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November 2018 Apple Buyer’s Guide

Chris Uustal, Staff Writer

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So, somehow you’ve gotten yourself stuck into the Apple ecosystem and you need some advice on the next device to buy. Well, while I might not be the biggest fan of Apple myself, I can recognize that they have a strong and passionate user base, so instead of simply trying to ignore it and shove Windows and Android devices down your throat, this guide should help you get the best value for your money within the Apple ecosystem. So, without further adieu, here’s a list of Apple devices you should and shouldn’t buy and why.



Macbook [2017]

This is by far the thinnest and lightest laptop Apple sells by a country mile. At only two pounds, if you absolutely need a laptop that is super lightweight, this is the best option for you. However, when buying in this category, you’re paying for portability, not performance, so as a result I absolutely cannot recommend any configuration except the base configuration at $1299 for the 1.2Ghz Processor and 256GB Storage, not to mention that the higher performance model won’t yield a difference nearly worth the $300 price bump.


MacBook Air [2018]

This is Apple’s balance between performance and portability, offering a drastic performance jump over the MacBook while not moving up to the bigger, heavier, and more expensive MacBook Pro lineup. It also has the benefit of being the cheapest modern laptop in Apple’s lineup, coming in at $1199, so if you need a modern device running MacOS, this is the cheapest device I can recommend. Again, I can only recommend the base configuration with the 128GB Storage, as very few users will actually need the extra storage afforded by the $200 price bump when that money could be better spent elsewhere.

While Apple still offers the older 2015 version of their MacBook Air, at this point in time I can no longer recommend that product, as its hardware is so drastically outdated that there isn’t even an argument to be made for it being worth the $999 price point. Honestly, if you’re considering buying this laptop, just wait and save up another $200 and buy the refreshed MacBook Air instead.


MacBook Pro

This is Apple’s lineup focused primarily on performance, coming at the cost of portability and higher price tags. These laptops are focused on making a notable performance jump over the MacBook and MacBook Air lines, providing a mobile platform for the professional user. The 13-inch model is more of an introduction to the high-performance space, lacking in graphical horsepower, while the 15-inch model is for true professionals. For anyone who intends to use their laptop for gaming, video editing, 3D rendering, or other similar intensive tasks, this is where you should look.

For the 13-inch models, the only laptop I can recommend is the $1799 model with the Touch Bar and 256GB Storage. I can’t recommend either of the models without the Touch Bar, as they are still running last generation dual-core processors that are only about 14% faster than the cheaper MacBook Air, a performance improvement that isn’t discernable in most use cases and isn’t worth the $100 price bump for most users. Similarly, I also cannot recommend the higher storage tier of the Touch Bar model as most users are more than fine with 256GB of storage.

For the 15-inch models, the only laptop I can recommend is the $2399 base model with the 2.2Ghz Processor and 256GB Storage. Now, these laptops come with a ton of possible customization, and most people willing to invest this much money in a laptop have a very specific use case that could be better catered to, but, as usual, I recommend the base configuration for the average user. The only reason I would recommend this device over the 13-inch is because of the dedicated graphics card inside, the Radeon Pro 555x, offering drastically better graphical performance over the integrated chips in the 13-inch models. I don’t recommend upgrading to the 32GB of RAM or the 560x, as the performance improvement is negligible in most cases. While the upgrade from the 2.2Ghz i7 to the 2.6Ghz i7 would be a tempting offer for $100, since it isn’t offered independently, only bundled with the upgraded storage and graphics card, I sadly can’t recommend it. Storage is going to depend entirely on the use case, but for most users, the 256GB model should be fine, but an upgrade to the 512GB model would be justified if you’re consistently dealing with larger files.



-Priority: Weight and Portability → Base Macbook.

-Priority: Price → Base 2018 Macbook Air

-Priority: Portability and Performance → Base 2018 Macbook Air

-Priority: Performance → Base Macbook Pro 13-in w/ Touch Bar

-Priority: Graphical Performance → Base Macbook Pro 15-in



iPhone 8 [2017]

If you can find this phone on a cheap discount below $650, then it’s the cheapest phone I can recommend to enter the Apple ecosystem, as the iPhone 7 has reached a point where it is too old to recommend for a new buyer unless you really need to scrape the bottom of the barrel.


iPhone X [2017]

If you can find this phone on a discount for below $850, then it will give you similar performance to Apple’s current lineup of phones with the same build quality, using the stainless steel frame, but saving you a hundred dollars or more off the newer Xs. I would recommend this over the XR simply due to the better screen, but if you don’t view any HDR content on your phone, then the XR is likely a better use of your money.


iPhone XR [2018]

If you want a colorful phone or simply the most updated phone from Apple, this is the cheapest option they offer with current specs, giving it the best value. Coming in at $750, while this would normally have been a regular flagship price, this is the cheapest offer from Apple’s current lineup. Having only one camera and an LCD screen instead of an OLED, it definitely has some disadvantages compared to the full Xs, but the price savings will make it a better buy for the majority of users.


iPhone Xs [2018]

If you need the best of the best from Apple or simply need to make a statement about style, this is the cream of the crop when it comes to Apple products right now. If you simply want to assert your dominance as the biggest baller of the bunch or want the best that Apple has to offer, this is the phone for you, coming in at $999. I cannot recommend any of the higher capacity models due to the price increase not being worth the slim chance that most users have of ever using up even the base level of storage.


Plus / Max Models

I can never recommend the larger size models as they are essentially the same thing as the regular version, but with a larger price tag and are usually just up to personal preference. If you need the absolute best in terms of battery, these usually offer a longer lasting battery life than their non-plus or max versions, but I don’t feel the price delta is worth the minimal battery life increase for most users.



-Priority: Price → iPhone 8

-Priority: Value → iPhone XR

-Priority: Performance → iPhone Xs

-Priority: Battery Life → iPhone Xs Max

-Priority: Looks → iPhone X

-Priority: Social Status → iPhone Xs

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Chris Uustal, Staff Writer

As someone who passionately follows technology and wants to pursue computer engineering and computer science in college and as a future career, I enjoy...

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November 2018 Apple Buyer’s Guide