In a recent episode of the Eight or Sixteen podcast, my co-host, Rob, decided to list all of the stuff Apple launched in 2021.

It was a HUGE list.

You can hear the episode here if you fancy listening to us chatting it through with our guest Justin Cox. But with the new year fast approaching, I thought it might be fun to consider my personal favourite from Apple’s 2021 releases.

Regular readers may know exactly where this is heading, but it wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, when I shortlisted my favourite Apple products from this year, it was clear there were several vying for the top spot.

The runners-up

It’s been a good year for Apple. I have no idea what’s going on within that great big circular spaceship of an office, but there are clearly some very robust discussions taking place about the direction of travel for their products.

Let’s start with the MacBook Pro. Who in their right mind would have thought we’d reach the end of 2021 with the option of buying a brand-new MacBook Pro featuring MagSafe, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader?

I didn’t.

But that’s where we are. And it’s a wonderful place to be. The new MacBook Pros are essentially nothing more than huge apologies wrapped in a chunky aluminium casing. “We screwed up,” Apple appears to be saying (under its breath).

They even deleted the Touch Bar and made the device heavier and thicker. Sure, a notch was thrown in for good measure (which has no measurable impact on anything whatsoever), but both the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are absolutely wonderful machines. Mine has transformed my business, no question.

Sticking with the Mac theme, this year saw the launch of a brand-new iMac design. Thinner, lighter, and more colourful than the outgoing version, the 24-inch iMac also benefits from the brilliant M1 chip.

Ever since it arrived, the 24” iMac has proved to be the ideal desktop computer for my business – regardless of the concerns I had over its screen size.

As it turns out, I don’t miss the 27” screen of my old Intel-based iMac at all. The reduced bezels, thin profile and gorgeous retina screen of this new generation create a perfect package for anyone who wants a no-frills yet immensely satisfying computing experience.

And my god is it good-looking.

It’s been a great year for the iPad, too. I discount the iPad Pro entirely from this list because I maintain that putting an M1 chip in it was utterly pointless. But the iPad mini and iPad 9th generation are genuine reasons to get excited. The former has finally pushed me into the realm of digital note-taking for life, and doubles as possibly the most convenient media consumption device I own. I absolutely love it.

The iPad 9th generation, on the other hand, raises the bar yet again for Apple’s entry-level tablet. At just £319, it’s the most affordable iPad they sell, and now features the A13 Bionic, an ultra-wide camera with Centre Stage (which is awesome), and Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support. Please never delete this product, Apple!

Lastly, the Apple TV. Back in March, I suggested that Apple should ‘cancel’ their little set-top box. That didn’t go down too well.

Hands-up – I didn’t research that article enough at all. I based it on limited experience with older versions and not an ounce of time with the 4K version. So, I bought one, and we now use it every single day. I bloody love it.

In fact, we’re going all-in on Apple TV next year. I’m dumping our Sky contract, switching to Now TV (UK readers will know what I’m referring to here), and unplugging everything else apart from Apple’s little black box.

I’m an idiot. But the Apple TV is a genuinely transformative piece of kit for the home.

The winner

I was so bored of iPhones before 2021. Indeed, back in 2020, I declared ‘peak smartphone’ having got my hands on the iPhone 12 Pro.

Where does Apple go from here, I asked? How can we get even remotely excited about technologies like LiDAR and 5G when they go practically unnoticed for the vast majority of users?

As it turns out, Apple just needed to continue making a smaller version of the iPhone. For me, at least. Yes – my absolute favourite Apple product of 2021 is the iPhone 13 mini.

This is for one reason – its size. There are compromises, of course (although the battery has proven to be more than capable of getting me through a normal day), but nothing beats the fact that I can confidently walk around with my phone in one hand without any fear of dropping the damn thing.

I often talk about the importance of convenience in tech. Usually, this extends as far as battery life, but when it comes to smartphones, their increasing footprint has proven to be one of their biggest downfalls for me. The bigger phones get, the more unwieldy they are both to use and to slip into your jeans pocket. Put simply, they’re not much fun to live with.

The iPhone 13 mini is perfectly formed. The screen is plenty big enough (it’s ironically about the same size as an iPhone 6 Plus), and the form factor is perfect for any type of pocket, bag, or hand.

I just hope this isn’t the swan song for Apple’s smallest iPhone. Reports of poor sales for the iPhone 12 mini may already have sealed its fate, but if the comments sections of my blogs and videos featuring the latest iteration are anything to go by, it remains a firm favourite (or cult classic, which is no bad thing).

So, go on – what’s your favourite Apple release of 2021?