Trending February 2024 # Steelseries Rival 500 Mouse Review: Innovative Design We Hope To See More Of # Suggested March 2024 # Top 4 Popular

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The Rival 500 isn’t a great mouse, but its innovative thumb layout and the inclusion of haptic feedback are interesting glimpses of the future.

What’s all this under my thumb? That’s the first thought I had when using the SteelSeries Rival 500 mouse (available for $80 on Amazon), and most likely the first thought anyone would have with this device—there’s a lot to take in. But is a unique and intuitive layout under the thumb enough to make up for the Rival 500’s shortcomings? Or is it just one standout feature that’ll hopefully carry forward into other, better mice in the future?

Design: Glimpse the future

Okay, so the thumb region. I’ve never been a huge fan of so-called “telephone” layouts on MOBA/MMO mice—the Razer Naga, the Roccat Nyth, etc. Maybe I just don’t have the thumb dexterity, but I’ve always found them a bit awkward and fumbly even after months of use with various models. It’s just too crowded, too many buttons to navigate in the heat of battle.

But the Rival 500? I’d take this setup on any mouse. Instead of plopping 12 tiny buttons underneath your thumb, the Rival 500 surrounds it with a ring of five buttons, plus a sixth underneath the knuckle.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

It’s the most intuitive setup I’ve ever used. The two at the bottom protrude like a thumb rest—and indeed can be locked into place if that’s what you’d prefer—but paddle down under a bit of pressure. The three above are your average elongated thumb buttons, only there are three instead of the standard two, and twisting your thumb upwards is enough to trigger any of them.

And then there’s the sixth button, nestled under your knuckle. It’s out of the way, so you can still grip the Rival 500 without fear of misfires, but accessed easy enough by rocking your thumb back.

It’s brilliant. Easily the Rival 500’s strongest feature, and I hope to see this sort of setup make its way into non-MMO mice in the future. That’s high praise coming from me, as I’ve long pilloried mice with tons of buttons. When it’s this easy to use though, why not opt for another five buttons?

The downsides

IDG / Hayden Dingman

The other standout feature of the Rival 500 is supposed to be its “Tactile Alerts” system. I was really interested in this when I first heard of it, as it’s basically a controller rumble (or your phone’s vibration notifications) in a mouse. Meant for gaming, the idea is that when certain actions happen (say, skill cooldowns) the mouse will vibrate to alert you.

The problem: Tactile Alerts, like RGB LED effects, require implementation. From what I can tell, it’s currently found in only three games—Counter-Strike, Dota 2, and Minecraft. More are on the way, but it’s hardly a must-have feature at the moment.

And I can’t imagine many Counter-Strike pros buying this mouse, to be honest. It has the famed PWM 3360 sensor inside, which is loved by plenty of shooter fans for its accuracy and tracking, but the Rival 500’s both heavy and overlarge.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

That leaves you with…two games. Both are immensely popular games, for sure! But I’m left feeling much the same about Tactile Alerts as I feel about RGB effects in games. It’d be cool if all companies got together, implemented this tech with a single standard, convinced game developers there was a market, and got it added into all major game releases. Instead, you’ll probably forget about it until one day you’re playing Minecraft and think, “Wait, did my mouse just vibrate or was it my phone?” the same way I’m momentarily confused every time I’m using a Razer keyboard, boot up Overwatch, and the lights all go haywire.

Bottom line

But we need more forward-thinking mice. The Rival 500’s thumb layout? Brilliant. One of the most innovative I’ve used in years, and deserving to be implemented in more (and better) devices pronto. Then there’s Tactile Alerts, which are borderline-useless in their current state but could perhaps be even more revolutionary done right than the thumb layout.

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Apple Watch Ultra 2: Everything We Know And What We Want To See

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Update, July 14, 2023 (02:04 PM ET): We have updated our Apple Watch Ultra 2 hub with rumors about Apple switching to 3D printing for the Ultra’s titanium components.

Original article: Following longstanding rumors, Apple released a “pro” smartwatch in 2023 in the form of the Apple Watch Ultra. The product offers various enhancements over other Apple Watch models, such as superior battery life, extra durability, a brighter screen, and a dedicated action button. Can we expect an Apple Ultra 2nd generation? What upgrades might it have, and when could it ship? We’ve pieced together all the Apple Watch Ultra 2 rumors and the upgrades we’d like to see.

Will there be an Apple Watch Ultra 2?

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

There will almost certainly be an Apple Watch Ultra 2. While Apple never shares actual unit sales, the Ultra was well-reviewed by Android Authority and many other outlets. Apple also rarely launches a new product category without making a serious commitment.

There have also been rumors about a new Ultra, which we cover below. Those rumors could all turn out to be wrong, or Apple could spontaneously change its mind, but we doubt it.

When is the Apple Watch Ultra 2 release date?

