Category Archives: iPhone Accessory Reviews

My Experience with the W1 Chip in the Beats Solo3

I didn’t pick up an iPhone 7 after its announcement, but I was still quite excited by the announcement of the W1 chip that’s going into the AirPods and other Beats products. Bluetooth devices with the W1 chip have a few interesting features:

  • they’re more power efficient
  • they fast-charge, a few minutes can get you hours of battery life
  • you can pair them with an iPhone by just holding them near it and tapping on a prompt
  • once paired with an iPhone, W1-equipped headphones will auto-pair with all Apple devices via iCloud

This last point really got me excited, and that was the bit of Apple Magic I’d been hoping to see. I’ve been using wireless headphones for about two or three years now (first with the Sony MDR-10rBT and then the Jaybird Bluebuds X), and I really can’t go back to using wired headphones on-the-go. I’ll use them at home, but I’ve become spoiled enough that the wires are insufferably inconvenient when I step outside of my house.

I know that wireless still costs in terms of sound quality, and I’m very willing to make that tradeoff, but there’s a limit to that. I bought the Beats Solo3 soon after they came out. They were hilariously expensive at $380 CAD (including tax), but I really wanted the convenience that Apple was touting with the W1.

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Quick Look: Martian Notifier Smartwatch

Martian Notifier Smartwatch

So this caught me by surprise.  A few weeks ago on our sister site–iPad Insight, we ran a promo deal for a smart watch called the Martian Notifier.  Weird name, I know, but something about it caught my eye.  It was a good looking, sporty watch, and is still on sale for 76% off.  Even if it wasn’t a smart watch, $30 is not a bad price for a respectable time piece.  It comes in 3 colors–black, white and red.  In addition, you can also choose from an assortment of replacement bands to swap out–also on sale ($10).  It took a little over a week for it to be delivered, and to my amazement, I was counting down every day until it arrived.  I haven’t worn a watch in well over 5 years.  However, with the release of the Apple Watch, especially the Series 2 version, I was seriously considering expanding my collection of Apple products to include a smart watch in the very near future.  This Martian Notifier seemed like the perfect test case.

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Review: SurfacePad for iPhone 6S Plus

SurfacePad for iPhone

One of the most appealing characteristics of iPhones in general has been their design.  They are crafted with the utmost attention to detail and precision, using materials and design techniques that further solidify their distinction as beautiful industrial art.  For most, all this changes the moment they open their new iPhone box and slap a, protective case on it.  That’s not for me–but to each their own.  It makes perfect sense to want to protect your investment and keep it safe from the accidents that can occur throughout an average day.  Phones fall out of pockets, and they can become scratched and damaged from your keys  and and other items they come into contact with.  In addition, not everyone wants to pay extra for the additional Apple Care+ like my colleague, Thomas thoughtfully chose to do, and many people keep their phones for 2+ years and want to make them last.

For those of us that want a solution that falls somewhere in between, there is The SurfacePad for iPhone from the awesome folks at Twelve South.  The SurfacePad is a great solution for the problem of having to choose between a thick bulky protective case, and nothing at all.  With the SurfacePad you get the convenience and protection of a minimal, traditional folio case without all the bulk.

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Quick Look: Sena Burnished Magia Wallet for iPhone 6S Plus

In the past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with the idea of placing my iPhone 6S Plus in a wallet case. My previous favourite on the iPhone 4S was the TwelveSouth BookBook, but as lovely and durable as that case is, it’s a little bit too large for my tastes with a 6S Plus. I wanted something slim, but which could still help me keep 3 cards + cash on-hand. After a bit of research, I decided to pick up the Sena Burnished Magia Wallet while it was on sale for $30.

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Review: Bella Fino Leather Wallet Case for the iPhone 6

Bella Fino iPhone Case

The Bella Fino Case for the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus is designed by the hard working folks over at Pad & Quill.  This slim leather wallet case will challenge any negative pre-conceived notions you might have had about wallet cases for your iPhone–I know it did for me.  The concept of a wallet case is that it can potentially replace the need for a wallet, and also double as a case for your iPhone. One of my recent goals has been to streamline my wallet needs, and find a suitable solution where I don’t need to carry one at all.  Most of the time I leave my wallet in my car, as I hate the extra lump in my back pocket.  It’s because of situations like this that I try to avoid typical wallet designs.  I find that, more often than not, using a typical wallet lends itself to carrying around more than you really need simply because you have the extra space.  With the Bella Fino Case both situations are managed simultaneously.  There are enough pockets for several credit cards and your drivers license or ID, as well as a hidden pocket for cash, without the unnecessary bulk associated with a typical wallet.

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Quick Look: Spigen Thin Fit Hybrid for iPhone 6S Plus

Spigen Thin Fit_-5

The Spigen Thin Fit Hybrid was the first case I picked up for my iPhone 6S Plus, but it’s actually the case I use the least. That has little to do with the build quality or the ergonomics, and everything to do with how the matte white appears in the everyday.

When I purchase products in white, I want them to look white in most circumstances. The finish on the Spigen Thin Fit Hybrid looks all right in ambient light, but the moment you hold it up to sunlight (or have it under a lamp on a desk) you’ll see that the coating is pearlescent white, rather than a pure white. It’s tricky to capture on camera, but there’s definitely a yellow tint to the case under bright light. I was disappointed to find this out, as I think it cheapens the look of an otherwise clean design.

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Quick Look: dbrand iPhone 6S Skin in Matte Black

After years of using Gelaskins as my go-to iOS decals, I decided to give the dbrand iPhone skins a try. All of the dbrand skins are applied in the same way, but they’ve got a wide variety of colours and textures. You can get faux wood, faux carbon fibre, and plain colours as well.

I first ordered one in Matte White because I liked the idea of a super-clean iPhone 6S Plus with a matted grip, but when the skin arrived, it really wasn’t what I had expected. The matte white wasn’t very reflective, but the texture wasn’t grippy at all. For whatever reason, it seems like a matte white just doesn’t have the same texture as a matte black. I had first learned this when ordering a matte white case years ago, but remembered my lesson when the first dbrand skin arrived.

Luckily, dbrand’s customer support was very accommodating and offered to send me a matte black skin, free of charge. A few days later, I received in the mail, pulled out a hair dryer, and started to install the skin.

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Review: Apple’s Silicone Case in Midnight Blue

Review Apple Midnight Blue Silicone Case 3

Apple’s Silicone Case wasn’t actually my first choice for a case. I bought their leather Saddle Brown case and used it for about a month. I loved the way the leather felt and looked on the device, and I thought the warmer-looking Saddle Brown was a huge improvement over the basic Brown leather case. However, I also like to wear jeans most days of the week, and the Saddle Brown dye did not appreciate that in the least. It didn’t take long for me to sub out the leather case for a silicone one.

The white case was actually most appealing to me, but I was worried of repeating the blue staining I’d experienced with the leather case, so I went with Midnight Blue. I’ve had about six months with this case now, and although it isn’t exactly exciting, it’s definitely a keeper.

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