS 9, as Apple has stated that they're arriving towards the end of the year, give the impression that the company is giving accessibility a greater focus this year.

As the pandemic meant many of us have had to adjust to the new world of remote working, there's a chance that we're going to see big updates that may have been delayed from 2020 and 2021.

A backlog of new features that are being refined for WWDC in a few short weeks could mean that iOS 16 and watchOS 9 are bigger leaps than what they were originally intended to be.

It’s encouraging to see accessibility take more of a precedent in software updates from Apple, while Microsoft has been looking into accessories in this area. Instead of the topic being a footnote in a press release, accessibility is having its own time to shine. With this in mind, WWDC looks to be a great event for users with accessibility needs.

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The iPhone 14 launch date has finally leaked

Judging by precedent, the iPhone 14 will launch on a Tuesday in September, and a leaker has now given us a good idea of which Tuesday we should mark in our calendars.

According to the Apple-focused site iDropNews, based on information from its own sources, the Apple September Event in 2022 will take place on September 13 - that's right in the middle of the month, basically when we expected it.

Take this date with a pinch of salt for now, because so far in advance, it's possible that this date is just a placeholder for Apple. The company could push the date for a variety of reasons if needs be - and the leaker might just be wrong. 

The leaker does say that Apple will host one event on the 13th, and it might not be the iPhone 14 launch - but since Apple tends to host its iPhone launches on Tuesdays in September, the timings line up.

The leaker has suggested lots of extra gadgets are coming besides the iPhone 14, though there's nothing mentioned that we haven't heard before. Apparently, there will be four iPhone 14s (the standard model is said to come alongside a Max, Pro and Pro Max version), the Apple Watch 8 alongside an 'Extreme Edition' for more outdoorsy pursuits, the more affordable Apple Watch SE 2, the AirPods Pro 2, and the new iPad (2022).

With all those new products, it's possible that the company will host two launch events like it did in 2020 - then, we saw new iPads and Apple Watches earlier than the year's iPhones. If this happened then September 13 would likely just be for the non-iPhone devices, following the way it happened in 2020, with the iPhone 14 family arriving later.

Since Apple generally announces its launch events a week before they happen, we'll likely have to wait until September 6 to see if something is happening on the 13th - though leakers might tell us what to expect first.

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Here’s why Apple should put a color E Ink display on the iPhone 14

Isn't it just like Apple to wait on an emerging technology until it gets good enough to meet its exacting standards? The company is, according to a new report from keen Apple Analyst at TF International Securities Ming-Chi Kuo, finally testing flexible color E Ink displays for future foldable devices. 

We'll assume that these devices are future folding iPhones and future folding iPads. But why wait? Who wouldn't love a secondary screen on the back of the iPhone 14, which we think is coming in September or October of this year.

Before we dive into this, let's take another look at Kuo's rumor, which we also reported on here.

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Color electronic ink displays, which work off reflective light, as opposed to backlighting, are not new. Companies like Qualcomm have been showing them off for well over a decade. But it's only recently that they've achieved color, refresh, and battery-life standards that might make them a viable alternative to, say, the flexible OLED screens favored by most folding-device manufacturers.

Yes, they make perfect sense for the outside of some flexi-iPhone or iPad, but they could also be a game-changer on the iPhone 14 (or iPhone 15).

I understand how carefully Apple protects its design IP; that iconic Apple logo has sat dead center on the back of virtually every iPhone since the 'Jesus' device of 2007. Nothing can come between Apple, the iPhone, and that logo. 

And that's fine.

But if you have an iPhone, take a look at the back. There's a solid two inches (or more if you have an iPhone 13 Pro Max) between the base of the logo and the bottom edge of the iPhone.

A color E Ink display would fit perfectly there – and if you think this is some flight of fancy, it's actually been done before, and on a larger scale.

Normally, a second screen, even an OLED one, might eat up too much precious battery life (yes, I know Samsung's Z Flip 3 also has a small secondary super-AMOLED screen on its back). However, there are a number of reasons why the new E Ink color screen might work perfectly on the iPhone 14.

A different screen

First up, it's reflective technology, which means you could see everything on it at a glance, without even waking the phone. I often keep my iPhone face-down on the table beside me, and many people do the same. With this second display, you could glance over and see a notification, or even – because it's color – a picture someone just shared with you.

Second, color E Ink is more power-efficient than LCD and even OLED. Instead of constantly refreshing to hold an image on the display, it can show it, and the E Ink will hold it until you touch the screen and open a different view. Also, E Ink's newest display runs in both color and black and white. In theory, an iPhone 14 owner could choose to run the external display on B&W mode to save even more power.

