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Before the Note 7 fiasco, there was the 5043580916 Active debacle, which now looks positively minor in comparison. After introducing the flagship Galaxy S7 to rave reviews in March — we still love it, by the way — Samsung trotted out the Galaxy S7 Active, a variant equipped with a beautiful display, speedy processor, microSD card slot, excellent 12-megapixel rear camera, and supersised battery.
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Unfortunately, it received its share of unwelcome attention for issues related to its most highly-touted feature: waterproofing — or its lack thereof. Though Samsung has fixed the problem on its manufacturing line — and we’ve verified the fix — the Galaxy S7 Active’s inconsistent performance in water sapped our enthusiasm, and we can no longer recommend the phone with complete confidence.
Meanwhile, Apple has since released its water-resistant iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which appear to live up to their billing when forced to take a dunk. As covered in our full review, the iPhone 7 also takes great photos, provides long battery life, and delivers fast performance, though it lacks a number of the Galaxy Note 7’s cutting-edge features such as iris scanner, wireless charging and wrap-around screen.
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Samsung’s gadget playbook is pretty obvious to anybody whoâs been watching. It has created a relatively stable (if uninspiring) design language, chosen plastic as its preferred material, and cranked out device after device â each one based on small, iterative technological updates to the previous models. That’s been the strategy for the Galaxy S line of phones for several years running, and it’s the strategy that has led the company to release 11 different tablets since the beginning of 2014.
It’s easy to look down on Samsung and the tablets it relentlessly churns out. It’s practically impossible for anybody but the techiest of tech geeks to remember the tiny differences between them, especially since they all look basically the same. Flooding the market with subtly different variations on the same tablet, hoping that one of them will catch fire, doesn’t seem like a great plan.
Which bring us to the Galaxy Tab S. Two of them actually, with 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch displays ($399 and $499, respectively). Each is designed around a core technology that’s definitely impressive: a Super AMOLED screen. But whatever the reason behind Samsung’s need to keep throwing tablet spaghetti against the wall, I’m hoping to see some real function behind all that pixel flash.
Letâs call it what it is: a fitness tracker.
The Apple Watch Series 2 is exactly that. Itâs what Apple had resisted calling its wearable for the past year and a half, even declining to categorise it as such when citing industry rankings, opting for the âsmartwatchâ category instead. It is, definitely, still a smartwatch. But the Watch now has focus, and thatâs a good thing.
From the first Apple Watch, which came out in April of 2015, Apple learned that lots of people were using it primarily for health and fitness-tracking purposes. They had been groomed by years of Fitbits and Jawbones and Garmins and Polars and âsmartâ scales and the whole notion of the quantified self, which promises self-betterment if you could just get a handle on your personal data. Apple learned that people will pay for technology that promises an escape from technology, even if only for 30-minute sweaty increments of time.
The first Apple Watch was a traditional first-gen Apple product: elegant in its design, but lacking key components; a more intuitive interface than a lot of its competitors had to offer, but glitchy and with slow-to-load apps. But Apple is rich and influential enough that it can miss once and still get a do-over, something not every tech company gets. Apple can afford to iterate. And it has.
The Apple Watch is now both more and less of the things it was trying to be. The addition of GPS and better water resistance make it more of a fitness tracker. The new, distilled software means it doesnât have ambitions of acting like a âsmartphone replacement,â and instead it feels more like a useful accessory. Is it as essential as the smartphone? No, it may never be. But it now makes a little more sense as part of the Apple ecosystem.
The 27in 5K iMacs jump from Haswell to Skylake – which is two CPU generations, they also move up one GPU generation, and the storage bandwidth is twice as much. In addition, the display quality is better than ever and you can buy 64GB of third-party RAM as a user upgrade. All this adds up to a pretty impressive update. Our main criticism is that the Fusion Drive isnât standard across the range, and, even worse, the SSD part is now much smaller. However, the new 27-inch iMac line-up is great value for money, if you were to purchase a 5K display of this quality it would cost a lot more than the price of the 5K iMac, and it wouldnât come with a fast, capable, fully functioning computer
There are three standard 27in models. These are spec-ed and priced as follows:
iMac, 27in, quad-core 3.2GHz, 1TB hard drive, AMD Radeon R9 M380, Â£1,449
iMac, 27in, quad-core 3.2GHz, 1TB fusion drive, AMD Radeon R9 M390, Â£1,599
iMac, 27in, quad-core 3.3GHz, 2TB fusion drive, AMD Radeon R9 M395, Â£1,849
If you were to fully spec out the ultimate top of the range build-to-order (BTO) model you could get: 4GHz quad-core i7, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and faster AMD Radeon R9 M395X graphics â it would cost you Â£3,289. Â£1,440 more than the standard top of the range model, and just Â£10 less than the top of the range standard Mac Pro, which costs Â£3,299.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are deeply unusual devices. They are full of aggressive breaks from convention while wrapped in cases that look almost exactly like their two direct predecessors. Even that continuity of design is a break from convention; after almost a decade of Appleâs steady two-year iPhone update pattern, merely retaining the same design for a third straight year plays against expectations.
Inside that case, everything else about the iPhone 7 is a decisive statement about the future. The dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus promise to usher in a new era in mobile photography. The iconic iPhone home button is no longer a physical button, but instead a sophisticated ballet of pressure sensors and haptic vibration motors that simulate the feel of a button. The new A10 Fusion processor blends two high-power cores that rival laptop performance with two low-power cores that combine with a much larger battery to extend run time by up to two hours.
And, yes, Apple has removed the headphone jack.