It's that time of the year where Apple kickstarts its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2024. Esquire Singapore was at Apple Park where it all went down. Although Tim Cook opened the keynote and revealed a few of what the company was working on, it was ultimately Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi's show. Through his amiable style and parkour (you'll understand if you watch the keynote video), it was announced that there would be updates to its OS—iOS 18; iPadOS 18; macOS Sequoia; watchOS 11; visionOS 2—; what's on Apple TV+ slate; the Vision Pro coming to Singapore and the reveal of Apple Intelligence... or AI (“give-the-marketing-team-a-raise”). Here are the biggest takeaways from WWDC.

Apple Intelligence

After keeping mum on AI, Apple loudly announced its proprietary AI, the Apple Intelligence. The Apple Intelligence works across all of Apple's devices and we saw a demonstration of its use in Writing Tools. Now you can see summaries of your e-mails or books and its ability to rewrite the e-mail tone to reflect your intent. Apple Intelligence can also generate transcript summaries of live phone convos or a recordings.

If you tire of 😉 (winking face), 🫃("Uh-oh, I seem to have cirrhosis of the liver.") or 💦🍆 (wash your vegetables), you can generate customised emojis with Genmoji. Simply describe what you want to see as an emoji and Apple Intelligence will create it.

A step up from Genmoji is Image Playground. Again, type in any descriptor and the style (currently only animation, illustration and sketch options are available) and the image will be produced. You can do the same with images from your Photos library or from your Contact list. We were also shown how Apple Intelligence can flesh out rudimentary sketches or ideas through Image Wand. With a finger or Apple Pencil, circle a sketch and after analysing it, Image Wand will produce a complementary visual.

With Apple Intelligence, Siri finally gets the limelight it deserves. Siri can carry out specific tasks with an awareness of your personal context. This means that it’s able to go through your apps and create a personalised approach. For example, if you ask Siri, how to get to a destination, Siri will trawl through your travel history and the weather forecast to formulate the best and personalised route for you. Which for me, is a long languid bus ride because I have no money for cabs and I hate playing the game of “Should I Give Up This Seat For This Person?”

Siri also has a richer language understanding, so if you have made a verbal faux pas and you backtrack, Siri will know what you mean. Does this mean that Siri will understand Singlish? Welp, Apple says that US English will roll out first, followed by other languages. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

And if you’re skittish about speaking out loud to Siri about—oh for example—whether you need to give up your seat to someone who may or may not take offence to said seat offer, you can type it to Siri instead, you coward (my words).

There were rumours leading up to WWDC24 about Apple’s collaboration with ChatGPT came true as it was announced that ChatGPT is integrated into Apple’s Siri and Writing Tools. If Siri is stymied by your request, it will tap into ChatGPT’s expertise. You will be asked if your info can be shared with ChatGPT and can control when it is used. It’s also free to use without the need to create an account. Some people aren't too keen on the Apple Intelligence and ChatGPT union.

Given the outcry about user data being sneakily used to aid in machine learning, Apple doubled down on its stance on user privacy ensuring that even though Apple Intelligence is privy to your personal information, it doesn’t collect it. While many of the large language and diffusion models are run on the device, there are certain instances where it needs to be stored on the cloud. That's where Private Cloud Compute comes in. As a cloud-based model on special servers using Apple Silicon, your data is never stored and only used to handle your AI request. This is what Apple proudly termed as a “new standard for privacy”.

Apple TV+

Ever wondered who the hell is on screen and you scroll through IMDB? Now, there inSights, an Apple TV+ feature that shows who is playing what when their characters appear in a scene. There's even a handy bit of info of the music that's playing in the scene as well. inSights is only available for Apple TV+ original programming.

We even got a preview of what's coming to Apple TV+. A slight squeal may or may not have issued from us over the sight of Severance and Silo in the montage.

macOS

Called Sequoia, it comes with a Continuity app that allows for iPhone mirroring. You can connect to your iPhone from your Mac. We saw a demo where one could access the iPhone's Duolingo app and actually go through a lesson. The best part of it is that while this is happening, the iPhone is still in locked mode so that no one else, other than you, can have access to it.

iPadOS 18

There's now the Calculator app but with an added feature. Using your Apple Pencil, you can utilise Math Notes in the Calculator app and write out an equation. Once you write out the "=" sign, it immediately calculates. If you change any of the numbers, the tally automatically adjusts.

There's a Smart Script feature that refines your handwritten notes. You can scratch out certain words and it automatically erases, just like that.

VisionOS 2

Finally, this special announcement from WWDC: Apple's Vision Pro gets an operating system update. Using machine learning, it takes your 2D photos and adds depth to it; giving it more life to these spatial photos. There are expanded intuitive gestures to use with your Vision Pro and an ultrawide virtual display to operate on.

Oh, and the Vision Pro will soon be available to Singapore on 28 June.

For more information on WWDC 2024, check out the Apple website.

APPLE

Before Apple announced something in their burgeoning pipeline, you usually know what to expect. Because there wasn't an update for the iPad line last year, this is the year where the smart money should be when an iPad announcement would be made. And what an announcement it was.

Last week, we reported on-site about a revamp to the iPad line-up. A 13-inch option is added to the iPad Air family with both 10- and 13-inch models powered by the M2 chip and an improved Apple Pencil the Apple Pencil Pro. Of course, there was the reveal of the iPad Pro, that's available in either a 10- or 13-inch. The iPad Pro comes with an Ultra Retina XDR display with state-of-the-art tandem OLED tech. "Tandem" in the sense that two OLED panels are stacked on top of the other so it gets that 1,600 nits peak for HDR.

The previous iPad Pro model suffered from blooming (aka "the halo effect", where light from isolated bright objects on a screen bleeds into darker surrounding areas) but for this latest iPad Pro, we saw perfect blacks and very exacting per-pixel illumination.

It's How Thin?!

Which brings us to the miracle of the iPad Pro's width. It holds the honour of not only being the thinnest in the iPad Pro line but also in Apple's entire catalogue. The last thin contender was the iPod Nano at 5.4mm; the iPad Pro 11-inch measures 5.3mm while the 13-inch is a mind-boggling 5.1mm. With that sort of measurement, it's hard to wrap your head around the idea of a "tandem OLED panels".

What's surprising is the chipset used in the iPad Pro. The previous iPad Pro model is outfitted with an M2 chip but for this year's model, Apple introduced the M4 chip. Bear in mind that Apple's latest chipset was the M3 for the MacBook Air so very few expected that the brand would skip the M3 and use an upgraded Apple silicone for its iPad Pro line-up. For an iPad Pro to be that thin, there needs to be a chipset that's able to handle the performance.

Siao, hor. Look at how thin it is. APPLE

Thus, the M4 with the promise of better CPU and GPU performances. The M4 chip is supposed to make things more "efficient". There's a new display engine, dynamic caching (caching improves response time and reduces system load) and hardware-accelerated ray tracing (light simulation in games). A couple of online games we tried performed swimmingly. According to Apple, when compared to the M2 chip, the M4 delivers the same performance only using half the power.

(We are unable to push the M4 potential at this point of writing but we'll update this in future.)

Dock the iPad Pro with the upgraded Magic Keyboard (added function keys, larger trackpad) and voilá, a MacBook. It's a simplified descriptor but with the iPad Pro as it is, as a tablet, it is an overkill. With workflow, it holds its own. It's almost like my MacBook, where I type my e-mails on it; draft out stories... hell, I'm writing this article on the iPad Pro.

A Reworked Model

The front-facing camera is now moved to the—hallelujah—middle of the horizontal bezel. Muy useful now for that pantless work meeting (my house, my rules). But because of the relocation of the camera, everything else has to shift. Remember the Apple Pencil Pro? To dock it, you can place the stylus on the horizontal side but because of the new front-facing camera position, the magnetic interface needs to shift along the bezel, which means the hardware of the Apple Pencil Pro needs to adapt to the new docking system. Thus, your new Apple Pencil Pro only works with this year's iPad Pro and iPad Air models; it's not backwards compatible with previous iPad models.

Give and take, I guess.