There would be obvious limits. E Ink still tops out at 300ppi, while the current iPhone 13 Super XDR Retina display boasts 460ppi. And its refresh rates are abysmal compared to OLED and LCD. It'll work for messages, still images, and alerts, but forget video and games.

There's no indication that Apple is testing color E Ink for the purpose of bringing a secondary display to the iPhone 14 – but wouldn't it be amazing if they did?

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Apple previews new iPhone and Mac accessibility features that could seriously change lives

Apple has revealed a clutch of fresh innovations for its hardware which pushes forward strongly on the accessibility front, capabilities that’ll arrive later in 2022 courtesy of software updates.

The new software features, which have been developed using machine learning, include Door Detection for blind or low vision users, as well as a system of Live Captions for the deaf or those with hearing loss, and Apple Watch Mirroring which gives those with physical and motor disabilities the ability to control the smartwatch via an iPhone.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at these capabilities, starting with Door Detection, which as the name suggests allows for iPhone and iPad users to locate a door when arriving at a new place.

The feature, which uses LiDAR, so will require a device equipped with the LiDAR Scanner (iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 – both Pro and Pro Max – handsets, and various iPad Pro models), is built into the Magnifier app. It can ascertain whether a door is open or closed, and if the latter, how it can be opened, as well as the user’s distance from the door, plus it can read any signs or characters on the door (like a number).

Magnifier will get a new Detection Mode which will play host to the Door Detection feature, and will also offer the likes of People Detection and image descriptions (for describing the surroundings of the user).

Those who are deaf or hard of hearing will get access to Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers, allowing for captions (with adjustable font size) to be generated on-device for everything from video chatting to watching streaming content. In FaceTime, the captions are automatically attributed to the relevant person speaking on the call, and on Mac, users have the option to type responses and have them spoken aloud in real-time.

The caveats for device support include that only Macs with Apple chips are supported, or you’ll need an iPhone 11 or better, or in the case of the iPad, models with the A12 Bionic chip (or later). Initially, Live Captions will debut in beta form (so still in testing – Apple observes that the accuracy of the captions ‘may vary’) for just the English language (US and Canada).

The final major accessibility revelation from Apple here is the introduction of Apple Watch Mirroring, which allows for people to use their iPhone to control the watch. In other words, users can benefit from the smartphone’s assistive features such as Voice Control and Switch Control when interacting with their Apple Watch, opening up abilities like voice commands for the watch, head tracking and so forth.

Gesture control with Quick Actions on Apple Watch

(Image credit: Apple)

New Quick Actions with the Apple Watch also let users employ simple hand gestures for controls, such as answering (or ending) a phone call by using a double-pinch gesture.

Note that you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 6 or newer to benefit from the mirroring function.


Analysis: More to come including VoiceOver revamp and Buddy Controllers

There’s a lot of well thought out stuff here, and more besides which is coming to push forward even further with accessibility.

For example, Apple has also been busy with adding support for a bunch of new languages (over 20 of them) for VoiceOver, its screen reader tool (with dozens of new voices being implemented, too).

There’s also an incoming Siri Pause Time feature, so those with speech disabilities can extend the length of time Siri waits before responding to a request, and Buddy Controllers, whereby a friend can be invited in to help the user play a game, basically letting both controllers work to direct the action in a single-player title.

As a reminder, all this stuff will be coming to Apple devices later this year via software updates. Furthermore, bear in mind that Apple does advise that features such as Door Detection and Live Captions should not be used in ‘high-risk’ or emergency situations, and in the case of the former, where there might be a danger of injury to the user.

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Future WhatsApp update will let you leave a group quietly

WhatsApp is finally working on making things less awkward when you want to leave a group chat, by removing the notification that's sent to everyone in the group, except for admins.

After confirming that groups would be expanded to hold up to 512 members, alongside rolling out message reactions and higher file transfers, discretion looks to be the next aim for WhatsApp.

Leaving groups when you feel like it's time to go, can be an anxious moment. This is usually due to the fact that a notification is sent to every member within the group, and you're most likely sent a separate message soon after, as to why you've left.

However, this looks to make it much less awkward in the future for certain situations.


Analysis: Drama will soon be avoided

Leaving a WhatsApp group quietly

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

WhatsApp is focusing hard on its communities in 2022, making sure that there's easier ways to not only share content but to leave the group chats when the time comes.

There's always been a feeling of awkwardness when you decide it's time to leave one. It could be work-related, it could be due to attending an event, and you realize that you don't click with others.

