Chances are you own an iPhone. If not, you know a hundred people who do. Apple makes roughly two-thirds of its total revenue each quarter from iPhone sales. Macs, iPads, iPods, Apple Watches and Apple TVs combine to from the final third.
The iPhone Line
Is the iPhone 7 Worth It?
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
TB: Pass. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus aren’t significant upgrades on previous iPhones, unless you’re a camera guy or a guy prone to dropping your phone in the toilet. I’m neither. In truth, I switch between an iPhone 6S and a Google Pixel XL for testing purposes. The former lets me test iOS-only apps and iMessage my friends. The latter gives me that mega-display and fun-yet-rare VR experiences.
MA: Buy. And buy the Plus. The thing you love the most about your smartphone is that it takes pretty photos, and the bokeh on the 7 Plus will make all your friends with lesser phones jealous. And, don’t worry about the size, you’ll get dependent on it soon enough — everything is better with a bigger screen (reading, videos, photos, etc).
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
TB: Gimme. I still own, use and very much like my iPhone 6S. Why would I pay $550 for an old phone when I could wait a few months and get Apple’s latest hotness? Because the iPhone 6S works great and its inferior camera doesn’t bother me.
MA: Pass. You’re going to pay $550+ for last year’s model?
TB: Pass. I also still own an iPhone 5. I used it for years as just an iPod while running (no need to sweat on my newer iPhone 6S) until the lock and home buttons stopped working. But there’s no point in getting it now, unless you really want a cheap(er) iOS device. It only has a max capacity of 64GB, plus it’s made of plastic.
MA: Buy. If my argument for photos and a bigger screen is unconvincing, then this is the phone you want. It has all the performance of the 6S, sans the price tag. It’s a phone for minimalists — a smartphone for people who really don’t want a smartphone. And the Luddite in me respects that.
The Mac Line
Which Personal Computer Should You Buy
TB: No. The MacBook treads between the high-end MacBook Pro and the more affordable Air. I’d suggest going one way or the other. Anyway, the MacBook’s claim to fame is its slim, lightweight and portable design, but the even those differentiators are minimal when compared to the Pro and Air.
MA: Buy. This is the closest thing to a 2-in-1 that Apple currently offers (don’t delude yourself about that iPad keyboard), and it’s incredibly light and portable. It’s also beautiful, and if you’re in the market for Apple, you understand the joy of letting aesthetics trump logic.
TB: Pass. Pretty much everything the Air has is bettered by what the new MacBook Pro (sans Touch Bar) has — it’s even thinner, lighter, more powerful with a better-looking display. If you’re cost-conscious and just looking for something to answer emails, read the news and check Facebook, I’d suggest a cheap-yet-dependable Chromebook.
MA: Pass. The Air was a great computer. It is a great computer. But it is the past, and we’re on to the future. Spend a few more Benjamins and get the new MacBook or MacBook Pro (in way better colors), and you’ll thank yourself every time you use the new keyboard and jumbo trackpad.
MacBook Pro (Sans Touch Bar)
TB: Buy. I tested both the new MacBook Pro models, with and without the Touch Bar, and ended up buying this one. Sure, price was a factor. Additionally, the Touch Bar felt like overkill. But the biggest thing was that my five-year-old Pro was on its last legs and I couldn’t convince myself to switch over to a Windows 10 device.
MA: Pass. Apple’s put this computer in a precarious spot. It’s expensive, yet not authoritative. For my money, I’ll bump up performance a bit and go with the other model. It’s not a Touch Bar thing for me — in my opinion, don’t let that influence your decision — it’s a power thing.
MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
TB: Pass. See above.
MA: Buy. The MacBook Pro is all about power. And with this model you unlock Apple’s greatest offering for portable computing power. If you’re not a power user, go MacBook (you’ll love the portability); if you are a power user, Apple forces you to go Touch Bar. The Bar isn’t my selling point, but maximum power (!!!) is difficult to resist.
iMac with Retina 4K Display
TB: Pass. I don’t need a desktop, and if I wanted a bigger screen for my laptop, there are other 4K monitors I could buy for a fraction of the price.
MA: Pass. The 21.5-inch display isn’t big enough to justify this price tag. Save up a few more hundo’s and go 27-inch 5K.
iMac with Retina 5K Display
TB: Pass. As I stated above, I don’t need a desktop. And I couldn’t justify having a computer that’s more beautiful than my current 55-inch TV.
