We Want The iPhone XR

Tis the season for cellphone upgrades, fa la la la la…and so forth. My wife, Michelle and I, recently came back to YouTube, after a rather long hiatus off of all things social media, and made our comeback with our opinions as to why the iPhone XR would be the best choice for us.

Michelle’s reasons were pretty straight forward; She wants the “latest and greatest” iPhone model. Albeit the XR may not be the “Greatest” out of this year’s line, we hold the belief that such things are entirely subjective. She’s also looking forward to a minimal bezel, as opposed to her iPhone 8 Plus, which I also agree with (I have the same model), and she’s also looking forward to playing with some of the iOS 12 features that are simply not available on some older models.

Me, on the other hand, It seems that every year I get a craving for something a little different, yet I still prefer the familiar. It’s a difficult emotional and mental balancing act with me. I’ve been on other platforms in the past, and while I did not hate those experiences by any stretch, something about them just didn’t quite feel right. So this year, I’m thinking I could satisfy that with a different color than what I’ve had in the past. I’m personally going with the Product (Red) model. Which is a campaign I’ve always appreciated, we’ve even had our own Product (Red) campaign here on Braehawk Tech in the past.

For both of us, the iPhone XS-Max just seemed to be a bit too much phone, so to speak, for both of us. Same with the XS, moreso it was the price tag of either of those that really makes the XR very appealing for us. The XR base model starts at $750.00, while the others go upwards of $1000.00.

Along with this upgrade comes with a switch for both of us from Verizon to AT&T. The deal we worked out with AT&T got us a buy one get two free package, which will be completely covered when we trade in our older devices. Not to mention that we’re getting a better data package while keeping our bill under $170.00 a month. Verizon promised us something similar recently, but failed to deliver, and we’ve been dealing with an outrageous phone bill for a few months now.

So we’re both quite excited, and I’m looking forward to giving AT&T another shot. I was with them once briefly a long time ago.

So considering this is kind of upgrade season, I’m curious to know what you’re upgrading to, if you’re upgrading at all. Let us know!

~Brandon

Martian Notifier Smartwatch Review

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Smartwatches are a funny thing. In today’s world where “Smart” devices are becoming more and more prevalent, even going as far as having a genre of gadgets coined “Internet of Things”, it’s hard to say which of these are the best. They all do many of the same essential functions, they alert you of notifications that you receive on your phone.

Sure, there are some extra bells and whistles in some of the higher tiered smartwatches, but they essentially all function to make receiving notifications less of a bear when by displaying on your wrist rather than requiring you to take your phone out of your pocket each time.

In a world where smartwatches come in varying sizes, colors, and prices, we set out to answer a very fundamental question: could you buy a smartwatch that you are satisfied with for under $40? We’re going to answer that question here today. We’ll be reviewing the Martian Notifier, a very basic smartwatch for less than $35.

Design

The Martian Notifier has a very simplistic yet traditional design. On the surface we have a standard analog watch which is round with a slick metal “M” to the side of a small rectangular display. To the left of the display is an LED light that flashes when a notification comes in. The Roman numeral that dictates the hour 12 at the top of the display is a nice touch and gives a rather premium feeling to the watch. The rest of the watch is an incredibly grippy rubber material that gives the impression of a sport / fitness watch but has neither built into its functionality.

On the sides of the watch are silver metal buttons, the clock’s dial on the right with two buttons on the left. The two buttons have separate contextual buttons based on what’s on the display. For example, say a notification appears on the display and you want to dismiss it, quickly press the bottom silver button. There’s also a metal clasp at the end to tie the whole watch around your wrist. There’s also a vibration motor inside the casing that is responsible for alerting you when a notification comes in. To be honest it feels kind of heavy on your wrist but it adds a premium feeling weight to it.

Functionality

Here’s where the Martian Notifier really shows its price. This watch does the very bare essentials. You connect the Notifier to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth which was really simple to setup. You enable Bluetooth on your device, turn on the Notifier and you will be prompted to enter a passcode that is displayed on the watch. Once that’s entered on your device, the two will be paired seamlessly.