But soon, notifications will only alert the admins, which can only be a good thing.

While it's not clear as to when the feature is coming, or which platform it could be coming to first, such as iOS or Android, it's going to be something that many users will breathe a sigh of relief at.

Via WABetaInfo

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Apple’s foldable iPhone could borrow screen tech from Kindles

We’ve been waiting years for the iPhone Flip and we’ll probably be waiting a few years more, but when it does arrive it could be quite different to any current foldable phone.

That’s because, according to Ming-Chi Kuo – an analyst with a good track record for Apple information – the phone might have an E Ink cover display.

Apple is apparently testing E Ink’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) for use on the secondary screen of a foldable phone – though it’s worth noting that even if Kuo is right, the fact that Apple is testing something doesn’t mean the company will necessarily end up using it.

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Still, such a display could make sense. This EPD tech is a lot like the screen on a Kindle, in that it’s designed to replicate the look of paper, and to be incredibly low-power, so the cover screen could be always on without draining much battery.

And this particular tech goes a step beyond what any of Amazon’s Kindles currently offer, as it’s also a color screen.

Kuo goes on to suggest that this tech could, for the above reasons, become widely used for secondary screens on foldable phones, so it might not just be Apple that uses it. We could certainly imagine other companies copying the idea if Apple’s foldable successfully uses this tech.

Interestingly, Kuo also says that Apple is testing an EPD with “tablet-like applications”. It’s not totally clear what's meant by that, but it could be that Apple is working on some sort of e-reader or drawing tablet as well.


Analysis: pros and cons of an EPD

While an EPD has obvious advantages – most notably how easy it is on a device’s battery – it also has some downsides.

If you’ve ever used an e-reader you’ll know they tend to have extremely low refresh rates, making them feel sluggish to do much on. In some cases the refresh rate can be increased, but this often leads to ghosting. They’re ideal then for reading books on, but less so for things that require constant, rapid inputs, or for animations and videos.

That means an EPD cover display probably wouldn’t work very well as a full-featured smartphone interface, like the cover screen on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. But it could be ideal as a less interactive screen that’s more designed to show notifications and the time, a bit like the smaller cover screen on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

So if Apple does use an EPD on the iPhone Flip, it will probably be more like the Z Flip 3’s secondary screen than the Z Fold 3’s. These limitations also mean that even if other phone makers do start doing the same, there will still be a market for conventional secondary screens.

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WhatsApp’s next update could make your status bar actually worth using

A new WhatsApp update is in the works that could greatly improve the presence of your status updates on the popular messaging app by adding rich link previews to any link you post in your status bar.

A report from WABetaInfo shows that WhatsApp is working on what looks like a pretty significant update in regards to your profile's status bar. The feature, which has yet to be rolled out to WhatsApp beta testers, is set to upgrade the appearance of links posted in your status bar on Android, iOS, and the desktop app.

Currently, links are displayed in your status updates as plainly as possible, with no preview window to offer any kind of insight as to what the link contains. That's set to change with this upcoming update, which will flesh out links posted in your status updates with a rich link preview showing a thumbnail and a greater amount of info pertaining to where the link will take you.

WABetaInfo created a mock-up image showing the difference between the current appearance of links in your status updates, paired against what they'll look like in the future update:

WhatsApp rich link update preview

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

WhatsApp isn't slowing down

WhatsApp's current run of updates has mostly been pretty impressive, even if many of them are the addition of features the app probably should've already had. Just a couple of weeks ago, the messaging app finally rolled out emoji reactions as part of a chunky update that also boosted file transfer limits up to 2GB, and bumped the maximum group size up to 512 individual users.

And that's a good thing, considering that WhatsApp has certainly lagged behind other popular messaging apps like Discord and Telegram in terms of functionality. Discord, for example, has had emoji reactions for years.

However, WhatsApp does have Discord Nitro (the app's premium subscription service) soundly beat on upload size limits. WhatsApp's 2GB makes Discord's 100MB look relatively meager in comparison. As such, clear improvements over the competition are beginning to appear on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp's made some major strides over the past few months, then, but we, unfortunately, don't know much more about the upcoming status updates. WABetaInfo's report clearly states that the feature is under development, and is in the dark as to when it'll roll out for beta testers to try out.

It's safe to assume that regular WhatsApp users might not see the improvements to the status bar for quite some time as a result. But when it does launch for non-beta users, it just might be enough of a reason to make status updates on WhatsApp actually worth bothering with.