But the Apple Pencil Pro sure is something. It has more capabilities like the squeeze function, where depressing the sides brings up more options on the screen. There's the added haptic feedback, which adds more tactile-ness to using the stylus. Also, there's the barrel roll effect.

Uh, not that. More like this.

APPLE

A slight roll of the stylus allows the versatility of the nib to perform those calligraphic flourishes or shading. There are other nuanced touches such as the appearance of the stylus' shadow on the screen (this isn't projected by an external light source) and hovering the Apple Pencil Pro will show a preview of where the pencil will contact with the display. Finally, if you misplace the Apple Pencil Pro, you can locate it with the Find My app.

The iPad Pro is available in two colourways—silver and space black. The 11-inch version starts at SGD1,499 and the 13-inch device starts at SGD1,999.

At Battersea Power Station—the iconic structure of Pink Floyd's 10th album and, now, office space for Apple—journos and KOLs were gathered for product announcement at 3pm BST (10pm SGT) today. Given the nadir of any new iPad releases last year, all bets were on the disclosure of new iPads at the "Let Loose" event. At the keynote, a slew of releases were unveiled like the new 13-inch iPad Air and an Apple Pen Pro. But one of the more knock-me-down-with-a-feather news was the inclusion of the M4 chip—a leapfrog from the M2 chip in the iPad Pros (2022). Here is a run-down of what went down.

iPad Air

A new member to the iPad Air family is the new 13-incher. Both models are powered by the M2 chip that grants a faster CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine. With a front-facing Ultra Wide 12MP camera, faster Wi-Fi, 5G capabilities, the iPad Air has a Liquid Retina display, anti-reflective screen coating, True Tone tech and utilises, not only the Apple Pencil, but also the Apple Pencil Pro (we'll get to that later).

The 13-inch, however, gives proper real estate to its display that allows for 30 per cent more space in a Freeform app. There's even an improvement in sound quality with double the bass that's a boon for your cat videos (that's still a thing, right?)

iPad Pro

The iPad Pro gets that glow-up that my insecure 14-year-old self wished for (said glow-up only arrived when I was 18, thanks to MY WINNING PERSONALITY 👍). It comes in two sizes—10- and 13-inches—and has the Ultra Retina XDR display with state-of-the-art tandem OLED tech. (Due to my limited understanding, to get that 1,600 nits peak for HDR, Apple stacks two OLED screens. Y'know, like a sandwich. A very hard-to-digest sandwich. I am writing this close to dinner time.)

And the iPad Pros are thin. Not just the thinnest in the iPad Pro line but also the thinnest in Apple's catalogue. Your 11-inch model measures at 5.3mm thin while the 13-inch model is a mind-boggling 5.1mm thin (the iPod Nano measures 5.4mm thin. #rip #illalwaysrememberyouipod) How can something that's bigger be lighter? Is it witchcraft? Nay, I suspect due to a larger surface area, the motherboard is spread out. But I could be wrong. Again, I'm writing this close to dinner time. Available in two colourways—silver and space black—both models are enclosed in 100 per cent recycled aluminium cases. And because of the redesign of the 10- and 13-inch iPad Pro models, there are revised Magic Keyboards to go with.

M4 Chip

Now, this is the best bit: while the previous iPad Pro is outfitted with an M2 chip, for the latest iPad Pro, Apple introduced the M4 chip. Bear in mind that Apple's latest chipset was the M3 for the MacBook Air. Very few expected Apple would eschew the M3 and showcase an upgraded Apple silicone for the iPad Pro line-up but there you go. The M4 promises "stunning precision [in] colour and brightness. A powerful GPU with hardware-accelerated ray tracing renders game-changing graphics. And the Neural Engine in M4 makes iPad Pro an absolute powerhouse for AI."

Apple Pencil Pro

We know all about the Apple Pencil's features but the Pro verstion has more capabilities. Now you can squeeze the pencil's body for more options, haptic feedback and a barrel roll effect with the pencil's nib that allows for different strokes. There are nuanced touches like seeing a shadow of the pencil on the screen (this isn't projected by an external light source) and hovering the Apple Pencil will show you a preview of where the pencil will contact with the display. Finally, if you misplace it, you can locate it via the Find My app.

In what is the worst-kept-secret leading up to it, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, was in Singapore for his Southeast Asia tour. Coinciding with the announcement of Apple’s plans to invest over SGD250 million into growing its campus in Ang Mo Kio, Cook visited the recently-opened Apple Developer Centre to meet with developers, students and Apple Design Award winners. Esquire Singapore was one of the few invited media outlets to cover the session.

The indie gaming showcase consists of four developers from around the region. Chin Yong Kian and Jiang Tongyu are from Singapore while, P’ng Yiwei and Jakob Lykkegaard are from Malaysia and Thailand, respectively. Cook took time to listen to them as they talked about the background behind their games, their experiences as a developer and working with Apple.

The Developers

Apple CEO Tim Cook tries out Tambourine Story, a rhythm game by Swift Student Challenge Winner Jiang Tongyu.
Yong Chin Kian—lecturer by day, indie game developer by night—demonstrates hurling sawblades at a pixelated chicken. (It makes more sense when you see the gameplay.)
The brain behind King's League, P'ng Yiwei talks about his sequel.
Bangkok-based developer, Jakob Lykkegaard, presents his Apple Design Award-winning game, stitch.

The youngest of the lot, 18-year-old Jiang Tongyu won the WWDC Swift Student Challenge in 2023 and is a recent Distinguished Winner of this year's Swift Student Challenge. She presented Tambourine Story, the submitted game that garnered Jiang's Distinguished Winner title. Tambourine Story was inspired by a band Jiang formed with her friends in her youth. Capitalising on the iPad's accelerometer, players can wield the device like a tambourine and shake it according to the music's rhythm. Jiang created the demo all on her own, from the coding to the hand-drawn graphics to the GarageBand-composed music.

Cook talked with Chin Yong Kian (aka Chiny) who teaches game development while creating games for iOS. Among his myriad of games, Chin created Serious Scramblers (a vertical platformer where you can only descend), Jump Jerboa (a jerboa has to escape multiple levels of death traps) and his latest, A Slight Chance of Sawblades (you start out as a chicken who must avoid raining sawblades). A Slight Chance of Sawblades+ will be added to Apple Arcade in May. The "+" added to the title means that there are no ads or in-app purchases. A Slight Chance of Sawblades also holds the distinction as Singapore’s first "App Store Great".

Next up, P’ng Yiwei demos King's League II. P'ng is the founder and director of Kurechii, an indie studio based in KL. Although founded in 2009, it was only with King's League: Odyssey that Kurechii became better known in the industry. With 15 years of experience and numerous games under its belt, Kurechii continues to be a leader in RPG gaming in Malaysia.

The last developer at the showcase is Jakob Lykkegaard, founder of Lykke Studios. Originally from Denmark, the Dane made Thailand his home for the past 16 years. Lykke Studios is based in Thailand and Cyprus, has produced tint., lumen. and the Apple Design Award-winning stitch. Inspired by the geometric grid-based puzzle game, Shikaku, Lykke Studios skewed the mechanics to fit the embroidery theme. The game features over 200 levels and is accessible on all Apple Arcade platforms, including Apple Vision Pro.

What's Next?

During his international tour last year, Tim Cook said that "gaming is very important to Apple and not just a side project." With such ambitions for Apple's games, after what he had seen at the regional game developers showcase, Cooks seems encouraged.

"Well, I think it is flourishing," Cook said, "Gaming is a very important area for us and essential for the development community because so many want to design and play games. Gaming is one of the key things that really uses the Apple silicone chip in a significant way. I think that iOS is the best mobile platform on the planet; we put so much of ourselves and our resources into the engine of the product."

According to a Global Games Market Report, the video game market netted USD184 billion in revenue in 2023. And with TV adaptations of AAA video games (The Last of Us; Fallout), the market is only gonna get bigger. It'd be interesting to see what else gaming-wise Apple has on the horizon. Maybe announcements about the utilisation of the Vision Pro when it comes to gaming? Perhaps a return to the waters of a gaming console (anybody remember Pippin)? We'll see.

