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Don't waste your money on these Apple products: January 2023 edition

Here's what you should and shouldn't buy from Apple this month.
Apple Store entrance.
Getty Images

2022 was a busy year for Apple, with the company updating pretty much everything, from the iPhone, the AirPods Pro, the Apple Watch, and the iPad and iPad Pro

And with a January 2023 refresh of the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro, kitting these out with the latest-generation Apple Silicon M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max, the line up is stronger than ever.

That said, there are still Apple products that you should avoid, either because they're in line for a refresh, or they're just not going to get updated because Apple is phasing them out.

Also: New Mac Mini with M2 chip is faster, more capable, and somehow cheaper

The "Naughty" list:

  • 24-inch iMac: Now that the M1 chips have been horned aside by the M2, Apple is asking a lot of money to pay for a Mac that could see a refresh in the next few months (likely April 2023).
  • Mac Mini: Released in November of 202, this is the oldest of the M1 Mac, and it feels so forgotten that Apple still offers a "high-end version" that's powered by Intel processors when the M2 would do a much better job. I really hope that this is in line for an M2 upgrade soon, and until then I highly recommend you avoid it.
  • Mac Pro: With the transition to Apple Silicon underway, this huge monetary investment just doesn't make sense at this point in time. Avoid this big time unless you really have to replace a downed machine.

Also: Apple's new M2 MacBook Air is on sale for under $1,000

The "Nice" list:

2023 Apple Mac Mini with M2 chip

Mac Mini with M2 chip

Mac Mini with M2 chip

Apple

Apple's "starter" Mac gets the M2 Apple Silicon treatment, bringing it into 2023!

  • Apple M2 or Apple M2 Pro chip
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports (M2) or four Thunderbolt 4 ports (M2 Pro) 
  • Two USB-A ports (up to 5Gb/s)
  • HDMI port
  • Gigabit Ethernet port (configurable to 10Gb Ethernet)
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 8- to 12-core CPU
  • 10- to 19-core GPU
  • 8GB to 32GB unified memory
  • 256GB to 8TB storage

2022 Apple MacBook Air Laptop with M2 chip

untitled-2
Apple

Apple's latest M2-powered MacBook Air is a powerhouse of a laptop, offering a huge performance boost over the older Intel-powered MacBook Air, such as 15 times faster video editing -- (yes, video editing on a MacBook Air!) -- and all-day 18-hours of battery life.

Review: Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022): Sleeker, faster -- and pricier

  • The 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display features over 500 nits of brightness, P3 wide color, and support for 1 billion colors
  • Next-generation M2 8-core CPU with 8-core GPU and 8GB of unified memory
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life
  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera, three-mic array, and four-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio
  • MacBook Air features a MagSafe charging port, two Thunderbolt ports, and a headphone jack
  • Weighs just 2.7 pounds

2nd-gen AirPods Pro

Airpods Pro 2 in hand.
Christina Darby/ZDNET

Apple's best AirPods just got a lot better! The second-generation AirPods Pro are a massive upgrade over the previous model, and give the 2nd-gen AirPods Pro a massive lead over the competition.

Also: AirPods Pro might be an inexpensive solution to your hearing loss

  • Active Noise Cancellation reduces unwanted background noise.
  • Adaptive Transparency lets outside sounds in while reducing loud environmental noise.
  • Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking places sound all around you.
  • Multiple ear tips (XS, S, M, L).
  • Touch control lets you swipe to adjust volume, press to direct media playback, answer or end calls, and press and hold to switch between listening modes.
  • Sweat and water resistant for AirPods Pro and charging case.
  • MagSafe Charging Case with speaker.
  • Case features lanyard loop.

Also: Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen: 6 tips and tricks | See our review 

Apple Watch Ultra 

Apple Watch Ultra on wrist
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

This is the Apple Watch that I've always wanted. Bigger, brighter display, better waterproofing, more space on the display for complications, and cool new features for explorers.

Also: Why the Apple Watch Ultra is my favorite Apple product in years

  • Rugged and capable, built to meet the demands of endurance athletes, outdoor adventurers, and water sports enthusiasts -- with a specialized band for each. 
  • Up to 36 hours of battery life, plus all the Apple Watch features that help you stay healthy, safe, and connected.
  • 49mm corrosion-resistant titanium case. Larger Digital Crown and more accessible buttons. 
  • 100m water resistance. Customizable Action button for instant physical control over a variety of functions.
  • A bright Always-On Retina display that's easy to see, even in direct sunlight. 
  • Precision dual-frequency GPS for accuracy, distance, route, and pace calculations. 
  • Advanced health sensors give you deep insights into your health. Fall Detection and Crash Detection can automatically connect you with emergency services in the event of a hard fall or a severe car crash. Hold the Action button to activate a siren that can be heard up to 600 feet away.

Note that the orange strap does get dirty real quick... mine looks very worn already. You should also take a look at Nomad's band options for the Apple Watch Ultra

Review: I put the Apple Watch Ultra though a Tough Mudder

AirTag

Hand holding Airtag.
CNET

Blowing away the competition, Apple's AirTags are the perfect gift for someone who constantly loses things. You can add them to your luggage, your bike, your remote, or even your moving boxes -- the possibilities are endless. 

Also: 5 ways AirTags can simplify your life

Well made, robust, and with a replaceable battery, these will make lost keys or wallets a thing of the past.

Also: Attention Apple AirTag users: Don't ignore this warning

Mac Studio 

A young woman uses a Mac Studio desktop to edit a video.
Image: Apple

So much power in a small box. In fact, this is a workstation in a form factor not much bigger than a Mac Mini. 

You can choose between the M1 Max and M1 Ultra (unless you are handling extremely high workloads demanding massive GPU capacity, you should be fine with the M1 Max offerings), and can spend anything from $2,000 to $4,000 on this hardware.

Also: The 6 best Macs

Paired with the Studio Display, this is a total beast of a system.

Bear in mind that while this is a powerhouse, the M1 chips are on borrowed time as we move into the era of the M2.

iPhone SE 

iPhone SE 3rd generation
CNET

A budget iPhone with a whole raft of great features. Sure, it's getting to that year old mark, but if you want a budget iPhone (and don't want to buy second-hand), then this is the iPhone for you.

  • 4.7-inch Retina display screen.
  • 5G.
  • Fast A15 Bionic processor.
  • Great camera.
  • Touch ID biometrics.

For this price, this is a fantastic bang for the buck iPhone, and is still worth buying in 2023.

Review: Apple iPhone SE (2022): You simply can't find a better phone at this price



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