Good job I handed back my Note 7 and got a refund..

.. because there have been at least five reports of replacement Note 7 units exploding within the past two weeks.  And Royal Mail apparently won’t touch any parcels that have a Samsung mobile device in it.

The refund from the Note 7 went on the iPhone 7 instead.  A shame as I really liked the Note 7 – but Samsung’s rush to market has now caused it insufferable damage and it’s going to be extremely difficult trusting them with future mobile devices (and washing machines) going forward.

The Great Apple Break Down

It’s been an absolute pain in the arse this past month for all things tech-related.  We’ve had Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall shenanigans, and now Apple’s new IOS release caused temporary bricking as soon as it was released due to a corrupt over the air image.

I was pretty miffed when I updated the 9.7″ iPad Pro OTA (over the air) and found it wanted to be connected to iTunes.  Apple advertises this as a standalone computer.  A standalone computer shouldn’t need another computer to be able to fix update problems.  Does Apple expect us to own two or more computers as a consequence?  Even if you had two iPad Pros, it wouldn’t have fixed the issue – it must be a full on desktop machine (MacOS or Windows) running iTunes.

Except because when I got home, Apple’s iCloud services were in a mess.  In order to perform a manual update/restore of the iPad, iTunes had to download version 9.3.5 of iOS first.  Took well over an hour.  Couldn’t update iTunes via the normal means because Apple’s servers were completely borked.  But thankfully when 9.3.5 downloaded and was applied to the iPad Pro via a USB cable connected to the Dell, the iPad eventually sprung back into life and all settings and data was preserved.  Unlike last time, when the hardware was completely knackered and I had to get entire iPad replaced. So a big phew! there.

As iTunes (with a vastly improved interface for managing Apple Music) wasn’t updating, it was actually quicker to download the installer file from Apple’s web site and update it that way.  I could then update both iPads to version 10 of iOS.

How I do wish Apple would take better care of iOS releases.

To ease the pain somewhat, I discovered that Apple has added practically every single Studio Ghibli soundtrack album to Apple Music, and spent a very happy evening listening to some classic Joe Hisaishi music.

iPhone 7 Unboxing Day

Update: Meanwhile, in Australia, Galaxy Note 7’s are banned on three Australian airlines. For how long is anybody’s guess, but as nobody can be sure that somebody is carrying a non-defective replacement, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry.

After iPhone7-mas, we’ll soon have iPhone Unboxing Day.  That’ll be September 16th.  But will I be trading my Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for a fancy pants iPhone 7 Plus?  Very likely given the very slick presentation, the phone’s telephoto lens, quad-core A10 processor (one pair for performance, another pair for efficiency), cinema colour optimised display, and – for me, this is perhaps the most important – a static force-touch home button with haptic feedback.

Very likely given the very slick presentation, the phone’s telephoto lens, quad-core A10 processor (one pair for performance, another pair for efficiency), cinema colour optimised display, and – for me, this is perhaps the most important – a static force-touch home button with haptic feedback. When I’ve used previous iPhones, I’ve always felt the home button to be something that could just stop working at any moment.  And indeed, this actually did happen (iPhone 5, I think).  So Apple to incorporate from other products (Mac’s touchpad) within its flagship smartphone product is a darn good move IMHO.  The fewer moving parts, the better.

Personally not bothered by the lack of a headphone socket.  Bluetooth has been a regular thing for me for over a year.  Like Apple, I believe the fewer cables the better.  Not interested in AirPods because I can imagine that even with the case they’re going to get lost.  Also, as somebody remarked on Twitter, it looks as though you’ve got tiny dicks in your ear (their words, not mine).

My journey back and forth between iOS and Android has been a very good learning experience.  There are many, many things I like about Android – but there is still the problem of fragmentation.  It’s considerably better than it used to be, and indeed the Galaxy S7 Edge has just received the September security update from Google (but missed out on the August one).  That I can swap out the default SMS/messenger software for a third party one is also commendable – although the Gear smartwatch software will have a right old moan about it.  I think next time I’ll invest in a second, cheaper Android phone (such as the OnePlus Three) as an Android device to ensure that I’m kept up to date with developments (also handy for dating purposes – I get very nervous handing out my phone number, and I’ve changed my number twice over the past three years).

One thing that interests me about going back to iOS, and also one of the thing that makes me the most nervous given my experience with Apple online services – is the use of iCloud to store one’s entire photo archive.  I still think Apple should – maybe as either part of AppleCare+ or similar – a paid SLA that protects the content of anything uploaded to their servers.  And/or allow third parties to be able to use all iCloud services to take backups of data (in the same way I pay a third party a nominal fee to backup my entire Google Apps account – email, Drive contents, etc).  Apple’s Photos app is still one of the strongest photo management tools I’ve come across and it makes it very easy to split photos into separate events.  With Adobe Lightroom, I find it to be a massive PITA organising photos into events.

Then there’s the dual lens system in the iPhone 7 Plus.  One wide angle lens, the other a telephoto lens to offer optical zoom for the first time in an iPhone.  With the promise of superior digital optical zoom thanks to a reworked Apple Image Processor combined with the optical zoom, photography on an iPhone looks to have been taken up quite a significant notch.  But what REALLY caught me eye was the (future) ability to take DLSR quality Bokeh photographs.  Just how well this is going to work in the real world has yet to be seen, but the demonstration photos shown in the presentation were extremely impressive.  I doubt that the iPhone 7 Plus’ camera will have an autofocus system as fast as that implemented by Samsung in its S7/Note 7 series, but I’ve never found it to be a big problem in the past.

