Tag Archives: iPhone

How to Use the Secret “Super Low Power Mode” on the iPhone X

Battery life on the iPhone has never been phenomenal, and the iPhone X, unfortunately, doesn’t change that much (review in the works!). However, the iPhone X does bring with it a new tool to improve battery life. First, a little background. The iPhone X features an OLED display. There’s a few huge differences between the old screen, the LED, and the new OLED display, but the lighting on OLED displays makes the biggest difference for battery life. For an LED or LCD display, the whole screen is lit up. A few big, bright lights are on all the time, shining through the pixels to light them all up equally. OLED screens light up each pixel individually. This means the whole screen doesn’t have to be lit. Not only does this improve contrast on the screen, it drastically reduces the amount of electricity the screen uses.

You can take advantage of this now if you have an iPhone X. A wallpaper that’s all or mostly black would use less electricity than a colorful one. Even a grayscale display would have more dark pixels. There’s a secret super-low-power mode in iOS, one you can unlock by using invert colors and grayscale—features already built in to iOS—to increase the black pixels on the display, and therefore us a lot less energy. How much less? One tester saw a 60% improvement over the stock settings! You’ll have to change a few settings to make switching back and forth between regular usage and the super saver mode, but once you do, you’ll have a new way to save hours of battery life. Here’s how you can do that yourself in just a few easy steps.

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iPhone X Face ID Fooled by Son, Brother, Cousin? Not so Fast.

By now, if you’re interested in tech, you’ve probably seen a video or two of the iPhone X being unlocked by someone’s face that isn’t the owner. Apple said it was more secure than Touch ID, at least twice as secure, so what gives? There are a few factors at play here. It involves the machine learning Apple uses to make Face ID work, Face ID’s limitations on children, and, unfortunately, some really bad news for anyone with an identical twin (especially if they’re an evil twin). To answer your biggest question, no, Face ID isn’t easily compromised, but there are steps you may be unintentionally doing that are making you more vulnerable. Here’s an explanation of what’s happening, and how you can ensure your phone is secure.

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iPhone X Meta-Review

The past few weeks have been rough for me. I’ve been apartment hunting, packing, and moving. On top of that, I stayed up until 4 AM last Friday to pre-order the iPhone X. Refreshing my Mac’s browser as well as both my iPad’s and my iPhone’s Apple Store apps, both on and off my WiFi. I was going to be one of the first people in America to order the iPhone X. Or so I thought. None of my devices loaded the page until around 3:07. By then, the earliest I would receive my iPhone X would be on November 17th. So, instead of typing this with an iPhone X sitting next to me, I instead am looking at my boring old iPhone 6s. I’ve got to wait at least two more weeks to write my own review. Since, by then, it’ll be 2 weeks late, I’ll likely use it for a week or two before reviewing, so I can give a detailed review of the phone that accounts for everyday use. I’ll even be able to compare it to the Samsung Galaxy S8, so look forward to that review and comparison in a few weeks.

Until then, I’ve collected information from a number of reviews to answer some of the big questions about the iPhone X.
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Reflecting on the iPhone 6s

I still question Apple’s choice on this shot, those iPhones would have all shattered.

When a new iPhone is coming out, I always spend some time using my old iPhone without the case. It’s dangerous, I know, one drop could shatter the screen, meaning I’d be out hundreds of dollars when I try to trade it in to Gazelle or Apple, but it’s something I have to do. I want to really get to know the device one more time, before I give it up. This is the phone that got me countless dates through OKCupid and Tinder, the phone that I used to talk to the girls I loved this year, the phone that connected me to my friends. It’s where I followed election results, then tweeted angrily about the electoral college undermining democracy, and a new president undermining American freedoms. I’ve written blog posts, even portions of books on this phone. It’s the phone were I found the apartment I hope to move into in a few weeks. And, also in a few weeks, I’m going to wipe this phone clean of any of that, deleting those memories from its storage permanently, and ship it off to a recycling facility, where it will be dismantled and either sold for parts or cleaned up, sold as refurbished, and enter the home of someone else, to become an integral part of their life, as it once was a part of mine. Really, I just want to give myself one last chance to get to know this phone, remember what it was like, before I give it up. Because the truth is, despite everything I’ve been through with this phone, I kind of hate it
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Advanced Sound Accessport Review

