New Apple Pencil, the OnePlus Open is official, my Pixel Watch 2 review is live
Plus Pickleball and your health, Amazon's Rivian delivery vans and more
A few weeks ago, I wrote that smartphones have become repetitive and boring, with the exception of foldable phones like Samsung’s Z Fold 5 or Google’s Pixel Fold. And this week, OnePlus officially unveiled the OnePlus Open, its first foldable smartphone.
I’ve had the OnePlus Open for a couple of weeks now but wasn’t able to truly start fully testing it as I waited for a final software build that fixed a bunch of bugs and issues leading up to the phone’s launch. My review unit got the update less than 12 hours before the embargo lifted on Thursday. So, my review will have to wait.
That said, reviews so far have been rather positive. Most review headlines I’ve seen (I don’t read other reviews until after I’ve written mine; I don’t want to be influenced) allude to or flat-out call it the best foldable you can get right now.
I’m not ready to say one way or the other if that’s the case, but I will say that I think from a hardware perspective - and more specifically the build material and hinge - the Open makes the Pixel Fold and Z Fold 5 feel like toys. The camera bump on the Open is, however, another story. It’s ugly af.
My OnePlus Open review will most likely be live next week, so look for it in the next newsletter.
The Apple Pencil (USB-C) is a less expensive option that charges via USB-C and is missing the pressure sensitivity feature the rest of the Apple Pencil lineup offers. Think of this as a Pencil for those who only need something to take notes on their iPad with. It’s not for artists. It’s meant for people like me.
But the new Apple Pencil highlights just how confusing and crazy Apple’s iPad lineup is right now. I mean, it took three paragraphs for Apple to explain which model of Apple Pencil works with which iPad. Here it is, directly from the press release:
The new Apple Pencil is the most affordable model, making it ideal for everyday productivity and creativity. With USB-C charging and pairing, the new Apple Pencil is great for iPad (10th generation) users and also works with all iPad models that have a USB-C port, including iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad mini.
Apple Pencil (1st generation) supports pressure sensitivity, delivering a remarkably fluid and natural drawing experience. Apple Pencil (1st generation) works with iPad (10th generation), and the Lightning port on iPad (9th generation) makes it easy to quickly connect Apple Pencil (1st generation) for pairing and charging.
Apple Pencil (2nd generation) further enhances and streamlines professional workflows with support for pressure, the double-tap gesture, and Apple Pencil hover on iPad Pro models with M2. Compatible with iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad mini models, Apple Pencil (2nd generation) features a matte finish and flat side that supports magnetic pairing and charging.
… what? I’m still trying to make sense of it.
There’s also a chart that compares the features of each Apple Pencil that made me literally laugh out loud when I saw it.
Apple found a way to make the task of buying a stylus feel like a process that requires a complicated decision tree, and it’s all because there are far too many iPad models that overlap in features and design.
Hopefully, we see Apple refine its iPad offering next year. It’s desperately needed.
Stories I had published this week:
My Pixel Watch 2 review went live on The Street this week. The gist of it? Google’s on the right track with the hardware and software features, including new Wear OS 4 features and Fitbit health. I do wish, however, that there were multiple sizes of the watch. Read the full review here.
I rounded up a bunch of MagSafe battery packs, tested them, and then wrote about it for Pocket-lint. MagSafe is lowkey one of my favorite features added to the iPhone in the last five years. I use it daily, without even thinking about it. Read the roundup and check out the top picks here. Or, if you’d rather just cut to the chase and buy the top pick, you can do that here.
Twelve South launched the TimePorter this week. It’s an Apple Watch band organizer that you mount on your wall. It’s a fun accessory for those who have a lot of Apple Watch bands. I gave it a quick test for CNN Underscored. Read about Twelve South’s TimePorter here.
Android 14 launched earlier this month and with it came a bunch of new features. One such feature, albeit currently limited to the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, is an AI Wallpaper Generator. You fill in the ad-lib style prompt and a few seconds later you get custom wallpapers you can use on your phone. I covered how to use the new feature and included plenty of examples in a story for Pocket-lint. Read the story here.
Apple released iPadOS 17 last month and I finally had a chance to write up all of my favorite hidden features in the update for Pocket-lint. Did you know you can now use a webcam with the iPad for video calls? Or what about the fact you can now customize your lock screen, complete with widgets? Read all of my favorite iPadOS 17 hidden features here.
Other interesting tidbits:
Amazon revealed it now has 10,000 Rivian-made electric delivery vehicles in its fleet. That’s double what it had just a few months ago. I’ve seen a few of these vans in person at the Rivian service center in Denver waiting for delivery, but have yet to see one actually out making deliveries. Then again, I live 40 miles away from an Amazon hub.
Streaming services are getting way too expensive. After rate hikes from Discovery+, Hulu, and Disney+ in recent months, Netflix is once again raising its prices. The premium plan is going from $20 a month to $23, while the basic plan is going from $10 to $12. For the first time since signing up for the streaming service, I lowered my plan, giving up 4K video quality, and opting for the $15.50 1080p plan.
Do you play pickleball? If so, check out the results of a recent study conducted by Apple using Apple Watch data. While it’s not a huge surprise that pickleball and tennis are great workouts, it’s fascinating to read about all of the data and metrics Apple is able to put together to provide a bigger picture of the overall health impact a particular sport has.
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