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Original (Series 0): April 2024

Series 1 and 2: September 2024

Series 3: September 2023

Series 4: September 2023

Series 5: September 2023

Series 6 and SE (1st gen): September 2023

Series 7: October 2023

Series 8, Ultra, and SE (2nd gen): September 2023

The likely candidate for the Apple Watch Ultra 2 launch is September 2023 since Apple has rarely stepped outside its September update window. It could miss that month, but even if it does, we wouldn’t expect a launch any later than October. Apple insider Mark Gurman claims that an updated version of the Apple Watch Ultra should appear alongside the iPhone 15 this fall. Ming-Chi Kuo, another Apple analyst, also claims the watch will come later this year. However, some reports have suggested that the watch may have been delayed due to the production costs of new display technology expected to appear in the device. That said, Apple could also skip a year as the company did between the Apple Watch SE and SE 2023.

What specs and features will the Apple Watch Ultra 2 have?

We have plenty of rumors related to the Apple Watch Ultra 2. We’ve rounded up the best ones below.

What will the Apple Watch Ultra 2 price be?

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

This is a genuine mystery. In the absence of contrary evidence, we’re assuming Apple will stick with the $799 US price tag of the original. That’s already a lot to ask for a smartwatch, and it helps undercut some competing watches like the Garmin Epix Pro.

The company has been under a lot of pressure with supply chain and inflation issues, however, not to mention its tendency towards features that increase manufacturing costs. That could lead to a price bump.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: What we want to see

We have a lot of credible rumors listed above. Below, though, we have things we hope to see. There are no rumors for these features (yet), but it sure would be great if Apple brought them to the table.

A fully customizable action button

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Ultra’s action button makes it more convenient than a regular Apple Watch in a lot of situations. It’s simpler to do things like open the Workout app, mark a Backtrack point, or record a run precisely when it starts. However, Apple currently limits customization to a narrow range of options.

Sooner or later we’re expecting Apple to open up the button’s versatility — it’s just a matter of building out support in watchOS. You can already assign it to an action created in the iPhone Shortcuts app, but we’d like to be able to launch any app on a Watch, and ideally assign the button to specific commands within those apps.

While we’re at it, Apple should modify the button so it’s harder to press accidentally. We encountered accidental presses while wearing wrist wraps for weightlifting.

Qi2 charging

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Recently the Wireless Power Consortium announced plans for Qi2, an upgrade to the ubiquitous Qi standard. Little is known so far, but the WPC says that Apple’s MagSafe technology is being integrated. This should improve charging efficiency by keeping coils aligned.

Qi2 might not sound important for a new Ultra, since Apple Watches have used magnetic charging pucks since the beginning. What you might not remember is that Watches have never supported Qi — that’s one of the reasons you need a purpose-built charger to top them up. Adding Qi2 could open up access to more third-party accessories, or even reusing more of Apple’s own.

Steelseries Aerox 9 Wireless Review: A Premium, Function

Pros

18 easily programmable buttons

Weighs only 89 grams

Quick and responsive

Dual Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4Ghz wireless

Cons

Some buttons on the side grid are hard to reach

Our Verdict

The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is lightweight and quick, and includes plenty of customizable options for serious MMO/MOBA gamers. It’s one of the best mice we’ve tested.

Best Prices Today: SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless

The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is a rare find among gaming mice in that it has 18 programmable buttons but weighs just 89 grams. These two factors alone should delight gamers—especially MOBA and MMO players looking for more buttons to deploy commands and macros. Even better, the Aerox 9 Wireless backs this up with a quick 18,000 CPI sensor and dual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The secret sauce to its lightweight design is a honeycomb-mesh covering that runs almost the entire length of the mouse. Apart from keeping its weight in check, this design also gives the Aerox 9 Wireless a futuristic look, and provides a brilliant birds-eye view of the flashy RGB lighting inside.

The Aerox 9 Wireless is also extremely comfortable—as long as you use a palm or fingertip grip. If you’re more of a claw-grip player, this mouse probably isn’t for you, since its punctuated top can be a little awkward against your fingertips.

This review is part of our best wireless gaming mice roundup. Go there to learn more about how we test wireless mice and to find reviews of other top contenders.

SteelSeries Aerox 9 design and build

Opening the box, my first impression was that the mouse is fairly large, but has a minimalist profile. There are no fancy curves, flaps or flares like you might see in other gaming mice.

The 18 buttons seem very well placed for one’s fingers. Apart from the two main ones on the top, there’s a button that’s easily reachable by your middle finger at the top-center behind the mouse wheel. This button lets you cycle through five different CPI profiles that adjust the mouse’s sensitivity levels.

The mouse wheel itself has three buttons in one, including both left and right tilt buttons, but the main body of buttons is a grid of 12 located on the left-hand side. This grid is accessible via your thumb and is colored gray, which contrasts nicely with the mouse’s black matte aesthetic.  

The Aerox 9’s top mesh design will be familiar to gamers who’ve used the similarly designed SteelSeries Aerox 5. If you haven’t, you’d be forgiven for thinking it compromises functionality. This is simply not the case. Despite its plenitude of holes, the mouse is remarkably sturdy. The top mesh didn’t move an iota when I tested it, holding its form during intense gameplay.

