There’s no question that Apple makes some great products, and if you’re an Apple fan – or have one in your life – then you’re probably already looking for AirPods, iPhonesand iPads to put under the tree this year.
Although you certainly can’t go wrong with one iPhone 14 Pro, iPad Air (2022)or the last AirPods Pro, not everything Apple currently has on the market is an obvious purchase choice. There are a few that you should probably avoid, or at least give some serious thought to before you decide to put down your credit card or hit that buy button.
iPad (10th generation, 2022)
This year, Apple unified the design language of its iPad lineup by finally updating the standard iPad to match the more premium iPad Air and iPad Pro. Unfortunately, this was not quite the refreshment many hoped for.
For starters, it’s not a replacement for the entry-level iPad, as evidenced by the fact that Apple is still selling last year’s model for the same price of $329. iPad (2022) will cost you $449, putting it almost halfway the price of the significantly better ones iPad Air (2022).
Furthermore, the iPad (2022) is despite the new design lacks support for the second-generation Apple Pencil and the Magic keyboard. Instead, Apple has introduced a new $249 Magic Keyboard folio designed explicitly for that iPad model. While that’s $100 cheaper than the full Magic Keyboard, it’s a purchase that will keep you stuck with that lower-end model; the Magic Keyboard Folio does not work with the iPad Air or iPad Pro. The same goes for the Apple Pencil of the first generationwhich still has a Lightning connector and requires a more complicated charging process for the new USB-C equipped iPad.
The bottom line is that the iPad (2022) occupies a rather odd place in Apple’s lineup. It’s not a bad choice, but it’s definitely a niche product. The iPad (2021) is still available, and while it doesn’t have the shiny new design of this year’s model, it’s $120 cheaper and offers nearly the same performance, making it the iPad of choice for those on a budget. On the other hand, for just $150 more than the iPad (2022), you can get the iPad Air (2022) with Apple’s M1 chip, support for the much better Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, and a fully laminated anti-glare display.
After each new iPhone release, Apple typically keeps two years’ worth of previous-generation iPhones on the market, bringing them down to lower price points for those looking for more affordable options. After launching the iPhone 14 this fall, the 2020 iPhone 12 moved down to the bottom level so you can pick one up for just $599.
That sounds like a good deal at first glance. However, if you take a closer look, it’s quite a hard sell. First, the base model iPhone 12 only offers 64 GB of storage. In today’s world of high-end apps and 4K video recording, that’s not much. Going to a 128GB version – the minimum we find acceptable – raises the price to $649, and going to 256GB will set you back $749.
For comparison: the iPhone 13 starts at 128GB of storage, with the base model for $699 – just $50 more than the 128GB iPhone 12. If you’re willing to go smaller, the iPhone 13minialso with 128 GB of storage, starts at the same $599 asking price as the iPhone 12. The iPhone 13 gives you a faster A15 chip, improved cameras with support for cinematic video recording, and longer battery life.
On the other hand, the iPhone SE (2022) has almost the same A15 chip found in the iPhone 13 and even this year’s iPhone 14, plus 5G supportand you can grab a 128GB model for $479 or a 256GB version for $579. Of course, you won’t get the best cameras or the fastest mmWave 5Gbut it’s still a great iPhone if you’re looking for the most affordable option.
Although Apple’s Second generation AirPods may seem like a lot – especially if you can find them on sale – it’s important to remember that these wireless earbuds have now been on the market for four years. These were Apple’s newest AirPods when the iPhone 11 was the smartphone to buy after all.
Unlike its iPhone range, Apple doesn’t release new AirPods every year – they seem to have a cycle of about two years – but even by that standard the AirPods2 are an aging product that will probably be put out to pasture soon. The Third generation AirPods replaced them in 2021, and there’s a good chance we’ll see “AirPods 4” arrive around this time next year.
The AirPods2 have the same core technology as the AirPods3, including seamless pairing and support for hands-free Siri and audio sharing. The AirPods 3 get a significant boost in sound quality, though, with features like Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio that were previously the exclusive domain of Apple’s more expensive AirPods Pro and AirPods Max setups. This is accompanied by the same custom drivers, amplifiers and microphones used in The latest AirPods Pro from Apple.
The latest AirPods also offer sweat and water resistance and an extra hour of listening time over their predecessors. That jumps to six hours of extra power when combined with the charging case, which can also be charged wirelessly. All of that comes in a package that costs just $50 more, so unless you’re on a tight budget or finding a basement bargain for the AirPods 2, you’re much better off spending that little extra on the latest AirPods.
Power adapter with 35W dual USB-C port
Apple’s Dual USB-C Port Power Adapter, the company’s first multi-port plug, caused quite a stir when it debuted alongside the M2 MacBook Air earlier this year. It is available in standard and compact versions, although both have the same charging specs.
Don’t let the 35W speed fool you though. Like most dual-port chargers, this is the total power output across both ports. This means that if you charge more than one device, that 35W will be shared between them.
To make matters worse, Apple’s adapter does this in a way. There isn’t much intelligent power management here; it evenly distributes power output in many cases – each device gets a 17.5W charging rate. That’s well below the fastest charging speeds for an iPhone, iPad or MacBook.
This isn’t too bad if you just want to charge an Apple Watch or a set of AirPods, as they only draw 7.5W of power, leaving 27.5W for your iPhone. Anyway, you can do much better with third party optionsespecially considering the $59 asking price for Apple’s dual-port adapter.
Apple Pencil (first generation)
If you’re still carrying one of Apple’s older iPads or if you’ve opted for this year’s one iPad (2022)then you cannot take advantage of the much better Second generation Apple Pencil designed for the iPad Air and iPad Pro. That doesn’t mean you necessarily want to settle for Apple’s first-generation stylus, though.
First, you may be throwing good money at bad, as it’s unclear whether future iPad models will support it. You’ll need to replace it if you upgrade to one of Apple’s more expensive tablets; the iPadmini, iPad Airand iPad Pro they all require the newer Apple Pencil. Apple made a strange decision to match the first-generation Apple Pencil on this year’s standard iPad model, so it’s hard to say if that will continue with next year’s model.
If you don’t have the luxury of owning one of Apple’s more expensive iPads and still want a stylus, it’s worth noting that the Apple Pencil isn’t your only option. In addition to a plethora of passive stylusesthere is the Logitech chalk, an active stylus that is significantly less expensive than the Apple Pencil and offers many of the same capabilities; the main omission is pressure sensitive, which will be a deal breaker for artists, but it’s not necessary if you just want to scribble notes on your iPad.
However, Logitech’s Crayon is more durable, doesn’t roll over you, and charges much less awkwardly. With a male Lightning port under the cap, you can plug in your standard Lightning cable without the hassle of adapters or dangling from the end of your iPad’s bottom port. There’s also an off switch on it, so you can be sure it’s not using any power when it’s not in use. Unlike Apple’s two generations of Pencil, Logitech’s Crayon also offers compatibility across the entire iPad lineup, from the sixth-generation iPad (2018) to the latest M2 iPad Pro (2022).