Posted in Uncategorised

WhatsApp’s next update could make your status bar actually worth using

A new WhatsApp update is in the works that could greatly improve the presence of your status updates on the popular messaging app by adding rich link previews to any link you post in your status bar.

A report from WABetaInfo shows that WhatsApp is working on what looks like a pretty significant update in regards to your profile's status bar. The feature, which has yet to be rolled out to WhatsApp beta testers, is set to upgrade the appearance of links posted in your status bar on Android, iOS, and the desktop app.

Currently, links are displayed in your status updates as plainly as possible, with no preview window to offer any kind of insight as to what the link contains. That's set to change with this upcoming update, which will flesh out links posted in your status updates with a rich link preview showing a thumbnail and a greater amount of info pertaining to where the link will take you.

WABetaInfo created a mock-up image showing the difference between the current appearance of links in your status updates, paired against what they'll look like in the future update:

WhatsApp rich link update preview

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

WhatsApp isn't slowing down

WhatsApp's current run of updates has mostly been pretty impressive, even if many of them are the addition of features the app probably should've already had. Just a couple of weeks ago, the messaging app finally rolled out emoji reactions as part of a chunky update that also boosted file transfer limits up to 2GB, and bumped the maximum group size up to 512 individual users.

And that's a good thing, considering that WhatsApp has certainly lagged behind other popular messaging apps like Discord and Telegram in terms of functionality. Discord, for example, has had emoji reactions for years.

However, WhatsApp does have Discord Nitro (the app's premium subscription service) soundly beat on upload size limits. WhatsApp's 2GB makes Discord's 100MB look relatively meager in comparison. As such, clear improvements over the competition are beginning to appear on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp's made some major strides over the past few months, then, but we, unfortunately, don't know much more about the upcoming status updates. WABetaInfo's report clearly states that the feature is under development, and is in the dark as to when it'll roll out for beta testers to try out.

It's safe to assume that regular WhatsApp users might not see the improvements to the status bar for quite some time as a result. But when it does launch for non-beta users, it just might be enough of a reason to make status updates on WhatsApp actually worth bothering with.

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iOS 16 will reportedly include new Apple apps and major changes

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We'll likely see iOS 16 unveiled at WWDC 2022 in June, but we don’t know much about it so far. However, it’s increasingly sounding like it could be a big deal, with the latest leak pointing to major changes, new ways of interacting with widgets, and even some new Apple apps.

That’s all according to Mark Gurman, a journalist with a solid track record for Apple information, who made the claim in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg.

Gurman didn’t go into any detail, but we can take an educated guess at some of what he’s referring to. On the new apps front, there’s already evidence that Apple is working on an Apple Classical music streaming service, so that could be one. But Gurman said apps, plural, so there could still be some surprises.

As for the new ways of interacting, that might refer to interactive widgets, which have previously leaked. iOS currently has widgets, but while they can show you information, you can’t interact with them, for example to type a note or skip a track. Tapping on them will generally just launch the relevant app.

So adding widgets that can be interacted with would certainly fall under new ways of interacting with the phone.

Then there’s Gurman’s claim that there will be “major changes across the system”. Interactive widgets could also fall under that, but additionally we’ve previously heard from Gurman that iOS 16 will include “fairly significant enhancements across the board, including an update to notifications and new health-tracking features”. So he could be referring to those things here, though that’s fairly vague in itself.

Gurman also mentioned watchOS 9, saying that the news about this at WWDC will be “significant”. We've heard basically nothing about watchOS 9 so far, but from this it sounds like big changes could be planned for that too.


WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: what else will we hear about at WWDC 2022?

Gurman’s comments here were a response to the question of “which operating system do you think will get the most attention at WWDC?”. So iOS 16, and perhaps watchOS 9, are likely to be the stars of Apple’s developer conference then, but they won’t be all that we hear about.

Based on past form, we’re also sure to hear about macOS 13 during the event, while iPadOS 16 will probably get a nod too.

And it might not only be software that we hear about. While that’s typically the focus of WWDC, it’s thought that Apple’s next high-end chipset, the M2, might make an appearance at WWDC 2022, possibly inside the MacBook Air 2022 or other computing hardware.

There’s an outside chance that we could see other things too, including the long-rumored Apple MR headset. We’ll find out for sure soon, as WWDC 2022 runs from June 6-10.

Via MacRumors

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UAE telco Etisalat becomes Vodafone’s largest shareholder

Abu Dhabi-based telco Etisalat, also known as E&, has made a surprise investment in Vodafone, purchasing a 9.8% stake to become its largest shareholder.

