*That’s according to some research and analysis companies conducting a soft target search of every carrier store, rep, web search, back-of-house, henhouse, outhouse and presumably doghouse in a 5-mile radius. And saying "the iPhone 12 mini might not be a big hit."
But with Apple releasing an unprecedented 5 new phones this year, including not just a smaller, less expensive SE but splitting the market between a smaller mini and a less expensive SE, what is consumer demand really showing us to date?
To find out, I called up one of the best and brightest industry analysts in the business, Creative Strategies’ own Carolina Milanesi.
The iPhone X ditched Touch ID for Face ID. Now… the iPhone 13 just might be bringing Touch ID back. But.. Probably not in the way you expect and… probably not for the reasons you think.
Rumors of Touch ID coming back to the iPhone have been making the rounds for… a long time now.
In May of 2019, Financial Analyst Blayne Curtis said in a research note that:
2020 iPhones will have more significant changes, including 5G support, 3D sensing via the rear camera system, and acoustic fingerprint technology that could allow for full-screen Touch ID
And, yeah, well… two out of three ain’t bad, especially from back then.
In August of 2019, financial analyst and supply chain exfiltrator extraordinaire Kuo Ming-Chi pushed that date back to 2021, saying:
Apple will launch the new iPhone equipped with both Face ID and FOD to enhance security and convenience thanks to the multi-biometrics.
Just last week, Jon Prosser said he heard Touch ID was indeed in this year’s prototypes.
And there have also been parallel rumors about a next-generation iPhone SE Plus. Like an iPhone XR but with Touch ID instead of Face ID to keep costs down. Full screen, but with either in-display Touch ID or power button Touch ID, like Apple just shipped in the 2020 iPad Air.
Which, the latter of course, for an SE, yes, sure, makes just all the sense in the world that does.
But for the iPhone 13… why go to all the trouble of deleting Touch ID with the iPhone X in 2017 just to bring it back with the iPhone 13… or whatever Apple calls the 2021 iPhone in… 2021.
Well, see… the thing is… because the goal was never to delete Touch ID in the first place. Or even to make it. Or make Face ID.
Wait… I know… I know… That sounds just all shades of bananas, but the thing is… Touch ID and Face ID have always only ever been two different ways for Apple to achieve the one same basic goal — to make iPhone security more convenient.
To make unlocking the iPhone so easy people would be willing to lock it in the first place. Which, back before Touch ID, turns out a huge amount of people just weren’t even doing.
So, when Apple deleted the Home button in 2017, they knew they’d have delete Touch ID, their fingerprint identity scanner, along with it. I mean, that or move it.
And, back then, in-screen fingerprint identity scanners just weren’t ready for prime time, and putting regular old Touch ID on the back just seemed ordinary, common place. Worse… stuck in place. Failing to move forward. Whatever the opposite is of a wicked flex.
But with Face ID, a facial geometry identity scanner, Apple saw the opportunity to, sure, do something that would be really hard for anyone else to duplicate, like for years, but that would also be even more convenient. Everything else being equal, almost transparent.
As in, you didn’t even have to press a Home button to unlock your iPhone any more. You just had to look at it.
But, just like Touch ID wouldn’t work at a distance, like in a dock or car mount, or with gloves on or when your finger was wet, Face ID wouldn’t work at an angle, like on a table or shelf, or with a mask on.
And neither could be used for multi-factor authentication because, counter-intuitive as it may seem, if you force both passcode and fingerprint, for example, and then burn or cut your finger, you’re locked out of your phone. Unless you add a recovery key or security token, and then you’re dealing with even greater complexity. Which is… the opposite of convenience.
So, sure, when he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships. As a result his men were well motivated.
Apple burned Touch ID. As a result the Face ID teams were well motivated. And… they… managed to ship.
But that was then. This is now. And with the early optical versions of in-display fingerprint identity scanners behind us, the kind that needed to light up and could be fairly easily spoofed by prosthetics, and the first couple generations of ultrasonics, which essentially used radar instead of photos, far more mature… Apple can say… pour ques no los dos?
