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Apple Store in Amsterdam Evacuated, Likely After iPad Battery Overheated

Dutch media is reporting that an Apple Store at Leidseplein in Amsterdam was briefly evacuated today, likely after an iPad battery overheated.

Image Credit: AS Media
At 2:20 p.m. local time on Sunday afternoon, the Amsterdam fire department tweeted that crews were on the scene. The tweet added that there was “no smoke” at the store, but “three people with breathing problems.”

A spokesperson for the fire department said “there is probably a leaking battery pack,” according to Dutch broadcaster AT5 and NH Nieuws. The incident was also reported by Dutch blog iCulture, which alerted us to the story.

Employees immediately placed the iPad in a container with sand, and the store was evacuated as a precaution, according to the reports. The three people who suffered breathing issues were treated on site by ambulance workers.

The breathing issues may have been prompted by chemical vapors or other irritating substances emanating from the iPad battery, according to the Amsterdam fire department, which aired out the store while it was evacuated.

Fortunately, there does not appear to have been any significant injuries or damage. At around 3:00 p.m. local time, employees and customers were allowed to re-enter the store as usual, according to the reports.

It’s unclear if the iPad battery pack was an official part from Apple or an aftermarket replacement, or if the potential overheating was the result of improper handling during servicing by a Genius Bar technician.

Earlier this year, an Apple Store in Zurich was evacuated following a similar incident with an overheated iPhone battery.

All in all, these incidents are quite rare, but a very small percentage of lithium-ion batteries do pose a risk of overheating, swelling, and bursting open. Without additional details, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause.

We’ll update this article if Apple comments on the incident.

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From white skies to blurry subjects, how to fix common photo mistakes

Hillary Grigonis / Digital Trends

Incredible scenes, people, and moments all inspire a photograph — but sometimes, that original beauty is lost in translation. Maybe the photo isn’t very sharp. Or maybe that brilliant sunset sky turned out completely white. Or maybe your child’s bright blue eyes are dark and shadowed. What went wrong?

A camera doesn’t see the same way the human eye does — and without the right techniques, some of that original beauty can be lost somewhere in between becoming a moment in time and a JPEG on an SD card. If you’re just getting started with photography, or even trying to take better pictures with your phone, chances are, you’ll run across problems with blur, exposure, and colors. Here are seven of the most common photography mistakes and how you can prevent them (or sometimes, fix them) the next time.

Why are my photos blurry?

One of the most common question from new photographers is the cause of the blur in a particular photo. Blur in an image actually has a number of different causes, and determining why that photo turned out blurry starts with recognizing just what kind of blur you managed to capture.

  • 1.
    Motion blur from camera shake
  • 2.
    Out of focus blur

Motion blur is created when something moves while the camera snapped the photo. Motion blur looks like someone smeared a wet painting — the objects in the photo may not even have the same shape as they do in real life. This is in contrast to out-of-focus blur, where objects will simply look softer (except in cases of very shallow depth of field, where something not in focus may be blurred to oblivion).

If you haven’t ventured into advanced shooting modes yet, try using sport mode.

Once you’ve identified that the issue is motion blur, correcting the problem isn’t difficult to do. First, what’s blurred, just one object or the entire image? If the entire image is blurred, the image is the result of a simple flaw: Your hands moved while the camera was taking the picture. To correct the issue, either increase your shutter speed or use something to steady the camera, such as a tripod.

Miss Zhang/Unsplash

Increasing the shutter speed means the shutter that opens and closes to take the picture moves faster, leaving less time for your hands to shake enough to cause blur. A general rule of thumb is to use your lens length to determine a minimum speed since longer lenses exaggerate camera shake — if you’re using a 50mm lens, use no slower than 1/50 second; a 300mm lens, 1/300 second. That’s just a guideline — if you tend to have shaky hands, you may need to bump it higher, whereas if you have a stabilization system either in your camera or the lens, you may be able to get by slower.

Instead of a smeared painting, an object will look soft with undefined edges.

You’ll need to use shutter priority or manual mode to change the shutter speed yourself, but if you haven’t ventured into advanced shooting modes yet, try using the sport mode on the camera. When shooting in auto, even turning on more lights can tell the camera to bump the shutter speed up.

Also, check to make sure that image stabilization is on, if your camera or lens has stabilization.

Another solution to camera shake is to use a tripod and, even better, also turn the self timer on or use a remote so your hand isn’t on the camera at all when the image is recorded. Tripods are great for eliminating blur when photographing a subject that isn’t moving. If the subject is moving or you can’t haul a tripod around, you’ll need to correct using shutter speed instead.

Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

If, on the other hand, only the subject is blurred, that object or person is to blame for the blur, not camera shake. If something moves while the camera’s shutter is open, it will cause blur. Sometimes, that can lead to a cool effect that might help illustrate the concept of motion and speed; but it’s not so great if you actually need to see detail in your subject. This type of blur can’t be corrected by a tripod — you need to use a faster shutter speed. Alternately, you can try panning with your subject — this can take a little practice, but if you get the timing right, you’ll get your subject in tack-sharp focus against a blurred background.

Why are my photos out of focus?