From day to day use, the Notifier proved to be actually pretty handy. I am using an iPhone 6 paired with the Notifier so any push notification that is sent to my device is pushed to my Notifier. A strong motor buzzes the Notifier on your wrist when you receive a notification which really helped me catch all notifications. This proved especially useful in large crowded areas where a lot of ambient noise was present. While I couldn’t hear the vibration on my watch, I most certainly felt it. It was actually pretty handy. There’s not a touch screen, nor any response technology like a speaker or microphone, which was something I saw myself wanting after a few days, but it really isn’t any evidence against the watch itself.

Conclusion

So let’s look back at the original question, could you buy a smartwatch that you are satisfied with for under $40? The short answer? Yes, yes you can. For less than $35 you can get a watch that is both stylish and functional. You will get a watch made of strong, sturdy materials that honestly does not feel cheap. You get all the basic functionality of a smartwatch by having all push notifications buzzed on your wrist so you never miss a beat. You will notice after a while, especially if you have friends with substantially more expensive smart watches, that you are missing features like responding to messages you receive, taking photos, and more. However, I would argue that you don’t really need those things in a smartwatch. My ideal smartwatch is one that alerts me whenever my phone receives a notification which the Martian Notifier does very well.

While I would like to see things like a speaker for audible notifications along with the very strong vibration motor, the vibration is enough to train my brain to know I have received a notification when I feel that buzz on my wrist. When it comes down to it, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy smartwatch if all you’re looking for is an extension to your smart phone. For around $35, you’re getting a great deal with the Martian Notifier.

So what do you guys think? Have you purchased a sub-50$ smartwatch? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

 

iOS No Longer Malware Free

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Well, it looks like iOS can no longer tout the security of their platform. According to findings by Palo Alto Networks, iOS has its first piece of malware codenamed “AceDeceiver”. AceDeceiver uses flaws found within Apple’s DRM for devices in China. This exploit allows for a “man-in-the-middle” attack by hackers in order to hijack an iOS device through a 3rd party software that mimics the user interface of iTunes. To the end user, there is no difference which pivots the exploit in a very dangerous spot for end users.

The time has come where we can say is that the days of having a completely virus and malware free OS are gone. Now all the major platforms contain some form of malware. Compared to iOS competitors like Windows Phone and Android, this is a pretty big deal for iOS as they have been able to keep ahead of the bunch by having the most secure platform. With all the buzz coming from Apple v. FBI in recent events, it makes you wonder how this malware could have slipped by Apple’s radar. Whatever the case is, it is a very interesting development.

Source: Mashable

What to Expect at Apple’s March Event 2016

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Apple is expected to hold a special event on Monday, March 21st, 2016 and we’re here to give you some expectations we have about what’s to come from the Cupertino company. Let’s break down the rumors and see if we can predict what Apple might showcase.

New iPhone SE

Apple is notorious for saying they will do one thing in their product strategy and then introducing a product completely contrary to those remarks, (I’m looking at you Apple Pencil). The rumored “iPhone SE” will be no different. This phone comes from the outcry of those who were not too keen on Apple’s decision to move from a 4″ iPhone to a 4.7″ and 5.5″ iPhone. This was a pretty significant change for Apple as they seemingly cut off any one handed usability with their handsets. The iPhone SE is rumored to return back to the 4″ form factor but with all the internals of the current generation iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Rumored for the device is Apple’s proprietary A9 chip which currently resides inside their newest flagships along with 2GB of RAM and an all metal enclosure. Most recently the rumors have suggested that Apple will return to the iPhone 5S design which makes sense given how popular a handset the iPhone 5S is.

