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Category: Apple

The 2019 XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup

With the new school year approaching, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve just published our fourth annual XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup! The Roundup allows shoppers to view side-by-side comparisons of XPRT test scores and hardware specs from some of this year’s most popular Chromebooks, laptops, tablets, and convertibles. After testing the devices in our lab using XPRT benchmarks, we’ve provided performance scores as well as photo galleries, PT-verified device specs, and prices. Parents, teachers, students, and administrators who are considering buying devices to use in their education environments have many options. The Roundup helps make their decisions easier by gathering product and performance facts in one convenient place.

The Back-to-School Roundup is just one of the features we offer through the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight. Every week, the Spotlight highlights a new device, making it easier for consumers to select a new laptop, phone, tablet, or PC. Recent devices in the Spotlight include the Dell G7 15 Gaming laptop, the HP Stream 14, the ASUS Chromebook Flip, the OnePlus 7 Pro phone, and the 2019 Apple iPad Mini. The Spotlight device comparison page lets you view side-by-side comparisons of all of the devices we’ve tested.

If you’re interested in having your devices featured in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight or in this year’s Black Friday and Holiday Showcases, which we publish in late November, visit the website for more details.

If you have any ideas for the Spotlight page or suggestions for devices you’d like to see, let us know!

Justin

Find the perfect tech gift with the XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase

With the biggest shopping day of the year fast approaching, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the sea of tech gifts to choose from. Luckily, the XPRTs are here to help. We’ve gathered the product specs and performance facts for the hottest tech devices in one convenient place—the XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase. This free shopping tool provides side-by-side comparisons of some of the season’s most coveted smartphones, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, and PCs. Most importantly, it helps you make informed buying decisions so you can breeze through this season’s holiday shopping.

Want to know how the Google Pixel 2 compares to the Apple iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in web browsing performance or screen size? Simply select any two devices and click the compare button to see how they stack up against each other. You can also search by device type if you’re interested in a specific form factor such as consoles or tablets.

The Showcase doesn’t go away after Black Friday. We’ll rename it the XPRT Holiday Buying Guide and continue to add devices throughout the shopping season. So be sure to check back in and see how your tech gifts measure up.

If this is your first time reading about the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight, here’s a little background. Our hands-on testing process equips consumers with accurate information about how devices function in the real world. We test devices using our industry-standard BenchmarkXPRT tools: WebXPRT, MobileXPRT, TouchXPRT, CrXPRT, BatteryXPRT, and HDXPRT. In addition to benchmark results, we include photographs, specs, and prices for all products. New devices come online weekly, and you can browse the full list of almost 100 that we’ve featured to date on the Spotlight page.

If you represent a device vendor and want us to feature your product in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight, please visit the website for more details.

Do you have suggestions for the Spotlight page or device recommendations? Let us know!

Justin

Tracking device evolution with WebXPRT ’15, part 2

Last week, we used the Apple iPhone as a test case to show how hardware advances are often reflected in benchmark scores over time. When we compared WebXPRT 2015 scores for various iPhone models, we saw a clear trend of progressively higher scores as we moved from phones with an A7 chip to phones with A8, A9, and A10 Fusion chips. Performance increases over time are not surprising, but WebXPRT ’15 scores also showed us that upgrading from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 6s is likely to have a much greater impact on web-browsing performance than upgrading from an iPhone 6s to an iPhone 7.

This week, we’re revisiting our iPhone test case to see how software updates can boost device performance without any changes in hardware. The original WebXPRT ’15 tests for the iPhone 5s ran on iOS 8.3, and the original tests for the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and SE ran on variants of iOS 9. We updated each phone to iOS 10.0.2 and ran several iterations of WebXPRT ’15.

Upgrading from iOS 8.3 to iOS 10 on the iPhone 5s caused a 17% increase in web-browsing performance, as measured by WebXPRT. Upgrading from iOS 9 to iOS 10 on the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and SE produced web-browsing performance gains of 2.6%, 3.6%, and 3.1%, respectively.

The chart below shows the WebXPRT ’15 scores for a range of iPhones, with each iPhone’s iOS version upgrade noted in parentheses. The dark blue columns on the left represent the original scores, and the light blue columns on the right represent the upgrade scores.

Oct 27 iPhone chart

As with our hardware comparison last week, these scores are the median of a range of scores for each device in our database. These scores come both from our own testing and from device reviews from popular tech media outlets.