The $4.4 billion paid is a 10% premium on Vodafone’s share price, a vote of confidence in the Newbury-based operator’s present strategy.

E& said the investment formed part of a wider strategy to be a global leader in telecoms and technology and that it would provide “significant exposure to a world leader in connectivity and digital services.”

Vodafone consolidation

Vodafone has spent the past few years doubling down in key markets like the UK and Germany, scaling up and expanding into new sectors. It has expressed its desire to be viewed as a technology company rather than just a mere provider of telecoms services.

Market consolidation is one of its key ambitions, with chief executive Nick Read holding discussions with regulators and potential partners in Europe. Most recently this was believed to be in the UK with rival operator Three.

However, it has come under pressure from investors, including ‘constructive activist’ investor Cevin Capital, on its progress.

E& said it was fully supportive of Vodafone’s current board, management team, and business strategy and that it did not intend to make a takeover bid. That commitment is now legally binding for six months under London Stock Exchange rules.

"Our investment represents a unique opportunity to acquire a significant stake in one of the leading and strongest global telecom brands, and a company that we know well,” said Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO of e&. “We are looking forward to building a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with Vodafone with the goal of driving value creation for both our businesses, exploring opportunities in the rapidly developing global telecoms market and supporting the adoption of next-generation technologies.”

"We see this investment as a good opportunity for e& and its shareholders as it will allow us to enhance and develop our international portfolio, in line with our strategic ambition."    

“We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Etisalat,” Vodafone said in a statement.

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UAE telco Etisalat becomes Vodafone’s largest shareholder

Abu Dhabi-based telco Etisalat, also known as E&, has made a surprise investment in Vodafone, purchasing a 9.8% stake to become its largest shareholder.

The $4.4 billion paid is a 10% premium on Vodafone’s share price, a vote of confidence in the Newbury-based operator’s present strategy.

E& said the investment formed part of a wider strategy to be a global leader in telecoms and technology and that it would provide “significant exposure to a world leader in connectivity and digital services.”

Vodafone consolidation

Vodafone has spent the past few years doubling down in key markets like the UK and Germany, scaling up and expanding into new sectors. It has expressed its desire to be viewed as a technology company rather than just a mere provider of telecoms services.

Market consolidation is one of its key ambitions, with chief executive Nick Read holding discussions with regulators and potential partners in Europe. Most recently this was believed to be in the UK with rival operator Three.

However, it has come under pressure from investors, including ‘constructive activist’ investor Cevin Capital, on its progress.

E& said it was fully supportive of Vodafone’s current board, management team, and business strategy and that it did not intend to make a takeover bid. That commitment is now legally binding for six months under London Stock Exchange rules.

"Our investment represents a unique opportunity to acquire a significant stake in one of the leading and strongest global telecom brands, and a company that we know well,” said Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO of e&. “We are looking forward to building a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with Vodafone with the goal of driving value creation for both our businesses, exploring opportunities in the rapidly developing global telecoms market and supporting the adoption of next-generation technologies.”

"We see this investment as a good opportunity for e& and its shareholders as it will allow us to enhance and develop our international portfolio, in line with our strategic ambition."    

“We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Etisalat,” Vodafone said in a statement.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 leak points to a serious camera upgrade

We're rapidly approaching the expected launch window of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 – some point in August, as far as we know – and a new leak sheds some light on the rear camera setup that we can look forward to from this flagship foldable.

Seasoned tipster Ice Universe says that the phone will come with a triple lens 50MP + 12MP + 12MP setup on the back, with ultrawide and telephoto zoom capabilities. The same source says the 12MP 3x zoom camera will be the "strongest 3x camera ever" as far as Samsung phones go.

In other words it'll beat the 10MP 3x zoom found in the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra launched earlier this year – though it's worth bearing in mind that the S22 Ultra has a 10x zoom camera on board as well.

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Potential camera setups

To date there's been plenty of speculation on how Samsung might improve the rear camera module of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is made up of a 12MP wide camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera, and a 12MP telephoto 2x optical zoom camera.

Some leakers have been spreading the word that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 would come with the same 10MP 3x zoom camera that you can find in the S22 series, which would make sense in terms of Samsung's manufacturing production processes.

On the other hand, it's also been predicted that the upcoming foldable would arrive carrying a 108MP main camera, a substantial upgrade – another of the cameras that can currently be found inside the Ultra edition of the Galaxy S22.


Analysis: the Galaxy Z Fold 4 story so far

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is one of the most anticipated phones of 2022, and we've seen plenty of speculation and rumor about it, as befits a handset with such a high profile. It should turn up alongside the clamshell Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4.

