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Apple’s Late 2017 Collection: A Roundup of Reviews
By Josh Centers
The iPhone X may still be over a month away, but three of Apple’s recently announced products are now available: the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the Apple Watch Series 3, and the Apple TV 4K. Some hardcore Apple fans may have preordered without a second thought, but if you’re more discerning, you’re likely holding off until you can read the early reviews. Here’s a roundup of the most informative coverage of each product.
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus -- With the next-generation iPhone X coming soon, we expected a muted response to the iPhone 8, with its merely evolutionary design. We were right.
Nilay Patel nailed the lack of enthusiasm in his review for the Verge with the simple statement, “It’s an iPhone.”
BuzzFeed’s Nicole Nguyen echoed those sentiments:
Yahoo’s David Pogue agreed, saying, “…if Apple hadn’t unveiled the iPhone X, there’d be no buzzing at all. The other phone Apple unveiled that day, the iPhone 8, is a very minor upgrade indeed.”
However, that’s not to say the iPhone 8 isn’t a worthwhile upgrade, nor worthy of merit. TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino took a unique approach: “If the camera is a platform, the time to begin reviewing the iPhone as a camera is long overdue.” So how does the iPhone 8’s camera stack up? “Killer,” he said. Photographer Austin Mann agreed, and posted some impressive photos to back up that claim.
The iPhone 8’s speed is also impressive, and it has proved in tests to be notably ahead of the fastest Samsung phones. In a Tom’s Guide speed test, it took just 42 seconds for the iPhone 8 to export a two-minute 4K video clip, while that same export took the Samsung Galaxy Note over 3 minutes and the Samsung Galaxy S8+ over 4 minutes.
In summary, the iPhone 8 is the best iPhone yet, even if it offers nothing new under the sun. It’ll be interesting to see how the iPhone 8/iPhone X split affects iPhone sales, as Austin Mann points out:
As I write this, you could order an iPhone 8 and would have it in your hands within a week, regardless of capacity or style. I can’t remember an iPhone launch with immediate availability past the first hours of preorders! The most likely explanation is that people are waiting for the iPhone X, but Apple can reportedly make only 10,000 per day.
Apple Watch Series 3 -- If the iPhone 8 reviews could be summed up as “great, if boring,” the Apple Watch Series 3 reviews were… less kind.
Joanna Stern’s Wall Street Journal review set the tone. In testing the Apple Watch Series 3, she experienced poor battery life and spotty cellular connectivity. (You can watch the amusing video for free, but the article is behind a paywall. However, the text of the article is mirrored at Morningstar):
Lauren Goode discussed similar issues in her review for The Verge:
Apple later released a statement blaming those problems on a Wi-Fi bug and promising a fix. iMore’s Serenity Caldwell explains the problem in detail.
In the New York Times review, Brian X. Chen didn’t seem to have those problems but still found cellular capabilities to be of questionable value. However, he praised the Series 3 overall:
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber gave the Series 3 a glowing review, but lamented the monthly cost of its cellular service:
The takeaway seems to be that if you’re in the market for an Apple Watch, the Series 3 is good if you don’t care about spotty and overpriced LTE service. If you do want cellular capabilities, it’s probably worth waiting a while to see if watchOS updates improve performance.
Apple TV 4K -- If you read only one review of the Apple TV 4K, make it Nilay Patel’s outstanding review for The Verge, which goes into incredible detail about how the Apple TV 4K stacks up as a high-end home theater device. Unfortunately, his verdict isn’t stellar:
Granted, many of these concerns are high end problems, but with the Apple TV 4K commanding a high end price of $179, the complaints are appropriate. Fortunately, Apple says the Apple TV 4K will support Dolby Atmos surround sound in a future update.
Likewise, CNET’s David Katzmaier said many good things about the Apple TV 4K, but concluded that it just costs too much for most people.
Across the board, the reviews are lining up with the initial impressions I offered in “Apple TV Finally Enters the 4K Realm, but It Will Cost You” (12 September 2017): the Apple TV 4K still offers the best user experience but is overpriced, especially considering how long competing products have offered similar technical specs.
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