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Google’s Much-Hyped Pixel 6 Undercuts Its Peers at Just $599

Google’s Much-Hyped Pixel 6 Undercuts Its Peers at Just $599

I’ve been using the two for the past few days and can’t share much about them just yet—look for our review next week—but these Pixels feel just as high-end as most $1,000 phones. The Pro especially has shiny aluminum around the edges that give it a classy look, whereas the Pixel 6 sticks with a matte texture that’s more subdued. Both are wrapped in glass, with Gorilla Glass Victus protecting the Pro’s screen, and Gorilla Glass 6 protecting the standard Pixel 6. Victus is a year or so newer than 6, and supposedly more protective.

These are also two of the larger Pixels Google has produced. The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch screen and the Pro is a 6.7 incher, but they don’t feel drastically different in size. That’s because the Pixel 6 has thicker borders around the screen, and the Pro’s screen curves out to the edges to maximize screen space. 

Maxed Out Specs

They have pretty much any feature you’d want in a top-end Android phone, including OLED panels, stereo speakers, full 5G connectivity, speedy Wi-Fi 6E, IP68 water resistance, and wireless charging (a new Pixel Stand wireless charger is on the way too). Both also have fingerprint sensors baked into the display, a first for Google but a feature that’s become the norm on most high-end Android phones.

Like its competitors, the Pixel 6 range does not include charging adapters in the box, just a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A adapter. 

Google Pixel 6

Pixel 6 Pro

Photograph: Google

Here’s how they differ:

Pixel 6: There’s a 90-Hz screen refresh rate, just like on last year’s Pixel 5, and a 1,080 x 2,400-pixel resolution. The Tensor chip, which Google says delivers up to 80 percent faster performance over its Qualcomm-powered predecessor, is joined with 8 gigabytes of RAM. It has a 4,524-mAh battery cell, which Google says should last more than a day. Neither has a MicroSD card slot (nor a headphone jack), but on the Pixel 6, you can choose between 128 or 256 gigabyte storage options. 

Pixel 6 Pro: You get a higher 1,440 x 3,120-pixel resolution and a 120-Hz screen refresh rate, which Google says can dip as low as 10-Hz when there’s not much happening on the screen to save battery life. The bigger size means a bigger 4,905-mAh capacity, and you also get 12 gigabytes of RAM. And if you record a lot of video, there’s an additional 512 gigabyte storage option. The Pro has an exclusive ultra wideband (UWB) chip, which can help it pinpoint the location of other UWB devices, similar to how the new iPhone 13 can find the precise location of Apple AirTags. Google says it will roll out “several features” that utilize UWB in the coming months but we don’t yet know what those will be.

Camera Upgrade

Google Pixel 6

Pixel 6

Photograph: Google

Pixel phones are known for their stellar cameras, but their lead has waned. To combat this, Google is upgrading its imaging hardware. Both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have the same main camera, a 50-megapixel large 1/1.31-inch sensor that can take in up to 150 percent more light than the Pixel 5. The camera uses a process called pixel binning, where pixels merge to absorb more light, so you end up with a 12.5-megapixel photo. 

Apple Finally Remembered What Makes Laptops Great

Apple Finally Remembered What Makes Laptops Great

The reintroduction of a MagSafe magnetic charging port, a staple in older Macs, is especially welcome if you tend to be clumsy and trip over your charging cables. MagSafe mostly ensures the cable releases and that the laptop doesn’t go crashing to the floor.

That reversion to functionality has come with some sacrifice. The new MacBook Pros are heavier than the previous generation of MacBook Pro, weighing 4.7 pounds and 3.5 pounds, respectively, adding about a half pound of heft to the previous generation. But they’re also just a hair thicker, which means Apple has done some clever maneuvering of the machines’ internals to make these ports fit. Battery life, in some ways the only spec that matters, is supposed to be substantially better as well.

That’s due in no small part to the chip upgrade these laptops are getting. The new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips build on last year’s M1 chip, which was Apple’s first custom-designed processor for Macs and powered last year’s MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. These new chips should offer massive gains in performance—though benchmark and speed tests will soon reveal just how big these boosts are—and in a series of not-so-subtle charts, Apple showed how the chips should outperform Intel-powered machines in almost every category. The company claims that the M1 Max’s 32-core GPU, for example, rivals even the most powerful laptops with discrete graphics processors.