So you held off, waited patiently for the hype to die down, and you’re still thinking of picking up either the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro? Fair enough—we’re here to help you make the right choice. The good news is that both the usual backlash and the publicity push are much quieter now.

Do these phones overheat? Not anymore (and our test models never did). Do they reinvent mobile photography? Not quite, but they come close. Do they bendThey really don’t. Are they a huge leap forward over last year’s models? Probably not. Is the addition of USB-C actually a big deal? Well, yes, we think so.

We’ve been testing all the latest iPhones for the last couple of months and we know that the question you’re asking is just how much better the aerospace-grade titanium 15 Pro models are over the pastel-coloured iPhone 15s. In 2022, we called the iPhone 14 a mere 13S, but that’s not the story anymore.

While the iPhone 15 Pro Max has ended up being the phone we’ve stuck with for everyday use, we love the new features and specs that made their way to the standard iPhone 15 lineup. The truth is that the base model has never been this Pro. It makes for a major upgrade if you’re coming from an iPhone 11, 12 or even a 13.

Simon Cocks

So, What Are The Differences Between the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro?

With the 14 series, the gap between the entry-level iPhone and the Pro was more of a vast chasm. This year, all the best features from the iPhone 14 Pro have found their way into the regular 15, making it a great buy if the basic iPhone is not only all you need but all you’d rather pay for. The energy bills look pretty daunting again this year, after all.

First up, what’s the same between these models? Well, a fair bit. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro share the innovative "Dynamic Island" display feature, both models maintain a 6.1-inch screen size for the standard variants and 6.7-inch displays for the Plus and Pro Max (although the Pros have slimmer bezels around the display), they also both introduce USB-C, have around the same battery life, and reach identical maximum display brightness. On cameras, they both have 48-megapixel primary sensors for serious detail, as well as a handy 2x zoom, and both have 12-megapixel front-facing cameras.

Where things get different is that the Pro models add a third rear camera—a 77mm (3x) telephoto lens on the Pro and a longer 120mm (5x) zoom on the Pro Max. With its computational wizardry, the iPhone 15 Pro also leverages its 48-megapixel main camera for 24-megapixel results at 1.2x and 1.5x zoom (28mm and 35mm equivalents).

The Pro variant boasts a swifter A17 Pro chip compared to the iPhone 15's A16, as well as a higher refresh rate and an always-on display that’s missing on the 15. The 15 Pro comes in a new titanium material, adds the new customisable action button that you won’t get on the 15, and has a 1TB storage option if you need to store more files than fit on your laptop for some reason.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro: Design and Display

The designs of both phones are similar, and Apple hasn’t gone back to the drawing board when it comes to the basics of how an iPhone looks. They both have the “Dynamic Island” at the top of the display which, while it has a laughable name, is a genuinely useful feature to show off your current timer, the song you’re playing, directions, how long your Uber Eats order will take or exactly what gate you need to go to at the airport.

We’re fans of features like this and widgets that mean we don’t need to constantly open apps, so it’s ideal if you prefer to see more information at a glance. It’s no longer a point of difference, though, and there’s more of that elsewhere with the screen—you’re getting the same size options, the same brightness performance, the same resolutions. The big difference is that the 15 is stuck on a fixed 60Hz refresh rate while the 15 Pro has a variable 120Hz plus an always-on display. It’s not the end of the world and you may turn off these battery-hungry features, but it does mean scrolling is a lot smoother on the Pro.

Simon Cocks

Design-wise, the 15 Pro is also now housed in a sleek titanium body, dropping the weight considerably compared to previous Pro models. This is something you’ll care about if you’ve had enough of a 13 Pro weighing you down, but won’t matter if you’re considering the difference between the phones. Colour is one area of difference though: the 15 comes in a range of pastel colours (Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue… and Black) while the Pro comes in minimalist Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium and Natural Titanium.

Oh, and before we forget, they both have USB-C rather than Lightning for charging and connecting accessories. It's a good change which, yes, was sort of forced on Apple by the EU. Anyway, we love connecting our external DAC for our wired headphones, offloading photos from our main camera via a USB-C-to-SD card reader, charging other accessories like earbuds via our phone’s battery and just using the same cable we use for our laptop to juice up the phone. It’s a small but noticeable change in everyday use.

Simon Cocks

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro: Camera and Photography

Now, we get that this is where most people assume there’s a huge amount of difference between the “basic” iPhones and the “Pro” ones, but we’re here to say it’s just not as much of a big difference this time around. In the majority of situations and especially if you mostly take photos to share with friends or post on Instagram, you won’t see a difference. We’re not just saying it, we’ve brought images to prove it.

However, that’s not to say the camera systems are identical. Essentially, the Pros just offer that bit more when it comes to versatility—that includes a longer third zoom (3x on the Pro, 5x on the Pro Max), clever extra focal lengths through computational photography and macro close-up modes that aren’t on the 15. The 15 Pro also has an exclusive ProRAW shooting capability (so you can take better shots for editing) and the ability to shoot ProRes video that’ll mean nothing to many, but be a major selling point for advanced videographers.

What’s the same? Well, both camera systems perform about the same in most light conditions, both have a 48-megapixel main sensor to churn out fantastic 24-megapixel shots (with a mode to use the whole of that sensor for massive high-res pictures), and both have a 2x zoom that uses the centre of the big sensor, both have about the same 12-megapixel front-facing camera and comparable 12-megapixel ultra-wide cameras. They both also have the same software improvements like automatic portrait mode on photos with people and where you tap to focus.

To be absolutely clear, in the majority of scenarios, you won’t be able to tell the difference between these camera setups unless you know what you’re looking for.

To illustrate this, we shot all the product photos in this review with the iPhone 15 camera system (using the Pro Max) and have included unedited side-by-side comparisons between the 15 and the 15 Pro below. You're unlikely to be able to tell them apart, especially with these compressed images, but the 15 is on the left with the 15 Pro shot on the right (if you're viewing from a phone that means the shot from the 15 is the first one in each comparison).

Here’s a low-light shot with the rear camera...

Simon Cocks
Simon Cocks

In bright daylight conditions, we also struggle to tell the difference…

Simon Cocks
Simon Cocks

How about the ultra-wide lenses?

Simon Cocks
Simon Cocks

And the 2x zoom performs the same as well…

Simon Cocks
Simon Cocks

Where they differ is that you can zoom further on the Pro, allowing us to get that bit closer to subjects—both shots below are from the 3x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro, and you can get much closer with the 5x on the Pro Max:

Simon Cocks
Simon Cocks

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro: Speed and Performance

The iPhone 15 Pro is the first iPhone to get Apple’s new A17 Pro chipset, unlocking faster performance and a far better gaming experience with “hardware-accelerated ray tracing” and much smoother graphics. This is a massive deal for mobile gamers and with both the addition of the USB-C port (hello, Backbone One USB-C gaming controller) and the arrival of console games like Resident Evil 4, Assassin's Creed Mirage, Death Stranding and Resident Evil Village, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max get an instant recommendation for gamers seeking the best on-the-go experience. Of course, this will depend on whether there are enough titles to play.

This isn’t available on the regular, but if you don’t care about gaming it’s not going to matter. In reality, the A17 Pro is a further optimisation of Apple’s already fantastic iPhone processors. It’s great, but they’re already great. So if you opt for the iPhone 15 you’re getting the Pro-level brains from last year’s 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max which are fast enough and smart enough for anything you can throw at them. Unless you’re a gamer or are aware of a specific limitation of the A16 Bionic, you’ll be fine with the iPhone 15. The one extra thing we would add, though, is that the USB-C port on the 15 Pro is a faster version, with the A17 Pro unlocking USB 3.0 speeds for much quicker data transfers. This makes it a better pick for serious photographers and mobile filmmakers too.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Pro: Battery Life

You’re not going to see a big difference when it comes to battery life. The iPhone 15 delivers up to 20 hours of video playback and the iPhone 15 Plus offers up to 26 hours of video playback, according to Apple. Meanwhile the iPhone 15 Pro delivers up to 23 hours of video playback and the big 15 Pro Max will get you up to 29 hours of video playback.

