It’s Tax Time Again!

Another year, another tax season. So, what’s new and/or different for your 2022 tax return? Unfortunately, this is a year when many people are likely to be disappointed with their refunds or owe tax because several of the more generous provisions enacted during the pandemic were allowed to expire. Here are a few items that may be relevant to Seabrookers:

For many of us, Itemized Deductions are a thing of the past, but if you are still able to itemize, you should be aware that:
1. Medical deductions remain deductible in excess of 7.5% of AGI (adjusted gross income) for everyone.
2. The deduction for state and local taxes remains capped at $10,000.
3. The deduction for mortgage interest is limited to $750,000 of indebtedness.
4. Miscellaneous itemized deductions are no longer allowed.

What about Charitable Contributions?
For 2020 and 2021 there was a small “above the line” deduction, available to everyone, but regretfully that has gone away. For 2022, there are only two ways to get a deduction for Charitable Contributions. Firstly, it is still available for those who itemize, and secondly, it is available as a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from your IRA if you are of the age where you are required to take a RMD (Required Minimum Distribution). Click here to see a previous post on RMD and Qualified Charitable Distributions.  Talking of RMDs……

Mandatory Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)
For 2022 you were required to begin taking distributions before the end of the year you turn 72. Looking ahead, in 2023 the age when you begin taking distributions will be 73 and will rise to 75 for 2032.

Contributions to Retirement Savings Accounts and Health Savings Accounts are largely the same this year.

Really bad news for those with children is that the Child Tax Credit, which was $3,600 for children up to 17 for 2021, is back down to $2,000 for children under 17 for 2022. That means that the credit for your 17 or 18 year old senior in high school is only $500 for 2022 and is classified as a Credit for Other Dependents.

Did you buy an electric vehicle in 2022?  If you did, I’m sure you know that there are generous tax credits available. The rules for which vehicles qualify have recently changed, but if you think they may benefit you, be sure to check out the most recent updates.

There are some changes to South Carolina taxes and, as always, I’m going to warn our new neighbors to be careful if they are still using a tax preparer from another state. They need to be aware that tax software won’t automatically pick up some of the South Carolina differences and a preparer based in a different part of the country may not know about them.

So, if you moved here in 2022, it is important to know that South Carolina does not have a Part-Year Resident Tax Return. You may choose to be taxed either as a Resident or as a Non-Resident, even if you only lived in South Carolina for a couple of days. It is definitely worth working your state returns both ways, because it may be beneficial to opt for South Carolina residency for the whole year, particularly if you previously lived in a high tax state.

You probably know that South Carolina is generous to retirees because you can exempt taxing Social Security and depending on age, exempt up to $15,000 per person of retirement income. Are you a veteran? If so, none of your military pension is taxable for 2022 in South Carolina!

South Carolina offers some interesting tax credits. The one I hope everyone is aware of is the Excess Insurance Premium Credit if you’ve been hit with a big wind and hail insurance bill. Don’t forget to include your homeowners, flood and earthquake insurance in the calculation.

Other credits include Nursing Home Credit, Classroom Teacher Expenses Credit (this is in addition to the federal deduction), Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Credit and Two-Wage Earner Credit. The Motor Fuel Income Tax Credit increased again this year, but requires a lot of record-keeping for a small credit. Your call!  If you do decide it’s worthwhile, you will need to keep records of the number of gallons of gas used for each vehicle (2 vehicles per taxpayer allowed) and any maintenance expenses. The credit is for the “lesser of the two amounts” so if you only have one set of figures the credit is zero.

The South Carolina College Investment Program (529 Plan) is worth researching if you’re saving money for your grandchildren’s education, or anyone else’s education, including your own. Money invested in South Carolina Future Scholars Program is deductible from your South Carolina Income and the money doesn’t have to be spent at a South Carolina educational institution. It is worth noting that the amount you are allowed to deduct from your South Carolina taxable income is significantly higher than most other states.

One more thing. Have you lived in South Carolina for more than a year now and are over 65? If so, be sure to check out the Homestead Exemption on the property tax for your primary residence. You have to apply for it – it doesn’t come automatically.

Here’s hoping this helps in making your 2022 Tax Filings stress free!