Using their own acoustic in-display fingerprint identity scanner patents, Qualcomm’s ultrasonic patents — which I believe came with the licenses Apple took along with the 5G settlement and everything else — they can probably field a best-in-class next-generation in display Touch ID fairly soon.
And that, along with Face ID, means it wouldn’t matter if you were at a distance or at an angle, or if you had gloves on or a mask on, or if your finger was wet. Both systems would just fire and whichever one wins… well, we win either way.
Because it’s never been about just Touch ID or Face ID, right? It’s been about making iPhone security ever more convenient.
And not having to worry about the peccadilloes of one particular form of biometrics or another… you can look… or touch.
And I’ll do you one better — Apple long ago abstracted the security frameworks anyway, so all the iOS and Apple Pay and app features don’t care where the authentication token comes from, Touch ID or Face ID, they just care about the authentication token.
So, in other words, Apple could do this tomorrow… or next fall… and it would already all just work. Together. Amazingly well.
iOS 14.3 is here and Apple ProRAW for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max is here with it. And to talk all about it, I’ve got Austin Mann on the line, who’s taken just a few minutes off from what I can only imagine must be filming the Yo-Yo Ma performing a pop-up concert for elephants in Gauteng, or writing up the next definitive iPhone camera review, to chat just all about it.
I think Apple should bring multitouch, capacitive touch screens to the Mac and that, post-iPhone, any screen that doesn’t respond to touch is just going to feel broken. John Gruber of Daring Fireball and The Talk Show fame thinks macOS and Mac hardware just aren’t optimized for touch and adding it would only make the Mac worse.
So, we’re going to argue about it. From macOS Big Sur to iOS apps on the Mac to Apple Pencil support. For you. Right now.
Google Chrome might just be thrashing performance on your Mac. And I’m going to explain why, how, and most importantly — what you can do about it. And I’m going to do it, right now.
Because… this is a breaking controversy, with some people ready throw Chrome in a burning trash fire and others saying there’s no proof, and even talking about it is reckless and shameful.
But I think talking about it in a fair and upfront and as reasonable a way is how we get to the truth, so hit the subscribe button and bell, so you don’t miss a single update. Because this is going to be fire.
You had questions… so many questions… about Apple’s new $549 AirPods Max. And you wanted answers. You wanted… the truth. Well, I’m here to give you all the truth you can handle!
As always, members over at patreon.com/reneritchie have Q&A priority, and yeah I have Patreon because I’m an indie now, but if your questions didn’t get answered or you have more questions, just hit that subscribe button and bell so you can be notified when new videos go live, and I’ll hang with you for the first hour so and chat and answer even more.
So you want Apple AirPods, and you want noise canceling AirPods, but you don’t particularly care one way or another about the price or even whether they’re in-ear or over-the ear. If they’re AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.
Or maybe… you think the Max are a lot of cash but you’ve also got — you know it — full on FOMO and YOLO so you’re thinking of giving them a go.
Well, either way, do I have the video for you. Just drop kick that subscribe button and bell or I’ll remove the headphone jack, again, and then let’s do this.
Price is going to be one of the biggest and quickest qualifiers for anyone trying to decide between the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
See, the in-ear AirPods Pro, which came out just over a year ago, will run you $249 US, or $41.50 a month for 6 months on installments. And yeah, you’re not remembering wrong — those were considered on the expensive side at launch. And still to this day. TBH.
The over-the-ear AirPods Max, which just came out now, will run you $549 US, or $91.50 a month for 6 months on installments. Which, you bet your Xbox are absolutely being considered expensive at launch.
And yes, they’re very different, and I’ll go over all of those differences in a hot take minute, but if you want Apple AirPods and you need noise cancelling AirPods, but you can’t or simply won’t spend dime-one more than $250 to get them, let alone twice that much…
Your only current option is the AirPods Pro.
