The Xperia 1 III costs way too much at MSRP, but its price has since come down. It’s just about the only phone around with a 4K OLED 120-Hz screen, which makes it fantastic for watching movies (as fantastic as a tiny phone screen can be). It has great-sounding front-facing stereo speakers and a headphone jack when you want to plug it in. Its camera system isn’t quite the best, but it encourages you to tweak photo and video settings so you can have more control over the results. If you’re a photo tinkerer, this is for you. You can find pretty much any feature that’s available in a high-end phone here, including wireless charging.
However, 5G is limited to sub-6 5G (the slower kind), and it’s only available on Verizon and T-Mobile—sorry, AT&T subscribers, you’re stuck on 4G LTE. The 4,500-mAh battery isn’t a standout either. It lasts just a day, sometimes less if you use it a lot. It also will only get one more year of updates.
What about the Xperia 1 IV? Yes, Sony has a new version. Unfortunately, the Xperia 1 IV (6/10, WIRED Review) costs an absurd $1,598, though it frequently dips to $1,398. The 4K OLED screen gets plenty bright, fixing one of the qualms I had with the Xperia 1 III, and the battery now easily lasts a full day too. The cameras are better and share many of the same features, so they’re consistent, but the imaging quality still isn’t up to par with competitors. It doesn’t help that Sony still isn’t committing to more than two years of software support.
Perhaps crucially, Qualcomm also says its Digital Chassis allows automakers to “own the in-vehicle experience … [and] extend their brand and bring engaging consumer interactions into the vehicle.” This will be particularly welcomed by manufacturers after the announcement in June last year of Apple’s next-gen multiscreen version of CarPlay, which will likely not be anywhere near as collaborative as Qualcomm’s offering. Indeed, when CarPlay 2 was announced, WIRED reached out to a number of major automakers for comment on the Cupertino system, only to find that it seemed as if the companies had no idea the news, and the potential impact to their dominance over their own car UIs, was coming.
The Digital Chassis system is designed to work across all regions and in all types of vehicle, and Qualcomm says it hopes the chassis will “inspire new business models for automakers” that go beyond merely selling and maintaining a car.
If You Thought Paying for Heated Seats Was Bad …
Aside from in-car gaming, these new business models will also include drivers being asked to pay to unlock features already installed in their vehicle. BMW caused controversy when it suggested heated seats already fitted to a car would require a subscription to function. Mercedes will soon ask drivers to pay $1,200 to unlock more performance, hidden behind a paywall written into their EV’s code. The latest model of Polestar 2 can be made more powerful by purchasing the Performance Pack, which arrives via a software update, no wrenches required.
As well as software and connectivity, technology companies can help automakers—especially startups—when it comes to mass production. Such a collaboration can be found with Fisker and Foxconn. The former is a Californian EV startup headed by former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, and the latter is a Taiwanese company best known for assembling iPhones. The two plan to codevelop a circa-$30,000 EV due to go into production at a facility in Ohio in 2024.
Fisker said in 2021 that Foxconn will help with product development, sourcing, and manufacturing, and that the partnership will enable his company to deliver products “at a price point that truly opens up electric mobility to the mass market.”
Not wishing to put all of its automotive eggs in one basket, Foxconn is also involved in a joint venture with Chinese automotive giant Geely, parent of Volvo, Polestar, and Lotus among others. Similarly, Pegatron, another Taiwanese firm tasked with assembling iPhones, is now also a manufacturing partner of Tesla.
Finding a technology partner could soon be of utmost importance for car brands yet to fully embrace advanced infotainment, driver assistance, and connectivity systems. Lei Zhou, a partner at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting, told WIRED it is “highly likely” that automakers who go it alone with their own technology are in danger of being left behind.
Zhou added: “If conventional OEMs develop connected technologies with their current capabilities, they may find themselves left behind by emerging EV makers with IT backgrounds or OEMs that have partnered with powerful tech partners … significant value can be generated by collaboration with a variety of players, including technology and business fields.”
And Just What Is Apple Up to?
The opposite is also true, where technology companies keen to develop their first car require help from automakers with manufacturing experience.
Tyson Jominy, vice president of automotive consulting at JD Power, told WIRED: “Tesla, Rivian, Dyson, Lucid, and others have all done really well through the process of designing a car. But when you get down to the brass tacks of building a car it’s very difficult. When a lot of startups run into problems, it’s [because] mass-producing cars at scale is hard. So partnering up does make sense.”
You know what’s the least important part of taking a great photo? Gear. The vision you have and the work you put into realizing it are far more critical.
That’s not to say gear doesn’t matter, just that it’s best used in service of something larger. That’s why this guide doesn’t get too deep into the weeds of megapixel counts, sensor sizes, and pixel peeping. All these cameras are capable of producing amazing images. Which one is right for you depends more on your needs than on the size of the sensor.
Still, choosing the right one can be confusing. I’ve spent years testing dozens of cameras in all kinds of shooting scenarios to come up with what I think are the best choices for different types of photographers.
Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, like the Best Compact Cameras, Best Camera Bags, and Best Action Cameras.