The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless boasts a honeycomb top that helps the mouse achieve its 89 gram lightweight design.

Dominic Bayley/IDG

The RBG lighting is also a winner. It’s internalized in the mouse body, but it’s no less impressive than in mice that have external RGB lighting. It’s split into three pyramidal zones, which produce some dazzling effects as the light ripples around the mouse’s inner circuitry.  

Being able to peer inside and see all that circuitry unnerved me a little at first, since I often keep a cup of coffee just inches away from my mouse pad and was a little concerned about spillage. But according to SteelSeries, the internals are protected by an IP54-rated Aquabarrier, which helped put my mind at ease.

One surprising benefit of the unique “open top” design was that my hand got less sweaty on hot days. Without a solid lump of plastic beneath it, the extra aeration proved very comfortable in extended gaming sessions.

SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless Performance

SteelSeries has armed the Aerox 9 Wireless with its highly capable proprietary 18,000 CPI TrueMove Air sensor, which includes 400 IPS tracking and 40G acceleration. Admittedly, it isn’t as quick as the Razer Naga Pro’s 20,000 DPI optical sensor. Still, it’s proven itself worthy in other competitive SteelSeries gaming mice and it performed well in my tests.

Trying out the Aerox 9 Wireless in Call of Duty: Black Ops, it felt light and easy to move. The sensor had no problems keeping up with my rapid hand movements, be they long or short. The mouse’s tracking also seemed highly accurate, and pinpointing targets was a breeze. Plus, the solid, high-shaped top provided plenty of stability in my palm grip when I needed to make repetitive movements.

Helping the Aerox 9 glide smoothly across my desk are PTFE glide skates on the underside. There’s one in the front and back, as well as one around the mouse’s sensor. These worked like a dream, even when I wasn’t using a mouse mat.

The honeycomb design gives the Aerox 9 extra aeration, making it very comfortable in extended gaming sessions.

Dominic Bayley/IDG

The main buttons felt comfortable, too. They have a contoured center that cradled my fingers perfectly in a natural grip. However, they aren’t the widest of buttons, and gamers with large fingers may prefer a little more room here.

To test the side grid of buttons (which are without mechanical switches), I mapped commands in an old favorite MMORPG, Gloria Victis. On the whole, the grid was a pleasure to use and greatly simplified my gameplay. The majority of buttons were easy to find and responsive. However, I did find myself having to stretch my thumb out to reach for buttons 3 and 6—this despite SteelSeries having neatly arranged the buttons in three clearly defined lines. Still, this was never a major problem that affected my gameplay.

On the upside, the grid buttons are quite firm, so you’re unlikely to trigger them by mistake when you don’t want to.

Aerox 9’s dual connectivity includes both Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4Ghz wireless options. As a laptop reviewer, I found this functionality incredibly useful for jumping between laptops. I could keep the dongle inserted for gaming in one rig and use Bluetooth while writing a review on another. You will need to make sure your laptop has a USB-C port to plug in the Wi-Fi dongle, though.     

The SteelSeries Aerox 9 is rated for 150 hours of battery life, which is a decent amount of time that won’t see you rushing to plug it in every time you play. The caveat is that that battery life is the maximum when RGB lighting is switched off, so expect it to drain down a lot faster when lighting is activated.

SteelSeries GG Software

If you typically find yourself spending time customizing a gaming mouse, make it this one. With so many buttons to map, the Aerox 9 Wireless can be a game changer in MMO/MOBA games where you seldom have enough. Conveniently, the 18 buttons can be assigned commands or macros at the level of the SteelSeries GG app, rather than having to fiddle around within each game’s controls menu. This will save you a heap of time.

For Gloria Victis I mapped out commands for Interact, Kick, Display Map, Sheathe/Unsheathe Weapon and Bandage Ally, and I still had many more buttons left over that I could have programmed in. This took just two minutes but made a world of difference to my gameplay.

Here we see all the programming options for mapping buttons to Gloria Victis.

Dominic Bayley/IDG

RGB lighting zones, mouse sensitivity and responsiveness can also be quickly changed in SteelSeries GG. For mouse responsiveness, you can fine tune and adjust the polling rate and the mouse’s acceleration or deceleration to find a desired setting.

SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless: Should you buy it?

The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is an ingeniously designed wireless gaming mouse that features 18 programmable buttons but weighs just 89g. The mouse’s extensive button options, quick sensor and dual connectivity should make it a highly attractive mouse for both competitive and casual gamers, especially MMO and MOBA gamers who can map commands and macros all day long. We can’t recommend it highly enough.

Lenovo Yoga 9I 14 (2024) Review: The Pinnacle Of Design

Pros

Thin, attractive design

Supports USB-C 4 with all the extras

Vivid, rich OLED display

Excellent sound quality

Fast, especially for its size

Cons

Relies heavily on USB-C 

Fan noise can be annoying

Our Verdict

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch uses Intel’s 12th-gen Core processors to deliver solid performance in a compact machine.