In real-life use, we’ve found that every single one of these phones has more than enough juice to get you through the day and that if battery life is a big deal, either the Plus or Pro Max models should get you well into a second day of use. In our hands-on tests, we’re yet to notice any major difference between the 15 and the 15 Pro in normal use, so we wouldn’t make that a major factor in your decision, and you can always keep a power bank on you if you’re that worried.

Is The iPhone 15 Worth It?

Yes, the iPhone 15 is worth it, although we reckon it depends on what phone you’re upgrading from. Still rocking an iPhone XR or an 11 with a cracked screen and a blurry camera? You’re going to find levelling up to the iPhone 15 a revelation. It has a terrific pro-level camera system, a great USB-C port, the addition of the clever “Dynamic Island” and a bright high-res screen.

We don’t think the majority of photographers will miss the 3x zoom because the 2x is more than versatile enough, but if you do need a long zoom you’ll want to look hard at the 15 Pro Max. It’s also worth noting that if you’ve had enough of boring phone colours, the iPhone 15 is the better pick for its delightful range of pastel shades. Both the 15 and the 15 Plus are excellent handsets that we find easy to recommend.

Is It Worth Upgrading to The iPhone 15 Pro?

Comparing the options and coming to the realisation that you can’t do without the longer zoom lens, raw photography abilities, gaming upgrades, high refresh rate screen, always-on display, or versatile action button? Or are you just in love with the natural titanium colour? We get it, trust us. If the extra features make a noticeable difference to you as they do for us (we can’t quit ProRAW photography and the fantastic 5x zoom on the Pro Max), then it will be worth the extra cash you’ll have to spend on the Pro iPhone models.

Originally published on Esquire UK

There's plenty of mystery and hearsay shrouding what is possibly Apple's biggest creation thus far. It's also no exaggeration to say that the billion-dollar Project Titan has experienced multiple iterations. With it, sheer speculation that has seen resurgence time and again throughout its decade of development.

Imagined rendition. CNBC

The Apple Car right now

Presently, the biggest change is pushing back the launch from 2026 to 2028 (earliest), further begging the question of its relevance then. Especially when what was initially planned to be a fully autonomous EV (Level 5) has since scaled down to partial automation (Level 2+: informal term for an advanced Level 2).

Features include braking/accelerating support and lane centering, which sounds far from showstopping if you ask me. No pedals, no steering wheels, and a central dashboard for controls may have sounded futuristic 10 years ago. Now it describes something not too far from a Tesla.

Which is essentially what the latter is, isn't it? Taking the sleek, minimalist approach that Apple is famous for and apply it to a vehicle, in both aesthetic and interface. Self-driving capabilities wise, Tesla's Autopilot currently falls under—you guessed it—Level 2.

CarPlay iOS. APPLE

Is it a matter of ambition quelled by tardiness?

It's hard not to see the Apple Car framed as being too late to the table. Robotaxi Waymo by Google's Alphabet is whizzing away. Sony and Honda are collaborating on Afeela. And of course, Chinese rivals Huawei and Xiaomi recently announcing their skin in the EV game with Luxeed S7 and SU7 respectively (what's with the obsession with seven?).

In an era where all products are created with the intent to surpass the competition, more so in tech, and more so in EV (just look at how all prototype demo videos highlight performance superiority to fellow players); how would Apple's fantasy drive add value to consumers' lives?

And in an era where branding is king, would a release like this, amid diminishing popularity of the once monopolising iPhone, have quite the opposite effect the conglomerate is going for? The last thing you want to do with high expectations is to disappoint.

...but who knows. With the way tech is going these days, I may just be eating my words in four years time.

APPLE

Tech nerds, how are we feeling about 2024? Are y'all freaking out about all the new things and dohickeys that are getting released at CES? Sorry if that sounded like I'm talking down on CES, it wasn't meant to be. However, I'm just a lowly tech editor who is a little bit sick of everything that everyone seems to be freaking out about. We're at a point where there's so much tech that most of the things we hype up are, honestly... not that great.

We've got tech in our hands, tech over our eyes, tech in our homes, tech on our kitchen counters, and tech in our bedroom. Even our paper notebooks are tech-enabled. Hell, we're using tech to wake us up instead of the sun. So where is any one person meant to keep up with all the tech that actually matters? Right here.

I've kept an eye on the early-year releases, and I've kept tabs on what is actually moving the needle for me. Is the new tactile iPhone keyboard from Clicks moving the needle for me? Not really. Is the Apple Vision Pro moving the needle for me? Yes, absolutely. What I'm trying to say is that this isn't a list of little releases. This is where Esquire dot com is keeping track of the biggest, most groundbreaking tech of 2024—everything you should buy or keep an eye on in the future. It's still early doors, so there's a lot of preorders and speculation. But, as the year rolls on, we'll keep this list updated with all the best new tech of 2024.

Confirmed releases

APPLE

THE MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF THE YEAR: Apple Vision Pro

We got a sneak peak at Apple's biggest innovation in a long time last year. Officially launching on 2 February, this seems to be Apple's next big bet. The focus is less on making a toy and more on making a new type of personal computer. The powers that be in Cupertino obviously see this as a desktop and laptop replacement. We'll see how well they deliver.

LG

A TV ... THAT YOU CAN SEE THROUGH: LG OLED T Transparent TV

Ever looked at your TV and wish that you could, see through it? Me either. But once I saw LG's new entertainment play, I was... slightly more convinced. Move it around (it's wireless) and place it in direct sunlight or in front of a mirror (no glare). It's a weird bet, but I can definitely see it growing on me. LG's transparent OLED TV is scheduled to hit the market in 2024.

APPLE

A NEW IPHONE: iPhone 15 Pro

Per usual, there's going to be a new iPhone. Whether or not it'll be a big jump from the 15 Pro remains to be seen. The iPhone 15 Pro had a lot of initial fanfare (from myself included), but its stumbled out of the gate a little bit. The biggest innovation has been the titanium build. We'll see where Apple goes this year.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG'S FLAGSHIP SMARTPHONE: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

For my money, Samsung is the top Apple competitor, with a much deeper catalog than the Googles or Motorolas of the world and a great suite of foldables. No disrespect to those two, but Samsung does so much it makes for a lovely little ecosystem. As there is every year, there's going to be some fort of upgrade on Samsung's flagship smartphone. Will it be enough to leapfrog Apple? Not in America. But, it could be a big year for Samsung.

Rumors and Potential 2024 Releases

META

MAYBE A VR HEADSET THAT WE LIKE? Meta Quest 2

Since being the first big company to do the whole VR thing, Meta has sent out a bunch of flops. The Meta Quest 2 was just a novelty gaming device. The newer Quest 3 and Quest Pro aren't anything to write home about either. But, Meta has confirmed plans for a new, more affordable VR headset in 2024. We'll see if it actually catches on this time around.

APPLE

AN APPLE FOLDABLE? Apple iPad Pro (4th Gen)

Another big rumor in Apple world is that there might be a foldable iPad on the horizon. If it happens, it would be the company's first foray into the foldable market and surely a dress rehearsal for a foldable iPhone. Still, it's a massive if. Don't hold out for this one.

SAMSUNG

A LONGSHOT FOR 2024 Samsung Ballie

At CES 2024, Samsung gave us an update on one of its best weird little projects. Ballie, an R2-D2 type personal assistant was introduced at CES 2020. This time around, Samsung made the little guy bigger and gave him a projector.

Wait, so what is this thing?

Sorry. "Alexa on wheels," is how I would describe Ballie. He'll be able to follow you around, tell you the weather, answer phone calls, and project onto whatever flat surface you can find. Don't hold out hope though. This is more of a speculative project from Samsung. I wouldn't expect to see it on the market in 2024.