In the last few weeks we've been hearing that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is going to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor, in an effort to make the foldable easier to slide into a pocket. Another rumor has suggested that Samsung is expecting to sell a lot more of its 2022 foldables compared to the 2021 versions.

While support for the S Pen stylus is widely expected, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 isn't expected to have an integrated slot to store it (and nor did the Galaxy Z Fold 3). Meanwhile, the cover display is set to be ever so slightly smaller than the one on its predecessor, coming in at 6.19 inches.

Other leaks we've heard include one suggesting that the battery capacity of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will match the phone it's replacing – so 4,400mAh – and there's been some encouraging news in terms of predictions that Samsung could drop the price of the foldable. In a few months, we'll know for sure.

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iPhone SE (2022) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: two routes to mid-range mastery

If you’ve got around $400/£400 burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re after a mid-range smartphone to buy, then the iPhone SE (2022) and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G have to form part of the conversation.

So which of the two represents the better buy? This is a tricky comparison, given that the two phones look and perform completely differently from one another.

Both phones have their share of perks and quirks, but we’ve arrived at a clear winner – for most people, at least. Let’s take a closer look.

iPhone SE (2022) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: price and availability 

The iPhone SE (2022) starts at $429 / £419 / AU$719 for the 64GB model. The 128GB model costs $479 / £469 / AU$799, while the 256GB model costs $579 / £569 / AU$969. It hit shops on March 18, 2022.

There are several Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G configurations, but they’re not all equally available. The base model, with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage comes with a quoted price of $329, even though it isn’t available in the US. The more common model is one that comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, and that one has a reference price of $349/£319. There’s also a 128GB/8GB model for $379, but it’s not on sale in many regions.

iPhone SE 2022

(Image credit: Future)

The Redmi Note 11 Pro is certainly the cheaper phone of the two, but its availability is a bit of a mess compared to the iPhone SE (2022).

iPhone SE (2022) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: design

The iPhone SE (2022) looks and feels much like the 5-year-old iPhone 8, which is positively ancient in smartphone terms.

You get a phone with a sizeable forehead and chin, a physical Home button (albeit one that doesn’t actually move), and a tiny 4.7-inch display. At 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm and 144g, it’s one of the smallest phones on the market.

We quite like how different it feels from every other phone on the market, but let’s not pretend here. It’s an outdated approach, and we wish Apple had shifted the range to a fresher design language.

Compare that to the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, which is a far more modern yet also more anonymous-looking handset. We dig the glass back, which isn’t a common feature in an Android phone of this price, but the frame is made of squared-off plastic as opposed to aluminum, like on the iPhone SE.

A Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G from the back

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It’s a large phone at 164.2 x 76.1 x 8.1mm and 202g – certainly way larger than the iPhone SE (2022), at any rate. It also packs a much more prominent camera module than its rival, for reasons we’ll get into in the appropriate section.

While the iPhone houses a fingerprint sensor in its dedicated Home button, the Redmi stashes its own sensor in the power button on the right-hand edge. It’s nice and fast, but no-one beats Apple at this kind of thing.

Both phones give you stereo speakers, which is great to see at this price.

One final advantage for the iPhone SE is that it packs an IP67 rating, while the Redmi Note 11 is stuck at a lowly IP53. The SE will stand up to showers and dusty pockets better.

In a nutshell, then, the Redmi is bigger and more modern, but the iPhone is better built and uses more premium materials.

iPhone SE (2022) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: display

With such a small body and huge bezels, the iPhone SE (2022) display was never going to be huge. At 4.7-inches, however, it’s positively tiny.

iPhone SE 2022 in use on wooden background

(Image credit: TechRadar)

What’s more, it’s only an IPS LCD panel, which means it lacks the eye-popping color and contrast of its OLED rival. It doesn’t get too sharp, either, with a resolution of 750 x 1334 nor does it get particularly bright at 625 nits, while its refresh rate peaks at a lowly 60Hz.

The Redmi Note 11 5G sweeps this round in every respect. It’s a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED with a 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) resolution and a maximum 120Hz refresh rate. Its brightness goes up to 700 nits in regular conditions, and peaks at 1200 nits.

Bigger, sharper, brighter, smoother, and more vibrant. It’s just plain better than Apple’s dated display, as good as that was in its heyday.

iPhone SE (2022) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: camera

You might assume that the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G has the camera round in the bag, especially if you were simply going by the facts and figures.

Xiaomi’s budget phone has got a triple camera system to the iPhone’s single camera system, and the main wide sensor is a huge 108MP example compared to the iPhone’s pokey 12MP.

