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Rolls-Royce Phantom (2017) review



The Rolls-Royce Phantom is the car industry’s longest-running nameplate. The first one, launched 92 years ago, replaced the Silver Ghost, renowned rightly as ‘the best car in the world’.

Since then, Phantoms of various flavour but invariably prodigious proportions have ranged from technologically state-of-the-art cars, to stately carriages that have been about as cutting-edge as a grandfather clock, though always nicely crafted. From the ‘60s to the ‘90s, especially, Phantoms were more royal curios than contemporary cars, about as modern as the monarchy – although John Lennon’s Phantom V at least had a fun paint scheme.

The latest Phantom, the VIII – the use of quaint Roman numerals underlines the long-running heritage – looks very much like the (excellent) old VII, at least at first glance. In fact it’s sleeker – note the faired-in grille, and more raked rear screen – and all the mechanicals are new, too, from fresh ‘Architecture of Luxury’ aluminium platform that will underpin all upcoming Rolls-Royces, to a new V12, twin turbocharged to boost waftability.

Rolls-Royce Phantom rear quarter

Naturally, the overarching goal is to make the world’s pre-eminent luxury car – the most cosseting, most comfortable, most stately, most individualistic, most beautifully appointed, most extravagant and most expensive. As we shall soon see, it sits atop the luxury saloon sector with majestic ease, and almost disdainful superiority.

Similar style, new technology

Design director Giles Taylor sees the Phantom’s design as classical as the 911’s – so no need (or wish) for revolution here; like their royal patrons, Rolls-Roycehates revolution. It’s very much an evolution of the previous Phantom’s shape, and Taylor will cheerfully point to the high bluff nose, rounded balloon front wings, long bonnet, flowing flanks, elongated wheelbase and short tail as 92-year-and-counting styling continuums.

The new one is now smoother and slightly softer in overall shape, the grille is mildly raked back (and flush with the surrounding bodywork) and the whole character is a bit less formal and upright, more laid back. After all, buyers are now just as likely to be rappers as royals.

Rolls-Royce Phantom front cornering

Length is a touch shorter than the outgoing car’s, but only by 80mm or so. Yet at 5.76 metres (normal wheelbase) and 5.98 metres (extended wheelbase) the Phantom remains, by some margin, the world’s longest production car. Rolls-Royce could not stretch the extended wheelbase version beyond six metres, for the very good reason that in China – its number two global market – you now need a bus driver’s licence to steer anything longer. Unsurprisingly, that would not have gone down well with your typical thrusting Shanghai tech zillionaire. Wheelbase is slightly up on the old Phantom’s to increase rear legroom. Weight is unchanged, at a vast 2.56 tonnes. Plenty of XL SUVs are lighter.

That new family aluminium architecture – next year it underpins the new Rolls-Royce SUV – is lighter and 30 per cent stiffer than the old Phantom’s spaceframe chassis. The extra stiffness boosts ride comfort and refinement, to which larger (twice the volume) air springs and new softer-walled tyres also play noble supporting roles. Active anti-roll bars, which disengage when not needed, further boost ride suppleness. Ride comfort is fantastic, a cut above anything on the road.

The other big technical upgrade is the new 6.75-litre motor, based on the Ghost’s V12 but extensively fettled. Unlike the old naturally aspirated Phantom, the new V12 uses turbochargers to boost low-end torque, and make performance even more effortless.

The engine punches with silken smoothness – it’s never jerky – and response is instant. It’s also incredibly quiet, as eerily silent as an electric motor. Only when accelerating hard does some faint induction slurp betray its internal combustion.

Rolls-Royce Phantom interior

On the move, this is probably the quietest car that’s ever laid tyre to tarmac. It’s a leather-lined library in the fast lane, as silent as a cathedral and as imposing as one, too. The loudest noise is no longer the ticking of the clock, as famously claimed on older Rolls-Royces as the clock is now electric. Rather, it’s the shuffling of your hands on the (thicker) leather steering rim. The silence is so complete that some engineers were concerned it may be too quiet. It almost feels unnatural.

It’s not just the silken V12 that’s responsible. There’s a whopping 130kg of sound deadening to silence any pesky groans or whines, and the tyres are foam filled and sealed to mute any tyre cavity thrum.