A decade has passed since Lenovo introduced the first Yoga 2-in-1. Though Microsoft’s Surface devices set the trend, it was arguably the high-volume Yoga line that became the true vanguard of mainstream convertible design. Lenovo’s Yoga 9i 14-inch (2024) builds on this decade of experience in all the right ways. From the thin profile to the powerful internals, this year’s model delivers blazing fast performance in a tiny package. Although the fan noise can be a bit loud and we feel as though it relies too much on USB-C, overall we were impressed with this machine.

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch specifications

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch is among the first laptops with Intel’s new 12th-Gen Core mobile processors targeting thin-and-light machines. Though thin, the laptop packs four performance cores and eight efficiency cores for a total of 12. 

CPU: Intel Core i7-1260P

Memory: 16GB

Graphics/GPU: Intel Iris Xe (96 EUs)

Display: 3,840 x 2,160 IPS with HDR support

Storage: 1TB

Webcam: 1080p with IR

Connectivity: 2x USB-C 4.0 / Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, combo headphone/mic

Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5

Biometrics: Fingerprint reader

Dimensions: 12.57 inches wide x 8.53 inches deep x .64 inches thick

Weight: 3.02 pounds

Design and build quality

IDG / Matthew Elliott

Lenovo doesn’t get enough credit for its design. I can’t think of another Windows laptop maker so consistently willing to go off script and the Yoga 9i 14-inch is a prime example of its willingness to depart from the norm.

From a distance, the Yoga 9i looks like most Windows 2-in-1s. It’s a clamshell design with a rotating hinge that folds back 360 degrees, effectively turning the laptop into a tablet. Approach it, however, and you’ll notice the laptop is adorned with round, gleaming chrome edges across the top and bottom half. 

It’s an eye-catching look with practical benefits. The rounded edges mean you never encounter a hard touch point while maneuvering the laptop. This will be a minor point for many. After all, it’s not like other 2-in-1s will slice your finger. Still, the Yoga 9i is more inviting than the norm.

The Yoga 9i’s low weight and touchscreen further improves ease of use. It’s a great machine to carry with one hand or spin around to share something with a friend or co-worker across a table. It’s not small or light enough to be an iPad replacement, but the 9i comes as close as you can expect from a device without a detachable keyboard. That’s good news if you need a 2-in-1 for use in cramped spaces or for travel.

Keyboard and trackpad

IDG / Matthew Elliott

The Yoga 9i 14-inch offers a quality keyboard despite its thin profile. Key travel is good and has a firm, pleasant bottoming action. The layout is also excellent and makes full use of the laptop’s 14-inch size. Key caps are reasonably sized yet there’s plenty of space between keys.

Several unique keys can be found on the keyboard’s right side. These include a key that turns the Windows system-wide dark mode setting on or off and one that flips through performance modes. Though a nice extra, they’re not a must-have and won’t change how most people use the 2-in-1. The keyboard has a backlight and uses a light sensor to automatically turn it on in a dark room (it can also be activated manually). 

I appreciate the Yoga 9i’s large touchpad. It measures about 5 inches across and three inches deep. This is a great size for a thin, portable 2-in-1 and provides plenty of room for Windows’ multi-touch gestures. The touchpad does a good job of rejecting unintended input, which is important, as its large size means my palms came to rest on its surface. 

Display, audio

IDG / Matthew Elliott

The base Yoga 9i 14-inch has a IPS touchscreen with 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, but my review unit had the upgraded OLED touchscreen with 3,840 x 2,400 resolution. This makes for a 16:10 aspect ratio which provides extra vertical screen real estate that’s useful when multitasking or viewing vertically scrolling content like web pages or PDF documents. Text clarity is excellent, as 323 pixels are crammed into each inch. Eagle-eyed users might detect a fine speckled pattern in bright white documents, a likely result of the OLED screen’s particular subpixel layout, but I didn’t find it distracting.

Image quality is otherwise excellent. The Yoga 9i’s display has accurate color, a wide color gamut spanning up to 99% of DCI-P3, a high maximum brightness above 400 nits, and deep black levels thanks to the OLED display panel. Images and movies look vivid, crisp, and have a realistic sense of dimensionality that draws in your eye.

The display is glossy, so glare can be a problem. The maximum brightness of 400 nits allows use even when beside a sunlit window but some reflections will be obvious. 

In another departure from the norm, the Yoga 9i leans hard into audio quality. The hinge doubles as a miniature Dolby Atmos soundbar. It works well, delivering a loud, throaty presentation that is suited to music and movies but still clear enough for podcasts. Maximum volume is high enough to fill an office, though this sometimes muddies the sound in bass-heavy tracks. This is an excellent sound system for a slim 2-in-1. 

Webcam, microphone, biometrics

A 1080p camera standard on the Yoga 9i 14-inch. This is great to see on any premium Windows device and remains the exception, not the rule. It’s an obvious upgrade over 720p, offering a big leap in sharpness and more accurate, vivid color. Exposure is still an issue in unevenly lit rooms, however, and using it at night will introduce a ton of noise. The camera offers a small physical privacy shutter, which is a nice touch. 