P.S. There has been some confusion about the taxability of those South Carolina Tax Rebates most of us received. SC Department of Revenue maintains that this rebate is to be treated exactly the same way as any other South Carolina refund or rebate which is never taxable in South Carolina. For federal tax purposes, if you didn’t itemize your deductions on your 2021 Federal Return, it won’t be taxable on your 2022 Federal Return. But if you did itemize last year, it may be taxable on your 2022 Federal Return. Check with your tax preparer!

-Submitted by Seabrook VITA Volunteer

(Image credit: and

The Internet’s Latest Sensation

Hello Seabrookers!

It’s been quite a while since I last posted something here on Tidelines. Today I’d like to discuss something that has taken the Internet by storm lately. Have you been on social media and seen anyone post something that looks like this?

It’s the latest craze that everyone of all ages is playing. Wordle!

In short, it’s a game where a new puzzle is released once a day, and you have 6 chances to guess the 5-letter word. Upon each guess, if a space is colored in green, that means the correct letter is in the correct position. A yellow space indicates that the letter is in the word, but it’s not in the correct spot. And finally, a grey or black space means that the letter is not in the word. But the catch is you only get 6 chances to guess the word. According to Google, the English language has over 158,000 different 5-letter words, so Wordle is sure to stick around.

It became such a hit with users near the end of 2021 that The New York Times, who for the longest time has been known for their great crossword and sudoku puzzles, purchased the game for over 1 million dollars earlier this year. The release of the game hit at just the right time, as we hadn’t quite gotten out of the midst of the pandemic, so the timing was perfect for its developer, Josh Wardle. (See what he did there!?) The fact that the game is free to play (for how much longer, who knows) and that it’s quick and easy to make it part of your daily routine has helped to increase its popularity. People also enjoy sharing their results with friends and family and engaging in friendly competition.

As to be expected, there has been a lot of Wordle variations that have sprung up in recent months, all similar to the original game.

Crosswordle Wordle with a crossword-type twist.

Hello Wordl Similar to the original, but allows up to 11-letter words. You can also play as many times as you like.

Heardle Try to guess the title and artist of a song by listening to the fewest number of seconds.

Worldle Look at a silhouette of a country in the world and try to guess it in the fewest number of attempts.

Nerdle Math version of Wordle, but instead of guessing the word of the day, you need to guess the equation.

All of this talk about Wordle has me reminiscing about online games of the past that took the Internet by storm. Do you remember these?

One thing is for sure, the evolution of computers and the Internet, and particularly social media, has given us the ability to connect with just about anyone in the world and start a friendly game, no matter how simple or trivial the actual game might be. Perhaps these games challenge our brains and keep us mentally sharp whereas others may just be mindless time-wasters that take our thoughts away from the troubles of the everyday world, even if only for a few minutes each day.

What are some other online games in the past decade or so that you remember hearing about?  I’d love to hear about them.

Chad Droze, IT Systems Analyst
Compu-Experts & Post & Computer Center (in Freshfields Village)

Anthony Doerr’s Latest Book Released Sep 28

Linda Malcom of Indigo Books in Freshfields Village shares her thoughts on it below.

Cloud Cuckoo Land:  noun Cloud Cuckoo Land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect. 

Anthony Doerr’s new novel (after the Pulitzer-winning All the Light We Cannot See) was released on September 28. As I was reading an advance copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land, I would often remark to my husband, “This is a weird book.” Now, if you know my predilection for quirky books, then you would know that characterization as “weird” is not necessarily a bad thing. And it certainly wasn’t in this case.

Just as in All the Light, Doerr writes parallel stories that may—or may not—intersect or may do so only briefly. Instead of two stories, in this novel we follow the stories of five characters: Anna, Omeira, Zeno, Seymour, and Konstance. The place and time settings range widely from 15th century Constantinople, to twentieth and twenty-first century Idaho (with a bit of Korea thrown in), to a space station in the future on a decades-long journey to a planet beyond our galaxy. The thread that binds these stories together is a fragmentary ancient Greek manuscript that tells the story of Aethon, a simple shepherd, and his trials and travails as he searches for the mythical, Utopian Cloud Cuckoo Land.