Great in the back seat, surprisingly good up front too

The cabin is wonderful. The finest leathers (from beefy Bavarian bulls), lovely wood veneers from Africa, South America, Italy, China and California, and made-in-England lamb’s wool carpets. Rear wood marquetry picnic tables pop down, just as high-res screens pop up, tech meets trad. A drinks cabinet is neatly packaged in the leather and wood lined central armrest, with coolbox and twin champagne flutes (although, disappointingly on our test car, the bubbly on offer was sparkling water). The headrests are pillow-soft, the rear seats – individual or loungechair, you choose – are expansive and cossetting.

Rolls-Royce Phantom instrument cluster

Entry and exit are by vast rear-hinged doors, all the better for the rear-seat ‘patron’ – as Rolls-Royce quaintly refers to its customers – to make an impact on arrival. Naturally, the big rear pillar neatly hides the patron’s face, until he or she leans forward to reveal his or her visage to the curious world.

Every Phantom will be customised to some extent – there is really no such thing as a ‘standard’ specification. There are so many splendid details, such as the starlight headliner – its LEDs can twinkle, or concentrate light for map reading. Perhaps the most novel new sign of bespokery is the ‘gallery’. This replaces much of the dashboard with a glass-covered display area, behind which the ‘patron’ can commission his or her own artwork. It could be made from silk, metal work, porcelain or be an oil painting. Or whatever else patron desires.

Rolls-Royce Phantom rear seats

And to drive? For such a vast and heavy car, it’s surprisingly good. The steering is light but precise – you can punt this car down a winding road with amazing elan, relishing the on-demand torque (I even found myself missing paddle shifters). Maybe lateral seat support could be better – but not let’s pretend it’s a sports saloon. Rather, the Flying Lady can lift her skirts, and run hard, when you want her to.


Best luxury saloon car in the world? Yes, and by some margin.

The Bentley Mulsanne and top-end Maybach version of the Mercedes S-class don’t even come close to the Phantom’s astonishingly blend of comfort, opulence, craftsmanship and sheer presence.

Mind you, at £360,000, the Phantom’s price is way north of anything Bentley or Mercedes can offer. Few people will ‘only’ spend £360K on their Phantom, either. All will customise to some extent, easily inflating the price to well over £400,000. Many will spend more than a million pounds, says Anglophile CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös.

Rolls-Royce Phantom front quarter


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Counterpoint Research reported that in the second quarter of 2020, 5G smartphone shipments increased, accounting for 10% of global smartphone shipments.


In the second quarter of this year, 5G smartphone revenue accounted for 20% of global smartphone revenue. Among them, China is the largest contributor to 5G smartphone sales. It is reported that 72% of global 5G smartphone revenue comes from China. Most of them comes from 5G smartphones released by Huawei. In addition, the average selling price of the Chinese smartphone market also increased by 12% year-on-year.

According to the report, the Asia-Pacific region, China, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, North America and other regions contributed 10% of the overall growth rate in the average sales price in the second quarter of 2020. However, Latin America is the only country where average sales prices have fallen 5% year-on-year. Although the new coronavirus has had an impact on the entire market, the high-end segment has not fallen sharply. Compared with the overall market decline, it only faces a year-on-year decline of 8%.

5G smartphone market

The report also shows that in the second quarter of 2020, the average selling price (ASP) of the global smartphone market increased by 10% year-on-year. With the exception of Latin America, average selling prices increased in all regions. This is because many 5G phones sold well in the second quarter. The increasing demand for education, work, games, and entertainment is also a factor in users’ preference for high-end smartphones.

Read Also:  Samsung may announce the Galaxy F41 smartphone tomorrow

Overall, due to the economic impact and the closure of offline retail stores, the market’s demand for low-priced devices has decreased. Coupled with the resilience of the high-end market and the growth of 5G smartphone sales (especially in China), this quarter’s increase in the average selling price of smartphones.

5G smartphone market


At the same time, smartphone shipments fell 23% year-on-year, reaching a record high. Although most OEM’s smartphone shipments declined in the second quarter of 2020, Apple’s shipments increased by 3% year-on-year, while iPhone revenue increased by 2% year-on-year. But we should also point out that Apple still has no 5G iPhone. The first models will come to the market only this year. Once this happens, and 5G appears on lower models, it will be quite interesting to see how the proportion changes.


