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🍎 Apple's gaming foray, 🕶️Meta Quest 3, 😱 New Xbox leak, 🚁 DJI's powerful tiny drone
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My iPhone 15 Pro Max review just went live and we’re already writing about the next phone, with news about Google Pixel 8 pre-orders and its potential price increase. (Apple’s rivals don’t miss a beat, do they?)
In this newsletter, The Shortcut team is highlighting good news (an Xbox Series X Slim may be on the way), bad news (Amazon Prime Video will get ads soon) and surprising news (Meta Quest 3 may be Microsoft's answer to PSVR 2). Notice how we have no banner ads? Yup, we’re better than Amazon Prime Video!
📸 Pic of the week to start things off
As I write this, I’m in New Mexico for some post-iPhone review R&R – of course, both Rs stand for “reviewing”. I’m capturing iPhone vs Samsung vs Google smartphone photos for a camera comparison exclusively for paid subscribers next week and also taking drone footage since the DJI Mini 4 Pro just launched. While traveling, I have the Backbone One controller with me, which helps my iPhone feel like it’s a full-fledged gaming machine. In fact, the iPhone 15 Pro/Max’s gaming potential is the #1 story from The Shortcut’s Adam Vjestica.
The USB-C version of the Backbone One was hard to find in stock at a moment’s notice, but I tracked it down at a local Best Buy.
Newsletter below ⤵️
📆 Your Calendar
🪚 TODAY: Saw X releases in theaters ahead of Halloween
🔥 TODAY: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max release date
📱 Oct 4, Wed: Google Pixel 8 & Pixel Watch 2 launch date (we got our invite!)
📷 Oct 19, Thurs: Ring Stick Up Cam Pro release date
🆕 Oct 25, Wed: Amazon Echo Show 8 release date
🧟♂️ Oct 30, Mon: Resident Evil Village (iOS) placeholder date
Let’s get on with this week’s newsletter ⤵️
Today’s tech 👍 winners & 👎 losers
📱 👍 Winner: Apple’s new flagship phones could be a game changer
Our iPhone 15 Pro Max review raved about the 5x camera zoom and the fact that Apple is turning the iPhone into a surprise handheld gaming platform. The iPhone’s roster of console-quality games takes full advantage of the powerful A17 Pro chip for big-name titles once limited to cloud streaming and it immediately challenges all of the portable PCs: Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go, etc. Apple could shake up the video game industry in a big way, and provide stiff competition for the upcoming Nintendo Switch 2.
🤯 Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro & Pro Max are powerful enough to play console games
👍 Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4 remake, Death Stranding and Assassin’s Creed Mirage are all coming to iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max
📺 You’ll also be able to hook your iPhone up to a TV and play that way
🤔 Apple says the iPhone 15 Pro will be “the best game console”
🥽 👍 Winner: Microsoft throws Xbox support behind the Meta Quest 3
Microsoft doesn’t have its own VR headset (no, we’re not counting HoloLens as a real thing anymore), but it just announced that Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to the newly announced Meta Quest 3. This plays into Microsoft’s strategy to make its Xbox game library available to as many platforms as possible – and gives it a chance to compete with Sony PSVR 2 and Apple Vision Pro.
☁️ Meta Quest 3 will support Xbox Cloud Gaming in December
🎥 You’ll be able to play Xbox games on a massive, resizable floating screen
👍 Meta announced support was coming during its Connect conference
📆 The Quest 3 is out October 10 and costs $499
🆕 👍 Winner: Amazon has some great new products on the way
The Amazon Echo Hub is coming soon and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max releases today. And they aren’t alone. Amazon showed off a slew of new devices ahead of Amazon Prime Day October next month, and there’s something for everyone here. From new Ring cameras and Fire TV Sticks to a soundbar and new streaming service, Amazon has comprehensively refreshed and updated all of its best products.
👀 We saw the new eero mesh router, Ring cameras, Fire tablets and more
📺 First up: the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max releases today
🥇 But the highlight of Amazon’s launch event was Amazon Echo Hub
💰 It’s a $180 Alexa-powered wall-mountable smart home display
🚁👍 Winner: DJI's lightest drone just became a powerful flying camera
The newest drone, the DJI Mini 4 Pro, just landed on The Shortcut’s office doorstep and we’re using it for an upcoming review. Good timing: it adds a feature that would have saved our Mini 3 Pro from smacking into some trees (the drone survived – well, mostly). Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance gives DJI’s smallest drone series new front and back-facing cameras that can turn diagonally. Here’s the rundown:
🚁 What it is: DJI’s smallest drone model is $249 (it skirts some FAA rules >250g)
🦺 It’s safer: new front and back-facing cameras that can be turned diagonally
📹 Records: 4K 60fps (up from 30fps), 100fps (slow-mo), ‘Night Shots’ video
💰 Price: starts at $759, but $959 for the better screen-included controller
😱 👎 Loser: This may have been the biggest leak in video game history
Microsoft’s short and long-term plans have leaked in an incredible insight that’s unprecedented in the video games industry. As part of the company’s court case against the FTC, an unredacted document was uploaded and contained many of Microsoft’s secrets. Microsoft’s CEO of Gaming Phil Spencer has responded to the massive Xbox leak, saying that “so much has changed,” but remains a fascinating, rare look behind the curtain.
