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Our Brutally Honest iPhone Feature Power Rankings – The Ringer (blog)

The new iPhone is here! Er, it’s coming. Cutting through all the drama of the event, though, we here at The Ringer are getting right to the features that will either convince you to shell out money on a new iPhone (or Apple Watch) or leave you clinging to your SE model, because you know what, it’s fine.

25 Percent Louder Stereo Speakers With Deeper Bass

Rating: Yes!

Christ, is the put-the-phone-in-a-bowl trick just one more thing we’re going to have to confess to our kids someday? —Claire McNear

Rating: Yo, DJ, Pump This Party

The baritone voices of the podcasting men in my life are going to ROCK ON. —Katie Baker

New Portrait Mode Lighting


Still from Apple presentation featuring new Portrait Mode lighting

Apple

Rating: Yes, Make Me Beautiful

Honestly, I’ll embrace any photo editing software that makes me appear subtly better-looking than I am, so I’m into this. —Kate Knibbs

Rating: Skeptical Mom Is Skeptical

Is this going to make Portrait Mode even laggier than it already is? I’m just saying, I have a LOT of gorgeously rendered photos of my toddler beginning to cry/running away/no longer staring wistfully into the middle distance the way he was when I pressed the shutter. But I’m sure for all the dutiful boyfriends helping generate Insta content at sunset and for all the travelers in the iPhone commercials who like to take artfully composed shots of wrinkled cheesemongers, this is a win. —Baker

Augmented Reality


Apple

Rating: Not Mad at It

I have always been intrigued by the ability to point my phone’s camera at a plant or a building and immediately get back some identifying information. This kind of technology is not necessarily new and could be leading or invasive if used irresponsibly. But when a company uses it to display, say, the stats of players on a field during a MLB game or offer up the names of constellations in the sky, it’s just plain useful. If it’s faster than Googling something, it’s worth a try.

Also: I don’t play any games on my iPhone aside from Pokémon Go, but AR appears to be good for that, too. –Alyssa Bereznak

Rating: !!!!!!!!!!!!

POKÉMON GO! MORE! YES! —McNear

Wireless Charging


Phil Schiller demonstrating Apple’s new wireless charging

Apple

Rating: Very Into It

The latest line of iPhones don’t need to attach to a charging apparatus. You can simply lay one on a minimalist white brick, and its battery will replenish on its own. This is great news because I am the iPhone charger’s worst enemy. I have destroyed a handful of them by repeatedly bending, twisting, and yanking my charger wire around as it desperately clings to its power source. It is also good news because—if we are to believe Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller—it allows wireless charging stations to more easily be built into public places, like McDonald’s and LAX. Imagine that: Instead of wandering around the airport with a handful of electronics, looking for an outlet in a dusty corner, you could just place your phone on a table and be done with it. Forgetful travelers rejoice! —Bereznak

Rating: This Is a Ploy to Take My Money

As with the AppleTV remote before it, I look at this cool, newfangled contraption and see only funds draining out of my bank account. How much will this set me back when I inevitably leave one in a hotel room or spill my bedside glass of water all over it? And will it still work with a case on my phone? If I have to pry the armed fortress off my tender device every time I need an energy boost, there’s a 100 percent chance things will end in shattered glass and broken dreams. —Baker

iPhone X Battery That Lasts Two Hours Longer Than the iPhone 7’s

Rating: Essential

The only time I ever really reflect on how essential the iPhone has become to so many aspects of my life—communication, transportation, two-factor authentication—is when the battery icon turns red below 20 percent. I hate this feeling and would gladly trade a bushel of megapixels, a half-inch of screen real estate and even something called Super Retina Display for a device with twice the battery life of the typical iPhone. Scrolling through Twitter is anxiety-inducing enough without the creeping knowledge that my only portal to human interaction while outside in extremely lively public spaces could power off at any moment. “Two hours more” is a vague benchmark that won’t fully stave off my battery dread, but I’ll take it. —Victor Luckerson

Rating: Eh.