Unlike motion blur, images that are blurred because of focusing errors will still have the same shape (unless the focus is off by a very large margin). Instead of looking like a smeared painting, an object will simply look soft with undefined edges. Often, blur from a focusing error has something else in the photo that’s not supposed to be sharp, like the background. This results when your camera mistakenly focuses on the background rather than your subject.

You can increase depth of field by selecting a smaller aperture setting, either in aperture priority or full manual mode.

If you’re finding out-of-focus shots on your smartphone, make sure you’re tapping the subject on the screen — this tells the camera where to focus. If the camera still isn’t focusing, you’re probably either too close or there’s not enough light. Since camera autofocus systems need light to work, they don’t work well if it’s too dark.

If you are using a DSLR, mirrorless, or advanced compact camera, you have a few more tools available to correct focus errors. By default, these cameras are set to choose the focus point automatically, and this can lead to errors (typically, a camera will simply focus on whatever the closest object is — but that may not be your subject).

By manually selecting just a single focus point and putting that over your subject, you can dramatically cut down on the number of these errors. This feature will be called different things on different brands (Nikon calls it single point AF, Canon calls it manual spot AF), so refer to your manual if you’re not sure how to access it.

Still getting soft shots? This could be an issue of too little depth of field, which will be more problematic the closer you are to your subject. In a portrait, for example, one of your subject’s eyes may be in focus but not the other. You can increase depth of field by selecting a smaller aperture setting, either in aperture priority or full manual mode. You can read more about aperture in our guide to exposure settings.

Why are my photos too dark or too light?

If your photos are too dark, the camera didn’t get enough light; we call these “underexposed” photographs. If they are too bright, the camera had too much light, and we call this “overexposed.” Thankfully, this is an easy issue to fix, but understanding why your camera over or underexposed in the first place will help you anticipate it and save you from having to reshoot multiple attempts.

  • 1.
  • 2.
    Properly exposed
  • 3.

A camera is usually trying to find an exposure that works for the entire scene, but if you have a very bright background and a dark subject (a person standing in shade on a snowy mountain on a sunny day is good extreme example) it may underexpose the image relative to your subject.

Exposure compensation can be an easier way of adjusting brightness without messing with manual controls.

The reverse can also happen; if your subject is in direct sunlight but surrounded by shaded areas, the camera may overexpose your subject as it tries to compensate for all the surrounding darkness. Once you learn to spot these scenes, you can anticipate how your camera will react, and you’ll be able to make adjustments accordingly even before you snap a first test picture.

On a phone, tapping on the screen will set the focus and exposure to that point. Often, just doing this will be enough to get a properly exposed image. However, you can choose to make the image brighter or darker using exposure compensation. Depending on the camera app you’re using, this is usually accessed by tapping and holding on the screen; once exposure locks in, you should now be able to drag a finger up or down to brighten or darken the image.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Dedicated cameras also offer exposure compensation, and this can be an easier way of adjusting brightness without messing with manual controls. Some cameras may have a dedicated exposure compensation dial, others will have a button (again, reference your manual for the exact location on your camera). Adjustments are usually made in increments of 1/3 stop — a full stop is a doubling or halving of the amount of light, so if you adjust exposure compensation to +1, you will get an image that’s twice as bright as what you had before.

Why do my photos have weird colors?

Your eyes can easily adjust to all the different types of light we encounter in the world, but your camera isn’t as good at it. If the colors in your photo look off, the culprit is probably white balance.

  • 1.
    Daylight white balance
  • 2.
    Shade white balance
  • 3.
    Cloudy white balance

Setting an accurate white balance will ensure that everything that’s supposed to be white in the photo is white, and thus other colors should fall into place, too. While automatic white balance tends to work decently enough the majority of the time, it isn’t always perfect — particularly if there’s mixed lighting in a scene.

White balance settings are relatively easy to change, although may not be available in your phone’s default camera app. Some advanced smartphone apps will give you control, however.

If you can’t move out of the harsh sun, use the flash to fill in those photos instead.

On dedicated cameras, many will have a white balance button or you can find the setting in the menu. It’s possible to set a custom white balance, but sticking to the built-in settings for sun, shade, cloudy, incandescent, and fluorescent will likely get you close enough for each type of light.

Another option is to shoot in RAW. A RAW file doesn’t have white balance baked into it the way a compressed JPEG does, which lets you change the white balance later without degrading the photo. If you don’t want to spend time editing your photos, this may not be the best choice, but it will give you the most control. And yes, this is even possible on a smartphone if you use a RAW camera app.

Why do my portraits have dark eyes?

When the light source is above your subject, it will cast a shadow directly over their eyes. You may notice this when shooting outside on a bright day when the sun is high in the sky.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the easiest way to fix this is to move into the shade. Yes, you’ll now have less light overall, but the light will be much more even, letting you get a proper exposure that illuminate’s your subject’s eyes without blowing out the rest of the scene.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Of course, shade isn’t always an option. If you can’t move out of the harsh sun, use the flash to fill in those photos instead. That’s right, use flash in the middle of the day. One of the best uses for a built-in flash is to fill in harsh shadows. You’ll have to tell the camera (or your smartphone) that you want the flash on, but that should help fill in those dark shadows and even out the exposure.

The sky was gorgeous — but in my photos, it’s just white.

