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The new iPhone SE feels like an old friend

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Announced with little more fanfare than a press release, the new iPhone SE’s launch felt like a whisper compared to the years of requests for a smaller, cheaper model in Apple’s range. The original iPhone SE hit a double-whammy at the time. On the one hand it captured those who felt like the bleeding-edge of smartphones were simply too large; on the other, those who begrudged paying $600+ for a modern handset.

The industry has moved on, but those motivations remain. 2020’s iPhone SE has the same price tag as 2016’s version. Its screen may feel borderline-anachronistically scaled compared to what many of us are using, but for some it will be a welcome nod back to more hand-friendly times.

Apple keeps its margins low by reusing an old design, of course. That helps the iPhone SE with its $399 starting price, but it also means it benefits from a reality back in 2017 when the iPhone 8 first launched. Those Cupertino engineers sure do know how to make a sweet-feeling smartphone.

This is not something you’d pick up and think “hmm, yes, definitely a cheap device.” From the anodized metal frame, to the smooth curve of the glass front and back where it meets that aluminum, there’s something both tactile and reassuring about the new iPhone SE. That’s more than I could say about a lot of affordable Android phones.

That there’s deja-vu doesn’t come as too great a surprise. After all, muscle-memory is a powerful thing: we may be several generations on from the iPhone 8, but clearly my hands remember it with fondness. And Apple has, of course, trod this path before with the original iPhone SE.

What has struck me this second time around, though, is the gulf between the feelings from using 2020’s iPhone SE and Apple’s other most-recent smartphones. Back when the original SE launched, the then-flagship iPhone 6s it sat alongside still had a home button. Its screen was smaller, but it was still flanked with sizable top and bottom bezels. It felt – indeed it was – a smaller version of that flagship.

The 2020 iPhone SE feels like a different species compared to the smartphones Apple launched in late 2019. Putting aside even the clear size discrepancy between it and the iPhone 11 Pro Max that is my daily-driver, next to the iPhone 11 Pro it’s a very different experience of an iOS smartphone. In the years since the iPhone X my fingers have built up some muscle-memory of their own, yet here most of their swipes and gestures are out of place.

The reality is that something had to give, and even had Apple wanted to drop an edge-to-edge touchscreen into the new iPhone SE, it probably couldn’t. When you make your own processor design rather than buy it from, say, Qualcomm, you can afford to drop the latest silicon into your $399 smartphone. Similarly, when you don’t need to completely retool for a brand new external design, you can probably afford to stick with metal and glass.

There’s only so far the bill of materials can be squeezed when you’re shopping for screens, however. The end result is a feeling of stepping back in time: not unwelcome, necessarily – and I’m sure those finally getting around to upgrading from an iPhone 4s or something equally ancient will appreciate the relative consistency – but jarring all the same.

Even in my first hours with this phone, I’ve a feeling I can already predict what my broad verdict might be. The iPhone SE does something only Apple, arguably, can, by virtue of what it makes itself, the software it builds, and its iron-grip over the supply chain. I can already appreciate its value as a $399 for a large audience of people, even if I can already foresee a time when I – like many of you reading this – butt up against its limitations as someone used to having the latest-and-greatest in my pocket.

That’s fine, though. There’s room in the smartphone world for a range of phones, maybe even more so in this current pandemic when budgets are tighter and $1k+ purchases seem increasingly rash. Making new friends is great, but there’s nothing quite like catching up with old friends, either.

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The First Tesla Semi Has Been Delivered After Lengthy Delays

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There had long been suggestion Pepsi would be one of Tesla’s biggest customers — with a subsidiary spotted installing charging stations at one of its plants and test driving the trucks earlier this year. Tesla also placed an order for 100 of the high tech trucks shortly after they were announced in 2017. In October, Musk confirmed the company’s first truck was almost ready for delivery, and it would be going to the soft drink manufacturer.

Today, Tesla finally made it official and delivered its first production semis to Pepsi. Speaking at the handover, which took place at a Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada, Musk described his motivation for designing the truck. The Tesla CEO claims that trucks make up less than 1% of vehicles in the United States, but are responsible for a large chunk of emissions. Musk said it will both help the environment and improve the health of individuals living near highways. At the end of the presentation, Musk thanked Pepsico and described them as a “great partner.” 

The trucks’ keycards were then handed over to Pepsi’s representatives, followed by several high fives. The trucks’ first cargo run involved “an enormous amount of Frito Lays” which were handed out to people in attendance. Pepsi’s Kirk Tanner then took the mic and said: “I want to thank the people who have spent countless hours to make this a reality.” before thanking Elon Musk and the other Tesla representatives. Other companies are also interested in Tesla’s electric semi. Budweiser, Walmart, and UPS are amongst those who have placed pre-orders — with Budweiser ordering at least 40 of the large electric vehicles.

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Kanye West Is No Longer Buying Twitter-Rival Parler

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It’s unclear whether West’s recent controversies have anything to do with the Parler deal falling apart. In a statement shared with CNBC, Parler’s owner notes that the “decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November.” Parler says it will be on the lookout for the growth opportunities, without clarifying if it was looking for investors to scale up, or full-fledged buyers. The latter seems unlikely to happen, given the current state of layoffs in the tech industry and the looming fears of a recession.

Parlement Technologies reportedly had high hopes from its acquisition deal with Kanye West. Soon after the agreement press release went out, Parler sent out an email to its “VIP” users, offering them perks like a gold badge for being valuable personalities on the platform. Politico reports that the email campaign inadvertently revealed the personal contact information of nearly a dozen lawmakers and some well-known conservative personalities.

Citing an insider source, Axios reports that West’s unstable financial situation following the cancellation of lucrative deals with the likes of Adidas played a role in his Parler plans falling apart. In the meanwhile, West has returned to Twitter, after his account was restricted for a few weeks ago over sharing anti-Semitic remarks. West currently has a huge follower base of over 18 million on Twitter, which dwarfs the total number of users on Parler, as of December 2021.

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Elon Musk Says Twitter’s Potential Removal From iOS App Store Was ‘Misunderstanding’

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Barely two days after Elon Musk feuded with Apple publicly, he met with Tim Cook to settle the differences. “We resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so,” Elon Musk tweeted last evening. This was a few hours after he shared a video of Apple’s HQ to disclose the location of the meeting.

However, Elon Musk didn’t reveal if Apple will continue advertising on Twitter. According to the Washington Post, Apple was the biggest ad spender on Twitter in Q1 2022. It spent an average of $4 million per week to run ads on Twitter between January to March this year — this added up to about 4% of Twitter’s revenue. However, Reuters reports that Apple reduced its weekly ad budget on Twitter to $131,600 a few weeks after Elon Musk bought the social media company. We also haven’t heard from Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, about the agenda of his meeting with Elon Musk. 

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