I want to discuss battery life only when the “low battery mode” setting becomes standard. I live my life with the yellow battery icon, with no discernible disadvantage. Why brag about an additional two hours when an even-longer duration is on the table? —Juliet Litman

Face ID Unlock (for iPhone X)


Still of Apple presentation showing facial recognition software

Apple

Rating: No Thank you

The Face ID unlock sounds technologically advanced, with all the chatter about neural learning and infrared cameras, but the sad truth is that a solid passcode will protect your phone better than a biometric scan. This is a classic case of trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. —Knibbs

Rating: Will Regret Later

The only possible outcome for users who opt in is sincere regret. What if the information is hacked? What if it’s sold to the government? What if it’s sold to a foreign government? Can we be sure that none of these scenarios won’t occur. Sincerely, your paranoid friend. —Litman

Rating: I Would Very Much Like to Be Excluded from This Narrative

You’re watching TV on the couch with your boo, and then your boo has to scramble away to turn on the lamp to get enough light on their cheekbones to open their phone. You’re trying to show your boss an email, but to do so, you’re going to have to take a selfie, and then another one when the first isn’t quite direct enough to register as you. You’re in line at the store, and the moron in front of you—the one with far more that 12 items, indubitably—raises their phone to take a freaking selfie to activate Apple Pay. No. None of this. Fire either me or “face data” into the sun; I’m fine with either. —McNear

Cellular in the Apple Watch Series 3

Rating: Sure

OK, this is the only non-iPhone update, but I, for one, am pumped to talk into my wrist like a goddamn superhero. The original Apple Watch was like a fancified Fitbit, but it was not the futuristic wrist computer I was promised. This is. Molly McHugh

iPhone X’s Lack of Home Button


Photo from Apple presentation showing the iPhone X, without a Home button

Apple

Rating: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I won’t buy this phone, so I don’t care. I’m trying to imagine what could compel me to buy it, but it’s just too expensive, and I’m currently carrying around a 6s that has so many cracks that I can’t actually access part of the screen. Suffice it to say I care not at all about screen quality. And for those who do, please see this comment from our own Riley McAtee:


Screenshot of a Slack post indicating that the iPhone’s Super Retina display is a lower PPI than most high-end Androids have

So there’s that.

Also, Face ID is both fun and terrifying, but not a selling point for me. And so here we are, and I’m trying to care about the absence of a home button. I suppose the only thing that should make me care is that it sounds very much like this is the future of iPhones, but I choose to deal with this fate later, when the 7s Plus I’m likely about to buy at a deep discount (thanks, new iPhone release, for driving down prices!) finally bites the dust. I think it will be 2025. —McHugh

Rating: Wait …

One big question looms: How do you screenshot and capture the receipts? —Litman

Rating: This Is Good

I have some hesitation about the prospects of a buttonless future, or, more specifically, about my ability to avoid permanent damage to my thumb when I inevitably crack this thing and wait six glass-shardy months to get it fixed. But the home button is a loud, sticky, space-wasting blob, and I’m just fine seeing it go—provided, anyway, that jumping between apps remains as speedy as it is now, which … maybe? —McNear

Rating: You Can’t Start a Fire Without a Spark

Any feature that gets me from zero to flashlight more quickly is a feature I support. If they’ve figured out a way that swipe-from-bottom works while the keyboard is deployed and isn’t so persnickety that I wind up dropping the phone while dislocating my thumb half the time I attempt it, I’m in. —Baker

Animoji


Apple

Rating: Hell Yes!

Please see above wherein I explain I’m not going to buy an iPhone X. And now imagine a world where for some reason I do: After a moment’s worry about the government/hackers owning my face, I immediately make a way to animate the lobster emoji and give it voice, then send it to everyone I know. —McHugh

Rating: No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know how many parents have my phone number? Oh my god. —McNear


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