You see spectacular landscapes with beautiful skies filling your Instagram feed every day — so why is it, that, when you take a landscape picture, the sky turns out white instead? A white sky is simply an overexposed sky. In many scenarios, the camera simply can’t properly expose for the subject and the sky at the same time. As we learned above, you could use exposure compensation to darken the sky — but this will also darken everything else in the frame.

Fill flash can help, but only if you have a subject that’s close enough to the camera for the flash to reach — if you’re trying to illuminate an entire landscape, that’s not going to work. This is where high dynamic range (HDR) photography comes in.

Most phone camera apps have HDR modes built-in, and some may even turn on automatically when the camera thinks it needs it. HDR modes are also found in many dedicated cameras; it may be hidden in the menu or within the “scene” modes on your camera’s mode dial. While HDR in phones is designed to work handheld, note that with a mirrorless camera or DSLR, you might be better off with a tripod as the camera needs to shoot multiple exposures and then line them up to create the HDR image.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • What is white balance, and how do you change it?
  • 17 essential photography tips for beginners
  • What is HDR photography and how can I shoot it with my camera?
  • How to photograph fireworks and capture the color of Independence Day
  • How to take better pictures with your camera’s automatic mode


Quindim, quiche or quesito? What will Android Q be called?

Sometimes as a tech journalist, you have to pose the really tough questions: Do cell phones cause brain cancer? Does anyone really need an S Pen? And of course, what dessert will Google name the next version of Android after?

We don’t shy away from these issues at Digital Trends, but the alphabet is really making things tough this time around. We had plenty of suggestions for what Android P might turn out to be, though they were all wrong. While the pumpkin and pecan varieties made the list, plain old pie just never occurred to us.

As much we love the letter Q — and the Star Trek character for that matter — we are not overly burdened with dessert possibilities that start there. Here’s what we’ve got for possible names so far, with a likelihood score of 1 out of 10 as the lowest and 10 out of 10 as the highest.


Likelihood: 1/10

It might be one of the first foods that pops to mind when the letter Q is mentioned, but why would Google go savory now? It might as well pick Quinoa or Quesadilla, though quiches do at least employ pastry and occasionally have sweet fillings. We don’t think this will be the one. Everyone knows that the best quiches are the Lorraine variety with bacon and cheese in them, which are definitely not desserts.


Likelihood: 2/10

The chocolate milk Nesquik was originally called Nestle Quik and Google has gone for brand tie-ins before, but no one really calls it Quik so this is a long shot. Also, GoPro has already snagged the Quik name for its video editing software.

Quality Street

Likelihood: 3/10

Brits will be familiar with the Quality Street brand – a box of individually wrapped chocolates, toffees, and other sweets, but it’s probably not well-known enough stateside to be considered. They started in 1936 in England but Nestle acquired the brand in 1988. The purple ones — hazelnut wrapped in caramel — are best, but they’re always swiftly mined leaving you with handfuls of toffee pennies and those green triangles.

Quaker Oats

Likelihood: 2/10

Before you laugh this one out of the list, consider that you can use Quaker Oats to bake oatmeal cookies or put fruit and honey in them. We also think Android 10 Quaker Oats sounds like an awesome post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie.


Likelihood: 3/10

These cute pastries look as though they might fit the bill. They’re flaky, sugar-coated pastry treats, but they’re usually filled with cheese and served with breakfast. They can be vanilla-flavored or have fruit inside, so they have to be in with a chance.


Likelihood: 4/10

We hadn’t honestly heard of this Brazilian baked dessert before, but at least it is a dessert. Made from sugar, coconut, and eggs these tasty yellow rings look pretty tempting.


Likelihood: 3/10

The fruit of the quince tree most closely resembles a pear and is typically made into jelly or jam. It’s often used in desserts, but it’s actually a hard, acidic fruit, so we don’t think it will be the one.

Queen of puddings

Likelihood: 1/10

Terribly British pudding (dessert) of custard, cake, jam (jelly), and meringue that is probably unheard of in the U.S. and so very unlikely to get the nod from Google. It would also make for a stupidly long-winded name, but we bet you want to try it now you know it exists.


Likelihood: 1/10

This Iranian pastry or cake is packed with almonds and walnuts and finished with a dusting of sugar, but it’s usually written as Ghotab in English and seems like an unlikely — if delicious — candidate.


Likelihood: 2/10

These are popular Portuguese cupcakes that can be flavored with different things, but we don’t think they’re well known enough stateside to be in contention and pronunciation could be a definite problem.

As you can see we’re struggling here. Have any suggestions for Android Q? Perhaps Google will bypass it completely and jump straight to the best dessert known to humankind: Rhubarb crumble.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Pumpkin Pie perhaps? Just what should Android P be called?
  • Microsoft rebrands news service, releases app on Android and iOS
  • Forget selfies — you need to take a Bothie with your Nokia. Here’s how
  • Essential PH-1 Phone: Everything You Need To Know
  • Switching from an iPhone to an Android device


Dell XPS 15 9570 review

Research Center:

Dell XPS 15 9570

Most people don’t need a laptop like the Dell XPS 15. The average person spends closer to half as much as this $1,500 laptop. And even if it was in their budget, most people just don’t need a discrete graphics card, six-core processor, 16GB of RAM, and a larger 15-inch screen.

