It’s finally here! The iPhone XS Max!

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DHL delivery arrived at my doorstop sometime around noon today with a wonderful package that I have been waiting for a week since I last placed my order at the Apple Store online.

Now it’s finally here, sitting in front of my desk in all its glory! Removing the shrinkwrap was such an experience, and seamless to, pulling the tab and then letting it fall away. Underneath the box and all the documentation is the phone itself and I must say, this thing is huuuuge! It’s almost the same size as the plus models iPhones and if I am not mistaken, every so slightly heavier than its earlier counterparts. But still, the all screen front on such a size is glorious! You simply can’t peel your eyes away from the beautiful screen that surely from the looks of it, is more vibrant than the iPhone X. I’m not kidding! Logos and from apps as they are loading are more colourful and vibrant and I am pretty sure that the screen is brighter too overall.

I got the Space Grey version, 256GB, and I just can’t peel away from this device. I just want to hold it forever! That being said, I need to retrain my pinkie finger to hold a much heavier phone from now on. I am starting to get a slight sore from my pinkie finger which had to support the entire phone!

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Why I’m not getting the Apple Watch series 4

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Ever since it was leaked that a new Apple Watch is in the works, I hadn’t given much attention to it. And now that the specs for the series 4 watches are out, it still doesn’t give me a compelling reason to upgade to the latest series of watches.

It’s been about a year since I gotten the Apple Watch Series 3 and it is still running great. I have been more active than ever before thanks to the fitness and health apps I have installed and used over the past year. Keeping track of my heart rate, number of steps I have taken, calories burned, hours stood, and even my sleep is been a fun experience and informative journey so far. I am very impressed by the sheer amount of health data that my Apple Watch records on a daily basis.

The new watch features a bigger screen, a slightly slimmer profile and more accurate GPS, accelerometer and even an ECG monitor. Those are nice things, but based on my usage, aren’t really must-have features. The battery on my current Apple Watch is still fantastic and looking back, I actually don’t meddle too much on my watch on a daily basis to experience any battery woes. So while it is nice to upgrade to the latest watch, the added features and improvements doesn’t really add value in how I use it and how it would serve me on a day to day basis. For this generation, I will be skipping the Apple Watch Series 4. Maybe something novel and interesting is in the works for series 5. By then, improvements in technology and a greater social acceptance in accepting calls and having a conversation through your wrist would make the upgrade to the cellular model a compelling option. I still that there are lots of improvements that can be made to the battery life of such devices.

Apple should continue to  heavily invest in wearables R&D. It will be exciting to see what they can come up with in their smartwatch segment.

I did the unthinkable.

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At 3.01pm on the 14th of September, I did the unthinkable. I fired up the Apple Store app on my iPhone X and pre-ordered the new iPhone XS Max. For the first time in my life, I blew more than S$2000 on a phone. Call me crazy, and I will agree with you. Why the hell did I do that?

Now, I am not suffering from buyer’s remorse because my remorse hasn’t reached that stage yet. Rather, I felt remorseful that a phone would cost so much. My current iPhone X was already hard to swallow at S$1888. At S$2000, I think it is safe to say that this upcoming phone just broke the camel’s back. With such exorbitant prices, my ability to upgrade phones on an annual basis is no longer possible. I think it is safe to say that the iPhone XS Max will be the first phone that I would use for 2 to 3 years. The time of annual phone upgrades is gone.

The only consolation of mitigating the full financial impact of such a purchase is that I was able to sell my current phone to someone else for S$900. I still had to fork out more than S$1100 just to get the new phone. My brain is telling me that buying this phone is a completely irrational decision. My heart tells me that this is the phone to get and that you will enjoy all the new benefits it bestows upon you when using it. So we shall see.
One feature of the new iPhone XS Max is the bigger screen. I loved the Plus models of the previous iPhones. Imagine having the size of the new iPhones at Plus model sizes but all screen and no bezels. With such a size, I might actually consider for the first time watching TV shows and films on my phone while commuting.

So there you have yesterday marked the day when I did the unthinkable. I will be getting the phone (Hopefully) on the 21st of September 2018.

The benefits of wearing an Apple Watch

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I bought the Apple Watch series 3 last November. It was an impulse buy. I had some additional cash and I thought: why not? I went to the Apple Store, and bought the black aluminium Nike edition 42mm Apple Watch. I didn’t know what to expect. There was no way to predict whether I would like wearing a smartwatch on my wrist in a daily basis, or if this is just a fad. I was wearing a Tissot Visodate automatic watch previously and I love the classy look of that watch. It just goes well with any apparel that you wear, be it casual or formal. I was a bit apprehensive on how it would look on my wrist from the get go.

Now almost 1 year in, and I have benefited from wearing the Apple Watch greatly, more than I anticipated as a matter of fact.

The more I wear, the more I am convinced that wearing a smartwatch has provided me with intangible benefits that is certainly hard to quantify.

At the very basic level, tracking your heart rate, your sleep and overall activity level had made me more health conscious. I am a 30 year old male and I exercise regularly. Not to look good but primarily so that my fitness level is up to par for me to pass my annual IPPT. Wearing the Apple Watch has enabled me to workout smarter and more efficiently than before. With its ability to track how fast I run, and how many calories I burn, and how long I have been working out and how often I work out per week, the swath of data that Apple Watch keeps track allowed me to not only pace my workout at more regular intervals. It has also enabled me to vary my workout routine, so that I know I am getting an all around workout regime that not only focuses on my cardio workouts but also my strength workouts.

