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Why the iPhone 7S could be better than the iPhone 8

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We’ve still got months until Apple even prints the invites for the iPhone 8 event, but rumors are starting to mount. The new flagship iPhone, likely named the iPhone 8, iPhone X or iPhone Edition, will likely have an edge-to-edge display with a curved glass front, no home button, a dual-camera setup and possibly some kind of facial recognition.

It all sounds great, but I think the iPhone 7 series might still have a shot at glory this year.

It all comes down to the tradeoffs that Apple is likely to make to create room for the iPhone 8’s standout features. Want a zero-bezel display with a curved front? That means no home button, and no Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the front either. There’s rumors that Apple will have some kind of under-screen fingerprint sensor, but some leaks are now suggesting that the Touch ID sensor will move to the back.

Without mincing words, that would be a disaster. Samsung is already getting major flak for moving the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S8 to the back. It sits right next to the camera sensor, causing endless fingerprints and smudges on the lens. A Samsung rep has already said that it was a deliberate design decision to try and free up more internal room for a battery, but the justification doesn’t really matter: it still leads to a terrible user experience.

It’s easy to think that Apple won’t fall into the same trap, but just look at last year. Removing the headphone jack was a consumer-hostile decision that is still causing me annoyance to this day. Moving the Touch ID sensor to the back would be a little less “courageous” than killing the headphone jack, so it’s easy to imagine Apple doing just that.

Other things make me already hesitant about the iPhone 8. Including a bunch of fancy features like curved glass, OLED screens and iris sensors is going to jack the price of the phone up, and there’s no way that Apple will take a hit on its historically fat profit margins. Instead, expect the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus to retail for about the same (or a little less) than the current iPhone 7, while the iPhone 8 could run close to $1,000. No thanks.

Even niggling details could be cause for concern. Apple has championed LCD screen technology for years, and it’s reasonable to think that there might be bugs in its first generation of OLED phones. Even Samsung, which produces screens in house and has been using AMOLED for years, still has problems with its screens. Waiting one year for Apple to work out the bugs in a new generation of device really wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I’m not saying that the iPhone 8 will be a flop, or that people won’t buy it. But if Apple comes out with an iPhone 7S at the same time, with the same processor and some of the same camera improvements as the iPhone 8 at a much lower price, waiting a year to jump on the iPhone 8 bandwagon might not be such a bad idea.

Fashion and music obsessed wanderlust. Resale clothing appreciator who fancies herself a well-crafted cocktail. Occasional photographer. Amateur sneaker head.

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Nomad unveils its latest 2,800mAh battery for iPhone

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Nomad today announced the launch of an updated Battery Cable, which comes equipped with a slim 2,800 mAh battery to add a bit of extra juice to Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

The Battery Cable looks like a standard braided Nomad Lightning cable for the iPhone, but with the addition of a battery pack at one end that can be used for extra charging power when necessary.

Nomad’s 1.5M Battery Cable includes an integrated Nomad cable tie and support for passthrough charging, so you can charge up the battery while you charge your iPhone. Having the battery pack integrated into the cable is convenient because it ensures the battery is always full when you need it.

Compared to the original version of the Battery Cable, the new model has a higher capacity and a sturdier aluminum build.

Nomad’s Battery Cable can be purchased from the Nomad website for $49.95 starting today.

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Wi-Fi company Plume announces new mesh router technology

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Wi-Fi router startup Plume today announced an upgraded version of its mesh networking devices and a new subscription model for its customers. Plume first began selling its “Plume Pod” routers in late 2016, and today revealed a new tri-band router called the “SuperPod” (via The Verge).

Plume’s SuperPod works like any other mesh system, requiring users to connect the first Pod to their modem with an included ethernet cable. The rest serve as wall plugs that users permanently place in an outlet to enhance the Wi-Fi signal throughout their home. In comparison to the original dual band, four-channel model, SuperPod has a tri-band Wi-Fi radio with eight channels and two ethernet ports.

When connected and running, the SuperPod system learns the user’s home usage patterns “in a matter of days.” This means that the SuperPods will learn when you use Wi-Fi the most (getting news from a smart speaker in the morning or watching 4K films at night) and implement “Adaptive Wi-Fi” to actively optimize the network for more consistent speed and performance.

For users to take advantage of these features, they’ll have to subscribe to Plume. The company previously sold the Plume Pod without a subscription, but today is changing that by requiring customers to subscribe to its Adaptive Wi-Fi service before they can purchase a SuperPod, The Verge notes.

The service costs $60 per year and if users opt out of the subscription in a year’s time “the routers may not fully work,” although Plume CEO Fahri Diner said the company wouldn’t outright “brick” the devices if users decide not to pay down the line.

Diner says Plume wants to provide so many additional services as part of its subscription that customers will happily remain subscribed. “Our intent, our hope, is to make the decision a no-brainer,” Diner said in a phone call. “If the customer doesn’t want to renew, it won’t be because of the price. They will be unhappy for us for one reason or another.”

Plume is offering price discounts for it subscribers, however, selling a three-pack of its routers for $39, down from $179. Three packs come with two dual-band routers (the older models) and one tri-band router (the new model). In terms of adding supplemental Pods onto the system, the company will still sell its Plume Pod for $39 and the individual price for the new SuperPod is $99.

Potential customers can also choose to pay a flat $200 fee for a lifetime membership to the service, while existing Plume owners will be grandfathered in to the new features for free. Other features include parental controls, speed tests, service management, and “Plume HomePass.” This service creates unique Wi-Fi passwords personalized to guests when they visit. The iOS app can also detail Wi-Fi connections, freeze device connections to prevent kids from accessing the internet, data consumption charts, and more.

Wi-Fi mesh systems have become a popular solution for in-home Wi-Fi over the years, with options from companies like Linksys, Orbi, Eero, Google, and others. The technology is looking to expand as well, with the Wi-Fi Alliance in May announcing a new certification program called “EasyMesh,” which aims to allow users to build mesh networks in their homes across different brands.

For Plume, orders on the SuperPod will open June 15 and the device will begin shipping June 21.

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Microsoft officially announces its Xbox adaptive controller

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Microsoft’s previously announced Adaptive Controller for the Xbox is now available for pre-order for $100 USD and is expected to ship in September.

After an initial leak of the device, Microsoft has announced an Xbox controller designed for individuals with disabilities. The Adaptive Controler features two large buttons that can be programmed, as well as 19 jacks that allows connectivity with a range of joysticks, buttons, and switches compatible with Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.

Its highlighted customization and connectivity aspects allow gamers to built a setup for all their needs, and although the peripheral won’t be for every game, with its system-level button remapping, its usage has endless possibilities to build upon for the gaming accessibility field.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller will cost $99.99 USD and is slated to drop later this year.

In related news, a Black Panther-themed Xbox One X is coming.

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