But what if you need that? What if you’re a video editor, or programmer, or designer, or architect, or music producer? You need a laptop that can handle the heavy workload you use every day. Or perhaps you just want to know your laptop can play games as well as it can work.

Welcome to the laptop you’ve been waiting for.

Party in the back, business up front

While the XPS 13 was refreshed earlier this year with a new color option and a redesigned thermal solution, the XPS 15’s design remains unchanged. That’s not an entirely bad thing, though. The XPS 15 feels more like a chameleon that blends in with its environment, instead of a flashy new toy.

The XPS 15 is a chameleon that blends in with its environment, not a flashy toy.

When closed, or when viewed from the back, the silver aluminum finish of the Dell XPS 15 is elegant and classy. It might not feel quite as modern chic as a Surface or Mac, but it wouldn’t look out of place in a coffee shop or photography studio, either. Open it up, and you’ll be greeted by black polycarbon palmrests and a keyboard that look appropriate sitting next to a ThinkPad or Inspiron. The XPS 15 always looks like it belongs, no matter where you use it.

The ultra-thin bezels still look great and keep the XPS 15’s profile sleek, but they’re not as unique as they once were. In fact, the XPS 15’s bezels are bested by the 91 percent screen-to-body ratio of the Huawei MateBook X Pro. Though it’s no longer cutting-edge, the XPS 15’s small footprint remains impressive.

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Rather than make the thinnest or lightest 15-inch laptop, Dell has instead continued to focus on rigidity and durability. It’s a full pound heavier than the 15-inch MacBook Pro and 1.6 pounds more than the ultra-light LG Gram. At its thickest (0.7 inches), it’s thicker than even the Razer Blade, though the hinge shape allows for maximum efficiency. It’s also built like a tank. It takes two hands to pry its stiff hinge open, but that means you’ll have to try hard to find any flex or bending in the chassis or lid. That can’t be said for laptops like the LG Gram, which shoot for portability above all else.

While Dell has pulled back the port options on the XPS 13, there’s more options on the XPS 15. With two USB-A ports, a Thunderbolt 3 (four lanes of PCIe), HDMI, and a full-size SD card slot, the XPS 15 proves itself to be made for the messy, incongruent nature of business. Dell has smartly realized that limited connectivity might suffice for casual usage, but more options are needed when it’s time to get real work done.

The webcam will make you want to exercise, but the keyboard won’t

While some laptops are moving toward experimental, short-travel keyboards, the XPS 15 has taken a more conventional approach. That’s not to say you have a lot of travel to work with here, but Dell makes efficient use of its 1.3 millimeters. The keys have a satisfying snap-back that makes typing speedy and comfortable. We had no problem quickly getting accustomed to the action of the keys, and the layout is puts everything we needed in reach.

The webcam placement means inviting your video conferencing guests to shots of your double chin.

The touchpad is similarly responsive, reacting well to multi-finger gestures, two-finger tracking, and palm rejection. The click is a bit louder and clunkier than we prefer, but we became used to it. There are laptops with better inputs, such as Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon or even the Surface Book 2 — but the XPS 15 is no slouch.

The webcam is more of a problem. In case you haven’t heard, the webcam on these XPS laptops has moved beneath the display, so you’ll be inviting your video conferencing guests to shots of your double chin, nostrils, and massive troll hands while typing. It’s a choice that was a bit easier to forgive on the cheaper, more mainstream XPS 13. But for a laptop that could be used regularly for business conduct, it’s a bit more of a compromise. For some this will be a deal-breaker, but others will never end up turning it on to find out how bad the angle really is. At least it’s centered this time around.

1080p is less desirable, but do you really want to pay for 4K?

The XPS 15 comes in either a 4K or 1080p variant, the latter being the one we tested. Opting for the less impressive screen nets you a significantly discounted price, and provides better battery life.

How does it perform? Well, unlike the XPS 13 — where the quality of the 1080p and 4K panels are in the same ballpark — the quality of this panel dips. It’s bright, maxing out at 397 nits, has a high contrast ratio, and even has a decent color gamut. However, it does have a few issues.

As you can see in the graphs above, the screen Dell chose for the 1080p model has a high rate of average color error at 3.32. It’s not so bad you’ll notice in daily usage, but it should be enough to make photographers and videographers worry. This can no doubt be lessened with calibration, but that’s not ideal in a brand new, $1,500 laptop.

Video editors will want to opt for the higher-resolution 4K model, which claims a wider color gamut and better color reproduction. But gamers, and most everyone else, are better saving $400 to pick up the 1080p version.

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

We wish Dell had made the speakers upward-firing, but they get the job done if you want to watch a movie and don’t have headphones on you. They’re loud and clear, but not beyond the scope of an average pair of laptop speakers.

Another speed demon

Dell’s 15-inch XPS laptops have always been of a different breed of laptop compared to the 13-inchers. The differences come down to performance. For the 2018 model, Dell has included the 8th-gen Core i7-8750H, a processor normally found in thin-and-light gaming laptops like the Razer Blade or Digital Storm Equinox. The 45-watt chip is an impressive piece of hardware that performs fantastic both in benchmarks and in general usage, especially when paired with the 16GB of RAM our $1,500 unit came with.