Updated March 2023: We added the Fujifilm X-T5, the new Sony A7RV, some notes on the Panasonic S5II and the Nikon Z5, and swapped the sold-out Fujifilm X-E4 for the X100V.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a1-year subscription toWIREDfor $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
Our list consists mostly of conical-burr grinders. In a conical grinder, coffee beans are crushed and ground between two rings of burrs. They deliver a finer, much more consistent grind than you’d get with a traditional blade grinder, even the nicest ones.
Flat-burr grinders are similar, but they’re typically more expensive. In these, the burrs are laid on top of each other, and the beans pass through them as they grind. The grinder action pushes the grounds out of one end, instead of relying on gravity like a conical-burr grinder, and the beans spend more time in contact with the burrs. This results in a more consistent grind, but for home brewers, conical-burr grinders are just as good—even if they require more maintenance and don’t result in consistent-down-to-the-micron-scale grounds.
Blade grinders have a chopping blade that spins around like a food processor. But blades don’t produce even results. Some of your coffee will be fine powder at the bottom, and at the top you’ll have bits too large for even French press. The result is an inconsistent, unpredictable brew. These grinders are cheap, and yes, using fresh beans in a blade grinder is far better than buying ground coffee. (You can learn how to shake the beans to even your grind just a little. See world barista champion James Hoffmann’s video for some more blade grinder hacks.)
If you can afford it, we highly recommend going with one of the burr grinders we’ve listed. There’s a reason why they cost a little more than a budget burr grinder. The machinery in a high-quality burr grinder is a bit more complicated, and it’s built to withstand greater wear and tear. In cheap burr grinders, the burrs will typically get blunt from regular use, and the flimsier motors may burn out with regular use in a matter of months.
PSA:Do not put preground coffee into a burr grinder. Logically, it makes sense. It’s too coarse, so you put it through again, right? No! With a burr grinder, the preground coffee gets stuck inside the burrs, and you”ll have to do some disassembly to set them to rights again.
Spring is almost upon us, which means we’re about to see a lot of rain. “April showers bring May flowers,” after all. It’s time to stock up on rainy-weather gear—most importantly, umbrellas. Good news! WIRED-tested umbrella brand, Weatherman, is offering 25 percent off on select styles and colors from now until April 1.
Below, we’ve highlighted the discounts on our favorite Weatherman umbrellas—which are some of our favorite umbrellas overall in our Best Umbrellas guide. We’ve also included a few other umbrella deals from different brands along with other rainy-weather apparel. For more options, be sure to check out our Best Rain Jackets guide for more.
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Best Weatherman Umbrella Deals
After spending almost two years testing Weatherman’s umbrellas, we can confidently say it offers the best quality for the money. You’ll also receive a lifetime warranty with your purchase from the company’s site, which means it will fix any damages or replace the umbrella for you.
The Travel Umbrella is currently our favorite umbrella. It can automatically open and close (making it easy to juggle multiple items while using it), it’s sturdy and durable, and it dries quickly. With a 38-inch canopy, it’s compact and lightweight, but it is a one-person umbrella. You can also store a Bluetooth tracker in the included zipper pouch, which is useful for those who tend to lose their umbrellas often.
If the aforementioned umbrella is too small, go for The Stick Umbrella. In addition to a larger, 44-inch canopy, it has a big arced dome to shield you better from the rain. It prevents strong wind gusts from flowing through with its vented canopy as well. Like the Travel Umbrella, The Stick features an automatic open feature with the push of a button, but you’ll have to close it manually.
This is a great option if you’re looking for an umbrella that’s a bit smaller than The Stick but is just as capable. With a 40-inch canopy, it’s more travel-friendly but has the same ability to withstand high winds, and you can squeeze someone else underneath it with you. It comes with an automatic open feature and manual close.
Other Great Deals on Umbrellas and Rain Apparel
WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu says this umbrella is his personal favorite, particularly because it’s lightweight (at 1 pound), spacious, and pretty. The 46-inch canopy covers two people comfortably, the Portuguese cork handle feels nice to hold, and it feels smooth to manually open and close. It comes in a variety of fun colors including pink, yellow, teal, and red.
This isn’t the biggest discount, but if you’re looking for a see-through umbrella that also looks cute, this is our top pick. Made of polyethylene, eight fiberglass ribs, and a steel shaft, it holds up well against strong winds and heavy rainfall. The canopy’s 38-inch diameter is also large enough to protect both yourself and a backpack. And, since it’s clear, it won’t block your vision while you’re walking outside with it.
This was already our favorite affordable rain jacket, and now it’s on sale for even less. We particularly recommend it for traveling or casual day hikes. It packs high-quality laminate waterproofing, recycled nylon, venting pit zips, a weatherproof center zip, and an adjustable, packable hood. It’s also seam-taped, to help keep water out. This jacket dipped lower to $45 back in January, but this is still a solid deal.
Whistler’s Windbreaker received an honorable mention in our Best Rain Jackets guide for its design details. The lightweight windbreaker comes with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) application to keep water from soaking the jacket as well as a HiloTech fabric that’s self-repairing. So, if you accidentally get any tiny holes in the fabric while outside, you can patch it up by simply rubbing it with your fingertips.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.