Originally published on Esquire US

It's that time when the editorial staff get to ruminate about what this year has given us. From the products that impressed the pants off of us to the drinks that got us asking for seconds, this Christmas, we present some of our favourite things that have our stamps of approval.

iPhone 15 Pro, APPLE

We don't like being a "sheeple" but every time we think of switching to another smartphone, the annual Apple keynote keeps us anchored to the next model. The iPhone 15 Pro series had new additions: a faster A17 chip; an upgraded camera technology; a Dynamic Island in place of that damnable notch; a titanium casing... But the biggest "OMG finally" news is the phasing out of the brand's propriety Lightning connector for the USB-C (thanks EC laws!). All in all, the iPhone 15 Pro is enough to keep us enamoured until the next Apple keynote.

Anagram denim jeans, LOEWE

You know an item’s a winner when it’s pretty much unavailable in boutiques islandwide (trust me, I’ve checked, multiple times). There’s just something about Loewe’s Anagram denim jeans that makes it a covetable piece. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the Anagram motif right on the knees; or the draw of brand ambassador Taeyong of NCT wearing one for the brand’s Pre-Spring 2024 campaign. Either way, this is high on the list of things I’d recommend (someone) getting (for us).

Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic, BULGARI

“CarbonGold” is a mix of high-tech carbon and gold elements that was first introduced in 1993. Bulgari recently outfitted the Octo Finissimo Automatic with said material but the maison went further with that by adorning the carbon cases with rose gold crowns and the carbon dial with matching gold-coloured accents. The case, strap and dial are crafted from exceptionally lightweight, anthracite-coloured carbon with a matte finish. Gold bridges and a gold-plated platinum off-centred micro-rotor is added to the automatic winding; this clearly is a thing of beauty.

360 Vis Nav, DYSON

In a time when Xiaomi and Dreame are already putting out their own robovacuum, Dyson is pretty late to the game. But for a company that is stringent about its tech, the delay is warranted. The 360 Vis Nav model has the brand's patented cyclone tech, which has 65AW of suction power and automatically uses more suction power when more dust is detected; meaning EVERYTHING that gets in the machine's path gets sucked up. And, unlike the other robovaccums on the market, the machine's camera is situated on top; which scans its surroundings and maps out your home. It's the most expensive robovacuum on the market but the engineering is worth every penny.

Bear Grylls Mountain 3737 Limited Edition, LUMINOX

For a brand known for its outdoorsy ruggedness, it made perfect sense that Luminox and survivalist, Bear Grylls' paths would intertwine. The team-up yields the Mountain Series, a collection of four watches that marks the 25th year of Grylls' 1998 climb of Mount Everest. The limited edition version has a white dial, deep blue strap and a red crown that matches the hues of the Nepal flag. The caseback is etched with Mount Everest itself and the chapter ring with “8848M”, which as you Everestheads would clue to is the mountain's altitude. With only 800 pieces worldwide, the Limited Edition Mountain timepiece also has a removable bull bar to protect the dial. And with it's highlighted with Luminox’s Light Technology, which ensures every Luminox timepiece is visible in any light conditions for up to 25 years.

Cropped hoodie, ENTIRE STUDIOS

The perfect cropped hoodie exists and it’s by Entire Studios. The Los Angeles-based brand is known for its exaggerated puffer jackets but the hoodies are cut quite beautifully too. Designed cropped and with extended sleeves, it’s the perfect hoodie to layer over just about anything, or not. Upgrade your usual airport fit for this and you’d probably never want to wear anything else when travelling.

Elite 8 Active, JABRA

We raved about Jabra's Elite 7 Active but the newer version really takes the cake. We had previous earbuds that we use for running and they never could stay in the ears. Especially, when they hit the ground, they tend to get scraped up (you'll be missed Klipsch T5). Jabra's Elite 8 Active is marketed as the world's most durable earbuds and buddy... they are right. The Elite 8 Active went through nine US military-grade testings. Nine. Do you know how tough your product has to be to get that sorta certification? And you know how certain products are "water resistant"? The Elite 8 Active is WATERPROOF. Sweat, rain, submersion, waterboarding... these earbuds can weather whatever wetness you throw at it. And the cherry on top? Their patented Jabra ShakeGrip trait (a Liquid Silicon Rubber compound) kept these suckers firmly in my ears. Oh, and add to that are the Dolby-powered 6mm speakers; an Adaptive Hybrid ANC and HearThrough feature really round up the Elite 8 Active. We can't recommend this enough.

Coco Crush ear cuff in white and beige gold with diamonds, CHANEL


We still stand by the superiority of ear cuffs—there’s no needless skin-poking and you can always take them off whenever. This duo-gold Chanel ear cuff sits comfortably right at the top of the ear to give an illusion of wearing two cuffs at the same time. We’d pair it with another cuff towards the lobe for added bling but just the one on its own makes for an edgy statement this Christmas.

Timeless Three+ Deep Sea Blue, CORAVIN

'Tis that season where it is acceptable to open up that celebratory wine ("What can we say, we're traditionalists"). But wine is the sort of drink that requires a commitment to polishing the entire thing off. That's where Coravin comes in handy. Its Timeless range is a wine preserver. Without uncorking the bottle, the Timeless device uses a hollow needle to extract the wine by perforating the cork. It also fills the bottle with argon gas to pressurise it, keeping it as fresh as the day it was bottled. When the needle is removed, the cork reseals, protecting the wine from oxidation. Now in two new limited-edition colourways that are inspired by exploration—Timeless Three+ in Deep Sea Blue (shown in pic) and Timeless Six+ in Mist—the Coravin allows us to savour our bottles at our own pace.

Radar Jumper, OAMC

Not quite ugly and not quite a Christmas jumper, but the Radar jumper by OAMC is the kind of statement piece you’d want to bust out every winter travel. The cut is perfection, amplified by structured raglan sleeves that display the radar-inspired design to its full effect. Sure, it’s a bit pricey for something partly made from polyester but you’re really paying for the design and cut with this one.

The Birds of Baccarat Old Fashioned, WOODFORD RESERVE

The average Woodford Reserve 750ml is a tasty treat in a glass but do you ever wanna drink in style? Like real opulent-like? Welp, there's the Woodford Reserve's Baccarat Edition. This is an experience at PLUME. Order yourself a Birds of Baccarat cocktail where you have your Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition—a masterful mix of select XO Cognac barrels (American and French oak)—that's mixed with saffron, cinnamon, manuka honey and garnished gold flakes. And it's served in a Baccarat crystal glass. It'll cost you a pretty penny—SGD1,688++ but not only do you get a serving of the Birds of Baccarat Cocktail, you'd also take home the Baccarat glass it came in, as well as a special Baccarat crystal rabbit zodiac figurine.

Mania Portable Speaker, DEVIALET

You're familiar with Devialet, especially with their Mania portable speakers. Beneath these beatific shells lie its pulsing heart—the aluminium full-range drivers (4) and woofers (2). Full-range in its processing, that covers the entire audio spectrum from bass to medium to treble. The Mania's adaptive 360° sound wraps you in a tapestry of melodies; each note is experienced with clarity and depth. And now it comes in two new colourways—Sunset Rose and Sandstorm. Something for Christmas, surely?

The Harmony Collection III, THE MACALLAN x MCCARTNEY SISTERS

A spirits brand with a lifestyle collection with Stella and Mary McCartney? Yes, please. The curated set called TOGETHER, drew inspiration from nature. It includes vibrant handmade glassware, an ombre ceramic flask encased in an apple leather alternative sleeve, brass ice stamps with hand-painted ceramic handles and a brass napkin weight shaped like an acorn—a tribute to the oak casks maturing The Macallan whisky. And if homeware isn't up your alley, there's always the third edition of The Harmony Collection, which features two distinctive expressions: Amber Meadow and Green Meadow.

Holiday Cheers ornaments, SWAROVSKI

If you’re like us and you’ve grown up on all the commercially driven lore of Christmas—Santa, elves, reindeers and whatnot—you’d appreciate Swarovski’s latest Christmas-themed collection. The Holiday Cheers line features a range of icons crafted from crystals that’ll sit pretty all year round. And because Swarovski makes them different year after year, here’s to starting a new collection.