Apple’s own apps have been optimized for the new chips, which will start rolling out when the new MacBook Pros ship at the end of the month, and some third-party developers were on hand (via pretaped videos) to vouch for the newfound power of the Macs. But these new MacBook Pros will still use last year’s emulator to run some x86 apps. Arguably, it’s some of these apps that are the most important element of MacBook Pros: Buyers of Apple’s high-end hardware also tend to be the customers who will spend a lot of money on software, whether for their jobs or more casual use cases, and this is exactly who Apple is targeting with these $2,000-and-up machines.

“A lot of creative professionals have been anxious to see how the M1 was going to be developed for their needs,” says Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner. “It’s not like all the apps they need are [optimized], but Apple has been working with key third-party developers like Adobe, so between the performance boost and key applications this could be the time for creative professionals to replace their devices.”

Kitagawa said she believes these new MacBook Pros won’t be high-volume items, considering their starting price of $2,000. Putting it another way: She doesn’t think that sales of the new MacBook Pros will alter Apple’s current market share in global PC shipments.

But the new machines are still technologically—and symbolically—significant for Apple. She noted that Microsoft recently announced a new Surface Studio laptop, which is also aimed at designers, developers, and producers. That’s another laptop that’s unlikely to make a huge dent in the market, but it’s a chance for Microsoft to show off what it thinks it can offer creative consumers. Appealing to creatives, and to some extent, counterculture, has been in Apple’s computer DNA. In recent years, it lost its way. To build MacBook Pros for the future, Apple rightly followed the path back to that past.


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These Solar-Powered Headphones Let You Ditch the Charger

These Solar-Powered Headphones Let You Ditch the Charger

‘Infinite’ is a tricky one, isn’t it? Something’s either ‘infinite’ or it isn’t. So when Urbanista describes its Los Angeles wireless noise-canceling over-ear headphones as having “virtually infinite” playtime, that’s basically the same as saying the Los Angeles don’t have infinite playtime.

Although, to be fair to Urbanista, the Los Angeles get a lot closer than most.

At a glance, there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the Urbanista Los Angeles. Like the Miami wireless headphones on which they’re closely based, they’re discreetly good looking and nicely finished. And like every Urbanista product, they’re named after one of the planet’s more evocative places.

It’s on the outside of the headband, though, that the Los Angeles suddenly become unique. ‘Unique’, like ‘infinite’, is an absolute but currently, this is a description the Urbanista deserve. Because integrated into the outside of the headband there’s a big strip of a material called ‘Powerfoyle’ that’s supplied by a company called Exeger. It’s a solar cell material and it can derive energy from any type of light, from sunshine to the lightbulbs in your home. It’s always pulling energy, always charging, whether the headphones themselves are switched on or not. And it means the Urbanista Los Angeles will play for an enormous length of time without ever needing to be charged from the mains. Which, as unique selling points go, is pretty impressive.

Urbanista Los Angeles
Photograph: Urbanista

This piece of engineering brilliance aside, it’s mostly Urbanista business as usual. Which means the Los Angeles are a robust pair of headphones, comfortable at every contact point and not (like so many rival designs) about to swamp the smaller-headed listener. Build quality is unarguable, the choice of materials is judicious, the color options (‘midnight’ black or ‘sand’ gold) are pleasant, and there’s a degree of tactility about the Los Angeles that is by no means common in headphones below the £200 mark. 

Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.0, which is adequate but hardly at the cutting edge. Sound is delivered by a couple of the same 40mm full-range dynamic drivers fitted to the (suddenly slightly lo-tech) Urbanista Miami. There’s three-position active noise-cancellation: ‘on’, ‘off’ or ‘ambient sound’, and hair-trigger accelerometers that pause music if you take the Los Angeles off your head (or even shift them slightly on your ears). Happily, the ‘on-ear detection’ can be defeated in the nice new Urbanista control app.

As far as headphones control apps go, it’s one of the better-looking and one of the more restricted in what it can actually do for you. There’s a nice big display that explains whether the battery is being topped up or drained, there’s switching for the three-stage noise cancellation and there’s the ability to define the function of the physical ‘control’ button on the outside of the left earcup. That’s your lot.

The Best RSS Feed Readers (Because the Internet Is a Mess)

The Best RSS Feed Readers (Because the Internet Is a Mess)

The automation does require a pro account. Pro accounts also get some other nice features, like the ability to integrate with IFTTT and Zapier, an offline mode for the mobile apps. It also includes my personal favorite: keeping your YouTube account in sync with your RSS reading. You can watch YouTube videos in Inoreader, and next time you log into YouTube, you won’t have a ton of unwatched videos.

