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Monday’s top tech news: an ultra year for tech?

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Just a few short days after Samsung announced not one but two “Ultra”-branded devices comes a report that Apple might be about to slap that same label on an upcoming iPhone. Over the weekend, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple’s 2022 flagship iPhone lineup could include its first Ultra model. Apparently there’s a chance it could offer a higher performance camera system, faster chip, and / or a larger display than the Pro Max.

Second, if you have even a passing interest in Mario Kart, The Last of Us, or Pedro Pascal, then I implore you to check out Pascal’s appearance on Saturday Night Live. I won’t spoil it, but it’s-a good stuff.

Finally, I want to highlight a couple of interesting reviews that went up over the weekend. Announced last week alongside the Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup, the SmartThings Station is not only a hub to control your smart home, but it’s also a controller button and a wireless charging pad — both functions that provide a great excuse to have it easily accessible at all times. There’s also this fantastically overkill gadget from Nix which aims to help athletes keep hydrated while exercising.

For now, here’s a silly tweet to start your day:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Monday, February 6th, 2023.
  • It’s-a me, Pedro Pascal.

    Saturday Night Live had Pascal step into the shoes of Nintendo’s titular Italian plumber for a skit combining the mushroom-dominated worlds of Mario Kart and The Last of Us.

    The premise works surprisingly well, and if this were an actual show, I’d totally watch it.

  • Apple could introduce a pricier iPhone ‘Ultra’ in 2024

    iPhone Pro models on a bed of bouncy balls.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Apple’s exploring the possibility of launching a more expensive iPhone “Ultra” above the iPhone Pro and Pro Max models, according to Apple tracker Mark Gurman. The high-end device could arrive as soon as 2024 with the iPhone 16 lineup.

    Last September, Gurman predicted that an “Ultra” model could replace the Pro Max branding with this year’s iPhone 15, but his latest theory suggests that Apple wants to establish a more powerful — and more expensive — tier of iPhones. That means the device could have an even higher price tag than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which starts at $1,099.

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  • Samsung’s SmartThings Station is a smart home hub worth plugging in

    The SmartThings Station is a six-in-one smart home hub that supports Matter and Thread and also wirelessly charges your phone.
    The SmartThings Station is a six-in-one smart home hub that supports Matter and Thread and also wirelessly charges your phone.

    I am a fan of multipurpose smart home hubs. No one has the space or patience for yet another single-function plastic box plugged into their router. Beyond acting as the brains of your Apple smart home, the HomePod is a great speaker; Google’s Nest Hub Max helps run your Google Home and is a superb digital photo frame. And the new Samsung SmartThings Station? It’s a SmartThings hub that also charges your phone.

    Yes, Samsung made a SmartThings hub three years after saying it wouldn’t make any more SmartThings hardware. (Well, it’s actually a modified version of Samsung’s existing wireless charger, but it has a SmartThings logo, so it’s SmartThings hardware.) But the $59.99 SmartThings Station is also a smart home button, an always-on device scanner for SmartThings Find, a Matter controller, and a Thread border router.

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  • Nix’s Hydration Biosensor is for athletes who sweat the details

    Close-up of person placing Nix Hydration Biosensor onto bicep with sleeves rolled up.
    The Nix Hydration Biosensor is meant to be worn on your bicep. Here I am, plotting out where to stick it.

    Everywhere I look, people and gadgets are yelling at me to hydrate. On social media, the algorithm bombards me with fitness and beauty influencers who say I should drink a gallon of water a day. (Glowing skin! Shed that last stubborn five pounds! More energy!) The various smartwatches I test all have these hydration widgets for tracking my daily water intake. Not too long ago, I had a “smart” water bottle that flashed hourly rainbow LED lights as a reminder to drink up. Most recently, I’ve been wearing this little pod on my bicep. It, too, tells me to hydrate — but in a way that’s surprisingly useful.

    The $129 Nix Hydration Biosensor is a pod-and-patch combo that alerts endurance athletes when they should hydrate during a workout. It claims to give personalized hydration recommendations, as well as calculate your individual electrolyte loss depending on certain factors like weather and sweat rate. It’s overkill. Hydration doesn’t need to be this expensive or complicated. But for data nerds and endurance athletes, the Nix sensor does offer some practical guidance that, for some, may just be worth the price.

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