I’ve spent an awful lot of money on Apple products.
Some of them have changed my life while others have infuriated me to the point of dearly wishing that I could more easily switch to a different platform.
Being an Apple user is fascinating. We’re accused of being ‘sheep’, and told that we take more interest in design than we do functionality. We’re pointed at, laughed at and told that we waste money on stuff that is beaten, hands-down, by the competition.
This is, largely, bullshit. As I’ve explained numerous times, I use Apple stuff because I like Apple stuff. I drink coffee because I like coffee; no one has ever accused me of being a Coffee ‘Sheeple’ (who came up with that interminably irritating word?!).
This got me thinking. Why do I like Apple products so much?
So, in a quest to discover the point at which I began morphing into a tech-buying farm animal, I thought I’d shortlist the five best Apple purchases I’ve ever made.
Perhaps the clues lie somewhere below.
1. AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro have a couple of really annoying problems.
Firstly, they include the ability to automatically switch between the Apple devices to which they’re connected. Only, this never works properly, ever, and while it isn’t strictly the fault of AirPods Pro, it is one of their headline features, which they royally screw up for me on a daily basis.
There’s also an inherent issue with the hardware which I’ve experienced on both my original AirPods Pro and their replacement. After a while, they develop an irritating metallic rattle which can be heard when you cough (no, really), and while running. Apple, as you might expect, hasn’t acknowledged the issue, but there are plenty of complaints about it online.
However, these noise-cancelling earbuds reveal why being an Apple user is so frustrating and wonderful in equal measure. Because they’re also the best headphones I’ve ever purchased.
The reason is simple. I use them every single day for business calls, and they’re the only headphones I reach for when I head out on either a dog walk or run, or when I’m getting stuff done around the house.
The comfort, noise-cancelling, sound quality and ease of pairing (when you’ve only got your iPhone to hand), make the other problems disappear. They’re magical.
2. M1 Mac mini
As cult Apple products go, the Mac mini is, on the face of it, actually pretty dull.
It’s a little square box with rounded corners and an Apple logo on the top of it. You also don’t get any peripherals, which means you’ll need to spend a fortune on Apple’s own stuff to get the full Apple experience (i.e. a retina screen, Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad).
Or, you could do what I did: buy the best M1 Mac mini you can afford and add a bunch of third-party peripherals to it.
As it turns out, this is a lot of fun.
However, just like AirPods Pro, the M1 Mac mini is flawed in some key areas (namely, Bluetooth issues and ports), but it is also the cheapest entry point into the macOS ecosystem and it boasts the brilliant M1 chip.
My M1 Mac mini means an awful lot to me because it’s the computer on which I’ve built my YouTube brand thus far. I’ll never sell or trade it for that reason (in fact, it’ll probably end up in a case on the wall).
I asked myself recently if I’d buy the M1 Mac mini again with the knowledge and user experience I now have. Can you guess what the answer was?
3. Apple TV 4K
In March this year, I suggested that Apple needed to “cancel the Apple TV”.
I was roasted for this. And quite rightly, too.
I’ll let you into a little secret: that blog was a bit of a throwaway piece for me. If I remember rightly, ideas had dried up a bit that week and I needed to publish something in order to retain the momentum of my reviews brand.
To date, that article has attracted over 133 hours of member reading time on Medium and remains my most commented-on article on that platform.
I screwed up. I didn’t do my homework. I rushed out an opinion that was pretty unfair.
So, I apologised, and as soon as Apple announced the latest version of their little set-top box, I bought one.
I am now a full Apple TV convert. It has made my TV look better, provides the best all-in-one streaming box experience and has left me desperately searching for a way to release myself from Sky’s grips and go all-in on Apple’s little black box. I’m also excited about the prospect of using it to get more into HomeKit stuff.
What an idiot, right?
4. iPad 1st Gen
I remember clear as day when I bought the first iPad back in 2010. Everyone took the piss.
But after a while, and as Apple began to gently iterate their tablet, those same people started to buy their own. Some of them even apologised for the relentless tech bashing they’ve given me because they’d clearly been missing out on a brilliantly convenient device for web browsing and media consumption.
I was always going to buy the first iPad. That purchase was probably the most obvious example of why people like myself are labeled ‘Apple sheep’. I bought it solely because I thought it looked really cool.
It was just a massive iPhone back then. There were no peripherals to make it more useful, it was bulky and although it didn’t cost a fortune, it was expensive enough to raise a few eyebrows.
I subsequently spent years trying to find a use for it during my daily work. And, if I’m honest, I’m still doing that to this day.
Apple needs to start making more of the super-powerful hardware they keep stuffing into the iPad. I want it to be a machine on which I can undertake creative work for my business. I’d love it to totally replace my MacBook Air. I wish there weren’t quite so many versions to choose from to make my life easier when helping friends and family with their iPad purchases.
But that first-generation iPad started an odd and frustrating relationship with a piece of tech I simply couldn’t do without.
I don’t know really know why, but since 2010, I’ve been hooked on my iPad.
5. Mac G5
This is where it all started.
When I first encountered a Mac at school, I knew I needed my own. I had no idea if I’d ever be able to afford one or what I’d do with it, but it was clear that I had to be a Mac owner at some stage.
It took many years for that to actually happen. About ten, in fact.
I bought my Mac G5 tower from a rock radio station in the UK known as Kerrang! Radio. It was, as you’d guess, second hand, and while I can’t remember how I found it, I do vividly remember going to collect it from Birmingham.
I was so excited.
Fortunately, that excitement was duly rewarded as soon as I started using the G5. I’d bought it to reignite my bedroom music producing hobby, and I remember being genuinely shocked by how competent GarageBand was.
Having been a Logic user on the PC for many years (and Cubase on the Atari ST before that), firing up GarageBand on a G5 for the first time was a real eye-opener. This was a ‘free’ piece of software Apple included on new Macs, and while I was conscious of the fact that it was essentially just a significantly stripped-down version of Logic Pro, I couldn’t get over how quickly I could get to work creating music that sounded great.
The samples, synths and loops included within GarageBand were so fun and easy to use. But it was the power of the computer on which they were running which was the biggest delight. Having spent years faffing around with PCs I’d built myself, this was a computer that finally just worked.
I’ve only bought Macs since that G5. Microsoft really does need to up its game if it’s to turn my head.
Send me your favourites!
This list wasn’t easy to put together, but it was a lot of fun. There’s no discernible order to it, and there are plenty of devices that nearly made the list (I’m looking at you, Apple Watch).
But what about you? What are your five favourite Apple purchases? Get involved in the comments below!