Wednesday, November 02, 2016

My impressions of the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2 and more

It's been several weeks since I last blogged and I wanted to share my impressions of several new devices I purchased:


Apple iPhone 7 Plus (black, 128GB, Verizon)
I had been using a 2 year old iPhone 6 that was due for an upgrade. While it took almost 2 months for my iPhone 7 Plus to arrive, it was worth the wait. I like the size, form factor, performance (3GB RAM), battery life, screen, haptic TouchID sensor, water resistance, dual camera and new portrait mode with iOS 10.1. I'm not missing the headphone jack.

I splurged for the Apple iPhone 7 Plus black silicone case ($39) and I'm really glad I did. It looks, fits and feels amazing.

I keep my iPhone 7 Plus charged and ready on my nightstand using the iPhone Lightning dock which also allows me to use standard headphones while charging.

I also signed up for the Barclaycard Visa with Apple rewards to earn 3x points for purchases at Apple as well as special financing. I already earned my first $25 iTunes gift card.  Even the employee at the Apple store was impressed when I cashed out via ApplePay on my Apple Watch with the Apple credit card.


Apple Watch Series 2 (42mm with Silver Aluminum Case with Pearl Woven Nylon)
I had been using the original Apple Watch since it was first released last year and liked it. Earlier this year, IBM began offering a free Series 1 38mm Apple Watch to all US employees with a high deductible/HSA insurance plan to encourage fitness. The "Vitality Today" app even tracks your steps which you can redeem for prizes (e.g. iTunes gift cards). The only charge to IBMers is a $80 tax withholding. I decided to take advantage of the offer and upgrade to the Series 2 42mm for $135 additional. A little more than a month later, the watch arrived. More details on the Apple Watch at Work program is available on Apple.com

The Series 2 watch is slightly thicker than the original but offers much faster performance, a brighter screen and is water resistant. Thankfully, the bands are interchangeable with the original. My favorite band remains the Penom Milenese Loop - a steal at only $10.99 on Amazon with free Prime shipping.

I continue to be a fan of the Spigen S330 Apple Watch stand which keeps my Apple Watch charged and accessible on my night stand.


Amazon Echo Dot (second generation)
Another Amazon purchase and a steal at $49.99 with free Prime shipping. The Echo has found a home in my kitchen and is perfect when I'm cooking and have my hands full. The voice recognition is amazing.


Redesigned Apple MacBook Pro
Apple released new, thinner, more powerful Apple MacBook Pro laptops with a new Touch Bar at an event last week. My current MacBook Pro, purchased last year, works just fine and I don't plan to upgrade at this time. My all time favorite laptop, a 5 year old MacBook Air 11.6 inch remains my trusty backup.


New TV app for Apple TV
At the same Apple MacBook Pro event last week, Apple announced a December software upgrade for the Apple TV which includes a new TV app. The new app provides a portal through which you can browse movies and TV shows across content providers. Apple didn't specify which providers would be included but Netflix announced that they would opt out of the new TV app. Perhaps Netflix doesn't want to share their usage data with Apple. The standalone Netflix app will still be available. I always carry an AppleTV in my work backpack as it remains the best device to view Apple content or deliver a client presentation wirelessly.


Google Pixel
I'm a big fan of my Nexus 5X but I was a bit disappointed with the price of the new Pixel smartphones. While the Pixel is clearly a big step up from the Nexus, they lack key features like waterproofing and a removable SD card. I was also bummed that Nexus users won't be getting the new Pixel launcher and Google Assistant with Android 7.1. I wish Google had continued to make a lower cost Nexus/Pixel phone. I'm in no rush to upgrade the Nexus 5X I purchased earlier this year.

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