Apple Watch

While there isn’t a whole lot to sing and dance about when it comes to the Apple Watch, recent reports have noted that it dominated the smartwatch market by 75% marketshare. That’s a pretty significant number when you consider how many Android counterparts are available. While many do not expect the Apple Watch 2 to make its debut at the March event, we do expect there to be new watch bands introduced which may offer even more variety to the Apple Watch than what is already available.

iPad Pro Mini / iPad Air 3

Apple is getting ridiculous when it comes to their naming schemes and quite frankly, no one really knows what this will be called officially. However, it is very likely that Apple will introduce a 9.7″ iPad Pro at its March event. The iPad Pro hasn’t been the hit Apple has intended for it to be so it makes sense for them to market a traditionally sized iPad with all of the guts of its older brother. The iPad Pro is said to feature 4GB of RAM, Apple’s A9X processor, and the same enclosure as the iPad Pro with the stereo speakers included. It is also rumored that Apple will make the new iPad Air 3…Pro Mini…whatever the hell they call it, able to be used with their Apple Pencil as well as a slimmed down keyboard case.

What do you think about all of our predictions? Please share this with your community and let us know if you think we’re right in our predictions. Only time will tell and we’ll bring you all of the coverage on Monday concerning Apple’s big event.

Apple’s WiFi Assist Feature Costs Family $2,000

6848823919_c3857ccdfc_oThis is why we need more transparency when new features are released people, THIS IS WHY! In a shocking news story surfacing today, Apple’s WiFi Assist feature originally introduced with iOS 9 has cost a family $2,000 on their monthly phone bill. You read that correctly, over $2K was spent on a single phone bill. How did this happen you might ask? To answer that we first need to go over briefly what WiFi Assist does.

WiFi Assist is a service on Apple’s iPhones running iOS 9 or above that “intelligently” chooses your phone’s connection path. When on WiFi, your phone uses your WiFi connection to transmit and receive all of it’s data. WiFi Assist will then determine if your WiFi signal is strong enough to maintain a connection. If WiFi Assist determines that it is not strong enough, it will automatically switch your device from WiFi to 4G LTE without warning or consent.

In theory this is a good thing because it keeps your device from being disconnected. However, for those customers with limited quantities of data per month, this is very, very bad! Mostly because, with most companies, you have what are called overage charges. Overage charges happen when a customer exceeds their allotted data amount as that customer is said to be going over their data limit. This results in, often times, large sums of charges added on to your account.

Situations like this are rare but can happen with services like WiFi Assist. So what is the moral of the story here? For now anyway, turn off WiFi Assist. You can turn off WiFi assist by going to Settings >> Cellular Data then scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the screen and un-toggle WiFi assist. Don’t let this happen to you folks.

Source:

T-Mobile’s Binge On Not a Net Neutrality Violation Says FCC

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Oh boy, here we go. Earlier this month T-Mobile announced its latest entry into their unprecedented “Uncarrier” movement, Binge On. Binge On is a service that allows customers to stream video from several popular apps like HBO Go, Showtime, Netflix, and more. This move sparked a million questions from both us and fellow tech enthusiasts about net neutrality and Binge On.

On the surface, this seems to completely violate net neutrality laws set by the FCC which stop companies from using paid services as exclusives on their platform. However, in an FCC meeting earlier today, FCC Chairmon Tom Wheeler weighed in on Binge On and has been quoted saying the service is,

pro competition and pro innovation [and] highly innovative and highly competitive.

While Binge On is not in itself a service you pay for on top of your data and phone plans, it is an exclusive to T-Mobile and is offered only at higher value tier Simple Choice plans. While no further details have been released concerning the FCC’s investigation into Binge On, it seems a bit odd that Binge On is viewed as the exception to the rule. For now, we will have to wait and see what the official ruling of the FCC is for Binge On.

Source: FCC
via: Pocketnow

T-Mobile Announces Free Video Streaming on its Network

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T-Mobile launched their 10th “Uncarrier” announcement today and announced a pretty significant change for customers on their network. T-Mobile has announced BingeOn, a new service that will now allow consumers to stream content from several popular video-streaming platforms such as Netflix, HBO Now, Showtime, and others for free. The way it works is that T-Mobile will not count content viewed on these various apps on mobile devices against a customer’s data pool. Theoretically, a person can have a 2GB data pool and never touch the data if that person only ever uses these apps to view content from popular TV shows and movies.