Daily SPF 50+++, GRAIL

Grail may have underwent a rebrand but it still retains its firm commitment to sustainability. Another surprise from this local brand: the sunscreen (pictured, second from left). Made with a unique eco-friendly formula, it doesn't have that thick sticky residue that your conventional sunscreen has. The application of the Daily SPF 50+++ (maybe someone should come up with a simpler name?) is so light that it almost feels like there was nothing slathered on to begin with.

Esquire UK

Glance into any coffee shop window, especially close to a uni, and we bet you’ll see a lot of people tapping away at Apple laptops.

They are far from just a status symbol: these are computers with crisp displays, smooth software, and they’re known to last years without showing signs of slowing. Sure, they may command a higher price compared to some Windows computers, but we reckon it’s worth it for some of the most capable and compact laptops money can buy.

Still, while they're impressive machines, Apple is 90% of the way through its transition to making its own chips for its laptops and we’re not about to pretend the current lineup isn’t a bit of a chaotic mess.

Shopping for one quickly becomes headache-inducing as there are (at least at a glance) a wide range of variations and a lot of similarities in sizes and designs. Often, it’s not always a case of the newest model being the ideal option for your needs. Much like the latest iPhone 15 series of smartphones, all of them are very impressive, but that buying decision often comes down to portability vs power.

We’ve been using MacBooks for years, and have been hands-on to find the best models for every type of use, whether you're connecting it to a portable projector, popping it in your backpack when going on holiday, or need a big screen desktop alternative for lengthy video editing sessions. Our picks for this list are based on tests and rigorous research—so you can be confident that you’ve made the right choice.

Best MacBook For Most People

MacBook Air M2 (13-Inch, 2022)

Pros

Cons

Our favourite MacBook to buy in 2023? That would be the Air M2. During our tests, we had so few complaints that we can see it working as most people’s ideal daily-use computer for many years. The Air series was overdue a refresh, and this 2022 model ditches the retro tapered frame of the older models in favour of a more boxy design that you could mistake for a MacBook Pro. It feels fantastic to use: the keyboard and trackpad are clicky and responsive, the 13.6-inch display is bright and colourful and the latest M2 processor is superfast when opening apps and loading up 42 tabs at once (we all do it). This is a companion for work, travel and entertainment. We used it for all three in our tests—and we love typing on it just as much as watching streaming shows. While it won’t handle intensive editing, it’s great for normal day-to-day use. No matter what we throw at it, it just works.

Display: 13.6 inch
Resolution: 2560 x 1664 pixels
Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Connectivity: USB-C x2, 3.5mm jack
Processor: Apple M2
Weight: 1.24kg

Best MacBook Air With A Big Screen

MacBook Air M2 (2023)

Pros

Cons

Apple didn't make any drastic changes to its Air lineup this year, but it did release a version of its M2 Air with a 15.inch screen. Everything about it remains excellent, from the comfy keyboard to the smooth performance to the responsive trackpad. Buy this model if you want that same slimline Mac with a more expansive display.

Display: 15.3-inch
Resolution: 2880 x 1864 pixels
Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
Storage: 256GB
Connectivity: USB-C x2, 3.5mm
Processor: M2
Weight: 1.51kg

Best MacBook For Power Users

MacBook Pro M3 14.2-Inch

Pros

Cons

Starting up a new YouTube channel or editing some feed-worthy photographs? You’ll need more computing power and storage than the base models can provide. Your best option is the 2023 Pro, which comes in 14-inch or 16-inches and some house the most powerful “Pro” version of the latest chip. We like this smaller model for the portability, plus you get solid connectivity—two USB-C ports, one HDMI, one SD card slot and a 3.5mm jack—plus a chunkier body that adds to the feeling of it having a sturdier build. Yes, there are more affordable MacBooks out there—such as last year's Pro model with a 13-inch display—but that has a standard M2 chip (not as powerful as the M2 Pro), an old design with a touch bar, fewer ports, a lower-resolution webcam and fewer storage options. This 2023 series has a 120Hz display and tons of storage—more than enough for large video projects.

Display: 14.2-inch
Resolution: 3024 x 1964 pixels
Battery Life: Up to 22 hours
Storage: 512GB or 1TB
Connectivity: USB-C x2, 3.5mm, HDMI, SD card
Processor: M3
Weight: 1.55kg

Best MacBook Pro For A Big Screen

2023 MacBook Pro M3 Pro 16.2-Inch

Pros

Cons

The 16-inch MacBook Pro M3 Pro (2023) is your best choice if a big screen is your priority—and it will shine when used for editing photos or videos. What you lose in portability you gain in power—and this is a brilliant option if you plan on keeping it on your desk most of the time. Of course, that extra display size means it’s also a fantastic choice for multitasking, and it gives you the space to have several tabs showing at once. It’s got everything that makes the 14-inch above special, just in a bigger package and a slightly better chip. It’s notable for offering the longest battery life of any MacBook right now. This is really the best laptop alternative to a full-blown Mac desktop computer that you’ll find, although we admit that it may actually be too much power if you're just a casual user who only wants a laptop for browsing your socials and watching a few hours of Apple TV+.

Display: 16.2-inch
Resolution: 3456 x 2234 pixels
Battery Life: Up to 22 hours
Storage: 512GB (up to 8TB)
Connectivity: USB-C x3, SD card, 3.5mm, HDMI
Processor: M3 Pro
Weight: 2.14kg

Best MacBook for Affordability

MacBook Air M1 (13-Inch, 2020)

Pros

Cons

It’s always tempting to want the latest specs and designs, but you’d be wrong if you think the M1 MacBook Air from 2020 is unworthy of attention. It may not have the new M-series processors or the design of the Air M2 from last year, but this still has more than enough power for most people—and it’s fantastic value these days as you can pick one up for well under £900 brand new. That’s the most affordable MacBook you’ll find outside of the refurbished models. The M1 chip is still a beast compared to most other laptops—and if all you use it for is streaming movies, typing documents, looking at social media or light editing, you won’t have any problems with its speed or efficiency. You get the exact same Retina display as the MacBook Pro M2 (2022) and the same battery as the recent Air M2, and while the design is still closer to the older tapered shape—this remains a thin and attractive option.

Display: 13.3-inch
Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels
Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
Storage: 256GB
Connectivity: USB-C x2
Processor: M1
Weight: 1.29kg

Best Refurbished MacBook

MacBook Air Intel i5 (13-Inch, 2017)

Pros

Cons

Apple laptops hold their value for years, and it’s rare to see massive discounts or deals. But if you're shopping on a budget we advise checking out older refurbished models via websites like Back Market and Amazon Renewed. On Back Market, we regularly see older MacBook Air laptops for around £400. If you don’t mind not having the latest specs and designs, you can currently get a 13-inch 2017 MacBook Air graded “excellent” (so the screen and keyboard are in great condition) for around £340. These models have been tested and come with a year's warranty, covering manufacturing faults. If you don’t like the device, you can get a refund within 30 days.

Display: 13.3-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 900 pixels
Battery Life: Up to 12 hours
Storage: 128GB
Connectivity: USB-A x2
Processor: Intel i5
Weight: 1.3kg

What To Consider When Buying A MacBook In 2023

Buying the right Apple MacBook can be surprisingly complex. Here's what you need to consider:

Price

MacBooks are expensive, there’s no way around it. You will usually pay at least £800 to £1,000 for an entry-level model, and that can easily reach £2,000 if you want a top-spec laptop with the best performance and heaps of storage for photo and video editing, or for using power-hungry graphic design software. Luckily, if you don’t mind getting an older model you can buy MacBooks refurbished—those are even sold by Apple itself.

Size

When it comes to portability, size matters. The MacBooks on our list go from 13-inch to 16-inch in screen size, and while all will fit in a backpack it should be noted that the bigger models are significantly heavier. If you need a laptop for throwing in a bag on the way to work, we recommend the Air M2, which weighs 1.24kg. For comparison, the upcoming MacBook Pro M2 Max is 2.2kg.