The bump to 8th-gen Intel Core chips brings significantly faster multi-core speeds, which the XPS 15 now enjoys. In Geekbench, the XPS 15 holds its own, though not against slightly bulkier machines with the same chip. As we’ll discuss in the graphics section below, the XPS 15 does throttle performance, especially in sustained, intensive processes. On the plus side, the XPS 15 never becomes overly loud or hot, even during the most strenuous tests.

With a processor like the Core i7-8750H, you’ll be able to run heavy software like Photoshop, Pro Tools, or CAD — even simultaneously alongside other open programs or browser tabs. It destroyed our Handbrake test, encoding a short 4K video in just two and a half minutes, which is the best score we’ve seen from a laptop and a solid thirty seconds faster than the Razer Blade.

This is the best score we’ve seen from a laptop and a solid thirty seconds faster than the Razer Blade.

While its processor performance stands out, the XPS 15’s storage left us a bit confused. For one reason or another, the 256GB Toshiba XG5 NVMe solid state drive that shipped with our review unit suffered slow write speeds. In our CrystalDisk Mark test, the drive wrote data at an average of only 154 megabytes per second (MB/s). After installing the Windows 10 April 2018 update, write speed worsened further, down to an average of 46 MB/s. As you can see in the graph above, that’s not even in the same ballpark as its competitors, such as the 1,974 MB/s of the Razer Blade. In fact, it’s closer to the speed of an old-school hard disk drive than a modern SSD.

This may be a bug in Windows 10 and, according to posts online, has impacted other machines with the same SSD, such as the Huawei MateBook X Pro. While read speed is more important to the overall experience, write speed will continue to be an issue until Dell, Microsoft, and Toshiba figure it out. We have reached out to Dell about the matter, but a fix remains pending.

Not a dedicated gaming laptop, but it gets by

The XPS 15 isn’t sold as a gaming laptop, but it’s always been surprisingly capable, the 2018 update has only improved that. An upgrade from the GTX 1050 to the 1050 Ti makes playing games on the XPS 15 even smoother and more responsive. The XPS 15 saw an 18 percent increase in its 3DMark score over last year’s model.

In our game testing we noted a similar increase in game performance. In lighter fare such as Rocket League or Fortnite, you can expect a smooth 60 FPS, even with the graphics settings maxed out at Ultra. Even when taxed with Civilization VI or Battlefield 1, we saw a significant jump in framerate over last year’s model. On Ultra settings we averaged 49 FPS in Civilization VI and 52 FPS in Battlefield 1. While that won’t compare to the best gaming laptops, such as the Razer Blade, it’s impressive given the XPS 15’s jack-of-all-trades design.

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Again, you should know the XPS 15 can throttle at times. Even the more affordable Dell G3 Gaming Laptop, which has the same GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip, is a tad faster overall. That’s despite the extra RAM and processing cores the XPS 15 has. The 15-inch MacBook Pro has the same problem, as does the Surface Book 2, and basically any laptop with a thin profile and a fast graphics chip.

All-day battery

Despite its speed and large screen, Dell has managed to make battery life among the XPS 15’s strengths by including a large 97 watt-hour battery. The Razer Blade has an 80 watt-hour battery, while the Surface Book 2 features 90 watt-hour of juice. In the case of the 1080p model, the result of that large battery was some of the best battery life we’ve seen on a 15-inch laptop.

The laptop lasted just over 14 and a half hours looping a video. That’s even better than the XPS 13, and is only bested by the Surface Book 2, which still holds the crown at over twenty hours. In general browsing and productivity the XPS 15 provides more than a full day of battery, upwards of ten hours of usage.

Dell XPS 15 9570 Compared To

Alienware 17 R5

Razer Blade Stealth (2018)

Acer Predator Helios 300

Alienware 15 R3 (2017)

Asus ROG Strix GL553VD-DS71

Acer Predator 15

AVADirect Avant P750DM2-G

Asus ROG G752VS-XB78K

Acer Predator 17 X GX-791-73FH

Asus G750JX-DB71

Alienware M17x R4

Asus G51J 3D

Asus G51VX

Asus G50VT

Alienware Area-51 m9750

Our Take

The 2018 version of the Dell XPS 15 better than its predecessor in every way. While its look hasn’t changed, it remains a star in all the areas that matter most. Dell even upgraded the graphics card without increasing the price. There are a couple hiccups along the way, such as the webcam placement and the storage speed, but the XPS 15 remains our favorite 15-inch laptop.

Is there a better alternative?

The obvious choice is the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which won’t have the graphics capability, has worse battery life, and is quite a bit more expensive. On the other end of the spectrum, the Razer Blade is certainly a more capable gaming machine, but again — battery life is worse and it’s more expensive. As much as we love the Blade, there’s a trade-off there for the extra performance.

The laptop you should really consider before buying the XPS 15 is one of the Dell G series laptops. They aren’t nearly as thin, light, or premium, but offer better performance at nearly half the cost. The major compromises are screen quality, battery life, and touchpad quality, but if you’re on a budget, it’s a fantastic deal.

How long will it last?