But in terms of actual image quality and reliability, the iPhone SE (2022) is far ahead. Thanks to Apple’s unmatched image processing skills, in conjunction with the A15 Bionic chip, the iPhone SE turns out shots that our reviewer found to be “pleasing to the eye, color-accurate, and often beautiful”.

A Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G from the front

(Image credit: TechRadar)

“Overall, the photo quality on this mid-range phone can still rival that of competitor handsets selling for almost twice as much,” they concluded.

Smart HDR 4 and Deep Fusion techniques ensure that these shots look way better than you might expect from such humble hardware, additionally, Apple remains the undisputed king of video capture right up to 4K 60fps.

By comparison, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G underwhelms, given its showy hardware. “We captured a few too many blown-out skies, and it frequently fumbles dusk scenes,” observed our reviewer.

While it can still capture great results, it simply wasn’t as consistent as we would have liked. You’ll need to work with the settings more, whereas the iPhone SE is blissfully fire-and-forget.

Still, at least you can take ultra-wide shots with the Redmi, courtesy of its dedicated 8MP ultra-wide camera. Sure, the results are a little soft, there’s also an obvious drop in dynamic range, and you can’t use the Night mode at the same time – but at least the option is there, unlike with the iPhone.

The iPhone absolutely trashes the Redmi when it comes to video recording, capturing superior footage at up to 4K. The Redmi can only manage 1080p.

iPhone SE 2022

(Image credit: Future)

iPhone SE (2022) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: specs and performance 

There’s no competition on the power front either, with Apple’s phone again taking a clear win. The iPhone SE (2022) runs on the Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, which is the same one that powers the iPhone 13 family.

It’s enough to thrash the very best Android flagship phones, let alone the modest Snapdragon 695 5G of the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G.

We found the latter to be relatively slow, even in mid-range Android smartphone terms. The Redmi’s specs also explains the phone’s hamstrung video capture capabilities, as mentioned in the previous section.

Needless to say, while the iPhone SE can run the likes of Fortnite and Genshin Impact at full whack, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G is more of a medium-to-low kind of a device.

This also makes the iPhone SE (2022) way more future-proof. It’s going to stay feeling fast for years, whereas the Redmi Note 11 5G already feels like it’s hitting its limits in places.

A Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, with a focus on the screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Processor aside, the iPhone SE (2022) gives you 4GB of RAM and a choice of 64, 128, or 256GB of RAM. The Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G offers 4 or 6GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Both phones support 5G connectivity.

Another win for the iPhone comes with the software provision. With iOS coming as standard – just like every other iPhone – you know that you’re getting a clean, stylish OS with guaranteed timely updates.

The Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G comes with MIUI 13, Xiaomi’s clunky custom UI, sitting over the outdated Android 11 OS. Our reviewer called it “for the most part… pretty inoffensive”, which is damning with faint praise if we ever heard it.

In particular, we found that MIUI aggressively closed apps running in the background, which was particularly annoying for background audio apps.

iPhone SE 2022 in use on wooden background

(Image credit: TechRadar)

iPhone SE (2022) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: battery life

The iPhone SE (2022)’s small body contains a fittingly compact 2,018 mAh battery. That’s bigger than the previous generation, but it’s still tiny by modern standards.

Throw in 5G connectivity, and it’s not surprising that our reviewer was often unable to get through a full day on a single charger. It generally lasted 12 hours before giving up the ghost.

By contrast, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G packs in a way larger 5,000mAh battery, which lasted a full day of heavy usage without running out of juice. This was with the display set to 120Hz, too.

The Redmi wins when it comes time to recharge, too. Xiaomi has bundled in a rapid 67W charger, which will take you from 1 to 48% in 15 minutes.

A Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G from the front, in someone's hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple hasn’t given you any charger with the iPhone SE, and it only supports up to 20W in any event. On the plus side for Apple, the SE does support 7.5W wireless charging, unlike the Redmi.

Takeaway

While the iPhone SE (2022) might look like a much more dated device than the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, its performance, main camera, and software are on a whole other level.

Conversely, the Redmi features a way bigger and better screen, superior battery life, faster charging, and the potential for taking ultra-wide shots.

All in all, we have to give the edge to the iPhone SE (2022) in a straight mid-range face off. While both of these phones feature fundamental compromises, and while the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G is undoubtedly cheaper, it’s the iPhone SE (2022) that’s likely to provide more consistency and more value over the length of ownership.

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Report: Apple bringing USB-C to the iPhone but not the iPhone 14

Apple might be ending Lightning ports and finally embracing the industry-standard USB-C ports. 