REVIEW UPDATED BELOW

Advanced Sound’s based on Long Island, NY, just outside of the world’s greatest city, and not far from where I was born. They’re a plucky company, making headphones and hardware for people who really care about audio quality and want to get it at a good price. They launched a Kickstarter campaign not long ago for their Accessport, a dongle that solves a silly problem. The iPhone 7 didn’t come with a headphone jack. The iPhone 8 and iPhone X don’t have headphone jacks either. You could use the adapter that Apple provides (and sells for just $9), or you could try to upgrade your experience. You could go with a dongle that allows you to both listen to music and charge your phone at the same time. You could go further by getting one that has a higher quality digital to analog converter (DAC) and amplifier, to really make your music sound incredible. With such a setup, you’d actually be better off than if Apple provided a headphone jack in the phone. An external DAC and amplifier that can also charge your phone? Perfect. And that’s just what Advanced Sound promised with their Accessport. Unfortunately, they didn’t come close to delivering on that promise. In fact, it actually sounds far worse than the sound from my iPhone (I still have a headphone jack equipped iPhone 6s… for now).
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The iOS 11 Control Center is a Lie

As a subway commuter, I quickly learned a little trick for getting service in the subway. For the uninitiated, nearly every subway station in NYC now has cellular reception. Usually it’s LTE, but sometimes it’s just 3G. But these are the only places where you can get service. In the tunnels between stations, there is no service. When the iPhone loses a data connection, it goes down the chain of potential technologies to use for a connection. First it looks for 3G, then it looks for a call-only connection, and finally, it settles on no service. When service returns, it goes back up the chain… slowly. Often you’re not in a station long enough for it to get back to LTE on its own. That’s where the little trick comes in. I have an iPhone 6s, so I’ve got Force Touch. I press hard on the Settings icon, and tap the Cellular option that comes up. Then I turn Cellular Data off for about 5-10 seconds, then I turn it back on. This causes the cellular radio to reset. When the cellular radio gets powered back on, it looks for a connection in descending order, starting with the best possible connection. First LTE, then 3G, then a voice only connection. When this happens, it goes from “thinking” there’s only a 1x voice connection to realizing that there’s an LTE connection available. It’s a handy trick, and one I’ve actually heard other commuters talking about, so I know it works. 

When Apple introduced iOS 11, they put all the wireless radios in Control Center. I was probably more excited than I had any right to be. This put the cellular radio toggle just a swipe and a tap away from any app. Surely this would make my little trick easier. However, when I tried it on the subway, I found it didn’t work. The next day, I read an article that told me why: the toggle is a lie. iOS doesn’t shut off the cellular, WiFi, or Bluetooth radios when you toggle them in Control Center. This is a huge problem, it’s a UI element that claims to do something, but doesn’t do it, tricking it’s user. It’s simultaneously unlike Apple and extremely Apple-like. 
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Apple’s Not First, It’s Best

Apple didn’t release the first smartphone, they didn’t release the first touchscreen phone, but they did release the best, by a wide margin. Since then, other smartphones evolved to look more like Apple’s, and from there, we get the iOS vs Android duopoly that we have today. Apple wasn’t the first to make a GUI, the first PC manufacturer, the first to put a fingerprint sensor on a phone, they weren’t the first with two cameras, or even the first to make an MP3 player, but they’ve done the best versions of all of these things, changing the market forever. That’s why I hate graphics like the ones above, which seem to come out every time Apple releases some exciting new iPhone. No, Apple wasn’t the first, but they’ve done everything so much better, so the question becomes, why did the others create such half-assed projects to begin with? If you’re going to do something right, take your time and do it right, don’t rush it and release something that’s less than the best. That’s Apple’s philosophy, it’s why iPhone users stick with iOS, and it’s why we’re excited to use the iPhone X.

So, what about the points raised in the graphics above? I’m going to tear each of them apart. Why? Because I hate the spread of fake news far more than I hate know-it-all fanboys, and this involves both.
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