The Results Are In For Apple Arcade and the iPhones 11 and 11 Pro

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This year feels a little different. Recent iPhones have drawn reviews ranging from solid to excellent, but they are often qualified with comparisons to the competition and the refrains that Apple has lost its ability to innovate and keep up. Well, they have been keeping a pretty deliberate pace at times so I can’t say the rep isn’t totally deserved. Reviews of products other than the Apple Watch and iPad often draw the same comparisons. But as I said above, this year isn’t quite the same.

Reviews of Apple Arcade have been rolling in and reviews of the new iPhones came yesterday. For the first time in a few years, most of the qualifications and comparisons are gone. The reviews of both of are overwhelmingly positive. Some of them are downright glowing. I didn’t see that coming.

Apple Arcade

Despite some reservations based on the on-stage demos and presentation at Apple’s recent event, Arcade comes off as very well-done and definitely worth the price in reviews. There is a wide selection of games that span all kinds of styles genres. Even better, this isn’t just for casuals and kids. There are RPGs and games with depth. Controller support also adds additional engagement and interest that has often been missing from mobile games. The reviews are also universal in saying that this service looks like it’s worth every penny and more right out of the gate.

Here are a few of the reviews that stood out:

Engadget: Apple Arcade’s best selling point: Games you’ll actually want to play

Macworld: I played 53 Apple Arcade titles and enjoyed almost every one

Kotaku: Apple Arcade Is Live In The iOS 13 Beta And It’s A Lot

AppleInsider: Hands on with Apple Arcade in iOS 13

Tom’s Guide: Surprise! Apple Arcade Is a Walled Garden I Actually Like

Just check Twitter if you want to see more. I noticed a lot of surprise among beta demoers there, as many who came in with limited expectations ended up quite impressed. If the tech press is this happy with the results, then Apple may just have a hit service on its hands.

The New iPhones

All smartphone manufacturers love to brag about their new features. They love to squeeze the specs to the point of breaking. However, according to several early iPhone reviews, Apple’s claims of notably improved battery life across its new models display truth in advertising. Whether the tests were artificial or real world, the 11 and 11 Pro passed with flying colors. Considering that Apple has been chasing thinness at the expense of all else, including battery life, this is a big deal and it resonated with reviewers.

The biggest feature of the new iPhones were their upgraded cameras. Everyone has known for a while, but especially since Apple’s event. I’ll be honest. I was waiting for lukewarm reviews detailing how behind Apple still is. Despite the fact that Apple has continued to excel in video, it’s all about pictures and selfies these days and the simple fact is that they have fallen behind in them over the last 2-3 years.

I wasn’t expecting the message in this year’s crop of reviews to change because I frankly expected these camera improvements to just be a step back in the right direction for Apple. Based on the tone of the reviews, the iPhones 11 are more of a leap right back into the game.

Here are a few of the reviews:

CNET:  iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max review: The iPhone for camera and battery lovers

Tom’s Guide: iPhone 11 Pro Review: The Camera Phone to Beat

The Verge: Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max review: the battery life is real

TechCrunch: Review: The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 do Disneyland after dark

iMore: iPhone 11 Pro Review: The New Night King

I have to tip my cap to Apple. I had very low expectations for this year’s crop of iPhones. I was upgrading more to be able to do reviews of the hardware and accessories than out of any overwhelming desire for a new phone in dark green. The rumors leading up to the event didn’t fill me with anticipation, but I guess I should heed my own words- don’t base your expectations on rumors.

Despite my reservations, it appears that Apple brought their A game to what was expected to be a purely iterative hardware upgrade. The fact that they have obviously pushed all their chips to the center when it comes to computational and AI-enhanced photography and came up with a product that put them squarely back in the smartphone camera conversation is big news. Being a camera fan, I am now excited to give the new iPhone 11 Pro Max a shot and see what this new Wide Angle Lens and Night Mode can do. Beyond this, we still have Deep Fusion to look forward to, as well.

This iPhones 11 aren’t revolutionary upgrades and Apple Arcade really isn’t breaking new ground. However, according to these reviews, they are just really, really good, well-made products. That’s the kind of reviews that I used to expect from everything Apple makes. It’s good to see that they can still deliver the goods. even when preceding expectations aren’t on their side.


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