iPhone 12 thoughts

To upgrade or not?

I checked, and there is 5G millimeter broadband available from my carrier, Softbank, here in Tokyo. But I got the feeling that it is in some locations, and not in others. Plus if you make a contract with a 5G phone the monthly fee is an extra 1,000 yen/month. I don’t know why considering that they’re already likely to sell more data if it really is faster.

Plus the iPhone 12 only switches from 4G to 5G under certain download circumstances to save battery and prevent overheating.

My feeling is that 5G is “not quite there” yet, and my expectations would be greater than what I actually see.

There are some improved camera features. That’s of interest, but what really is much improved over the original X which I have? The zoom is a bit better, but I’m mostly interested in zoom in. That apparently just changes from 2 to 2.5 because of the zoom out, which I would rarely use. In other words, the advertised 5x zoom is from 0.5x out (with wide view) to 2.5x in.

There are some miscellaneous features which apparently are supported by later models, like the selfie “mirror mode” (so your selfies look like what you actually see on the display rather than the reverse). That doesn’t work on the X.

Anyway, my X is still in perfect condition. The battery was recently replaced under AppleCare+ warranty. So I’m wondering what would really be so much better in day to day life at the moment.

I’m “on hold” thinking about it, or whether it’s worth waiting yet another year. I’m leaning towards waiting, at least until 5G is realistically more useful.

Tech Talk: iPadOS / iOS 13.1 First Impressions

This is just from playing with iOS 13.1 for about an hour on my iPad 5th Generation and iPhone X. You can find lots of articles online with in-depth details. So these are just my own first impressions. I hope you find them useful.

The best update for me – video editing!

First what I think is the the best new feature in iPadOS and iOS 13, and what makes it worthwhile updating right away for. Photo and video editing has been incredibly improved! Now you can crop and rotate videos directly! And you can edit video brightness, etc., directly from within the Photos app. Finally! This is a huge convenience. Think about it.

Photos Gallery

The Photos view itself is also greatly improved. If you are scrolling through your photos, you can do it by day, months, years, and all photos. The cool thing is that photos are scaled nicely, and you can see the live photos and videos move as you are scrolling through. It brings your photos more “to life” as you are looking through them. 

Some iPadOS Notes

From 13 onward, iOS is for iPhones and iPadOS is for iPads. I only touch on some of the new features here. There are apparently some cool things you can do between your iPad and Mac as well.


I’ve always like the fact that you can copy on one device (iPhone, iPad, Mac) and paste to another. I use that all the time, and it’s one thing that keeps me in the Apple ecosystem.

Handoff is quite cool too. For example, after updating my iPad to iPadOS13, I noticed right away that if I have a Chrome window open on my Mac, there’s a little icon at the bottom right on my iPad which lets me open that same page in Safari. Interesting. Similarly, if you are composing an email, or writing a memo on one device, you can just switch to another device and continue.

Widgets on the Home Screen

The iPad now allows widgets on the home screen, which makes better use of the home screen space. So I can, for example, see the weather and upcoming calendar appointments right there on the home screen to the left of app icons. That’s pretty cool.

Multitasking Enhancements

On the iPad, you can now have multiple versions of the same app open at the same time and other multitasking features. For example, you can have Files open twice in split view and drag files around to different folders that way. It works great, but the UI takes some getting used to. I suspect unless you are using your iPad every day for school or actual work you probably won’t be doing this much. Maybe I’ll feel different about that once I get the hang of the UI better. It does work as advertised though.

Desktop-like Safari on the iPad

In iPadOS the Safari browser is more like the desktop browser now, with tabs and other desktop-like experiences. You can even drag browser tabs to the side and have two pages open at once in split view mode (see multitasking, above). That’s pretty cool. Apple are clearly trying to make iPad more useful as a computer substitute for certain people.

Dark Mode

Another thing I noticed right away is that I don’t really care for dark mode. It clashes in ordinary Mail, because the bodies of a mail are not dark and yet the listings themselves are dark, so it looks weird. Instead of being easy on the eyes, it becomes confusing. I’m sticking with regular window colors.

Slide to Type – and the small keyboard on the iPad

The new slide-to-type, where you run your fingers over the keys instead of typing each letter separately, works flawlessly on my iPhone. In a situation where you can’t dictate I can see this being a big time saver.