The laptop’s dual microphone setup performs as expected. It’s usable from several feet away from the laptop. You can even speak from across a small room if you raise your voice. Quality is thin and distant, however, and distinctly different from using a real microphone. 

Biometric login is offered through both a fingerprint reader and facial recognition. The fingerprint reader works well but, as always, it can be fooled by greasy or dirty fingerprints. Facial recognition through Windows Hello is the quicker, more reliable method. It works well even in a dark room.

Connectivity

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch has a pair of USB-C 4 / Thunderbolt 4 ports. These include DisplayPort Alternate Mode for connecting displays and can charge the laptop when connected to a USB-C power source. With the right adapters, these versatile ports can be used to attach a HDMI or DisplayPort display, connect to the Internet over wired Ethernet, or drive multiple additional USB ports in a USB hub. 

While the lack of wired connectivity will annoy some, it’s typical for the premium 2-in-1 space. Want more wired connectivity? You’ll need to put up with a heavier, thicker machine. 

Wireless connectivity is provided by Wi-Fi 6 along with Bluetooth 5.1. The wireless adapter provided very strong, reliable performance in my testing, dealing well with all corners of my home. Bluetooth was functional up to about 25 feet with walls between devices.

Performance

The Yoga 9i 14-inch is an interesting test of the Intel Core i7-1260P’s capabilities. This new 12th-Gen Intel Core processor packs a total of 12 processor cores (four P-Cores, 8 E-Cores) plus Intel Xe graphics. It looks great on paper.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

PCMark 10 gets the Yoga 9i with i7-1260P off to a mediocre start. The benchmark score of 5,280 is not bad, but it doesn’t defeat the prior model with an Intel Core i7-1195G7 processor. It also falls behind the Ryzen 5700U. 

IDG / Matthew Elliott

The heavily multi-threaded Cinebench R15 benchmark is a different story. It puts the cores to work for an outstanding score of 1,837. This absolutely blows away the prior Core i7-1195G7 and comes surprisingly close to the Ryzen 7 5700H. Intel’s many-core approach pays off here.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

This remains true in Handbrake, another heavily multithreaded benchmark. Transcoding a 4K file of the short film Tears of Steel takes over an hour, which is a long time, but it’s about a half-hour less than prior Intel processors. The Core i7-1260P does not score as close to the Ryzen 7 5700H as in Cinebench, however.

But what about graphics? 

IDG / Matthew Elliott

The Core i7-1260P offers many processor cores but doesn’t make big changes to integrated graphics. That’s fine, as Intel’s Iris Xe with 96 execution units (EUs) remains capable for its category. It delivered a score of 1,985 in 3DMark Time Spy. This is the match for the best Intel integrated graphics we’ve tested in the past and will match or beat most Ryzen mobile APUs, as well. 

Games from the Xbox One / PlayStation 4 era are typically playable at 30 FPS or better, though the most demanding will require cuts in resolution and detail settings. Older games, like Counter-Strike or League of Legends, can sustain 60 FPS at 1080p. 

There’s just one issue to be aware of – noise. The Yoga 9i is quiet at idle but a real whirlwind at full tilt. It’s enough to annoy anyone in the same room if the laptop is left in the open. This is an area where Intel-powered laptops just can’t compete with Apple’s nearly silent MacBook line. 

Battery life

Lenovo squeezes a large 75 watt-hour battery into the slim Yoga 9i 14-inch. This is serious capacity for a 2-in-1 and good news for endurance. 

IDG / Matthew Elliott

The Yoga 9i lasted 12 hours and 12 minutes in our standard battery test, which loops a local 4K video file until the laptop dies. This is far from a record and a bit less than the prior Yoga 9i model, but I’d still call it better than average. 

Real-world observed battery life was not as impressive. The laptop averaged about seven hours of endurance in a workload of heavy web browsing, document editing, and occasional photo editing. The 4K OLED display is a likely factor, as these screens can be power-hungry at high brightness. 

Software

The product page for Lenovo’s Yoga 9i touts several partnerships including Amazon Alexa for PC and three free months of Xbox Game Pass. Free stuff is nice, but it hints at a problem: there’s a lot of bloatware. 

Conclusion

Lenovo’s Yoga 9i 14-inch is an excellent addition to the company’s long line of capable premium 2-in-1s. It packs strong performance, a great OLED display, excellent audio, a pleasant keyboard, a large touchpad, and future-proof connectivity into one compact, versatile package. Though Intel’s new Core i7-1260P is performant enough for many professionals and creators, the Yoga 9i’s size and connectivity makes it ideal for travelers, students, and everyday users who want a premium Windows experience. 

Iphone 14 Series: Design, Features, Price And More

The iPhone 14 lineup has been announced. The lineup consists of four devices: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Finally, we bid adieu to the notch on the 14 Pro series, which Apple initially introduced with the iPhone X in 2023.