Inoreader offers a free (with ads) account, which is good for testing out the service to see if it meets your needs. If it does, the Pro account is $7 a month (it’s cheaper if you buy a year up front), which brings more advanced features and support for more feeds.

Best for Beginners

Feedly RSS reader
Photograph: Feedly

Feedly is probably the most popular RSS reader on the web, and for good reason. It’s well-designed, easy to use, and offers great search options so it’s easy to add all your favorite sites. It lacks one thing that makes Inoreader slightly better in my view—the YouTube syncing—but otherwise Feedly is an excellent choice. 

It even has a few features Inoreader does not, like Evernote integration (you can save articles to Evernote) and a notes feature for jotting down your own thoughts on stories. Feedly also touts Leo, the company’s AI search assistant, which can help filter your feeds and surface the content you really want. In my testing, I found that it worked well enough, but a big part of what I like about RSS is that there’s is no AI—I don’t want automated filtering. Depending on how you use RSS, though, this could be a useful feature.

Like the others here, Feedly offers iOS and Android apps along with a web interface. Feedly is free up to 100 feeds. A Pro subscription is $8 a month (it’s cheaper if you pay for a year) and enables more features like notes, save to Evernote, and ad-free reading. The Pro+ account gets you the AI-features and more for $12 a month.

Best For DIYers

Newsblur RSS reader
Photograph: Newsblur

Newsblur is a refreshingly simple old-school RSS reader. You won’t find AI or YouTube syncing here—it’s for reading RSS feeds and getting on with your life. It can subscribe to all kinds of content (including newsletters), read full stories (even from RSS feeds that don’t offer them), integrate with IFTTT, and even track story changes if a publisher updates an article.

The Coros Pace 2 Is My New Favorite GPS Running Watch

The Coros Pace 2 Is My New Favorite GPS Running Watch

After years of testing GPS running watches from a slew of brands, I had accepted what felt like a hard fact: When it comes to fitness, all of Garmin’s watches are so far ahead of the pack that it would be almost impossible for any other company to catch up. I’ve seen many companies try and fail. If I wanted to track a workout or map a run, I’d probably strap on a Garmin.

However, a year or so ago, one company started making me pause. Coros, a California company that started out making bike helmets, of all things, began sponsoring some athletes with serious star power. The celebrity pro ultrarunner Coree Woltering, who ran the fastest known time on the Ice Age Trail and won hearts on the World’s Toughest Race, wears a Coros. So does Eliud Kipchoge, the world record holder for the marathon.

It’s like watching every Nike-signed athlete suddenly migrate to a completely different shoe. What is Eliud Kipchoge doing? But it wasn’t until I saw Des Linden set a new world record with a Coros watch that I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to test the tech. Coros sent me its Pace 2, and—surprise!—it’s now my new favorite running watch too.

Feathery Friend

Let’s start off with the most striking feature. The Pace 2 is light. It weighs 29 grams, which is lighter by a few grams than its closest obvious competitor, the Garmin Forerunner 45. It’s so light that I barely even noticed I was wearing it.

Coros watch
Photograph: Coros

You also have the option to switch out the perforated silicone band for a nylon one to save even more weight, although I prefer the convenience of soaping and rinsing a silicone band to handwashing the sweat out of a nylon one. (And yes, I know it’s disgusting, but if you’re having irritation on your wrist under your fitness tracker, you probably need to wash that strap.)

The Coros watch has two buttons, as compared to Garmin’s five buttons. One of the buttons rotates like a digital crown to scroll through activities, while one other button selects the highlighted option, and the last one navigates back to the previous step. Operation is very simple.

The screen is simple too. Rather than the Garmin’s crisp, clear, light-up memory-in-pixel display that you can tinker with and customize, the Pace 2 has a basic LCD screen. You can choose different faces and select your color scheme, but your choices are limited. Honestly, I prefer it that way. And sports watches don’t have to have the best possible screens. An LCD is usually fine.

An LCD screen is also a low-energy component, which I found especially helpful when I went camping. My family is outdoors a lot, and nothing is more annoying than going on an impromptu trail run to discover that your battery has died. The Garmin Instinct Solar I tested last year could supplement several days’ worth of battery life with solar charging, but it turns out that you don’t need to worry about recharging your battery—by any means—when the battery itself is epically long-lived.