Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – August 18, 2017

Vodafone unshackles your mobile, Nokia’s flagship phone, Samsung’s latest thing connects to one, and the new iPad is one of the best portables around. It’s a roving Wrap.


For the week of August 18, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest stream of technology sent right to the earphones likely plugged into your smartphone.

And if we’re completely honest — which we always try to be — smartphones seem like a perfectly good way to start The Wrap this week, because there’s been a bit about them this week.

It’s only been seven days, but a lot can happen, and in the world of smartphones we can think of a few things.

First, there’s news from the likes of Vodafone, because this week the company did something rather unusual: it did something that almost felt a little too nice.

We’ve all been in that situation where picking a phone is made a little more difficult because of the burden of paying for the one or two year plan.

That’s one of the frustrating things about buying a new phone in this country, and probably plenty of others, too. It goes like this: you want the latest phone, but to get it you have to commit to a spend over the next year or two because the repayment on that new phone only goes down in price if you commit to the big plans, which means spending more money monthly, and being locked in for the next year or two.

Trying to escape could result in a penalty, and so you stick with it, knowing full well that next year when the new phone comes out that you want to upgrade to, you’re kind of stuck, unless you pay that penalty.

This week, Vodafone kind of did customers a favour, and it’s quite refreshing.

While its plans haven’t changed dramatically, Vodafone will no longer lock you into a specific plan if you’re buying with a phone, allowing you to go month-to-month on its Red plans, but offering you 12, 24, and 36 month repayment plans on the phones.

The penalty is gone, and so you can just pay your way out if you want, meaning there are not only less barriers to get that new phone, but things are a little easier to understand: you buy the phone over time, and you buy the plan going month to month if you want.

That’s a super refreshing change for what seems like something hasn’t changed in, well, ever, and we’re not even Vodafone subscribers. Honestly, I hope this whole thing makes other telcos wake up and offer something like this.

We get that telcos tend to subsidise the cost of a new phone by hooking you into a plan, but in an age where phones rarely last the full length of a contract, allowing a customer to plod along month to month and pay out the phone they have at the time, well it makes a lot more sense. It could even save some cash.

If you are saving, there’s a very real chance you’re considering a new phone. It’s just the way we are, people, and Australia sees more new phones than a lot of other places.

One such phone on its way to our shores is from a brand you might recall if your first phone had buttons: Nokia.

Yep, there’s a name you probably haven’t heard in a while, and it’s back, with the company showing off something a little more impressive than a phone that makes calls and plays Snake.

It’s called the Nokia 8, and it’s a metal mobile with finish a little like a mirror and an emphasis on capturing your life.

And it will do this with three 13 megapixel cameras, with one on the front, and the other two made up of a black and white sensor and also a colour sensor on the back. Nokia has been kind enough to include optics from Zeiss, suggesting there’ll be good glass, and there’s a whole heap of things sure to impress, including the latest processor from Qualcomm, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, a stock version of Android, and support for binaural audio, a rare form of audio capture that tries to capture the pure stereo sound of listening through both ears, essentially mic-ing up the left and right channels to cater for a hint of separation, almost as if the sound were 3D.

It’s an impressive little handset judging by the specs, and it’s one that shows Nokia is keen to fight, and not just in the budget and mid-range battles, with the Nokia 8 fetching a price tag of just under $900, and landing locally next month.

Also impressive is what Samsung released this week, and while all the news thus far has been about phones, this was not that.

Instead the company that makes the Galaxy S8 released something even smaller, and probably more durable, though it will work with an Android phone.

We’re talking about a small hard drive, or even a small solid state drive, because unlike your regular backup hard drive, there are no moving parts in this one.

Called the T5, it’s Samsung’s latest in a line of lightweight and fast backup drives reliant on similar stuff to what you find in a memory card, and this year, it’s faster than ever, sporting speeds close to 540 megabytes per second, meaning you can copy a 1GB file in less than two seconds.

This cool little drive also has the benefit of being tiny, with a size not far off a box of sultanas, and a similar weight, too. Don’t expect schoolyard sultana pricing, though, with the T5 starting at $199 for 250GB, and steadily increasing as you find a 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB option.

And finally we’re sticking with the theme of options, because if you have a computer or you’re looking for one, you have a ton of options.

Desktop, laptop, tablet; you name it, because like with phones, we are spoiled for choice.

One tablet, though, often feels like it has the edge, and that might be because Apple has basically been making hit after hit after hit, with iPad becoming more than just a big iPod touch, able to let you do proper work on the thing.

In fact, in this year’s iPad Pro, you see that more than ever, and that’s why it’s worth taking a look at this device simply because it’s about as close as Apple gets to tablet perfection.

Now we don’t need to tell you what the iPad is, and we’re sure you already know. The latest version is a little different, with the regular 9.7 inch display replaced by a bigger 10.5 inch screen that is not only brighter, but takes up what feels like more of the tablet altogether.

This extra screen real estate has also allowed Apple’s popular Smart Keyboard cover to get a nice new trick: bigger keys, and these bigger keys provide better spacing, so much that the whole thing actually ends up feeling like a real laptop, except smaller, and thinner, and lighter, and all those characteristics you expect out of a laptop that has emerged from a rip in time and come from the future.

And that’s really what the new iPad Pro offers: an experience that comes from the future, with a slim metal design, great performance, relatively solid battery life — we hit roughly one to two days — and support for Apple’s massive app library.

The only problems with the new iPad Pro stem from the lack of water resistance — because the iPhone has it, so why doesn’t the iPad? — and that price which just soars close to regular laptops, possibly even going higher depending on how much you choose to spend.

If you have the spare money, we’d say it’s an easy purchase, especially if you’re trying to find a middle ground that is thinner and lighter than practically everything out there, we just wish it could be taken near a bath, a pool, or even the beach.

Oh well, I guess there are accessories for that. Or training a seagull to be our body guard.

For now, we’ve reached the end of The Wrap, but we’ll be back next week with more from the world of technology in the shortest time possible.

Be sure to have a tremendously excellent weekend and a just as lovely week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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