The notch is replaced by a pill-shaped cutout housing the camera and Face-ID sensors, which Apple calls the Dynamic Island. Also, the iPhone mini era finally ends, with the iPhone 13 mini being the last mini-sized iPhone you can get. Let’s look at each of the iPhones released at Apple’s Far Out event on September 7, 2023.  

iPhone 14 Pro unboxing and first impressions

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus

Insignificant sales figures ushered the end of the iPhone mini lineup. Compared to the normal 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and 13, the iPhone 12 and 13 mini devices had very low sales figures. And, since people prefer larger phones, Apple has introduced a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus alongside the 6.1-inch iPhone 14.   

However, apart from the larger size of the iPhone 14 Plus, the iPhone 14 has incremental upgrades compared to the iPhone 13. Keep these side by side, and you won’t be able to tell them apart.  

Build and design of the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus 

The iPhone 14 has a 6.1-inch display, and the iPhone 14 Plus has a 6.7-inch display. Both models have ceramic shield glass on the front and the back and are built with aerospace-grade aluminum. The iPhones have IP68 dust and water resistance.  

Apart from these changes, in terms of design, everything is the same. The notch is the same size; the camera module is the same size. The camera alignment remains diagonal, and so forth. Even though the processor on the iPhone 14 is the A15 Bionic SoC, there are improvements to the performance.

Performance of the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus  

The A15 Bionic has a 6-core CPU with 2 high-performance and 4-efficiency cores. To push the limits of machine learning, it has a 16-core Neural Engine. The same Image signal processor does not see any new changes but enables better photography thanks to new camera sensors on the iPhone 14.

Camera improvements to iPhone 14 and 14 Plus

The primary sensor on the standard iPhone 14 and 14 Plus has been upgraded to a larger 12MP sensor with larger pixels at 1.9 μm (microns), with an f/1.5 aperture while retaining sensor-shift OIS capabilities. A faster aperture reduces motion blur and retains details.

Apple claims a 49% improvement in low-light scenarios, and the Night Mode exposure is now 2 times faster than its predecessor. The front camera is upgraded to a true-depth 12MP sensor with an f/1.9 aperture. Again, Apple claims low light performance has a 38% increase over its predecessor.  

Apart from hardware upgrades, we also see Autofocus capabilities in the front camera for the first time. When paired with the true-depth capabilities of the sensor, it can focus faster, even in low light conditions.  

Photonic Engine is a new feature introduced with iPhone 14 which applies deep fusion to uncompressed images that help retain more information and details. All the camera sensors on the iPhone 14 can shoot up to 2 times better low light images on all 3 cameras.  

We’re aware that iPhones shoot the best quality videos. But there’s always scope for improvement, so Apple has introduced the Action mode. It eliminates the need to carry a gimbal, provides a smooth and stable video, and supports Dolby Vision HDR.  

No Sim tray on the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus 

Yes, you read that right. All the models in the iPhone 14 series will no longer have a physical sim card slot. This only applies to iPhones sold in the US. It is a helpful feature to improve the security of your iPhone because no one can remove the sim if your iPhone is lost or stolen.  

Regarding security features, we also have Crash detection thanks to the new High dynamic range gyroscope and dual-core accelerometer, which can detect 256Gs and automatically provide emergency services. 

Another revolutionary security feature is Emergency SOS via satellite. The feature shows where to point your iPhone to establish a satellite connection and stay connected as the satellite moves.  

iPhone 14 and 14 Plus colors and pricing 

The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are available in 5 color options: Blue, Purple, Midnight, Starlight, and PRODUCT Red. Prices for the iPhone 14 begin at $799, and the iPhone 14 Plus begins at $899.  

The devices are available for pre-order starting on September 9. the iPhone 14 will be available on September 16, and iPhone 14 Plus will be available on October 7.  

iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max

Apple has finally moved on from the notch after 5 long years. The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max now house the camera and Face-ID sensors in a pill-shaped cutout which Apple calls the Dynamic Island. Let’s dive in and see what’s new with the iPhone 14 Pro series. 

Build and design of the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max 

The iPhone 14 Pro features a 6.1-inch display, while the 14 Pro Max features a 6.7-inch display. The display and the back panel sport ceramic shield protection, and the frame is made from surgical-grade stainless steel. The iPhones have IP68 dust and water resistance. 

The bezels on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are slimmer and have more active areas. To bring the iPhone display to the same level as the Pro Display XDR, it provides a peak HDR brightness of 1600 nits. To further push the limits of the display, it can reach up to 2000 nits of outdoor brightness.

Always on Display has finally made its way to the iPhone. It is available on the iPhone 14 Pro models. And since it is an LTPO panel, it can operate on refresh rates as low as 1Hz. The lock screen goes dim to enable Always on Display, and all the essential information is available even when AOD is enabled, and the display is dimmed down.  

Display Island on iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max 

The notch is replaced by Dynamic Island, which occupies 30% less area as all components are redesigned and fit in a smaller area. The goal of Dynamic Island is to blur the line between hardware and software. Another impressive implementation by Apple is placing the proximity sensor behind the display.

Dynamic Island is a highly adaptive space that fluidly adapts to unique animations and transitions. It displays a ton of information. Whenever you receive notifications and alerts, it expands to notify you.  