The one thing that Apple really needs to work on is wireless charging.

As an aside, but still relevant, the Apple Watch Series 2 looks to be an excellent incentive to get swimming again.  Waterproof up to 50m with built-in GPS, you can now go running (and not get lost, or at least, track where you’ve been) and swimming (where a GPS won’t be much good – unless you’re planning on swimming the English Channel, I suppose) and keep a complete track of your activity.  It also tells the time.  But like the previous generation, the battery life is of similar strength.  You will have to charge the thing every 24 hours.

Meanwhile in Sonyland.. the PS4 Pro was announced.  UHD gaming, but absolutely no UHD Blu-Ray player.  Well done Sony (the creators of the Blu-Ray format).  They’ve said that “the PS4 is a primarily gaming machine”.  My argument to that is that if you’re providing the ability to playback Blu-Ray movies on disc, if you’re going to offer a UHD version, you should have UHD Blu-Ray player as a consequence….

Happy iPhone 7-mas everybody!

Today Tim Santa Cook will take to the stage to show us the brand new iPhone 7 and what it can do.

With Samsung announcing that the earliest it’ll be swapping out Note 7s with new models using batteries not made by its own manufacturing facility (apparently Samsung will be using a third party for the time being until they can bring it back in-house) on the 19th September, I’m tempted to hand back the phone, get my money back and just bite the bullet and buy the iPhone 7 Plus.

The Galaxy S7 Edge uses a Samsung manufactured battery, so I’m now quite nervous about keeping that one around.  Not that there’s been any reports of an S7 Edge exploding.  But it does make me wonder about Samsung’s confidence in its own manufacturing facilities.

Update: Another two Note 7 explosions – one in Australia, and another in the US.

But we’ll see.  Mr. Cook has seriously got to wow me with the iPhone 7 before I can make that decision.  If he does, then I’ll have to start making arrangements for the return of the Note 7 and selling the S7 Edge.  Fun!  If this is the competition, I might as well just stick with Apple..

How I love technology at times…

In other news, I’m trialling Apple Music again after a three-month absence.  Since then, Apple has rolled out two new iTunes updates (bear in mind I’m still using Windows 10), and have made a couple of changes to the backend logic with regards to Apple Music/iTunes Match.  I won’t touch iTunes Match again with a 50ft bargepole.  Why they’re still offering it given reports that they’ve essentially duplicated the functionality with Apple Music and removed DRM from uploaded non-Apple Music files when using multiple devices, is beyond me.

Apple Music is still a little buggy, even under Windows 10 and Android.  But Apple are slowly getting there. There are still issues with syncing, and I still see error 502s and similar when downloading quite a few files – but it’s much better than it was.  I’ll continue to experiment.


Pants on fire? Note 7’s “explosiongate”

Update: Worldwide recall – will take up to two weeks to get the logistics in place – then we’ll find out how painful this process is going to be.  Therefore I’m switching back to the S7 Edge for the time being (thank goodness I hadn’t sold it/sent it off yet).  Which means setting everything up again.  Joy.  Strangely, however, I’m okay with all of this.  More so than when I had to get the iPad Pro replaced because Apple’s new firmware bricked it.

With the news that Samsung has halted delivery in South Korea of the new Galaxy Note 7 due to multiple reports of the phone exploding during charging, I’d like to remind the press and everybody else that until Samsung officially announce something, this is best taken with a massive pinch of salt.

There have been occasional reports that iPhones and other devices have occasionally exploded  This is often attributed to poor quality third party cables and charging devices.
With more new devices coming onto the market using the new USB-C port (which like Apple’s Lightning port, uses reversible connectors) as both a charging and data interface, this has lead to questions as to how cable (and even device)manufacturers are implementing it.

As you can see from this Wikipedia entry on USB Type-C, it’s possible to send a much higher current than allowed, causing damage to the device.

Some non-compliant cables with a Type-C connector on one end and a legacy Standard-A plug or Micro-B receptacle on the other end incorrectly terminate the Configuration Channel (CC) with a 10kΩ pullup to VBUS instead of the specification mandated 56kΩ pullup, causing a device connected to the cable to incorrectly determine the amount of power it is permitted to draw from the cable. Cables with this issue may not work properly with certain products, including Apple and Google products, and may even damage power sources such as chargers, hubs, or PC USB ports.

This has directly lead to Amazon pulling cheap, non-compliant USB-C cables from its site.

As the Note 7 uses USB-C, one has to be careful as to what’s being used to charge the device.  Me?  I use Samsung’s wireless Fast Charger pads, with the official fast charger (the pad uses a micro-USB connector).  I’ve not charged my Note 7 with the supplied USB-C cable yet.  I prefer wireless charging because you never have to keep scrambling around for cables, plus it acts as a stand.  You can just pick it up and put it down, and it’ll start charging. Wireless charging is the future.  Tesla would be proud.

Wireless charging pad from Samsung.
Wireless charging pad from Samsung.

And all being said, batteries are batteries ,and all batteries are liable to explode if improperly handled/charged. Unless the battery has manufacturing faults.  Then it’s *especially* liable to go kaboom.

So I’m not yet bothered by this “explosiongate”.   Unless Samsung gets in touch with me to replace the phone, I’ll continue charging it exactly as I am at the moment.