The other big difference between the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max is, literally, big-ness.
The in-ear AirPods Pro are… in-ear, and that means they’re small, really small, small enough to fit in your ears. That have silicon tips, small buds, and a stem that’s shorter and more angled than the originals… and that’s it. They’re truly wireless, which means there’s not even a cable between the two AirPods — just the two pods.
Which is great because that makes them really light, really low profile, and depending how well they stay stuck in your ears, pretty good on the go. Also light. 0.19 ounces light. But, if they fall out, or you leave them out, they’re small enough that you just might lose track of them.
The over-the-ear AirPods… over the ear, and that means they’re bigger, much bigger, big enough to fit around your ears in a way that’s traditionally gotten them called cans. These cans are anodized aluminum on the outside and memory foam and acoustically transparent weave on the inside. There’s no stem but there is a steel band, coated in soft-touch material, and a knit canopy that bridges the them over your head.
So, they’re heavier — much heavier — 13.6 ounces heavier — so while they might not fall out, they might shift around, and while it’s much harder to lose track of them, you’ll never feel like you’re not wearing them. You’ll know by the weight and the encumbrance.
And, honestly, they’re just such different classes of devices, almost innies and outies, you really just have to decide if tiny buds or big cans are look and experience you want.
Up until now, Apple’s AirPods came in every color you could ever want. As long as that color was white. White AirPods, white AirPods 2, white AirPods Pro.
Now, with AirPods Max, Apple has finally — finally — added some color to our audio worlds.
You can get them in silver, black, green, blue, and pink. And, get this, the aluminum cup colors match the new iPad Air colors, and the material canopy covers match the new iPhone 12 colors.
So, they’re two-tone, but if you have either that iPad or that iPhone, or both, you can match one or both of them… if you want to.
So, if all you want is white, not even any silver, just white, you have the AirPods Pro.
If you want some color for your life, and ears, then you’ll need to go with the AirPods Max.
With the AirPods Pro, you get basic sweat and water resistance. IPX4. Which just means keep them out of the dust and dirt and if they get drizzled on or you workout with them, dry them off asap and they’ll probably be ok.
Also, if you lose or damage one of the clip-on tips, you can get a set of single-size replacements from Apple for $8. If you lose or damage a whole pod or the charging case, those replacements will run you $89 or $99 respectively. If the battery flakes out on you, it’s a free service with AppleCare or $49 for either pod or the case without.
The AirPods Max offer no as in zero sweat or water resistance. IPX nothing. Which means you need to do everything you can to keep from getting them dirty or wet, and not wear them in the rain or while sweating heavily.
If you lose or damage one of the magnetically connected cups, you can get a single-side replacement for $69. For the battery, it’s free with AppleCare, or $79 without.
So, with the AirPods Pro, you get a little better protection, an individual fixes are cheaper but those little parts can add up.
With AirPods Max, you get no protection, and while fixes are more expensive, there are slightly fewer parts to fix.
The audio features are broadly very similar between the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max.
Both have active noise cancellation with transparency mode, so you can muffle out sound or just let through the important stuff like conversation or traffic.
Both have adaptive EQ so they can hear what you’re hearing and adjust the audio to fit… the fit.
And both have spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, which means they can take in everything from stereo to surround sound to Atmos and build a sound stage around you, then keep that sound stage relative to how you move your head or the iPhone or iPad you’re watching on.
The AirPods Pro have custom high-excursion drivers and dynamic range amplifiers, to help you get the most out of those tiny, tiny pods.
The AirPods Max have custom dynamic drivers with dual-neodymium ring magnet’s to fill those cups as crisply and cleanly as possible.
And they both rely on Apple H1 systems-in-package, basically 10-core headphone chipsets, to handle all the processing for… all of it. Which is just freaky silicon.
So, in other words, they’re almost computationally identical.
For mics, the Pros have dual, beamforming microphones so you can talk as cleanly and clearly as possible, and an inward facing mic for the noise and EQ detection.