For example, if you connect your AirPods to your iPhone, Dynamic Island will expand and confirm your AirPods are connected. There are several such alerts, and they carry a unique design and personality.  

Since Dynamic Island is interactive, you can tap and hold to expose more options or tap on it to go back to the app. It is especially useful on calls as you can tap on it and expand it, displaying all the options.   

Live Activities – a feature introduced with iOS 16 – works seamlessly in integration with Dynamic Island.  

Performance of iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max 

The A16 Bionic SoC powers the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. The chip focuses on Power Efficiency, Display, and Camera. It is built on a 4-nanometer process and has 16 billion transistors which are the most ever in an iPhone. 

Apple claims that A16 Bionic SoC is the fastest smartphone chip ever. But, apart from being built on a 4-nanometer process, the A16 Bionic has 6 CPU cores with 2 high-performance and 4 high-efficiency cores while consuming 20% less power than the A15 Bionic SoC.  

The Neural Engine has 16 cores capable of 17 trillion operations per second. How can we forget the 5-core GPU that enables 50% more memory bandwidth for graphic-intensive games?  

A new Display Engine on the A16 Bionic SoC enables a 1Hz refresh rate, always on display, high peak brightness, etc. It also helps in making the animations and transition of Dynamic Island smoother.  

The CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and the Image Signal Processor work in unison to perform up to 4 trillion transactions per photo. The ISP is also designed to support new generations of technology that help the most powerful Pro camera system on an iPhone.  

Camera upgrades to iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max 

Apple shifted from 8MP sensors to 12MP sensors in 2024. Ever since, all iPhones featured a 12MP sensor, but that changed with iPhone 14 Pro lineup. We hope to see a major leap in photography and videography by introducing a 48MP camera with a quad-pixel sensor.  

The 48MP sensor has an aperture of f/1.78 and 2.44 μm (microns) quad-pixel size. It also features the second generation of Sensor-shift OIS and adopts the popular 24mm focal length renowned for its versatility.  

Quad pixel technology is the process of pixel binning, which groups four pixels into one large quad-pixel. Normal images captured will be in 12MP; to shoot in 48MP, you must resort to ProRAW. Professionals prefer shooting in RAW mode as they can change the images without losing details.  

The 48MP sensor also adds 2X zooming capabilities without losing the quality. This is enabled by binning the pixels of the 48MP sensor and using the 12MP binned sensor to capture 2 times optically zoomed-in image and 4K video. It also helps capture wonderful portrait images.  

The Ultrawide camera is also upgraded to a new 12MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 and a 1.4 μm (microns) pixel size. It delivers up to 3 times improvement in low light images, and major improvements to Macro photography as the lens is sharper and captures more detail. 

The flash gets a massive overhaul and functions as an adaptive flash based on the focal length of the image being shot. We now have an array of 9 LEDs, and the software controls the pattern and intensity of the flash.  

Cinematic Mode also gets an update where it supports 4K video in up to 30 frames per second, 24 frames per second.  

iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max Colors and Pricing 

Apart from the above-listed features, the iPhone 14 Pro lineup also has the features of the iPhone 14 lineup. Crash Detection, Emergency SOS via satellite, eSIM functionality, etc., are available on the iPhone 14 Pro lineup.  

Apple has priced the iPhone 14 Pro at $999 and iPhone 14 Pro Max at $1,099. It is available in four color options: Gold, Silver, Space Black, and Deep Purple.  

Wrapping up… 

Video: What’s new in iPhone 14 Series – Specs, Feature, and Price

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Darryl

Consumer Technology and Motorcycles are the two things that excite Darryl the most. Why? Because Tech helps better people’s lives, and solving people’s problems related to tech is something he enjoys. And what about bikes, you ask? Well, drop a gear and disappear.

Xiaomi Mi Mix Review: Nice To See, Good To Hold…

In typical Xiaomi fashion, the company did not give the Mix a full-blown launch. Instead, they chose to hide the Mix in the Mi Note 2’s shadow, and let the market respond instead of making the push themselves. Heck, they even called the Mix a ‘concept’ phone.

Come CES 2023, Xiaomi are seen showing off the Mi Mix… in white. Again, it’s a phone really tough to get hold of (unless you don’t mind digging a hole in your pocket).

Anyway, let’s get to the Mi Mix.

Xiaomi Mi Mix Review Design and Build

This is the section you need to be in if you’re here to get yourself convinced into getting yourself a Mi Mix. The Mi Mix is unlike any other phone you’ve seen before (unless of course you’d seen the Sharp Aquos Crystal a few years back). It’s a huge phone, with a screen to body ratio that’s quite unnatural for modern phones. Contrary to belief, the Mi Mix does not have the slimmest bezels ever; what it does have is three sides of slim bezel instead of the usual two.

I have to admit, it’s quite refreshing, and most certainly a crowd magnet. Be ready for some awkward second glances (if you’re not used to those, that is) when you pull out the Mi Mix to take snaps at a concert.