It is hard to classify this book. Is it Science fiction? Fantasy? Historical fiction? Coming of age story? Eco-thriller? It’s all of these, but much more. In the end, it is a paean to books and stories, to those who write and tell them, and to those who preserve and pass them along. In fact, Doerr dedicates the book to all who are librarians.

There is much to learn, to think about, and to discuss in this beautifully written book and I want to read it again, all 600+ pages. This time, I think I will read each character’s story straight through, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It’s THAT kind of a book. Weird, huh?

-Linda Malcolm, Indigo Books, Guest Columnist

(Image credit: CMPL)

Summer School: Dolphins 101

Who else is ready for summer! We are looking forward to seeing more dolphins and strand feeding as we gear up for the busy summer season with both visitors and dolphins.

Since 2018, the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (LMMN) has been running an education program at Captain Sams Spit, utilizing 20 volunteers who spend four hours a day at the beach collecting data and answering questions. This program mirrors the same program on the Kiawah side of the Spit, which started in 2017. The volunteers are a great resource of knowledge and are happy to point out individual dolphins. They also post signs with some recommendations and encourage onlookers to stand back and give the dolphins the space they need to feed undisturbed, thus allowing you an opportunity to witness this phenomenal sight. This year the volunteers will have bright blue vests on to make them easily identifiable. 

Through identification studies, six strand feeders that rely on the inlet for daily feedings have been identified. Strand feeding is a learned behavior from mother to calf. The calf will likely learn this behavior where its mother learned it. This makes strand feeding locations a critical area for individual dolphins. Over the last year there has been a mother dolphin, KoKo, teaching her young calf, Kai, to feed in this area as she probably learned to feed here herself. On some days, this pair can spend at least 20% of their day at the inlet playing, feeding, and likely nursing. We believe KoKo may be one of the few breeding females that uses the Spit to strand feed, which means we need to maintain a respectful distance and not put this stranding behavior at risk.

At least three other mother/calf pairs frequent the inlet making this a safe space to bring their young. Without a doubt Captain Sams is a critical habitat for this small pod of dolphins for strand feeding, resting, mating, socializing, maternal care, and access to the ocean. It also brings great value to Seabrook as one of top things to see when visiting the island. 

Watching these animals feed at the inlet can be exhilarating but please proceed with caution. Research has shown dolphins will change their habitat use due to human interference and such would be a huge loss to the community. On a summer day, the dolphins can be faced with hundreds of onlookers which can increase stress leading to change of habitat, illness and reproductive failure. Without your help, we all are at risk of losing this unique feeding behavior. 

Know before you go: Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act it is illegal to touch, feed, swim with or harass dolphins and violators can be fined up to $100,000. Harassment is defined as any human disturbance that alters the dolphin’s behavior (such as stopped feeding, chuffing, tail slapping, or leaving the area). NOAA recommends not approaching dolphins within 150 feet from any vessel. From land, avoid approaching feeding dolphins and we recommend keeping a distance of 45 feet when the dolphins are feeding. Use binoculars, a long lens, stay seated, and keep noise to a minimum. This year, the Town of Seabrook Island amended their town ordinances to include dolphins. You are no longer allowed to swim in the inlet between the two hours before to the two hours after low tide or whenever a dolphin is present.

Thank you for helping us preserve this behavior for years to come. For more information, please visit To volunteer, email

-Submitted by Lauren Rust, LMMN

(Image credits: Lauren Rust and Pat Schaeffer)

Looking for an Easy Read?

Are you looking for some easy reading?  Linda Malcom of Indigo Books in Freshfields Village has suggested the following “light but entertaining read.”

The Windsor Knot by S. J. Bennett

As she nears her 90th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II is enjoying some time at Windsor Castle. Prince Charles has arranged a “dine and sleep” for a few dozen friends, complete with entertainment by a handsome Russian pianist (who also dances a mean tango). By morning, however, the young pianist is dead and the hunt is on to find the guilty party before the news becomes media fodder. Because the Queen and a Russian national are involved, certain investigators jump to a Putin connection. Before long, MI-5, MI-6, and the Metropolitan Police are involved.

