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Apple is betting the same design changes that helped the iPhone X captivate fans last year will rejuvenate some of its lower-profile products.

The iPad Pro on Tuesday received a heavy makeover, drawing in iPhone X elements like a slimmer bezel and integration of the Face ID facial recognition system instead of Touch ID and the traditional home button. It also includes the “Liquid Retina” display, first seen in the iPhone XR.

The new MacBook Air got a few of the same tweaks, mainly the smaller bezels and body, as well as the sharper display. The Mac Mini got a new space gray finish and more horsepower.

The changes mark long overdue upgrades to product lines that have played important, but diminishing, roles in Apple’s lineup given that iPhone sales generate the majority of the company’s revenue. The changes to the iPad Pro mark the first significant design overhaul since that tablet originally launched in 2015. The MacBook Air hasn’t had a major change in years, with only a chip upgrade last year.

Apple doesn’t just want you to own one of its products — the benefits and hooks really sink in when you go all in on its family of devices and services. With PC makers, led by Microsoft‘s Surface line, building sleeker and more attractive devices, Apple needed to step up.

“The new iPad and Macs include some very welcome changes that Apple owners will appreciate,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights. “I don’t think Apple did enough to pull people from their premium Windows PCs to the platform, though.”

iPad Pro’s overhaul

Apple’s iPad Pro gets its biggest makeover yet, with thinner bezels and the addition of Face ID. The smaller iPad Pro gets a larger display at 11 inches in the same body, while the 12.9-inch model gets a smaller body that’s close in size to the standard 8.5 by 11-inch sheet of paper. Apple said the larger iPad Pro has 25 percent less volume.

The company hopes the changes will get you excited about tablets again.

“The iPad is a magical piece of glass that transforms into anything you need it to be,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

Exciting consumers about tablets is a challenge, with the whole category struggling for the past few years. Consumers have hung on to their older tablets — purchased when they were a hotter item — or spend more time on their larger smartphones.

Since the original launched in 2015, the iPad Pro has been presented less as a media device and more a tool on which you can create and share content. But it hasn’t been a runaway success, partly because of the cost and because it lacked a lot of pro-grade software.

Apple iPad Pro 2018The previous iPad Pro did help reverse 13 quarters of consecutive declines, which ended in mid-2017 with a minor bump. In the last quarter, Apple reported iPad unit sales ticked up 1 percent to 11.5 million, while revenue fell 5 percent to $4.74 billion. The company is scheduled to release its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Thursday.

The iPad Pro has Xbox One S-level graphic capabilities.

Sarah Tew / CNET

In March, Apple unveiled a new iPad for the education market, but the cost of the device and Pencil accessory elicited skepticism about whether cash-strapped schools would invest in these tools.

The iPad Pro isn’t going to address those cost concerns. It starts at $799 for the smaller version and $999 for the larger 12.9-inch model.

MacBook Air returns

A new MacBook Air is finally here.

It comes with a Retina Display, while the frame around the screen is half the size, making for a laptop that has 17 percent less volume. It also includes a TouchID sensor in its butterfly-design, backlit keyboard.

Mac fans have long wondered whether Apple would ever release an update to the Air, which has served an entry-level journeyman role despite the lack of changes over the years. It had also received little attention as Apple introduced the slim MacBook and the touchbar-enabled MacBook Pro.

MacBook Air gets a new look.


At a starting price of $1,199, it’s $200 more than the previous $999 entry-level Air. But the company said it’s the cheapest Retina Display-enabled Mac in its lineup, and will serve as the gateway to Apple’s other Mac products.

“(Apple) seems to be pleased with the growth of the Mac platform and its ability to attract new users so they must think there is more headroom,” said Ross Rubin, an analyst with Reticle Research.

While the upgrades are nice, gone are the days when the Air played a leading role in Apple’s product lineup.

When Steve Jobs introduced the Air in 2008, fans fell over themselves praising the sleek and lightweight design. Subsequent generations trimmed down the Air even further, forcing PC makers to respond with the short-lived category, “ultrabooks.”

The Mac Mini gets an update with a new space gray finish and more horsepower inside.

Sarah Tew/CNET

“The MacBook Air redefined the notion of the modern notebook,” Cook said.

Ultrabooks are gone, but PC makers have flooded the market with thin, light and powerful PCs, boasting sharper displays and powerful processors.

On Tuesday Apple also introduced a new Mac Mini, with a space gray finish. The new Mini can go up to six cores for five times the performance of the Mac Mini. There’s also the option for 64 gigabytes of memory and up to 2 terabytes of storage. Unlike the more svelte MacBook line, the Mac Mini also keeps the standard USB port.

Like the MacBook Air, the Mac Mini’s starting price jumped to $799 from the previous model’s price tag of $499. The original story published at 8:29 a.m. PT.


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Mobile Phones

These are the improvements Samsung has made to the Galaxy Fold




Samsung delayed the launch of the Galaxy Fold after some of the review units it handed out last month failed. The device was supposed to be released in the United States on April 26 and a week later in markets across Europe. That didn’t happen and the company still hasn’t confirmed a new release date.