The screen on the Mix is a 17:9 6.44-inch display. Since it isn’t a traditional aspect ratio we have here, the pixels on the screen are 1080 x 2040. While it does sound like a tricky number, Xiaomi have tuned MIUI enough to make best use of the available real estate without really making users adjust to it.

Coming back to the design, the Mix is truly something worth gawking at. For a week or so, until you get bored of it and the impracticality starts weighing out the pleasure you get out of its great looks. It’s also the slipperiest smartphone you’ll probably ever have the pleasure of using. I’ve had a couple of heart attacks already, since it’s a really expensive phone and you usually want to be using it in one piece.

Also it turns out that it’s not the best built phone of 2024. Or to put it in other words, it’s a certain ‘handle with care’ device. I managed to chip one edge of the phone somehow, and I swear I don’t even know how. Not something you want to be happening to your heavy investment.

Reminds me of a certain popular set of words usually seen at novelty stores in India 10-15 years back…

Hardware and Performance

I mostly have only good things to say about the Mi Mix’s hardware and performance. It’s a really fast phone, which despite its humongous screen, manages to deliver a battery life that makes it fairly usable.

For starters, the Mi Mix comes with a Snapdragon 821 SoC — one the most powerful smartphones processors out there. With that, it either gets 6GB or 4GB of RAM and lots of storage. The version we tested here was the 4GB RAM/128GB, which despite being the ‘base’ version performed like a champ for the most part.

MIUI being MIUI, does have some really useful features, but also screws up at times. The screw up for me started when I had to get Google Play and other Google services running on to (the unit from Trading Shenzhen did not have these out of the box). After a good 30 minutes of trying I finally got Google running on my phone (the contacts wouldn’t sync, which is what took time).

Thankfully though, that was the end of my troubles with MIUI on the Mi Mix. It’s been smooth sailing, pretty much, since then.

The phone is blazingly fast in firing up apps, takes next to no time saving photos… in other words, the Mi Mix does behave like you’d expect a Snapdragon 821 phone to. After having used the OnePlus 3 for a few months, I will admit that there are situations when you find apps being cached out of the memory, but then it’s not all that bad. No one’s ever gonna buy the Mix for sole performance…

Gizchina News of the week

Where I feel Xiaomi missed a trick though is the display. While it’s a fun panel and everything, a higher (QDH-grade) resolution would’ve sealed the ‘wow’ deal all for once. Another something Xiaomi could’ve tried with the Mix (since it really wasn’t a phone they were betting their future on) is slapping on an OLED panel, just to get the saturation levels up and to make the phone look more like a ninja when the screen wasn’t turned on.

That said, looking at it with a purely objective perspective, the display is nice. It’s a bit reflective sometimes, but then getting the brightness up does the trick. What I don’t like too much about it though are the edges — they’re curved. While curved edges go well with the cartoonish MIUI, they take away a bit of class from the Mi Mix.

The fingerprint sensor on the rear is pretty much spot on all the time. It’ll take you a few days to get used to having your fingerprint scanned on the sensor instead of the camera (it sucks when that happens), but when that does happen you’ll find the sensor working pretty fine. It’s fast, and unless you have really wet hands, it’s going to unlock your phone in no time.

I use the Mix with one SIM, on 4G for the most part. Despite that, the phone has been able to return on average a full day’s use. Given that it does feature a larger-than-average size screen, I feel this is quite impressive. As for screen on time, you can easily expect 5 hours (or more) of screen time. As I write this review, the Mi Mix stands at 38% battery with 3:40 hours of screen on time.

As for the sound output, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The included loudspeaker isn’t loud enough at times, but the sound quality it outputs is manageable. There’s no dearth of bass or abundance of treble, something that a lot of Chinese phones happen to suffer from.

The ‘earpiece’ (or the lack thereof) is interesting. When you’re on a call, it feels like the entire phone is acting as a speaker, which is quite remarkable to be honest. It’s also a fun experience. As for how practically usable it is, I’d say it’s as good as a regular earpiece. The sound will certainly not be the same, but the efficacy will.

Photo Gallery Camera and Photos

Unlike previous Xiaomi phones (the Redmi Pro, Mi 5s Plus) the Mi Mix does not have a dual rear camera setup. It’s again a bit of a surprise because Xiaomi appeared to gone all guns blazing with this one.

That said, the camera does perform fairly decently on the Mix. You are invariably going to hate the front camera sensor’s positioning, but once you realise you’re holding a Mi Mix in your hands, it’ll probably and hopefully (for you) dissipate.

Have a look at some samples.

How about a selfie test?

Xiaomi Mi Mix Review Conclusion

The Mi Mix is a fad. It’s a superb device to look at, to show around, and to use for a few days. Beyond that point, it starts getting a little impractical. You start realising how easy it is to break, start thinking what else you could’ve done with your $800-1000.

I feel the Mix isn’t a phone designed to be tested as a regular phone, but since that’s what we do, we did it anyway. People who want a Mix will get the Mix anyway, regardless of what we (or anyone else, for that matter) say about the phone.

You can purchase the Mix from the following stores.

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