The Max have a whopping eight microphones for Active Noise Cancellation. Two of those also handle voice pickup for beam-forming, and there’s a ninth mic that just handles wind noise cancellation.
Yeah, serious escalation in hardware for a roughly similar result in audio out.
Sensors isn’t usually something you think about for headsets but it’s something Apple has been leaning on heavily for AirPods.
In the Max, you have optical and positional sensors in each cup, which detect if you take them off or just pull one cup aside, so it can pause and play automatically. Also, accelerometers in both cups and a gyroscope in the left cup, which does things like sleep to save battery if they’re just sitting on a table or something. Also for the spatial audio.
In the Pro, you’ve got dual optical sensors for the same type of on-off detection, as well as an accelerometer for the same stuff as the Max, but also a second one specifically for speech detection. Plus, a force sensor for the pinch controls.
So, no big differences there either, just what’s appropriate to both pods.
With all this computational audio power, you’re going to want a ton of control, right? Well, you’ll get what Apple gives you.
Meaning, with the AirPods Pro, you can click the stem to play, pause, or answer a call, click twice to skip back, or thrice to skip forward. That’s right, I said thrice. You can also press and hold to switch from noise cancellation to transparency and back. For everything else, you have to use Siri or your iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device.
With the AirPods Max, you have the Digital Crown, just like on the Apple Watch. You can turn it for volume, click once to play, pause, or answer a call, click twice to skip forward or thrice to skip back. You can also press and hold for Siri, if you don’t want to say the hey, because… there’s a second, dedicated button to switch between noise cancellation and transparency. For everything else, though, it’s still Siri or your device.
The AirPods Pro connect over Bluetooth. With Apple devices, the H1 chip kicks in to handle everything from set up to the audio stream as quickly, conveniently, and consistently as the technology allows. It basically makes Bluetooth the best that it can be, even if that best is still constrained by it still being Bluetooth.
For other devices, like Android or Windows, you get plain vanilla Bluetooth.
The AirPods Max have the same Bluetooth strengths and limits, on Apple devices and for Android and Windows. But you can also get an optional Lightning to 3.5mm headphone cable and plug them into any other audio source with an AUX port. You can’t listen passively. Your AirPods Max have to be powered. But you can listen.
So, if you want a hardline into the matrix, you’ll need to go Max.
Both the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max charge over Lightning cable. Well, the Pro via their charging case and the Max directly. That cable is USB-C on the back end, so you’ll need a computer with a USB-C port or a sold-separately USB-C to AC adapter to get your charge on.
For the Pros, five minutes of charging will get you one hour of use.
For the Max, five minutes of charging will get you an hour and half of use.
Each of the Pro pods can go 4 1/2 hours per charge with noise canceling on, and the case can hold 24 hours of charge. If you’re listening to mono audio, like a podcast, you can double the duration by using one pod at a time.
The Max don’t have a charging case, just a wrap that puts them into a deep power-saving sleep, so what charge they carry is what charge you go, and since the right and left are connected, you can’t double dip either. It’s 20 hours max on a full, fresh charge.
So, if maximum battery life is what you want, it’s actually the Pros and their case that’ll give it to you.
So, if you want light, almost intangible Apple AirPods that are low key but pack a big computational punch, can be recharged or swapped all day and then some, but only come in white, you want the AirPods Pro.
If you want classical cans with an all-new computational power, that are much higher profile but will engulf you in sound stage, and finally come in actual colors, then you want the AirPods Pro.
No sooner did I post my thoughts on how Apple could scale M1 just all the way up to the top-of-the-line Mac Pro… then Bloomberg’s own Mark Gurman started dropping massive leak bombs about how Apple plans to do… well… just exactly that.
And of course, why not? It’s still 2020, after all… the Intel die shrink of years.
So, I’m going to go through all of it with you, just all of my analysis, live to camera, and I’m going to do it… right now.