Tracking my sleep patterns also enabled me to keep track on whether I am getting enough sleep and whether I should hit the sack earlier the next day if I am running on a deficit. The quality of sleep can also be tracked, which is useful as it partially explains why I wake up feeling tired despite the full 7 hours of sleep.

Lately, attempting to close all 3 activity rings is strangely satisfying.

Notifications pushed through the watch is extremely useful now, as I can do a notification ‘triage’, pushing important and urgent notifications from text messages, breaking news headlines to my wrist, but leaving everything else secondary to my phone. That way, I know which notifications are important and which can be left to be checked at a later time. This feature is extremely useful for me as a researcher who is constantly having to wear gloves which sometimes prevented me from fishing out my phone in my pocket. Now, important notifications is pushed to my watch and I can take a glance at it anytime from my wrist.

Driving is also another situation where I no longer have to glance my phone to read text messages, which is dangerous, but instead I can simply take a peak on my watch worn on my wrist while driving and perhaps reply with a set of short replies with a touch on the watch.

Other useful features to have is the ability to control music on my watch wireless. I love this feature and it is extremely convenient at parties and gatherings.

Siri features is also a great bonus to have. Now I can just enable Siri and command her to control my lights, without having to use the phone.

Overall, I initially thought that wearing a smartwatch would make my life more complicated. One more gadget to charge and make use of, now that I have bought it. But over time, I have come to appreviate

 

A little update (iPhones and Nvidia)

The new Nvidia 20 series graphics cards have been announced and they are crazy expensive. Tempting to upgrade my rig with brand new GPUs but with current pricing, it is currently very hard to swallow without some definitive benchmarks comparing the performance of the upcoming GPUs with the current 10 series GPUs. Guess we will have to wait and see. The odds of me upgrading my GPU in 2018 is low. My current 1080ti still works like a charm and I believe it hasn’t even cross its first year mark. Furthermore I am neither playing video games in 4K nor playing using high refresh rate monitors. I am perfectly happy playing at 60FPS at 1440p, ultra settings, with the current 1080ti will be able to easily deliver for the next year or so, whatever games that are to be released in the coming months.

Apple announced that their annual keynote will take play in September 12. As always, new iPhone models are slated to be released, including new Apple Watch and possbly new iPads as well. Now this is going to be tough for me. I am a sucker for new smartphones, and iPhones have a ‘black magic’ sway over me. Always entranced by these new phones released on an annual basis. Although realistically speaking, there won’t be much difference between my current iPhone X and the new upcoming, bigger sized iPhones, but there is a good chance that I might upgrade this year. The key will be the price that Apple will be selling their new phones. 12 more days till the announcement is made and I am already salivating and contemplating pre-ordering when the pre-order window is open. If the new phones are going to sell at SGD1800, I will be extremely disappointed, but nonetheless, there is a great likelihood that I will be clicking that ‘pre-order’ button when the time comes. I will probably have to sell my current phone at least SGD 700 to SGD 800 to take some of the sting off paying the phone upfront just like that. And then comes the annoying reservist, which would put me in a bad spot because I won’t be able to enjoy the phone until I am done with it.

Possibility of me getting the new iPhone despite slight improvements to its performance or usage experience is very high.

 

 

I should have saved more

Not that I don’t save at all. In fact, I think I am in a good position when it comes to the amount of money I set aside just for saving every month. After working for 4.5 years, I have amassed a decent amount of savings. But now, even then, I am feeling a tinge of regret. Lately I have been thinking about homes and the value of homes and kinds of homes I can afford given my salary I take home every month and the amount of money I would have saved 4 years down the road. I can’t help but think that it remains insufficient to get the dream home that I want. And I am not asking for much. Just a decent sized home for a single like me in a decent place, close to an MRT station. I can definitely afford a 3-room HDB but am I willing to pay that much on an apart with a short lease?

I should have saved more. I have to save more. Buying a home is a huge huge investment. I need to make this right. And for me to make the right decisions, I need to have lots of options. And for me to have lots of options I need to have enough money to be able to afford the homes that I really want.

Travel plans upon graduation

I will complete my master’s programme in November 2018. I have plans to go to Bali at the end of this year, just in time after completing my studies. That itself is a cause for celebration. But what about next year?

Canada (British Columbia)

Huge trip with my trusty group of friends that went to Iceland with me a couple of years back. It’s gonna cost quite a lot for this trip alone. The timeframe for this trip is after May, when the weather is somewhat warmer and frost is about to melt, making way for beautiful hiking trails. Just hope that we don’t encounter any starving brown bears that just came out from a long winter hibernation. I am expecting 2 to 3 weeks for this trip. A roadtrip, much like the Iceland trip we went to. Expected budget is S$2000 to S$3000 flights included.

Egypt/ Morocco

Somewhere exotic. Either Egypt or Morocco with my colleagues. Total 4 of us. a road trip to Morocco. A somewhat guided tour around in and around Egypt. 10 to 14 days. I am betting on the front end of 10 days, sufficient for a one-country sightseeing trip. The expected budget will be $1500 to $2000 flights included.

New York City

Possibly Solo. I have set my sights to New York. See the musicals, plays, art galleries, museums and just plain ol’ city sightseeing. Central Park, World Trade Tower, Statue of Liberty, Queens, Lower Manhattan, subways, pizzas. I could go with a friend. But solo trip would be interesting. Perhaps, meet up with Vivien, or Saki up in Boston, a day or overnight trip there just to see see look look? I would expect to be there for 7 to 12 days depending on my itinerary. The expected budget will be S$1500, no more than $2000. Flights included.

Next year could be the year of travels. I need to start saving up.