The ultra-wide lens is a bit of a disappointment

I’ve had the opportunity to take a few photos with the new camera set-up of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and I’ve mixed feelings. The ultra-wide lens is somewhat of a disappointment. It isn’t optically image stabilised, and the sensor looks to be smaller than that of the other two lenses.

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Ultra-wide angle lens
Standard wide-angle lens
Ultra-wide angle lens
Standard wide-angle lens

If you open the Ultra-wide photos and blow them up to 100%, you can see that the level of detail is quite a bit poorer than the standard wide-angle lens. Even with decent light, this isn’t brilliant. It’s not completely awful, but it’s not terribly good either.

I’d show you the company photo featuring all of our local employees (we’re rebranding today to align with our German partners). I took one photo ultra-wide and one with the standard wide-angle lens – the ultra-wide is absolutely atrocious. Sure, the lighting could be better, but give the lack of OIS, the picture comes out grainy and people’s facial features are .. lacking. And you can’t make out the sign with the name of one of our meeting rooms. I’d show you an example of this, but since the photo isn’t publically available yet – I’d rather keep both versions offline for now. The standard lens photo was much, much better.

Apple has some work to do. Whether through computational photography and/or hardware improvements (well, hardware improvements – definitely – this puppy needs OIS). But I guess it’s a start. I won’t be using the ultra-wide-angle for anything less where there is decent light – but I’d want to take standard/telephoto versions as well.

Next up is a video test. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I’ve taken advantage of my EE plan to upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro Max. I got a bit of a shock, however, in that the EE app and web site said I had to pay £267 and trade my current phone to upgrade. But I decided to give EE a call on 150 and no mention of that fee ever came up. I only had to pay the £7 delivery fee (and also fork out £45 for a new case).

EE’s app and web site confused the hell out of me

While EE now offers unlimited plans, I’m still going to be on a 100Gb/month plan. This is no bad thing because (a) I go nowhere near 100Gb and (b) I transfer data (or “data gift”) to my iPad Pro 11″ tablet which only has a 20Gb allowance. This will increase my monthly cost by about £5 per month, but for this I get an Amazon Prime Video subscription for the duration of my contract which saves me having fork out for that each month.

Does not having 5G bother me? Not at all. It’s all far too early, and I’ve read many reports that devices that support 5G tend to drain the battery faster and generally tend to get hotter rather quickly. Coverage is still patchy too. Plus there is the matter of additional frequencies. Early devices are not likely able to support any additional frequencies as and when they become available – giving your 5G device a big disadvantage in the years to come.

My main reason for upgrading to the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the battery life. With a claimed extra 5 hours of use, that alone would be worth it for me. But additionally, the phone comes with a better display and of course, improved camera lenses and sensors. The ultra-wide lens/sensor is apparently not as good as the other two lenses/sensors, but would still prove useful.

So we’ll see how good an upgrade this is. I will, of course, be posting updates – including raw footage from any photos and videos that I take.

Unveiled: The iDog & Bone 11 and 11 Pro

It’s that time of year where tech journalists and Apple fans crowd around their devices or TV sets (hooked up to an Apple TV, of course) to watch Tim Cook and chums sell you a new gadget.

Apple Watch Series 5

Nothing mentioned about the internals, so presumably using the same processor and storage as the Series 4. But we now have an always-on display and a new material – titanium. Ceramic makes a come back at an eye-watering starting price of £1,299. For a device that you’ll replace every few years – this for people with very deep pockets.

For me, I’m very happy with the Series 4. No need to replace it for at least another year.

iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max

Both good looking phones with some decent improvements – the biggest of which is the camera system. New image sensors, more computational photography improvements. New ultra-wide lens. The iPhone 11 Pro retains its telephoto lens and gains a third, ultra-wide lens. New Smart Display XDR tech on the Pro means a brighter image. And apparently an extra 5 hours of battery life beyond that of the current iPhone XS Max Pro.

Watching the presentation, it appears that Apple has made significant strides in picture quality. I thought the XS Max image quality was decent, but looking at the sample pictures shows very little to no distortion or noise. And the video quality looks to have been bumped up significantly too. I’ve always complained that the video compression applied to the videos produced by the XS Max was too heavy-handed. Watching the demo video shot – it looked perfect. So for us budding phone photographers and videographers – it looks Apple may have reclaimed the crown. For now.

I should, in theory, be able to upgrade on the 25th of this month – so we’ll see what options my phone provider offers me. The phone costs the same as last year, so there shouldn’t be any big differences in price.

Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade

Apple is playing the long game in the current streaming TV wars. $5/month for a family subscription means they’re undercutting all other services – for some (Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) significantly. The number of original shows is significantly smaller to start off with, but with new additions each month, their back catalogue should be pretty decent in time. With the news that all new iPhone and iPad users will be getting a free year’s subscription to Apple TV+, this can only bolster viewing figures significantly.

Apple Arcade is a subscription service that offers a variety of games that can be played across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac. Again, $5 is very reasonable. Both services just under $10 a month, along with Apple Music, makes for a decent range of services. Apple has priced it just right.

iOS 13, iPadOS13 and MacOS Catalina

Wasn’t announced during the keynote, but it turns out that these are going to be staggered releases.

  • iOS 13: September 19th
  • iPadOS 13: September 30th
  • MacOS Catalina: Sometime in October