The Queen (aka the Boss) is definitely not amused that her staff are suspect and isn’t so sure that the investigation is headed in the right direction. It seems that in the past the Boss has quite enjoyed pursuing investigations in her own quiet way behind the scenes, and with her Assistant Press Secretary, Rozie, she is on the case, all the while tending to the monarchy as well. All of the expected characters are here: Philip, the corgis, the horses, her retinue. She displays a quick wit and a playful sense of humor. Rozie, a decorated hero of the Afghanistan war, stalwartly serves as the Boss’s eyes, ears, and feet outside the Castle while the Boss contemplates options and outcomes.

This is the first of a projected series featuring QE2 as “Miss Marple.” Is this classic “literature?” Not at all. But it is a clever, British village cozy mystery, and the village just happens to be Windsor Castle.  It was a good, light read.

-Linda Malcolm, Indigo Books, Guest Columnist

(Photo credit:

Books, Books, Books

We know Seabrookers are readers because you’ve shared so many titles with us since we launched “Seabrookers Are Reading” in September 2019. Clearly, everyone is looking for good things to read. Please continue to send your titles to us. From time to time, we’ll supplement your suggestions with help from Linda Malcolm, of Indigo Books in Freshfields Village, who will periodically offer in-depth reviews of interesting books or share what is going on in the book world. She recently shared the following.

The Classics Revisited

First, there was Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles followed by her Circe (currently on The NY Times bestseller list). Both books look back to the Homerian sagas, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and expand on those tales to imagine a deeper story about the action and characters we know from the classic tales. Natalie Haynes’ new book, A Thousand Ships, follows that same basic pattern: a new look at an old story.

This time we once again revisit the Trojan War (hence the reference to Helen in the title) and take heed of Odysseus as he makes his ten-year journey home. The familiar heroes are here– Achilles, Hector, Ajax, Odysseus, Agamemnon—as Haynes incorporates stories not only from The Iliad and The Odyssey but also other classical sagas from Euripides and Aeschylus. But the main characters and main action of this novel does not revolve around the men and their heroic exploits, but around the women—wives, daughters, goddesses, sisters, even an Amazon—and the harsh effect these long wars and aftermath had on them.

The premise of the novel is that a classic poet (such as Homer) is sitting down to write the women’s saga and is being advised and prodded by Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry. Calliope is, in fact, one of my favorite characters as she pops in now and again to urge the poet on while bewailing his lack of progress and coveting a decorative brooch he has. Calliope is only one of the goddesses or near deities that appear—and they are not necessarily god-like.

Another of my favorite characters is the ever-patient Penelope, sitting at home for twenty years while the war is fought and Odysseus wanders. Aside from tending to home matters, weaving and unweaving, she hears of her husband’s exploits by way of traveling bards who spread tales of the meanderings, and she writes letters to Odysseus–questioning, sometimes scathing letters—as she rebuffs suitors and keeps on weaving.

I truly enjoyed this book, not only for the fun of recognizing bits of reading from my college classics courses but the story itself is engaging. And the Afterword is terrific!

-Linda Malcolm, Indigo Books, Guest Columnist




Tech Notes: 2021 Tech Predictions

Happy New Year, Seabrookers!

As we enter the new year, we find ourselves faced with many of the same challenges that we faced in 2020. With many of us staying home more these days, technology is playing a big part in our daily lives more so now than ever before.

I thought I would start the new year by writing down my thoughts and predictions in the world of tech for 2021.

Streaming Services Will Continue to Expand in 2021
2020 was certainly the year that streaming TV and movies really took off. And what great timing for these companies to exist in the middle of a global pandemic where people were stuck at home looking for entertainment options. 2020 saw the rise of Disney’s new streaming service Disney+, in addition to NBC introducing their streaming service, Peacock. Netflix and Amazon Prime continue to be the heavy hitters in the streaming world, and they will look to continue their dominance in 2021.

This year has already seen the addition of a new streaming platform, (Discovery+), as well as CBS All-Access’s upcoming rebrand of their streaming service to Paramount+.