MA: Buy. This is the greatest value in Apple’s computing lineup. And what with all you do on your smartphone or tablet, you really only need a desktop to complement those more mobile devices. This and a smartphone are all the modern worker with a desk needs (students and hyper-mobile people, get a laptop).
The iPad Line
Tablets of All Sizes
TB: Respectfully pass. The iPad Pro is amazing and, in many ways, can take the place of your laptop (and even your iPhone, in most ways). But I love my non-clip-on keyboard. And I’m not the creative type always editing on Photoshop.
MA: Buy. One reason: Apple Pencil. It unlocks the powers of the iPad (and many powers there be). Also, get the 9.7-inch version — the 12.9-inch is a bit too big to justify for regular daily use and transportation.
iPad Air 2
TB: Pass. The iPad Air 2 is almost three years old and is basically a lesser version of the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It’s 25 percent less bright and 40 percent more reflective, making it more difficult to read with. If I really wanted a good tablet, I’d go for the 9.7-inch Pro. And if I was willing to downgrade, I’d just go for a $50 Fire Tablet. The Air 2 falls in the no-man’s-land in the middle.
MA: Pass. Finally I agree with Tucker.
iPad Mini 4
TB: Pass. The Mini 4 is essentially a smaller iPad Air 2 — and they cost pretty much the same amount. And if I wasn’t in for the Air 2, I’m not in for something that’s almost the same size as my iPhone.
MA: Buy. I love the Mini. It’s so cute and small and good-looking. Don’t try legit tasks (like spreadsheets, emails, etc.), but use this for all the periphery “entertainment” things: Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, iBooks. Also, the screen size, when lounging in bed, is just right.
Apple Watch, TV and Headphones
Apple Watch Series 2
TB: Pass. I’ve never been much of watch guy. If I was, I’d wear the 1967 Omega Constellation that I inherited more often. Also, I don’t need another screen to show my texts and count my steps.
MA: Pass. The only thing more annoying than people staring at their phone is people glancing at their Apple Watch. Don’t be a menace, deal with pulling out your phone like the rest of us. Oh, and FWIW it’s not fashion. Buy a real watch.
TB: Yes. I know Apple has had its problems getting into TV, and the latest-generation Apple TV isn’t perfect, but I own one and I love it. Its universal search feature lets me instantly filter between Netflix and HBO GO. Voice search is amazing, especially when it comes to typing account names and passwords. If you have a dumb TV, this is a great upgrade.
MA: Buy. It took Apple a while, but they have now conquered TV.
TB: Yes. If you love the original EarPods, then you’ll love these. They fit the same way and no, they don’t fall out of my ears. I wouldn’t recommend working out with them (they’re not water resistant). The work best with the iPhone, but you can still use them with any Android device via standard Bluetooth.
MA: Buy. You think you don’t hate wires, but everyone hates wires. Plus, the case is my favorite new Apple engineering triumph. It opens and closes perfectly.
The iPod Line
No LTE, Just Wi-Fi
TB: Pass. It’s basically a dumbed-down version of your iPhone. It has a camera, which I won’t use (my smartphone camera is much better). And I’d only use it to listen to music. The better bang for my buck is the iPod Nano.
MA: Buy for your kids. You don’t need this, you have an iPhone. But this is great for your kids. The future of education is available tech and self-teaching; might as well start them young.
TB: Yes. I still use my old iPhone SE when I go running and I’d use this in much the same way. Just don’t expect to use it for anything other than music — you have an iPhone for that.
MA: Pass. I had forgotten about the Nano, and I think Apple should, too. One point for the retro-feeling OS, but minus points for everything else (especially the inability to stream music).
TB: Pass. I’ve played around with wireless earbuds with internal storage, like the Samsung iConX, and the idea is the same — leave your phone at home when you go running. But I always encounter the same problem. With no screen, it’s difficult to pick the exact song I want to listen to, even if it’s on my playlist. And that frustrates the hell out of me.
MA: Pass. I’m a zen workout type, and I run/ride/swim/lift/yoga sans headphones. If you aren’t, then $49 for portable tunes isn’t the worst option — but I think most of us have also become too dependent on streaming and workout-tracking apps to go this minimal again.
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