Processor

Any new MacBook you buy these days is powered by Apple’s own M-series chips: the base M1 and M2, plus two powerful options: the M2 Pro and the M2 Pro Max. The differences are in speed and efficiency. What does that mean for you? With the Pro and Pro Max, everything is faster—from opening files or apps to processing video files. Apple says the M2 Pro and M2 Max are up to 40% faster than the prior chips, but if you have an M1 or base M2 don’t worry—they’re more than good enough.

Battery life

Catching a lengthy flight? Commuting to work? How about checking your emails over a quiet beer? You’ll need your MacBook to last. The more battery life, the better. All of the models on our list have loads of juice, with the lowest having up to 15 hours of continuous internet use. We find the MacBook Air M2 lasts for multiple days at a time without needing a top-up—based on moderate use such as using streaming platforms, listening to music and looking at websites. Some of the more powerful MacBooks drain faster—with the Pro 14-inch offering up to 12 hours of continuous internet use. If you need extra reserves, invest in a power bank.

Storage/Memory

Built-in storage is used to save files, photos, videos, software and documents. On MacBooks, this ranges from 256 gigabytes (GB) to 8 terabytes (TB). The more space, the more room you have on the computer. We advise aiming for 256GB at a minimum if possible. Memory—RAM—is what your laptop uses to load documents, browse the web and open tabs. The more you have, the faster the laptop handles tasks. You want to aim for at least 8GB of RAM, but we advise 16GB or 32GB if possible. The MacBooks on our list range from 8GB of RAM to 96GB on the new M3 Pro.

Connectivity

MacBooks aren’t known for giving you lots of ports for connecting wired peripherals like a mouse, keyboard or headphones. The MacBook Air gives you the fewest slots—just two USB-C ports—while the higher-end Pro models add on a third USB-C port, plus give you an HDMI port for pairing your favourite projector and an SD card slot. Luckily, all of the MacBooks on our list have reliable Bluetooth connectivity, so pairing wireless accessories, like some of the best speakers, isn’t an issue.

Originally published on Esquire UK

The massive rear triple camera array. SIMON COCKS

Apple just unleashed a quartet of new iPhones upon the world. You’ve got the standard lineup of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, in addition to the premium iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. So far, so expected. But is it time to trade in your trusted companion for a new titanium powerhouse? That’s what we’re here to help you decide.

While we can’t say we’re that surprised about any of the announcements – there’s been a new model every September for over a decade, and much about these ones was rumoured – we’re happy to report that, after going hands-on, we can say there are appreciable and noticeable upgrades to every phone in the new lineup.

We’ve been testing every new Apple phone and there’s nothing that we’d call a mere “S” model here. But, if you want all the most eye-catching changes, there’s likely only one that you’re lusting after: The iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The 15 Pro Max will feel large, though, if you’re used to a smaller phone. SIMON COCKS

iPhone 15 Pro Max Design and Refinements

It’s all about titanium in 2023. Light, strong, and ready for space exploration. Across the board, Apple has made its Pro phones less weighty. The 14 Pro was 206g, and the 14 Pro Max came in at 240g on the scale. With the 15 lineup, the 15 Pro is 187g and the 15 Pro Max is 221g – it is a big difference that you can actually notice.

Beyond that, though, all of these phones continue to look just like other iPhone models. You’ve got the same look with the massive triple camera setup on the back, and the “Dynamic Island” at the top of the display, housing the front lens and clever face recognition sensors. It’s worth mentioning that both this and the 15 Pro have the thinnest bezels ever witnessed on an iPhone, shaving crucial millimetres off the body of the handset and making it feel slightly smaller when held.

If you like your phone to live without a case, then Apple has some changes you’ll appreciate. It’s not only the reduced weight of the thing, but it now also has these lovely contoured edges and a slightly more matte finish to the back glass. It makes it feel less like you’re going to drop it, so it’s now a realistic option without a case (as long as you’ve got insurance).

The iPhone 15 Pro Max in Apple’s FineWoven case. SIMON COCKS

Speaking of cases, Apple has ditched leather in an environmental push and replaced those cases with its “FineWoven” lineup. We do like the suedelike look and feel of these, but they feel a little overpriced and if protection is your focus, we reckon you’ll prefer highly durable designs like the ones from British brand Mous. If you like a soft touch, the FineWoven ones do feel lovely, though. Want to show off the colour of your phone? Look at Apple’s clear case.

On those colours, the Pro range now comes in four minimal shades: black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium and natural titanium. We’re aware of the critiques that these are all a bit similar, especially the white and the natural, but having seen them all in person in Cupertino, we think they’re easy to distinguish from each other. We think the blue and the natural titanium (the colour of our review unit) are especially appealing.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max action button. SIMON COCKS

iPhone 15 Pro Max Action Button

Let’s be honest, none of us were ever using that mute switch on the left side of our iPhones, were we? Ours has been left on silent since at least the iPhone 4, so it’s essentially useless. That’s why we’re so glad that Apple has replaced the toggle with a fully customisable “action button” on the side of the Pro devices.

By default, a long press of this button still changes your handset between audible alerts and silence, but you can hop into settings and alter it to quickly launch the camera, switch on the torch, put on “do not disturb”, record a voice memo, or do whatever you like with a “Shortcut” – effectively, this launches any app or does almost any action you can imagine. Want to press the button to start your podcast queue, hit play on a workout playlist or launch a third-party camera app? It’s all possible. Not enough of you are taking advantage of the power of shortcuts, so now’s the time to start.

We love this little button, but if we were being picky, we’d say that we’d appreciate even more customisation. Imagine if you could control what it does in different apps or if it could have different functions depending on your focus mode. We’re just throwing out ideas here, but with per-app functions, we’re picturing features to turn it into a way to hop back to the camera when browsing your photos app, while having it still be a way to control something else once in a different app.

Or maybe that if we’re in our “Reading” focus mode it’ll automatically open Reeder or Instapaper, without changing its main use when not in that mode. We’re aware some of this would be complicated to implement, but it’s exciting that there are possibilities and future upgrades could make this button even more useful. So long, mute switch.

High resolution shot. SIMON COCKS

iPhone 15 Pro Max Camera Upgrades

We should be clear that we already adore the performance of the camera on the iPhone 14 Pro. And, if you’re not a discerning photographer, it’s true that it’s also getting harder to notice the increasingly gradual changes between versions.

But there are clear reasons why the 15 Pro series is yet another big step up. It’s a larger main sensor, with reduced lens flare, improved portraits in night mode and, well, just upgraded portraits overall. But there’s one last trick up the sleeve of the 15 Pro Max, and that’s an expanded zoom range. Say goodbye to the 3x zoom, and hello to a 5x reach.

First up, though, portraiture. Look, we can’t be the only ones here who appreciate the notion of the creamy bokeh-licious background blur of a portrait mode but find we barely ever remember to switch it on. Apple gets it. With all the iPhone 15 models, the portrait mode is automatic in photos with people and certain animals (yes to cats and dogs, but no to hedgehogs – sorry, we don’t make the rules).

Telephoto camera. SIMON COCKS

This is going to make it much easier to fill your camera roll with pro-looking portraits, and we’ve already found it simple to use. It works every time with people but is a little more hit-and-miss with animals – it may have just not gotten along with the Shih Tzu we met in the park, but it worked for the Cockapoo we encountered in the pub. We’re fans of the depth control on all the shots, and how you can change the focus point after the shot. You’re getting a huge amount of creative control in a compact package here.

We tested out the longer 5x zoom on the Pro Max too, and we like the crisp and detailed shots from this third lens. We know Samsung fans swear by the absurd zoom length on the S23 Ultra, but we just don’t find it useful and the results are inconsistent, crunchy and too unnatural.

The iPhone is the better pick for consistency between the lenses and more true-to-life reproduction of details and colours. This system is a fantastic option for mobile photographers – we’d say if you lean more towards wildlife, outdoor events or field trips, the 15 Pro Max’s long 120mm equivalent zoom is better, but for a classic portraiture focal length, the 77mm telephoto of the 15 Pro is the one to pick.

