Welcome to our regular collection of all the Apple news you missed this week, in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
When bargain pricing has a cost
Some say you get what you pay for. The late Sir Terry Pratchett argued that it’s very expensive being poor. But most of our finest minds agree that buying cheaply is liable to come back and bite you on the bottom.
Apple products could scarcely be described as cheap, but all things are relative, and the company has long recognized the appeal of what we could call its most affordable-adjacent offerings. I’ve always advised readers and family members to look beyond Apple’s tempting baseline prices, which are liable to leave you with less storage than you need or otherwise shortchanged on features or specs.
But this vague suspicion of low price tags has been sharpened by recent experiences with Apple’s newly updated M2 MacBook Air, which performs shockingly badly if you go for the entry-level configuration. Read and write speeds for that machine’s single-channel 256GB SSD were 50 percent slower in our tests than that of the top-end $1,899 model, and the expected M2 speed boost was almost entirely absent.
So the $1,499 model with a better chip, more storage, and a fancier charger is actually the better bargain in the long run. While the $1,199 model might be tempting, we recommend spending extra for at least 512GB of storage, or look for a discount on 2020’s M1 Air instead of buying this year’s cheapest model.
Cut-rate entry level products have become something of a trend. The iMac range contains a similar pitfall for the unwary bargain hunter. The cheapest ($1,299) version of the 24-inch iMac seems like an appealing option, given that it features the same 4.5K display as the $1,499 model and a very capable M1 processor. What Apple doesn’t publicize is its missing the power adapter with ethernet, Touch ID keyboard, has fewer color options and ports, and only has one fan, which will mean lower performance and more noise under load. For just $200 less, it’s hard to recommend.
Once you develop an instinct for price paranoia, you start to notice false economies throughout Apple’s range. What’s the Apple Watch Series 3 still doing in the store, for instance, when we’re just months from the launch of the Series 8? I will tell you what it’s doing: tempting innocent buyers with its titillating price tag, then disappointing them afterwards with its threadbare feature set and imminent lack of software support.
The second-gen AirPods from 2019 are still available, but you really shouldn’t buy them either when the newer edition easily justifies the extra cash. And the iPhone SE, which was newly updated this year and has what looks like a bargain price tag, is actually more expensive than the previous model and doesn’t add much in the way of modern features. In both cases, you should pay more for a better alternative, or go without.
Of course, it’s easy to say all this as an Apple-focused reviewer who gets access to (predominantly high-specced) products on a reasonably regular basis. Of course I prefer the premium editions, which are more expensive for a reason. In Apple’s world expensiveness correlates pretty accurately with quality.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a linear relationship, and at different parts of the graph, price is going up faster than quality, or vice versa. At the top end, a lot of extra money earns you relatively little extra quality: the Apple Watch Edition always represented poor value for money, and the Mac Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro are not worth their sky-high respective price tags unless you have a job or specific niche use case that justifies their capabilities. At the entry level, conversely, quite a small extra outlay will see a huge improvement in your experience with the product.
Buying cheap, whether you’re buying a pair of boots or a laptop, is generally a waste of money. And because it’s Apple we’re talking about, it’s a waste of quite a lot of money. Spend more, or spend none at all, but you should probably skip right over the entry-level tier if you can avoid it.
Trending: Top stories of the week
iOS 16 and macOS Ventura show how far ahead Apple really is, argues Dan Moren.
An ounce of iPhone and no Macs makes a bitter Apple ‘cocktail’. Yep, it’s results time again.
After a backlash against the feature’s nefarious possibilities, Apple has cracked down on iMessage editing and unsending in iOS 16.
After rightly relaxing rules governing in-app payments, Apple is now accused of scaring customers. It’s absurd.
The economy is doomed, notes the Macalope, and guess what? It’s all Apple’s fault.
Tough luck AOLers: Apple won’t help you set up your dial-up modem anymore.
It’s the end of an era. Apple’s M2 MacBooks no longer have any sign of Intel inside.
The rumor mill
Jason Cross does a deep dive on the upcoming A16 processor, and asks: How much faster will the iPhone 14 Pro actually be?
It’s also been pretty much confirmed that the 14 Pro will have an always-on display. And we’ve seen what that will look like.
Mind you, the Apple Watch Series 8 may well outshine the new iPhone. Here are 5 reasons to be excited.
On which subject, good news for squares and square lovers: Apple may finally redesign the Apple Watch–although it won’t have a new shape.
The M1 Mac Pro has reportedly been scrapped as Apple plans a huge M2 push this fall.
Reviews and product comparisons
Benchmarks bear out our fears: The $1,199 M2 MacBook Air’s performance is shockingly bad in some tests.
It’s the ecosystem that matters most, argues Jason Cross in a comparison of the iPhone SE and Google Pixel 6a.
Karen Haslam compares the M2 MacBook Air to the M1 model, and reckons spending $200 has never made more sense.
Which Apple charger should you buy for your new M2 MacBook Air? Or, if you’d like broader advice, check out our roundup of the best USB-C chargers for both MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
In the mood for music? We’ve reviewed and rated the best Lightning and USB-C wired headphones for iPhone and iPad.
Podcast of the week
The rumor mill is churning out some big possibilities for the Apple Watch. On top of what’s coming in watchOS 9, we could see the biggest change to the Apple Watch lineup in its seven years of existence. We talk about the upcoming Apple Watch in this episode of the Macworld Podcast.
You can catch every episode of the Macworld Podcast on Spotify, Soundcloud, the Podcasts app, or our own site.
And with that, we’re done for this week. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news stories. See you next Saturday, enjoy your weekend, and stay Appley.