The XPS 15 is a durable, up-to-date, machine. You can expect it to last at least a three or four years, depending how you use it of course. It comes with a standard 1-year warranty, which isn’t anything special.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Not everyone needs this much power, but for those who do, the XPS 15 is the 15-inch laptop we’d choose every time.


How iPhone photographers connect the world using only ‘basic’ gear



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A photograph is a connection — to a person, place, or moment in time. But making that connection wasn’t always convenient. Before Aug. 19, 1839, taking a single photograph required at least eight hours just to expose the image. But when the French released the daguerreotype to the public 179 years ago today, photography started a journey from something only chemists understood to something many of us do on a daily basis — maybe to preserve a smile, maybe just to digitize a receipt.

That journey has led to a world more connected by images than the pioneers of photography could have ever imagined. World Photography Day celebrates that connection, inviting photographers around the globe to share their images and stories with the international community. As smartphones have played a huge role in the surge of photographs being created, we worked with Apple to talk to some of the most prolific iPhone photographers around the globe about what inspires them, what gear and apps they use, and how a photograph can spark change.

The benefits of a basic camera

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    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset. Images by John Bozinov.

While some photographers are only too quick to brag about owning the latest camera, photographers like John Bozinov point out that “basic” cameras have their perks. “I enjoy the simplicity of shooting on a relatively ‘basic’ camera and not thinking too much while I’m in the field taking photos, focusing and connecting solely on my subject in front of me; in some ways it helps to keep me in the moment,” Bozinov told Digital Trends.

“I also like that I can shoot, edit and share all from one device, streamlining the creative process from start to finish. For me, photography is about connecting people to new ideas, and there’s no better way to bridge that disconnect by creating a sense of familiarity by shooting my images using the same camera that we all have in our pockets.”

Bozinov, a New Zealand native, spends much of his time photographing Antartica — and the iPhone’s small size makes it easy to keep the camera battery warm and running by slipping it into an interior pocket.

While most photographers photographing wildlife use big telephoto lenses, the fixed iPhone lens works for Bozniov’s shots of friendly penguins — because the penguins really are that friendly. “Many of the animals in Antarctica didn’t evolve around a natural land predator, so the wildlife there often doesn’t feel particularly scared or apprehensive around people. In fact, there have been many situations where penguins have approached me rather than the other way around,” he said.

For Kael Rebick, another iPhone photographer, using the camera she already had in her pocket wasn’t just a way to capture her life, but was actually what inspired a love for photography and travel. When she picked up one of the first iPhones, the Toronto native quickly became hooked on photography. While she now also uses a dedicated Fujifilm mirrorless camera, she continues to shoot with her iPhone, either to compliment her mirrorless camera or when it’s the only camera she has room to bring.

Apps and accessories take phone photos further

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    Kael Rebick
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    Kael Rebick

One key reason Rebick continues shooting with an iPhone is the simplicity and immediacy of editing. A self-described low tech photographer, her go-to editing app is Snapseed.

Ashish Parmar, a photographer based in India, takes a decidedly higher-tech approach. He shoots with an iPhone X and edits with the iPad Pro using Affinity Photo, Photoshop, and a stylus. He’ll also use the Apple Watch to as a remote trigger, along with shooting with wide angle lenses, LED lights, a GorillaPod, and other accessories.

For Australia-based photographer Ryan Pernofksi, accessories make his work possible. His Instagram is filled with ocean waves, which he shoots using the AxisGo housing by Aquatech. He edits in VSCO. “I edit photos the same way I’ve heard one should use makeup,” he says. “Not to mask your flaws, but to highlight the beauty that’s already there.”

When travel photographer Austin Mann uses an iPhone, he brings along a mini tripod, the Pedco UltraPod with a Glif quick release attachment, and a portable power bank. The U.S.-based photographer also uses Moment’s fisheye lens and the Movi stabilizer. For editing, he uses both Snapseed and VSCO, while relying on PhotoPills to plan his shots and NightCap Pro for long exposures.

Karem Uzel’s high contrast black and white images are created on the Provoke app. The photographer, who’s based in Turkey, says the high contrast black and white edits from the app helps capture his feelings in the midst of the political turmoil in Turkey.

For DJ-turned-music-photographer Maria Jose Govea, it’s the color edits that play a big role. The Los Angeles based photographer uses A Color Story to edit her iPhone shots.

Photography for change

world photography day iphone influencers processed with vsco au5 presetProcessed with VSCO with au5 preset Ryan Pernofski

While the gear, process, and style differs, World Photography Day is about using a photograph for change. For Rebick, a camera is a tool that allows anyone to see other cultures and locations, even if they can’t visit themselves. “I like to be able to shot what beauty that I see — my photos are about what I think are beautiful things that I’m able to capture through my own eyes,” she said. “I just hope that beauty translates and that other people will see it too and appreciate it — or decide to travel there themselves.”

For Bozinov, photography is not about getting people to a location, but showing that even isolated areas are worth protecting. “I think we often feel disconnected with Antarctica because of its isolation,” he said. “I hope that my photography will help people feel a little closer and connected to the polar regions and that my work will show others that the far reaches of our planet are places worth protecting.”