We are now at a point in technology where many of us have to take notice of all the streaming platforms that we are paying for and subscribing to. For years, we hoped to be able to choose our cable TV channels in an à la carte fashion. While we are now able to do that, with that ability comes a lot of separate logins and payments that could quickly add up to be confusing and more expensive than traditional cable ever was. Continue reading “Tech Notes: 2021 Tech Predictions”

Tech Notes: The Digital Subscription Model Part 1

Happy (Almost) Fall Seabrookers!

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a column for Tidelines. Of course, the world has changed quite a bit in the past six months. I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe and healthy as we leave the hot, humid weather behind us.

As I pondered on topics to write about, my mind kept going to the topic of “recurring costs” for the upkeep of our digital lives. What do I mean by this?

With each passing year, our lives become more intertwined with the digital world. I’ve now been in the tech industry long enough to see the evolution first hand, and I often compare and contrast the effects technology has had on our everyday lives. As a teenager, I grew to love computers through the “Windows” era, where Microsoft became such a dominant force in the industry. Then I got my feet wet in an occupation just before Apple came along and changed the game with their iPhone and iPad devices. And along the way, tech companies like Google, MySpace, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Twitter, and Uber all made their impressions on us. And in 2020, was there any more well-known tech company who shot their way to the top quicker than Zoom? When a tech company becomes a verb (Who hasn’t ZOOMED yet???), that’s when you know you’re a big deal.

I say all of that to say this: technology (and the conveniences it provides) has allowed us to take advantage of services and products we like. With the click of a button, we can have food delivered to our doorstep, music delivered to our home speakers, or printer ink and razor blades delivered in our mailboxes. These companies often take advantage of the “subscription-based” models of doing business by offering you the ability to sign up, provide your billing information, and “Let us do all the work.” Continue reading “Tech Notes: The Digital Subscription Model Part 1”

Tech Tips with Chad

Today’s tech tip comes at an appropriate time in our world, as many of us are using our computers and gadgets much more due to the recent “Home or Work” mandates our state has implemented. As states are reopening, hackers are going to take advantage of these trying times and come up with new ways to scam people.

Recently, there have been reports of people receiving COVID-19 related text messages, with a link to another website. Be on the lookout for these and make sure your gut feeling kicks in right away on these types of messages. Never click those links on any device, as it could lead you to fake websites that could be giving out false information, or even worse, setting up a fake site that allows the unsuspecting victim to think he or she is signing up for a free COVID-19 test at their local medical facility.

These bad guys are trying to get you to give up way more information than a normal medical practice would ask for, all in an attempt to steal your identity and possibly set up a fake payment website to pay for services or even COVID-19 donation sites.

These messages could come in the form of a text message, e-mail, or robocall, so be aware on all fronts. These people could claim to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) or any other type of governmental agency, but 99% of the time, it’s someone pretending to be them.

The general rule of thumb when someone on the phone, or electronically, is asking for private information When in Doubt, Don’t Give it Out!

-Chad Droze, Compu-Experts

Reprinted with permission

Tech Notes: Living in Your Browser Part 1

Happy Spring, Seabrookers!

Working in the technology field for over 13 years now, I often stop and think about how things used to be, and compare it to how they are now. Today, I would like to stop and consider our Internet browsers. No matter what browser you prefer- Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari- I came up with this conclusion:

We Practically Live In Our Internet Browser.

What exactly do I mean by that? Well, let me explain and perhaps offer some tips on how to better “live” in your web browser.

First, for those who aren’t sure about computer jargon, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a web browser as “a computer program used for accessing sites or information on a network (such as the World Wide Web).”

Continue reading “Tech Notes: Living in Your Browser Part 1”

Tech Notes: 2019 Tech Forecast

Hello Seabrookers! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season and start to the new year.

I thought for today’s post, I would attempt to look into the crystal ball to see what 2019 holds in store for the tech industry. With each passing year, our digital lives evolve and the gadgets and gizmos in our homes become more and more a part of our daily routines.

