2022 iPad Air tidbits: What Apple didn’t tell you

The news: Apple announced a minor update to the iPad Air at their Peek Performance event on March 8. Here are some of the smaller changes the company made.

  • The USB-C port supports up to 2x faster transfer speeds than the previous iPad Air
  • Because the M1 chip powers iPad Air now, there is now 8GB inside…double the previous generation
  • Extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps is now supported on the front-facing and rear cameras
  • The Wi-Fi only version of the new iPad Air weighs are negligible 0.02 pounds more than last generation
  • One of the flagship features is 5G…but this tablet only supports the slower sub-6 GHz standard (not the ultra-fast mmWave)

Sam’s take: Overall, this is an incredibly small update…unless you consider the M1 chip inside, which you can now get in an iPad for $599. That’ll be pointless for most folks, though, considering that iPadOS continues to be so limited year after year. Aside from that, the faster USB-C port is nice, I guess?

2022 iPhone SE tidbits: What Apple didn’t tell you

The news: At a busy Apple event on March 8, Apple announced a new, third-generation iPhone SE. Here are the deep cuts that Apple didn’t highlight.

  • According to MacRumors, there is now 4GB RAM (was 3GB prior)
  • The flagship feature is 5G…but it only supports the slower sub-6 GHz standard (not the ultra-fast mmWave)
  • Apple promises an extra 2 hours of battery life thanks to the efficient A15 Bionic chip: they claim 15 hours of video playback compared to 13 on the iPhone SE 2
  • While the camera hardware hasn’t improved at all, there are new computational photography features like Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4 and Photographic Styles like on iPhone 13
  • There’s no Ceramic Shield here…but Apple does say this iPhone SE has “the toughest glass in a smartphone on the front and back”
  • This iPhone SE now starts at $429, which is $30 more expensive than the iPhone SE 2
  • IP67 water (maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes) and dust resistance is identical to the previous model
  • The new iPhone SE is lighter than the last generation: it weighs just 5.09 ounces, which is 0.13 ounces lighter than the iPhone SE 2

Sam’s take: There’s actually quite a lot here that surprised me. The new iPhone SE doesn’t support the fastest 5G, has the exact same camera hardware as before and is more expensive…but they made it weigh less. I guess that’s a fair trade off, right? Joking aside, this will still be an incredibly good value for most people. My only concern here remains the battery life, of which I’m still not convinced will be good enough.

Mac Studio tidbits: What Apple didn’t tell you

The news: Apple announced the all-new Mac Studio desktop at their March 8 Peek Performance event…but now we’re taking a closer look at some tidbits you should know.

  • Even though this is a higher-end desktop, there is a built-in speaker (but I doubt that it’ll be any good or even viable for anything more than a quick soundbite)
  • All Mac Studios ship with 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back, but only the M1 Ultra Mac Studio also has Thunderbolt 4 ports on the front…the front ports on M1 Max are just standard USB-C
  • The Mac Studio with M1 Ultra weighs a whopping 2 pounds more than the same computer configured with M1 Max
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and a 10Gb Ethernet port all come standard

Sam’s take: How does the M1 Ultra weight 2 pounds more than M1 Max? Am I the only one that finds this fascinating? But considering that most people will set this on their desk and never move it…I don’t think this weight difference actually matters. I’m also really grateful there’s a speaker on here as someone who probably relies on my built-in Mac speakers too much.

Apple Studio Display tidbits: What Apple didn’t tell you

The news: Now that Apple’s Studio Display is official, let’s take a deeper dive into the intricacies of the product that Apple didn’t talk about on stage at their Peek Performance event.

  • The Studio Display screen is identical to that of the 27-inch iMac
    • 27-inch 5K Retina display
    • 5120-by-2880 resolution at 218 pixels per inch
    • 600 nits brightness
    • Support for 1 billion colors
    • Wide color (P3)
    • True Tone
  • Thus, it’s a 60Hz panel and there’s no 120Hz ProMotion technology
  • Center Stage on the new 12MP ultra-wide camera, Spatial Audio and “Hey Siri” are all enabled courtesy of the powerful A13 Bionic processor
  • Only 1 of the 4 USB-C ports is Thunderbolt 3 (40Gb/s)…the other 3 USB-C sports cap out at transfer speeds of 10Gb/s
  • While the tilt-only stand is included for the base $1599 price, the tilt- and height-adjustable stand runs an extra $400…and that one weighs 3 pounds more
  • A new 1 meter Thunderbolt cable is included in the box with all models…but buyers of the nano-texture glass version get an official Apple polishing cloth, too

Sam’s take: Overall, there really aren’t any surprises here. Apple was incredibly straightforward about this display when they announced it and there aren’t any red flags. I think $1,599 is an incredible value for what you’re getting in this package. But man did I wish it had 120Hz ProMotion… So here’s to the Pro Display XDR 2.

AirPods Max tidbits: Find My support, no passive audio & more

The roundup: A day after being announced, we scoured the internet for all the AirPods Max tidbits that Apple has provided thus far.

  • AirPods Max can be located and pinged through the Find My app
  • While placing AirPods Max in the smart case puts them in an ultra-low power mode…they don’t shut off completely
  • Audio output is Lightning to 3.5mm jack only…no USB audio support
  • Lightning-to-3.5mm cable is a $35 add-on
  • There’s no passive audio support…the headphones must be charged to work at all
  • AirPods Max are fully compatible with non-Apple devices…but some special features, like spatial audio, only work when paired to an Apple product
  • Like with Apple Watch Series 6 and iPhone 12, there’s no power brick included in the box
  • Additional/replacement ear cushions can be purchased for $69 (the headband was also supposed to be replaceable, but the feature got scrapped, according to rumors)
  • Engraving may speed up shipping for once

iPhone 12 tidbits: Actually starts at $729, Qi charging limited to 7.5w, 5G cutout & more

The news: Following the reveal of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, a number of interesting new details have emerged about Apple’s new handsets.

  • Higher starting price than advertised: Apple says iPhone 12 starts at $699: this is only available through a special carrier offer with AT&T or Verizon, currently. Unlocked models of iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 start at $729 and $829 respectively.
  • Smart Data Mode: This mode means that 5G will be used only as needed, and seems to be enabled by default. The Verge says that 5G will only be enabled when streaming a movie or doing a video call, but not when checking email or Twitter. Apple suggests this can be toggled off.
  • Mysterious side cutout: Apple has confirmed this is a transparent cutout for the faster mmWave 5G frequency (sorry, no Touch ID here).
  • RAM: iPhone 12 has 4GB RAM while iPhone 12 Pro has 6GB RAM (confirmed by MacRumors)
  • Qi charging is remains at 7.5w: You’ll only be able to get the faster 15w wireless charging speeds when using an official MagSafe accessory.
  • MagSafe Duo and Leather Sleeve accessories: Neither of these fascinating products have a release date yet. Apple just says “MagSafe Duo Charger and Leather Sleeve will be available at a later date.”
  • Apple ProRAW: A speaker in the Keynote said the feature was coming to iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max before the end of 2020. Apple’s press release more ambiguously claims “Apple ProRAW will be available in a future iOS 14 update.”
  • 1080p FaceTime: You can broadcast your face in 1080p over FaceTime on Wi-Fi and 5G (non-iPhone 12s are limited to Wi-Fi only)
  • 3 months free of Apple Arcade: Similar to the free year of Apple TV+ last year, Apple is giving buyers of a new iPhone 12 (or other Apple products) 3 months free of Apple Arcade