World Photography Day is Aug. 19, the birthday of the daguerreotype — share a photo, no matter what camera it came from, with hashtag #worldphotoday to celebrate.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • For Monaris, it’s a photography career launched on an iPhone and Instagram
  • These might be the best photos shot with an iPhone in 2018
  • Colby Brown isn’t afraid to fail (or fall) in pursuit of the perfect travel shot
  • Film-processing lab offers fascinating behind-the-scenes look
  • What the hell? How Jonathan Higbee shoots these impossible street photos


The Note 9 is the best waterproof Android phone you can buy


The Galaxy Note 9 combines a beautiful industrial design with ultra-powerful specs, superb cameras, and the ever-capable S Pen. Starting at $1000, it isn’t cheap by any stretch, but it’s as premium as they come.

Our pick

Galaxy Note 9


$1000 at Samsung

The most powerful phone Samsung has ever built.

The Galaxy Note 9 isn’t just the best waterproof phone — it’s one of the best overall phones money can buy. It packs everything from wireless charging to a massive 4000mAh battery, dual cameras, a remote control S Pen, and even a headphone jack. All without a notch.

Who should buy this phone?

Customers with deep pockets (both literally and metaphorically) who want to be able to run their entire life from their phone. The Galaxy Note 9 has a seemingly endless list of features, both in hardware and software, and can even act as a makeshift desktop computer using DeX through an HDMI to USB-C adapter.

Whether you’re a gamer, a businessman, or just a high-rolling power user, the Note 9 offers best-in-class performance, massive storage (up to 512GB internally, plus microSD expandability), and the same excellent pair of rear cameras found in the Galaxy S9+ — one a 12MP sensor with dual apertures, and the other a telephoto lens of the same resolution.

Is it a good time to buy this phone?

It is! There’s rarely a better time to buy a phone than just ahead of its launch. Samsung is offering a bundle deal with early orders of the Note 9, throwing in a free pair of AKG headphones or in-game currency for Fortnite (you can also get both for $100), and some carriers are further sweetening the deal with BOGO promotions.

Reasons to buy

  • Huge, gorgeous 6.4-inch display
  • Improved S Pen functionality
  • Great dual cameras
  • Long battery life
  • Top-of-the-line specs
  • Industrial curved glass design

Reasons not to buy

  • It’s $1000
  • Samsung Experience still not everyone’s cup of tea
  • Likely won’t receive Android Pie update for a while

There are other great waterproof phones

The nice thing about looking for a great waterproof phone is that almost every phone is waterproof these days. While the Galaxy Note 9 is arguably the best phone currently on the market, there are plenty more options to choose from.


Google Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL


$649 from Google Store

Pure Android comes in a waterproof package.

The Pixel 2 delivers Google’s Android software as intended, with fast updates for the latest features and security issues for a full three years. Many have said the Pixel takes Apple’s iPhone approach and keeps things simple and running smoothly, and we have to agree.

The Pixel 2 represents the best of Google’s software. But the hardware is no slouch, either. That IP67-rated exterior holds the same muscle as most every other high-end Android phone with a Snapdragon 835 chip and 4GB of RAM. Add in front facing speakers and one of the best cameras on any phone you can buy today for a great water-resistant experience!

Best for videography

LG V30


$699 from B&H

Great for content creators and consumers alike.

Besides being “waterproof,” the V30 has some other really great features. Video capture is second to none with LG’s Cine Log mode, top-shelf mobile audio components make the V30 sound as good as (or even better than) your stereo at home, and it’s the first phone to support T-Mobile’s 600Mhz network.

Samsung isn’t the only one holding onto standards like expandable storage and a headphone jack — in fact, the LG V30’s Quad DAC offers the best wired audio experience around. Add to that LG’s constantly improving ultra-wide angle camera, and the V30 is an outstanding content-creating and -consuming machine.

Best for one-handed use

Galaxy S9


$690 from Amazon

A Note 9 you can fit in one hand.

If you want most of the features of the Galaxy Note 9 but don’t want a massive, two-handed device, the Galaxy S9 has a nearly-identical spec sheet, along with the same curved glass design and even the exact same camera sensor. Of course, it’s IP68 waterproof, too.

With a 5.8-inch 18.5:9 display, the Galaxy S9 still isn’t a small phone by any means, but it’s much more manageable than the Note 9, without compromising on features or specs. You won’t get the S Pen that makes a Note a Note, but you’ll still enjoy the same great software experience and fantastic camera.

Bottom line

Here’s some great news: ingress protection is all but mandated in a flagship phone these days, so when you’re looking for a good waterproof phone you can pretty much just choose whatever phone catches your eye — with a few exceptions like the OnePlus 6 and Moto Z3 Play, both of which have “splash resistance” but no full-blown certifications.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better waterproof phone than the Galaxy Note 9 — at least, until the rest of 2018’s lineup rolls out.

Updated August 2018: This list has been updated with the Galaxy Note 9 now taking the crown as our top recommendation.


Cover your home in smart devices with three Echo Dots for just $25 apiece

The ultimate smart home.

If you add three Echo Dot smart devices to your cart and use the code DOT3PACK during checkout, the price will drop from $119.97 down to $74.97. That’s $45 off the price and brings the Echo Dots down to about $25 apiece. The Echo Dot is $40 on its own, and that’s only because there’s a sale dropping it from $50. It’s even bigger savings if you consider that $120 price is usually $150.