CEO John Legere pointed out that as mobile devices continue to evolve and gain advanced technologies, a lot of the video-based content available to consumers eats up data at a very rapid pace. As Legere states, “a lot of data is wasted since video is not optimized for mobile devices”. Oddly enough, YouTube was absent from the list of the video streaming apps mentioned which is, arguably, the most used app for video streaming. T-Mobile says it is willing to allow any video-streaming platform to join the Binge On program so long as they are willing to comply with the technical standards set by T-Mobile.

Source: The Verge

Apple is already testing its next versions of iOS and OS X

ios10-1280x614New reports are surfacing that Apple is already testing the next versions of both iOS and OS X. Assuringly labeled iOS 10 and OS X 10.12, both updates have surfaced under Google Analytics that seem to indicate a rapid pace of inner workings towards Apple’s mobile and desktop platforms.

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The report suggests a rather large spike in the number of sessions that appear for these specific testing numbers which leads us to believe that Apple is readily hard at work getting these platforms ready for primetime. While Apple just unveiled iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, it is always exciting to look forward at the potential of these two platforms and knowing that Apple is as hard at work as it has ever been.

Source: 9to5mac
Via: TechnoBuffalo

Microsoft Surface Book – The Ultimate Laptop?

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Microsoft unveiled the first ever laptop made in-house by the company and it’s called Microsoft Surface Book. On paper the Surface Book looks amazing. A 13.5″ 3000×2000 resolution screen with 267 ppi, up to 16GB of RAM, the latest Intel Skylake 6th generation processors, and up to 1TB of SSD storage. Not to mention the inclusion of NVIDIA GeForce discrete graphics, an offering only available on the 15″ line of Apple’s MacBook Pro products. It’s not cheap, however, with the Surface Book starting at $1,499 in the U.S. Microsoft says that the new Surface Book is 2x as powerful as Apple’s MacBook Pro, a pretty boastful claim.

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Microsoft is rather mum as to exactly which of NVIDIA’s graphics cards is housed inside the Surface Book, so it’s hard to know if their claims are valid at this point. We do know some things, however, about the odd design choices Microsoft has made in the Surface Book. Let’s begin with the hybrid-like nature of the Surface Book. With the push of a button, the screen detaches from the keyboard and becomes a full-fledged Windows 10 tablet. Coupled with Microsoft’s Surface Pen, the tablet is shaping up to be one of the best offerings in the mobile market. What’s even more interesting is not the hybrid-style Microsoft has went with, we’ve seen plenty of 2-in-1 devices from other OEM’s, but what Microsoft has done with the base is a vastly more interesting story.

We’re not sure how this works with the whole package, but Microsoft says they’ve built the GPU inside of the Surface Book’s base. The implication here being that when detached, the Surface Book is more powerful when docked with the base. This is different for a computer as it shifts from a “tablet first, laptop second” philosophy to a “laptop first, tablet second” philosophy.

This is a pretty big gamble for Microsoft to take as it has introduced a new idea into an already saturated market that, arguably, it began. Personally, I think this is a great shift in idea of a 2-in-1 for consumers because most people want the power of traditional laptops, but may like the idea of the portability that comes with a tablet. One could argue that this option has existed for several years now, but it really hasn’t. We’ve had a slew of products that were designed to be mobile from the ground up, with accessories added on to make it a more laptop-like experience. This has resulted in poorer performing devices due to mobile-optimized software and hardware. Microsoft hopes to change all of this with the Surface Book, and we hope others soon follow suit.

Surface-Book-Impressions-4All-in-all, the Surface Book is an indication of the new Microsoft and is proving to be a great competitor in the consumer market. Gone are the days where your only option for an end-all-be-all solution was to spend more and go with Apple. Now Microsoft has a valid option for consumers and a vastly better product than previous offerings. We’re impressed with what we’ve seen from Microsoft’s first laptop and we can’t wait to see what happens next.