It took back all of the review units and said that the display protection would be improved. A new report out of South Korea details the improvements that Samsung has made to its first foldable smartphone.

New report details Galaxy Fold improvements

According to the report, Samsung has tucked the protective layer on top of the display into the body. This will not allow the user to peel off the layer. The display on some review units had broken for precisely this reason. The users had removed the protective layer on top just because it looked like a screen protector. Samsung did say during its press briefings for the Galaxy Fold that this layer is not to be removed. It would be a good idea to tuck the layer into the body so that customers don’t try to pull on it absentmindedly.

There was also a small gap at the top and bottom parts of the hinge. Substances like dirt or lint could get in and lodge beneath the display, causing lasting damage. The report says that Samsung will reduce this gap to prevent foreign substances from getting in. We had also pointed out that the company needed to place warning statements prominently about the protective layer on the packaging itself. While that wasn’t the case on review units, the consumer units will have more warnings.

These improved units are now reportedly being tested with mobile carriers in South Korea. Samsung is expected to announce a new Galaxy Fold release date this month. The handset is said to arrive in June. Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh has also said that the company will confirm a new release date sooner rather than later.


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Huawei’s Honor 20 might just feature 4 rear cameras




Honor is in the final stages of preparation to launch the Honor 20 series, and they are surely going all out for this one. Even though they have managed to keep a solid lid on the information around this phone for a while, we have gleaned in the past that this device could feature four camera sensors on the back.

It seems the brand has confirmed the same in a new taser image which states ‘Fantastic beauty, four photos.’

Of course, this is as vague as it gets, but it could be what we are thinking too. If this were to be true, there is a high chance we see the massive 48MP sensor from Sony be the main camera to be supported by a 16MP super wide-angle lens, and two 2MP cameras – one for depth sensing and the other being a third sensor for detailing, maybe.

These cameras will, no doubt, be something to look forward to. Likewise, they could have one of the best Night Modes to expect – given that the president of the brand shared a Night Mode picture from one of their upcoming devices once but blurred it out for effect.

For now, we have the leaks to rely on for other possible specs.

Going in line with other massive units for this year, there s a high chance the Honor 20 carries a 6.26-inch camera with almost perfect bezel-less screen, save for the hole in the screen. 6GB and 128GB configurations will help this phone give many other units on the market a run for their money, and the in-house HiSilicon Kirin 980 chipset will keep things going.

Perhaps one of the most impressive arrangements is the fingerprint scanner being on the power button, since the phone doesn’t have one the back nor under the screen (this is an LCD screen, so that’s understandable).

With Android 9 Pie coming with it out of the box, it remains to see which one of these specs are correct, and what we might have missed.


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Mobile Phones

Samsung insider teases breakthrough phone design coming in the second half of 2019




A Samsung insider who is perhaps best known for sharing details about brand new phones well ahead of their official announcements is back teasing that some sort of breakthrough smartphone design is coming in the second half of the year. It’s unclear at this time whether he’s talking about a Samsung phone or not, but the leaker did say recently that Samsung will be among the companies to deliver this brand new design.

Ice Universe is the leaker in question, a constant presence in smartphone news. He posted the following Galaxy Note 7 images on Twitter teasing that a “better-designed phone” is coming later this year.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Ice universe@UniverseIce

Why do you prefer Galaxy Note7? Is it because of its excellent design? Fortunately, I kept some photos of it. You will see a better-designed phone in the second half of the year.

The Galaxy Note 7 represents Samsung’s biggest disaster to date. The phone was very well received, but then Samsung had to deal with a plethora of battery incidents, from explosions to fires. The phone was recalled and ultimately canceled, and Samsung had to deal with all the blowback. The Note 7 recall actually forced Samsung to delay the launch of the Galaxy S8 in early 2017, as it was still investigating the Note 7 and putting additional safety measures in place to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

No matter how great the Galaxy Note 7 design may have been, it’s still a 2016 phone, and smartphone design has come a long way since. The Galaxy S8 was Samsung’s first phone with an Infinity display. That screen morphed into the Infinity-O screen of this year’s Galaxy S10, which is what we expect to see on the Note 10 come August.

Samsung (and everyone else in the business) has tried to continuously increase the size of the screen at the expense of the bezels. Some did with it notches, pop-up selfie cams or slider phones. Others put two screens on the phone. And Samsung created hole-punch displays. The first foldable phones were also unveiled earlier this year, with one of them stealing the show back at the Mobile World Congress in 2019. So we already have smartphone designs better that are miles better than the Galaxy Note 7.

How could Samsung or anyone else further perfect the smartphone design? The only thing nobody has done is to sell a phone with a selfie camera placed under the screen. That would be the perfect all-screen phone design, and something we expect to see in stores in the not-too-distant future. But is it ready for 2019?

Ice Universe seems to know something we don’t, and he’s not sharing more details about it. However, since he’s teasing it with the help of Note 7 pics, it’s easy to assume Samsung is behind this new handset design, and that the Galaxy Note 10 could be the device he’s referring to.


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