Apple's new battery case looks odd. It's like the Apple's silicone case for iPhone, but with a weird growth on its back.Other battery cases with fully rounded backs, like Mophie's Juice Pack Air for iPhone 6s, actually look better than the "protruding growth" look Apple went with.And the early reviews weren't kind about the design. Lauren Goode from the Verge said " It looks like you tried to shove a few too many credit cards and ID cards into the back of your iPhone case."
What's even stranger is how the battery indicator light is only found inside the case while most other battery cases have the indicator light on the exterior. Part of what makes the case "smart," however, is that it's linked with your phone so you can check the case's battery charge through by waking your phone's display. It's an OK solution, but why not just have the lights outside?
It's surprising to see Apple put so much effort into its accessories only to be outdone by third-party competitors like Mophie and Logitech.They're not terrible products, but they compromise too much: the Magic Mouse should be able to charge while it's still in use, and the new iPhone Smart Battery Case looks so awkward that you'll wish Apple had just made the iPhone slightly thicker in the first place in order to give you more battery life. As a tentpole for innovation, it's surprising this is the best Apple can do.Microsoft has released an update for the Surface Book and Surface Pro but failed to fix many of the issues users have had with the laptop and tablet, according to a blog post from Paul Thurrot.Thurrot, one of the most well-respected Microsoft bloggers, recently coined the term "Surfacegate" for the issues facing Surface users, which include faulty screens, poor software performance, and a recall of chargers because they pose a fire risk. "Microsoft has maintained complete radio silence on the rampant reliability issues that dog Surface Book and Surface Pro 4," Thurrot wrote.
The new update doesn't fix these issues, however. According to a Microsoft blog post, the update fixes a battery issue, a Wi-Fi issue, improves the detection of the Surface keyboard, and improve the stability of the graphics on a small number of Book laptops. "Today, Microsoft has finally delivered something—anything—for beleaguered Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 users who are happy to accept even a partial fix for the many issues they are seeing," Thurrot writes. "And this does appear to be a partial fix: There's no hint that any of this will fix the single biggest issue, which is related to the new power management states that come from Skylake," he continued.The power management issue means the Surface loses a lot of battery during sleep, when it should lose none. Other Surface users took to Twitter to complain that the software update did not fix many of the issues they have with the Surface. Microsoft released a new, high-end version of the Surface Book and Pro recently and recently published a blog post entitled "Surfacing the Facts" which, as Thurrot notes, "has to do with the already-explained Surface/NFL incident from last weekend," rather than addressing the issues users face.
Business Insider has reached out to Microsoft to ask when the issues will be fixed. We will update the post when we hear back. In each of the past three years, Microsoft has made the same bold claim: The Surface is the perfect replacement for your laptop and your tablet, a dreamy all-in-one miracle device.But I've never agreed with Microsoft. Even though the Surface technically had a lot of laptop and tablet features, it didn't execute them particularly well. The track pad and keyboard felt cheap and unresponsive. There weren't great apps to use in tablet mode. And Windows 8 was a disaster.On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Book, a laptop with a clever hinge that lets you detach the screen from the keyboard and use it as a tablet. This is the kind of computer I've been waiting for, something that can do it all without compromising design or usability.It's light and powerful, has incredible battery life, and looks good to boot. I spent about 15 minutes playing around with a Surface Book after Microsoft's event in New York on Tuesday, and I can tell the company is on to something. This is the device Microsoft should have originally launched when it began making the Surface three years ago.
It's also a blow to Apple, which recently unveiled its own take on a Surface-like device with the iPad Pro. I used the iPad Pro briefly at Apple's launch event a few weeks ago, and I wasn't exactly blown away. It feels like a niche product whose appeal will mainly be to people like graphics artists. The keyboard cover wasn't that great either. It felt cheaply made and was difficult to type on, as with the original Surface.The Surface Book feels much more refined. Though it's technically a laptop-tablet hybrid, it's the first in the category that doesn't feel like one. It's a laptop when you need it, or a big-screen tablet when you need it. There aren't any obvious compromises as there are with other Surfaces.(By the way, Microsoft did announce another new Surface, the Surface Pro 4, which looks like an updated version of what we've seen before. I'm not into it.)To be clear, these are only first impressions. Microsoft made some bold claims Tuesday, saying the Surface Book was 50% more powerful than the MacBook Pro. We'll have to wait and see about that.
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.As Apple exec Phil Schiller has likely been reminded of, good laptops are expensive. There are a few reasons why 600 million people currently use PCs that are at least five years old, and none of them involve outdated hardware suddenly being en vogue. Not everyone needs the latest and greatest, and in many cases, the price of a higher-end notebook is simply prohibitive. That said, those that can afford to upgrade don’t have to drop four figures just to get something nice. The Asus Zenbook UX305CA is one relatively affordable notebook that proves this, and today, Microsoft has it down to $600. While it’s hit this point in the past, that’s still about $100 off its usual going rate, and almost as low as it gets for an Ultrabook that looks as refined as this.We’ve explained why we like the Zenbook UX305CA in our budget laptops buying guide, so head there for a full rundown. To put it briefly, though, the Zenbook UX305 line is one of the best values among Windows PCs today.
Whereas most sub-$700 notebooks — Chromebooks aside — are chunky and meant for a desk, the Zenbook comes off like a budget-friendly MacBook Air, measuring just under 0.5 inches thick and weighing 2.6 pounds. It’s as attractive and portable as you’ll get for the money, and it’s supplemented by ample specs: a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS display, a 256GB solid state drive, 8GB of RAM, and a decent 9 or so hours of battery life. And since Microsoft sells it as a Signature Edition device, it comes with a bloat-free version of Windows 10.The only major hangup with this particular model is its Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor. It’s a sixth-gen chip, but a Core m, while improved, is still generally less powerful than a Core i3 in practice. It is capable of getting things done, but gaming is a reach, and you don’t want to push too hard with media editing. For everyday browsing and less professional desktop apps, though, it’s competent. Not bad at all, just closer to what you'd expect for the money.
If you want this design with a more powerful chip, you can pay up for a Core i5-packing Zenbook UX305LA, but at that point you’re a ways away from the budget range. If you need something a little bit stronger, there’s the $550 Acer Aspire E5-573G, but then you’re doubling the thickness and weight. Ultimately, we think the UX305CA is the best compromise for most people in this market, especially at this price.Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider's Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners, including Amazon. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.