With three Echo Dots, you can group them altogether and add each one to a different part of your house. That way you’ll always have Alexa within earshot when you need to ask her about the weather or turn on a light or play some music. This sale is part of a larger sale on Amazon hardware and includes several other devices as much as $100 off. Add to your smart home with those as well.

See on Amazon


This 64GB Samsung Galaxy S8 for T-Mobile is down to $350 today

Replace your current device with this sleek smartphone at a discount.


Samsung is offering the T-Mobile edition of the Galaxy S8 smartphone for just $350 today. As it regularly costs up to $600 at retailers such as Amazon, this deal saves you around $250. Only the Arctic White version of this phone is priced this low today, and it is only compatible with the carrier T-Mobile.

The Galaxy S8 received rave reviews from the team here. It features 4GB RAM, a 5.8-inch bezel-less display, and a 3000mAh battery which can last for up to 30 hours of talk time. It also comes equipped with an 8MP front camera and a 12MP rear camera.

There’s a whole lot of glass on this phone, so be sure to protect it with a nice case. You can also upgrade its storage with up to a 256GB microSD card.

See at Samsung


Department of Justice asks judge to force Facebook to decrypt Messenger

Three unnamed sources have confirmed to Reuters that the U.S. government is trying to force Facebook’s hand regarding the encryption on its Messenger app. The government wants the social media platform to make it possible for law enforcement agencies to listen in on a suspect’s conversation during criminal investigations.  Facebook has refused the demand and the case is currently set to go to trial in federal court in California. The case is sealed, so there are no public records available.

On August 14, the judge in the case heard opening arguments regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s request to have Facebook held in contempt of court for refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

The case is still in the opening stages, but its results could have widespread ramifications regarding privacy on communication apps. If the courts rule in favor of the government, that could allow law enforcement agencies to make similar demands of other communication apps. For their part, some tech companies, despite the obvious privacy issues inherent in social media, have come to see themselves as guardians of privacy.

In a lot of ways, this case is similar to one that occurred in 2016 between the FBI  and Apple regarding the contents of an iPhone belonging to a man involved in the murder of government employees in San Bernardino, California. In that case, Apple argued that the government was violating the company’s first amendment rights by attempting to force the issue. However, the case was never resolved as a third-party contractor helped the government obtain the information it sought from the phone.

This case could also have implications for how internet-based voice applications are viewed in regards to wiretapping. Currently, it is fairly easy for law enforcement to obtain warrants to tap traditional phone conversations, but that hasn’t been expanded to platforms such as Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts.

While there are legal issues at stake here, the goverment’s request also runs into technical ones as well. Standard text messages sent within Messenger do not receive one-to-one encryption, but phone conversations do. Facebook is arguing that the government’s request is impossible without rewriting Messenger’s code, which would make it easier to listen in on anyone’s conversations.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Facebook suspends data firm claiming access to 1 trillion conversations
  • Under 13? You may soon find your Facebook or Instagram account suspended
  • Facebook takes aim at Tinder and Bumble with its own dating service
  • Facebook and Google racked up $8.8 billion in lawsuits from one day of GDPR
  • Would you pay to join a Group? Facebook takes subscriptions for a spin


SMS Connect will allow you to use Skype to text from your PC

Texting from a computer has been possible for years on both iOS in the form of iMessage and through various Android apps such as MightyText. Now, it looks like we’re getting another platform to choose from. A post on the blog Windows Italia has revealed that one of the features in the works for the future of Skype is the ability to use Skype to send and receive text messages.

“SMS Connect,” as the new feature is being called, can be found in the preview settings of the Skype Android app. However, it currently cannot be activated. It’s unclear when the new feature will be enabled, as neither Microsoft or Skype have announced a firm release date. SMS Connect does appear to be available on the desktop app, though some users have reported issues. Of course, bugs are to be expected in a testing environment.

Based on your feedback for this feature, we're really excited to introduce SMS Connect to Insiders! You've seen our sneak peak of the setting in 8.29. ???? We'll let you know what scenarios to help test in future builds as we light up the feature.

— Skype Insider (@SkypeInsider) August 17, 2018

As of right now, SMS Connect appears to only be available for Windows 10 devices and Android. The company has not made any announcements about an iOS version of this feature, though that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. However, it is likely that a lot of iPhone users prefer to use iMessage for their texting needs.

This isn’t the only Windows-based SMS application that Microsoft has in the works. Earlier this year, the company announced the Your Phone app, which will make it easy for users to access their phone’s photos, text messages, and other content right from their desktop. Unlike Skype’s SMS feature, Your Phone has been confirmed to be in the works for both Android and iOS devices.

Having two products that have a similar purpose might seem self-defeating for Microsoft, but the Skype app does have a few benefits that may set it apart. For starters, there’s the simple fact that many people prefer to use a single app for their communication needs, so fans of Skype will likely enjoy being able to use Skype to send texts. Beyond that, Your Phone may require a newer version of Windows 10, so those who haven’t updated to the latest version of the OS, will have an option.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to send a text message from a computer
  • The best chat clients
  • You’ll soon be able to send texts on your Chromebook
  • How to save text messages in Android and iOS
  • What is RCS messaging? Here’s all you need to know about the successor to SMS

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