Zoom range. SIMON COCKS

Both Pro models also give you a new ability to choose your standard lens and switch between the 24, 28 and 35mm focal lengths. We’ve already seen some commentators confuse this with a digital zoom, but there’s actual computational wizardry going on here too.

You can tell because the output of each option is at the same 24-megapixel resolution, and the results do come out looking terrific. Where we can see this coming in handy is if we want to match the focal length of our main camera (a 35mm-equivalent Fujifilm X100V) while shooting and want to include a few iPhone snaps without them sticking out like sore thumbs.

Overall, we’re left feeling like there’s little that this camera can’t do for most photographers – it’s an absurdly capable piece of kit that delivers quality shots from every lens.

Finally, USB-C. SIMON COCKS

iPhone 15 Pro Max Charging and Connectivity

Rejoice, Apple has caught up with the rest of the industry and the direction of its own gadgets by finally adding a USB-C port to every iPhone 15. Everyone doesn’t always remember this detail, but Apple was in fact the first brand to put USB-C on a laptop back in 2015, when it added it to its 12-inch MacBook. So, it’s a bit of a shame that it’s taken this long to reach the phones (USB-C iPads have been sold to the masses since 2018), but we’re not about to complain.

At last, your iPhone can charge using the same cord that you use for every other gadget in your house, whether that’s your headphones, MacBook, portable speakers, or wireless mechanical keyboard – it also means you’ll have one fewer cable to remember to bring with your power bank when you leave the house, or when you pack for your travels.

We’ve been testing what this port can do, and it’s good news that it’s not locked down like Lightning. We’ve connected third-party memory card readers to access photos and videos taken on our camera, a powerful USB-C to 3.5mm DAC to drive our wired headphones playing music from high-res music streaming services, and to recharge the phone with the same charger we’d use for our laptop or iPad.

The devices will negotiate the required amount of power, and as long as you’re not buying weirdly cheap third-party chargers from no-name brands on Amazon there isn’t a risk because USB-C is a standard, and that’s why this change is such a welcome addition. Apple talks about how it can charge the new USB-C AirPods and an Apple Watch with the necessary cable, but it actually goes much beyond that.

This battery will last several hours more than your old 12 Pro Max. SIMON COCKS

We tested several connections and it can pass power over to another iPhone 15 with less remaining battery via a USB-C to USB-C cable – it’ll do the same to an older iPhone via a USB-C to Lightning cable or to the older AirPods. It appears to work to give a little charge to non-Apple wireless earbuds too. This is all super helpful if you’re low on power, and it’s something we’d use in a pinch. It’s also good news for Pro users that this port supports rapid USB 3 data transfer, allowing you to quickly move files to attached USB-C thumb drives or fast solid-state drives.

When it comes to overall battery life and recharging, we’re looking at essentially the same story as last year. The 15 Pro Max offers up to 29 hours of downloaded video playback and up to 25 hours of video playback over streaming, continuing to offer the fastest maximum charging speeds of a 27W to 29W peak that matches its predecessor.

We need a little more time with the phone to see if it delivers the quoted battery life, but we’d expect to get just over a day of regular use, depending on screen brightness and data use. You should find it hits about half full in 30 minutes, which we tend to think is fast enough for most people, especially as it also offers convenient wireless charging via both MagSafe (up to 15W) and Qi (up to 7.5W) stands and pads.

Just about the thinnest bezels on any smartphone we’ve seen. SIMON COCKS

iPhone 15 Pro Max Verdict

If you appreciate a bigger screen, bigger battery and all the latest features, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a tremendous option. It feels innovative rather than iterative and brings some long-overdue features and some seriously impressive additions to the Pro iPhones.

Sometimes, we do find it a little too large to use one-handed but if you’re worried about that, the 15 Pro is a great phone with the vast majority of the features you get in the bigger model. However, if that far longer 5x zoom is calling out to you, we’d pick the iPhone 15 Pro Max. We love the performance of this camera setup, the capabilities of the USB-C port and the gorgeous brushed titanium design.

iPhone 15 Pro Max: The Need-to-Know

The iPhone 15 Pro Max camera in use. SIMON COCKS

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Other Rivals to Consider

Originally published on Esquire UK

Over dinner, a woman looks lovingly at her husband, who is looking elsewhere.

Killers of the Flower Moon took a while to be adapted. The rights to adapt David Grann's book started in 2016 but like any other project, the development of the film was halted due to the global pandemic. Still, the film was finally finished. It made its premiere at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2023 and received a nine-minute standing ovation.

While we have to wait a few months to watch it, Apple TV+ unveils the trailer of Killers of the Flower Moon today.

With stirring Native American pow wow chants spliced with dubstep ("Stadium Pow Wow" by The Halluci Nation née A Tribe Called Red), the trailer brings across the palpable tension of a community gripped with terror.

The American Western crime drama (that's a mouthful) is based on the real-life murders that plagued the Osage Nation. Set in the 1920s, the epic is directed and co-produced by Martin Scorsese and stars an ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone and Jesse Plemons.

Roping in the First Nation

Given the subject matter, Scorsese involved the Osage Nation during the film's development. In a press release, Scorsese said, "We are thrilled to finally start production on Killers of the Flower Moon in Oklahoma. To be able to tell this story on the land where these events took place is incredibly important and critical to allowing us to portray an accurate depiction of the time and people. We're grateful to Apple, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and The Osage Nation, especially all our Osage consultants and cultural advisors, as we prepare for this shoot."

In light of the current book bans and revisionisms in America, we are glad that someone made use of the medium to spotlight America's "hidden histories". (Another example was HBO's Watchmen which featured the Tulsa Race Massacre.)

America's history may not strike a chord with Singapore audiences but the cast and the dramatisation of a real-life event should be enough to get butts in seats.

Killers of the Flower Moon is tentatively slated to be in theatres on 6 October and later for online streaming on Apple TV+.

The Crowded Room will mark the actor's last project for the foreseeable future.

Tom Holland is taking a break from acting. Don’t worry, though—it’s only for a year. In a recent interview with Extra, the 27-year-old actor explained that filming his latest project, Apple TV+’s upcoming miniseries The Crowded Room, prompted the decision.

“I’m no stranger to hard work,” he explained. “I’ve lived by the idea that hard work is good work. Then again, the show did break me. There did come a time [when] I needed a break and disappeared and went to Mexico for a week and had time on a beach and laid low. I’m now taking a year off, and that is a result of how difficult this show was.”

Holland both produced and stars in The Crowded Room. The upcoming crime thriller follows Danny Sullivan, a man who is arrested in 1979 following a fatal shooting at Rockefeller Center. The series is inspired by Billy Milligan, a man convicted of many brutal crimes, who was eventually deemed innocent after he was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. His case sparked a debate about whether or not people with multiple personalities should be held accountable for their actions. In the first trailer for The Crowded Room, we see Holland's character grappling with similar circumstances. Check it out above.

Though the filming process was difficult, Holland said he’s excited to see the final product. “I feel like our hard work wasn’t in vain,” he said. This role is radically different from the blockbusters Holland is known for, like Marvel’s Spider-Man films, or the video game adaptation, Uncharted. According to the actor, he had to tap into a new psyche to pull it off, while also working on the business end of the production. “We were exploring certain emotions that I have definitely never experienced before,” he said. “And on top of that, being a producer, dealing with the day-to-day problems that come with any film set, just added that extra level of pressure.”

According to Variety, at one point during the filming, Holland nearly changed his appearance to shed the character. "I remember having a bit of a meltdown at home and thinking like, ‘I’m going to shave my head. I need to shave my head because I need to get rid of this character,’" he said. "And, obviously, we were mid-shooting, so I decided not to...It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.”

Now, with the production behind him, Holland says he’s learned to better manage his mental health. That is, in part, thanks to the research he did while filming the series. “Learning about mental health and the power of it, and speaking to psychiatrists about Danny and Billy's struggles, has been something that has been so informative to my own life,” Holland said.

Though Holland won’t be working on any more projects this year, you can see him in The Crowded Room, alongside Amanda Seyfried, Emmy Rossum, Sasha Lane, and Emma Laird, out now only on Apple TV+.

From: Esquire US

crosschevron-down