👀 We now know Microsoft is working on an Xbox Series X redesign
🎮 New Xbox controller borrows features from the PS5 DualSense
☁️ Microsoft’s cloud-focused next-gen console plans were also exposed
🔜 We also saw some unannounced Xbox games, too
😎 👍 Winner: Samsung’s massive monitor is out on October 2
This is the world’s first dual UHD monitor with DisplayPort 2.1, and we got to see it in person to test out its final specs. This isn’t the first time we sat in front of the 57-inch Mini LED gaming monitor. We also saw it at CES in January and gave it The Shortcut CES Awards. Its best features are its brightness, size, stand and nearly 8K resolution.
🙌 It costs $2,499.99, but you can save $500 with our gift card deal
⏱️ However, the offer expires on October 2 when the monitor releases
👍 Samsung’s quantum mini LED tech reaches a 1,000-nit peak brightness
👏 It has a 240Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time & AMD FreeSync Premium Pro
📏 👍 Winner: A sleeker, more power-efficient Xbox is in development
Microsoft is developing an Xbox Series X Slim, and it could launch in November next year. The new console will feature some design changes, including 2TB of storage, WiFi 6E, a front USB-C port, and no disc drive. It’ll also cost the same as the Xbox Series X: $499.
👀 Microsoft’s new Xbox has been revealed
🌳 It’s more power-efficient vs the current Series X but isn’t a PS5 Pro rival
📏 A ‘Slim’ Xbox Series X makes sense. Sony is rumored to launch a PS5 Slim
📆 It could launch in November 2024 for $499
😒 👎 Loser: Concerns have been raised over Apple's FineWoven cases
Apple has set itself some admirable environmental goals as it strives to become carbon neutral by 2030, but its new FineWoven iPhone 15 cases aren’t going down well. Multiple reports have shown that the cases aren’t as durable as they should be, with scuffs, scratches, and stains occurring easily.
😣 Apple’s new FineWoven material feels nice in the hand but isn’t very durable
🙈 Several photos show scratches, marks and permanent damage
♻️ Apple has ended production of leather accessories
🌳 The company is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030
🎮 👍 Winner: This upgrade is a must for gamers
The Skull & Co. thumb grips are proof that you don’t always need to break the bank to improve your gaming experience. For just $10, these thumb grips not only protect your existing controller, but they can help make you more competitive in games or simply stop your thumbs from slipping during those heated moments.
🎮 The Skull & Co. thumb grips add an extra element of customization to your controller
🔫 If you enjoy playing first-person shooters, these are a must
👍 You get three sets of thumb grips, which means you can use them on three controllers
🔋 👍 Winner: It’ll soon be easier than ever to keep your iPhone charged
Now that Apple is finally ditching the Lightning cable for USB-C, keeping your iPhone charged will be easier than ever before. With the vast majority of devices using USB-C as standard, you won’t need to carry around a Lightning cable for those battery emergencies, and that makes portable chargers even more useful.
👉 We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite USB-C portable chargers for iPhone 15
🙌 These chargers range from portability, convenience, and being able to charge all your devices
🔋 A portable charger is great for long-haul journeys or if you ever worry about your phone battery dying
🙈 👎 Loser: Microsoft’s confidence may have been misplaced
Another fascinating insight from the Xbox leak is how Microsoft felt the Xbox Series X was received compared to the PS5 when they were announced. Microsoft was confident that it had the better product, with head of Xbox Phil Spencer saying: “We have a better product than Sony does, not just on hardware but equally important on the software platform and services on top of the hardware. We have the ingredients of a winning plan.” Sony has since sold over 40 million consoles while Microsoft is estimated to have sold around 21 million Series S consoles.
🆚 Microsoft was confident that the Xbox Series X was better than the PS5
🙌 Xbox boss Phil Spencer said he believed they had “all the ingredients of a winning plan”
🤔 Microsoft is definitely more competitive this generation compared to when it launched the Xbox One
🦵 👍 Winner: Get ready to see your limbs in VR
One of the biggest issues with VR games and social applications is how your body is tracked. Unless you attach multiple sensors to your arms, legs, and feet, it’s been difficult for headsets to accurately portray your limbs in games, especially your legs. That's about to change with Meta Quest 3, which offers convincing upper-body tracking and leg positioning thanks to AI estimates.
👍 Meta will finally accurately portray your upper-body movements
🦵 New downward cameras will also take advantage of AI to estimate where your legs are
📆 The tech is coming in December as a free update
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