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Former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announces new game company




Two years after stepping down as CEO at Blizzard, the game company he co-founded in 1991, Mike Morhaime is back with his next venture. It’s called Dreamhaven, and it’s a combination of a publisher and developer, with “a common goal to empower creators, help bring their ideas to life, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful connections between players.”

As part of the announcement, Dreamhaven also revealed its first two internal studios: Moonshot Games and Secret Door. Moonshot is headed by a trio of Blizzard veterans, including former Hearthstone lead Jason Chayes, StarCraft II director Dustin Browder, and Hearthstone creative director Ben Thompson. “Though it’s very early days, when we think about Moonshot, we imagine a studio that celebrates curiosity and courage,” Chayes said in a statement. “We aspire to be bold in our approach, and we think the best way to do that is to create a culture centered around trust.”

Secret Door, meanwhile, is similarly led by a team of former Blizzard developers, including Chris Sigaty (executive producer on Hearthstone), Alan Dabiri (technical director on Warcraft III and StarCraft II), and Eric Dodds (designer on World of Warcraft and Starcraft). No projects have been announced for either studio.

Morhaime stepped down as CEO of Blizzard in 2018, though he stayed on in a consultancy role until last year. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said that one of the goals of the new company was to build an environment focused on creators — something that was likely a challenge under Activision, which became Blizzard’s parent company in 2008.

“We’ve learned a ton about what goes into creating an environment that allows creators to do their best work, and we were very successful doing that for many years at Blizzard,” Morhaime told the Post. “We reached a crossroads where we reassessed what we want to do with the rest of our lives.”


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Apple Loop: Shock iPhone 12 Details, Massive iOS 14 Problems, Macbook Pro Delay




Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes surprising iPhone 12 benchmarks, big problems with iOS 14, two new iPads, Apple ignores MacOS, the “good/better/best” of the Apple Watch, the controversy around Apple One, and the Macs’ never changing system System Preferences.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Just How Fast Is Your Next iPhone?

We might not have seen the iPhone 12 family as part of Apple’s virtual September launch event this week, but we have seen the benchmarks pop up on the AnTuTu website. That gives us a raw comparison of the numbers from last year’s iPhone to this year’s. Philip Michaels reports some pretty shocking numbers:

“Leaked benchmarks from Antutu, purportedly showing off an iPhone 12 Pro Max’s performance, may help fill in some of the blanks. MySmartPrice spotted the leaked numbers, which claim to show off a device with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage running iOS 14.1.

“According to the leaks, the iPhone 12 Pro Max tallied a score of 572,333 on Antutu’s test, which is a 9% gain over the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s 524,436 result on the same test. MySmartPrice says the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s reported tally would be the highest score ever posted by an iPhone, which you’d hope given that it’s a new model.

More at Tom’s Guide.

The Big Problem With iOS 14

Apple may not have announced a release date for the iPhone, but it did announce the release date of iOS 14. And that has caused problems. Normally Apple will provide a week’s worth of ‘heads up’ time to Developers so they can ensure their apps are ready for the jump up to the next major version of iOS. Not this year… developers had less than a days notice, and they are not happy. Matt Binder reports:

““Gone are the hopes of being on the store by the time users install the new iOS 14 and are looking for new apps. Gone is the chance to get some last-minute fixes into your existing apps to make sure they don’t stop working outright by the time users get to upgrade their OS,” explained Steve [Troughton-Smith from High Caffeine Content.”

““There are some developers who have spent all summer working on something new, using the latest technologies, hoping to be there on day one and participate in the excitement (and press coverage) of the new iOS,” he continued. “For many of them, they’ll be incredibly upset to have it end like this instead of a triumphant launch, and it can dramatically decrease the amount of coverage or sales they receive.””

More at Mashable.

Take Two Tablets And Call Your iPhone In The Morning

Taking the flagship spot away from the ‘missing presumed having a good time’ iPhone 12 was Apple’s new iPad Air. Beating the smartphone as the first device with Apple’s new A14 ARM-based processor. Samuel Axon and Jim Salter report for Ars Technica:

“The iPad Air gets the new A14 Bionic CPU, built on 5nm process technology. It’s a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four lower-power, more efficient cores for simpler background tasks. The A14 Bionic offers a 30 percent GPU performance boost compared to previous generations, and Apple says it puts up double the graphics performance of typical laptops.”