1)  Will 2019 be the year that robocalls stop? I certainly hope so. I talked to more people last year that told me their phones are constantly being bombarded with those spam and robocalls. Whether it’s debt consolidation, health insurance, or those fake “Hi, this is Microsoft” calls, these calls are no longer just coming through on our landlines, but they’ve made their way to our cell phones. The “Do Not Call” registry seems useless these days, and there needs to be more done to help stop this issue. 2019 could be the year that this gets underway. Maybe it’s legislation, or maybe some technology will come to the forefront that can detect these types of calls before our phones even ring.

2)  5G Networks  Cellular companies are racing to be the first providers to offer 5G Connections, first in the larger metro cities and then spreading outward. With speeds up to 1000 times faster than our current 4G Connections, we’ll all have to replace our mobile devices with ones that will support this faster connection. You’ll see Verizon, AT&T and the gang with commercials indicating that they are ready to provide us with these connections. At these kinds of speeds, this will blow our home-based providers (Xfinity, U-Verse) out of the water. Of course, these home providers are getting faster as well as areas upgrade their old wiring to new “gigabit” speeds, especially in newly developed communities.

3)  Phone upgrades come to a screeching halt. With the cost of new cell phones being as expensive as ever, consumers are starting to keep their existing phones longer than in previous years. Many of us are happy with our current phones, maybe opting to replace worn-out batteries in devices rather than replace the entire phones. Apple has to be careful with the price points of newer phones, many of us just can’t justify spending over $1000 for a new cell phone. What more can we expect or want from our cell phones that the current ones can’t do? An upcoming rumored trend in cell phones is this idea of “foldable phones and tablets.” Samsung is expected to release one in 2019. Will this be the beginning of shatterproof screens? Can I turn my 7-inch cell phone into a 20-inch-size device with a laptop-esque feel? There are lots of concepts and predictions out there, and someone will be brave enough to give it a go.

4)  Speaking of Apple  With all that our iDevices can do, Apple may shift its focus more to their services and subscriptions than new hardware. In 2019, they will continue to push their Apple Music platform to us (so much so that they recently partnered with rival Amazon that allows Alexa to play music via Apple Music), and some expect the monthly cost of our iCloud storage space to rise. But new services may appear as well, including a long-rumored service that Apple may get into the “streaming TV” business, which will allow even more of us to “cut the cable” on our traditional TV carriers. 2019 will also bring us closer to the rumored “Apple Car” project, the self-driving autonomous vehicle that is supposedly in the works. (Read more here.)

5)  8K?  I haven’t even upgraded to 4K yet!!!  Expect TV manufacturers to rush to be the first to bring 8K television to the market. With even better picture and more realism to our displays, it’s hard to imagine TVs can look better than the current 4K models. It won’t matter too much initially, as cable networks have to film and broadcast their content to truly take advantage, but Sony and Panasonic are claiming that the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan will be broadcast in stunning 8K format.

6)  Death to the Mechanical Hard Drive  2018 was the year of the SSD (solid state drive).  Prices came way down and computer manufacturers started making computers available with these as standard options. This means that older “mechanical” hard drives should be a thing of the past. This is good news anyway, as SSD hard drives are more energy efficient, less prone to failure, and provide much faster data transfer speeds. In fact, make sure to stop by the shop and ask us about upgrading your current machine from an old, clunky, mechanical hard drive to faster SSD. The speed difference is very noticeable!

7)  Security breaches will once again reign supreme  As the number of internet-connected devices in our homes increase, so will the number of attacks to try to hack into these things. Security cameras, smart speakers, wearable fitness devices, and more will all be more likely to be vulnerable to attackers to complicate things even further.  And companies, thanks to the new GDPR act that went into effect last year, (Read my article from last year here.) will have to try even harder to protect our identities and our private data.

I look forward to helping all of you with your tech and computer needs in 2019!

Chad Droze
Post & Computer Center – Freshfields Village

Tech Notes: New iPhone Lineup of 2018

Hello Seabrookers! Today I want to spend some time on a topic that, really, I could do each year around this time. Each fall Apple captures the attention of the tech world as they introduce their newest lineup of gadgets. They do it in a way that only Apple can do it. These events, dubbed Apple Keynote Events, are attended by all races, ages, and ethnic backgrounds of people just chomping at the bit to see what Apple will introduce to the world. These things are truly a lesson in how a billion-dollar corporation markets themselves. First off, just read about the amazing Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, where Apple CEO Tim Cook holds these conferences. This is truly a technological, state-of-the-art building that honors Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs while giving people a futuristic sense of architecture and technology.