Meanwhile on the iPad you can shrink the gigantic on-screen keyboard to iPhone size now. Just pinch in on the keyboard (like you’re shrinking a photo) and you have a much less intrusive keyboard which you can use with one hand. When you do this, slide-to-type also works on the iPad.

Some Mail UI improvements

When you touch the reply icon in Mail, you see lots of options at once: reply all, forward, trash, flag, mark as unread, move to a suggested mailbox, or move to another mailbox – all right there. Also archive, junk, mute, notify me and more are right there. Interesting!

Message Searching 

Searching in Messages is greatly improved, and you can instantly find photos and attachments. Also, some attachments that didn’t open previously now do open, like a sound attachment of birdsongs a friend sent me recently.

Memo Improvements

The Memo app, which I use every day (I no longer use Evernote) gets new features too, like a gallery view (easy to find images and sketches. Another big improvement in Memo is shared folders for collaboration (before you could only share individual notes).

Long Screenshots Doesn’t Work

A feature that looks convenient, but doesn’t work for me right now is long screenshots. In Safari, Mail and other Apple Maps you supposedly can now take a long screenshot without doing it in parts and then using an app like Stitch-It to piece it back together again. It’s supposed to save it as a PDF in Files. I tried this, and it saves it as a PDF in Files, but it’s just the selection as before. I’m checking into this.

iOS 13 / iPadOS 13 are also noticeably faster. I recommend updating if your device supports it.

112 iPhone XS’s = one house. And the update lifetime of a new iPhone.

I was thinking about my iPhone X today, the upcoming iOS 13, and how much these devices cost, as well as their lifetimes.

My partner recently bought a new iPhone XS directly from Apple here in Japan. It has 256 GB of storage and he also went for AppleCare Plus.

In February, we both also bought our nice, little house here in Tokyo.

While comparing apples and oranges, it is curious to note that the cost of our house is equivalent to just 112 iPhone XS iPhones. I’m thinking of a small stack of iPhone X boxes, 10 wide and 11 high. That would easily fit on my computer desk, next to my MBP. It seems weird to think that such a small number of iPhones has the price value of our 3 story house.

While I’m waxing philosophical, I was also looking at the upgrade lifetime of new iPhones. iOS 13 will drop support for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. They were released in 2014. That means the iOS upgrade lifetime of an iPhone is just 5 years. On the other hand, my MBP (late 2013 retina) can still be upgraded this fall to the new macOS Catalina. Even 2012 MacBook Pro’s can. So the upgrade lifetime of a Mac is 7 years. Is the difference for marketing reasons, or are there technical reasons why it’s not possible to upgrade an iPhone 6 to iOS 13?

Of course I realize that an iPhone 6 doesn’t suddenly become useless just because it can’t run iOS 13. But iPhones are expensive. If they cost $1,000+ new and can only be upgraded for 5 years, that’s $200/year upgrade life. Better than Androids of course. But still, it makes me wonder at how materialistic I’ve gotten. Or we have all gotten.

I rarely feel like upgrading my computer. I think most people are that way. Yet we seem to always want to upgrade our iPhones. I have done so regularly every 2 years at least since they first became available in Japan.

My conclusions? None really. But I do feel like maybe it makes sense to use iPhones as long as computers, and maybe it isn’t necessary to upgrade so often, as long as the battery is kept in good shape. But then, there are those regular camera improvements…

Comparing the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus display

I’m not upgrading this year, but was curious.

Just before I went over to Yodobashi Camera and compared the iPhone X (on the left) to the iPhone 8 Plus (on the right), side-to-side. The main purpose was to see if the letters on the iPhone X were smaller than on the iPhone 8 Plus.

Here are my impressions, looking at a blog post I recently made:

1. First, the display of the iPhone X is clearly better. It’s obviously more beautiful.

2. I didn’t measure, but it’s my impression that the character size on the iPhone X is actually a bit larger, not smaller.

3. Since the iPhone X is narrower, naturally sentences word wrap sooner than with the iPhone 8 Plus. The amount of text is almost the same, but you can see just a bit more content on one screen on the iPhone 8 Plus than with the iPhone X.

I think the iPhone X is the winner in this test.

You can click on the photo to see it larger.