As well as the increased power, 2020’s iPad Air has a new design; USB-C has been added, the bezels have been trimmed away, the home button has been removed, and TouchID has been integrated into the power button. It;s not the only new iPad, as the entry-level iPad moves up rom the A10 to the A12 Bionic processor. Benjamin Mayo reports:

“The jump from A10 to A12 means Apple’s cheapest iPad will feature the Neural Engine for the first time. Apple says the A12 chip offers more than twice the performance of the top selling Windows laptop, 6x faster than the top-selling Android tablet and 6x faster than the best-selling Chromebook.

“The 8th-generation iPad keeps the same price as the 7th-gen: that’s $329 for general sale and $299 for education.”

More at 9to5Mac.

Will Mac Owners Be Satisfied With Safari After macOS Delay?

If you were waiting for MmcOS Big Sur to drop for your Mac or MacBook, then you are out of luck. Apple’s event saw updates to iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS… but macOS has been delayed. The ‘Big Sur’ release is still in the future, but a small crumb (perhaps from a cookie) has been handed to Mac fans in the form of Safari 14, presumably to offer cross-OS support with other devices. Juli Clover reports:

“Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab previews so you can see what you have open at a glance. Today’s update also removes Adobe Flash.”

More at MacRumors.

The Apple Watch Strikes Three 

Two new Apple Watch models were launched, and as the Apple Watch Series 3 remains, there is now a low-, a mid-, and a high-level smartwatch in the classic triplet that Apple was once famous for. Todd Haselton looks over the Series 6 Apple Watch for CNBC, including the headline ‘wellness’ features:

“The Series 6 also has Apple’s most advanced sensors. You can run the ECG app for an electrocardiogram, for example, a feature that’s not on the Apple Watch SE or Series 3. It’s also the only model with the new blood-oxygen app. I tried that and it told me my blood oxygen was 96%, which seems good.

“…Apple is careful to explain that this isn’t a medical device. You can use it if you’re curious about your blood oxygen when you’re hiking at high altitudes, but Apple isn’t making any promises about detecting low oxygen should you fall ill with coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, Apple has brought the ‘SE’ brand to the Apple Watch, again with the promise of a cheaper ‘mid-range’ slice of hardware that still delivers the core Apple experience. Chris Velazco has spent some time with the wearable to try and work out where it fits into the portfolio:

“For one, the SE uses the same S5 system-in-package (or SIP) that we got in last year’s Series 5, which in turn contains the same dual-core processor as the Series 4. Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed that the SE has the same compass and always-on altimeter as the Series 6, along with a very similar screen.

“From what I can tell, it’s the same bigger display we got in the Series 5, just without the always-on functionality enabled. And while the Series 4 was the first Apple Watch to come with heart-sensing ECG support, you simply don’t get that here. Ditto for the Series 6’s new blood oxygen measurement features.”

More at Engadget.

Bouquets and Brickbats For Apple One 

Also announced alongside Apple’s hardware, and perhaps an indication of where Apple wishes to focus on the future, were new options for the various subscription services offered by Cupertino. Apple One takes the popular options and bundles them together while offering a discount. Brian Heater reports:

“It’s not quite mix and match yet, but there are three pricing tiers. Individual offers Apple Music, TV+, Arcade and iCloud for $15 a month. The Family version will get you those four services for $20 a month. For the hardcore, there’s the $30 a month Premier tier, which bundles iCloud, Music, TV+, Arcade, News+ and [the new service] Fitness+.“

“For those who have been putting off a given Apple subscription, such a bundle could certainly sweeten the pot — and make it even harder for users to escape the pull of the Apple software ecosystem.”

More at TechCrunch. Given Apple’s market position, using one service to pptentiallybolster another through a bundle has drawn the eye of the competition. Spotify – which has already filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission against Apple – drew attention to the issue shortly ager the end of the event.

“Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services. We call on competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect.”

More on the Spotify statement at Apple Insider.

And Finally…

The look of the MacOS user interface has evolved since OSX was announced in 2000. One area has stayed relatively contestant, but the small changes highlight the thinking behind the OS over the years.

“The interface started glassy and skeuomorphic, mimicking the materials used on Macs. Over the decades, it went through significant revisions. One thing that seems to have remained relatively unchanged over the years is the System Preferences screen.

“But, at a closer glance, we’ll see that this mundane part of the operating system has changed quite a bit and hides some fun easter eggs and surprises.”

Arun Venkatesan has taken a closer look on his blog.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.


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