Then CEO Tim Cook comes out, not dressed in a suit and tie, but rather an untucked oxford shirt, designer blue jeans, and casual tennis shoes. This is no accident. This is the type of feeling Apple wants to give its customers. Apple is casual, Apple is cool. Apple is trendy. Apple is “a break from the norm.” And this is the attitude Apple wants to give off when using their products. These events remind me of a presidential “State of the Union” address. There’s about 10-20 seconds in between each round of applause as new, improved products are introduced and new software features are announced.

At last month’s keynote event (watch here), Apple announced several new products, mainly focusing around a new and improved Apple Watch, a new Mac Operating System (Mojave 10.14) and a new lineup of iPhones. This year’s lineup might sound more like an eye chart than a smartphone. I figured I would try to help you sort out what all these letters mean, especially if you plan on upgrading your current phone soon.

First off, the letter X – Apple introduced the X (10th-anniversary edition) phone last year. The big thing about the X is the elimination of the “Home” button. I told you in a column earlier this year that the newest trend in hardware is to have little to no actual “pressable” buttons. The elimination of the button allows for the display to truly stretch from edge to edge and gives the phone a larger viewable display without increasing the size of the actual phone. Another feature of the X models is the new facial recognition feature that allows you to unlock your device by simply looking at it.  For you folks that hate using that pin code, this is your ticket. Although, if you have an evil twin, will they be able to unlock your phone??? Facial recognition is in its early stages so there will be room for improvement on this feature.

In 2018, we now have the XS – You might also think of this as the iPhone 11 (but wait, we skipped 9!!!). It’s basically an improved version of last year’s iPhone X, but with a bit faster processor, and a faster connection method. (Supports Gigabit LTE, which isn’t available yet in Seabrook, but Apple knows what’s coming down the pipeline.) And heck, maybe the camera is a tad bit better.

And the XS Max – The same as the XS, except with a larger screen. For you screen buffs who like the largest screen possible, this one’s for you. (If you’ve got about $1100 to shell out!)

Don’t forget about the iPhone XR – yes, Apple has thrown the letter R into the lexicon. This phone is for those who want to save a bit of money. This model is a few hundred dollars less than the XS and XS Max. Lower performance than the iPhone XS and XS Max, but Apple makes up for it by offering it in a variety of colors. (Yes, Apple knows that many folks will look at color options before performance and storage. How else will you be able to have a smartphone that comes in “Coral”!!!!)

But wait, there’s still the iPhone 8 – Don’t count the numbered iPhones out just yet. The iPhone 8, 7, 6, etc., are going to be the models that include the familiar home button. Many folks who aren’t interested in re-learning how to operate their phone will opt for this model. These models will be a bit cheaper now, but realize that sooner or later, the home button will be a thing of the past (just like they did with the headphone jack), and you won’t be able to find an Apple phone that includes one. So, why not take the leap now? I can almost hear the audible groaning now!

And finally, the Plus – This has been around for the last 5 years or so. The word Plus in the name simply refers to the screen size. For those of you whose eyes may not be so good nowadays may like the larger display of the Plus. It seems, though, that Apple may now use the word Max instead of Plus going forward.

So, let’s review the current batch of modern phones. If your phone doesn’t show up on this list, then yes, I’m saying it’s old! However, I’m not opposed to old phones. Heck, I still have a 6s!  Aside from my battery life, I’m pretty happy with it- although I am planning on an upgrade within the next 6 months. The question to ask yourself is, “Does my phone do everything I need it to do?” Most of you will probably answer “Yes.”

iPhone XS max
iPhone XS
iPhone XR
iPhone X
iPhone 9 (if found, please contact Apple immediately!)
iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 8
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7
iPhone SE
iPhone 6S Plus
iPhone 6s

That’s XS, XR, X, SE, SE, Max, Plus, 7, 8, 6S.

Don’t worry, it’s hard for me to keep up with, too!


-Chad Droze
Post & Computer Center – Freshfields Village