These results reinforce a message that we repeat often, that many factors other than hardware influence performance. Designing benchmarks that deliver relevant and reliable scores requires taking all factors into account.

What insights have you gained recently from WebXPRT ’15 testing? Let us know!

Justin

Tracking device evolution with WebXPRT ‘15

The XPRT Spotlight on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus gives us a great opportunity to look at the progression of WebXPRT 2015 scores for the iPhone line and see how hardware and software advances are often reflected in benchmark scores over time. This week, we’ll see how the evolution of Apple’s mobile CPU architecture has boosted web-browsing performance. In a future post, we’ll see the impact of iOS development.

As we’ve discussed in the past, multiple factors can influence benchmark results. While we’re currently using the iPhone as a test case, the same principles apply to all types of devices. We should also note that WebXPRT is an excellent gauge of expected web-browsing performance during real-world tasks, which is different than pure CPU performance in isolation.

When looking at WebXPRT ’15 scores in our database, we see that iPhone web-browsing performance has more than doubled in the last three years. In 2013, an iPhone 5s with an Apple A7 chip earned an overall WebXPRT ’15 score of 100. Today, a new iPhone 7 Plus with an A10 Fusion chip reports a score somewhere close to 210. The chart below shows the WebXPRT ’15 scores for a range of iPhones, with each iPhone’s CPU noted in parentheses.

Oct 20 iPhone chart

Moving forward from the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s to the A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and the A9 chip in the iPhone 6s and SE, we see consistent score increases. The biggest jump, at over 48%, appears in the transition from the A8 to the A9 chip, implying that folks upgrading from an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to anything newer would notice a huge difference in web performance.

In general, folks upgrading from an A9-based phone (6S, 6S Plus, or SE) to an A10-based phone (7 and 7 Plus) could expect an increase in web performance of over 6.5%.

The scores we list represent the median of a range of scores for each device in our database. These scores come from our own testing, as well as from device reviews from media outlets such as AnandTech, Notebookcheck, and Tom’s Hardware. It’s worth noting that the highest A9 score in our database (AnandTech’s iPhone SE score of 205) overlaps with the lowest A10 Fusion score (Tom’s Hardware of Germany’s iPhone 7 score of 203), so while the improvement in median scores is clear, performance will vary according to individual phones and other factors.

Soon, we’ll revisit our iPhone test case to see how software updates can boost device performance without any changes in hardware. For more details on the newest iPhones, visit the Spotlight comparison page to see how iPhone 7 and 7 Plus specs and WebXPRT scores stack up.

Justin

XPRT Spotlight: making it happen

This week’s XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight features the Apple iPhone 7, one of the bigger launches in a year of relatively few big phone releases. We like to feature a wide array of devices in Spotlight, but events like the iPhone 7 launch are good opportunities for us to provide quick data for buyers who are considering taking the plunge.

As those of you who need to have the new hot device on the first day know, getting that device can be a trial. Even though we preordered our iPhone 7, last Friday I found myself standing in line at the Apple store for almost two hours. However, that was much shorter than the half-day-plus wait for those who hadn’t ordered ahead.

We also ordered an iPhone 7 Plus. We’ll feature it in Spotlight as soon as it arrives, but we don’t expect it to ship until October.

Have you waited in line for a popular device this year? We’d love to hear your story. As always, if there are any devices that you’d like to see in Spotlight, let us know!

Justin

Doing things a little differently

I enjoyed watching the Apple Event live yesterday. There were some very impressive announcements. (And a few which were not so impressive – the Breathe app would get on my nerves really fast!)

One thing that I was very impressed by was the ability of the iPhone 7 Plus camera to create depth-of-field effects. Some of the photos demonstrated how the phone used machine learning to identify people in the shot and keep them in focus while blurring the background, creating a shallow depth of field. This causes the subjects in a photo to really stand out. The way we take photos is not the only thing that’s changing. There was a mention of machine learning being part of Apple’s QuickType keyboard, to help with “contextual prediction.”

This is only one product announcement, but it’s a reminder that we need to be constantly examining every part of the XPRTs. Recently, we talked a bit about how people will be using their devices in new ways in the coming months, and we need to be developing tests for these new applications. However, we must also stay focused on keeping existing tests fresh.  People will keep taking photos, but today’s photo editing tests may not be relevant a year or two from now.

Were there any announcements yesterday that got you excited? Let us know!

Eric

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