Recently, industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted on Twitter that the iPhone 15 will have a USB-C port instead of the now decade-old Lightning port, making the iPhone 14 the last of its kind. The prediction might have been right on the money as a recent Bloomberg report reveals that Apple is testing out USB-C ports on iPhones.

The information comes from anonymous sources who claim to have insider knowledge of Apple’s future iPhone plans. Take this information with a grain of salt as Apple is not confirming - naturally - and these reports could be offbase.

All that aside, the report goes on to say that you won’t see USB-C until 2023. iPhone 14 (the assumed name) models coming out in 2022 are expected to retain Lightning ports. Apple is also reportedly working on a special adapter that would allow future USB-C iPhones to work with accessories housing Lightning ports.

A switch to USB-C would shake up a lot of things. For starters, it would lessen Apple’s grip over the industry and companies that make Apple accessories. They would no longer be forced to abide by strict approval guidelines

And if there are fewer companies making Lightning connectors, that would interfere with the usability of devices like AirPods. It’s entirely possible Apple could make another USB-C adapter for Apple accessories, but this report offered no indication of that possibility.

New EU law

The report’s sources didn’t say why Apple is potentially doing this, but there’s a good chance it would have something to do with recent European legislation.

Back in April, the EU’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee approved a mandate that will force all smartphones to use USB–C connectors and ports as a universal standard. The EU claims this law will reduce e-waste in the fight against climate change. However, it won’t take effect until 2026.

As you can imagine, Apple wasn’t happy. The company told TechRadar in 2021 that this law "…stifles innovation" and could hurt consumers around the world. Apple has tried to work with the EU, but so far the two entities have yet to see eye to eye.

Better speeds

Ming-Chi Kuo on Twitter states that if Apple does go through with USB-C, it will improve the iPhone’s transfer and charging speeds. But the fast speeds are dependent on future hardware. You also won’t have to buy extra accessories if you decide to switch from an Android.

There is still a small chance that the EU law might get dropped and a possibility Apple will stick to its guns. Hopefully, Apple goes through with USB-C iPhone regardless so we won’t have to buy extra cables.

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Apple’s iPod touch sells out for the last time, because it’s still awesome

It didn't take long for Apple's remaining iPod touch to sell out.

Consumers anxious to own what's now a part of mobile technology history cleared out every color and storage option for the 7th generation of Apple's portable music and media player.

There are still some iPod touch devices available on other online retail sites. Best Buy, for instance, still has the blue and black 128 GB models, but the rest of the color options appear sold out.

In case you missed the news, Apple without much fanfare quietly sunsetted the iPod line on Tuesday by announcing that it was selling the iPod touch "while supplies last." The company that launched a mobile music revolution never explicitly said the iPod line was dead, but the implication was clear enough.

Buying these devices is far from a fool's game. The iPod Touch 7th generation is, for all intents and purposes, an iPhone 7 without cellular capabilities (it even has the same A10 CPU).

It has a decent 8MP camera and can record up to 1080p at 60fps. The FaceTime camera is, at 1.2MP, pretty lightweight, but at least you get 720p video. The 4-inch screen is small but has a sharp-enough resolution of 326ppi.

It's also the last Apple pocket-sized mobile device to include a 3.5mm headphone jack.

You can install virtually all the same App Store apps on the iPod touch as you can on the iPhone 13.

The iPod touch brought all these features in a device that, even with 256GB of storage was, at $399, more affordable than most iPhone models.

My point is, that there's a reason people still want the iPod touch, and I'm not surprised that they've scooped up every last one of them.

Apple iPods

Classic iPod touch gen 2 and an iPod Nano (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

As for me, I have a small collection of these classic devices. There's a tiny iPod shuffle floating around in a drawer somewhere, a slim iPod Nano, and two or three iPod touch second-and third-generation devices. The latter models are notable for their gorgeous chrome backs. These were great spots for personalizing with an etched message ("Sophie's iPod").

All these old models, even the tiny shuffle with the iconic (though no longer completely physical) scroll wheel still feature the classic 30-pin connector. Current iPod touch players use the Lightning port.

Most no longer hold a charge, are in some other way damaged beyond repair or do not support the latest version of iOS. These portable wonders are now part of my tech museum: a set of plastic drawers.

Those buying the iPod touch 7th generation devices will probably get at least a few good years of use out of them until Apple ends software support. Someday, Apple will launch a version of iOS (maybe iOS 17?) and it won't include support for any iPod at all.

And that will truly be the end of the line for this iconic product.

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