Apple Setup Challenge

Chris Wilson, over at iPadguild.com originally posted about The Best Apple Setups for $500, $1000, $2500 and $5000. I came across Matt Birchler, Habib Cham, and Andy’s pages and they had some great posts on this topic as well. I am a little late to the party but I figured I would jump in and give it a go!

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

The point of this challenge is to put together your own list of Apple gear, using Apple.com prices, for the specific budgets of $500, $1,000, $2,500, and $5000.

The rules are simple:

  • You cannot use any other items, if you have a Mac Pro lying around your home, I don’t care. 
  • The prices are based off Apple’s website.

Lets have some fun.

$500

Total – $494

This is my go-to setup when getting new iPhones. If they offered the Saddle Brown leather case, I would opt for that one instead. Choosing the iPhone is the one item I need and it gets you into the ecosystem and lays the foundation for what will follow. If you want to read more about my thoughts on the iPhone SE, check out my review.

$1,000

Total – $977

I really wanted to throw AirPods in at this point but regular EarPods can solve the problem of needing to listen to something. There really isn’t anything that can replace the Apple Watch for how I use it. Here you are getting the latest iPhone and Apple Watch, which both, spec wise, are about six months old. I know the SE battery will not be able to get me through most days, and I will sacrifice wireless charging and get the Apple Smart Battery Case that was originally designed for the iPhone 7. It still fits and functions on the SE but cannot use wireless charging.

$2,500

  • iPhone 11 128GB in Red – $749
  • Series 5 Apple Watch 44mm with Black Sport Band – $429
  • AirPods Pro – $249
  • MacBook Air – $999

Total – $2,426

At this point, I am very satisfied with my set-up. I really debated on throwing in the iPad at this point but I truly need a MacBook for my school work right now. Come September, I will be done my Masters program and the MacBook will probably collect dust again. Also, this expanded budget allowed me to upgrade my phone to the iPhone 11. I basically did this for the ultra-wide camera addition. Additionally, I threw in the AirPods Pro. Now, I have everything that I really could want and need.

$5,000

  • iPhone 11 Pro 256GB in Midnight Green – $1,149
  • Series 5 Apple Watch White Ceramic 44mm – $1349
  • AirPods Pro – $249
  • MacBook Pro 13-inch – $1,299
  • iPad Pro 11-inch – $899

Total – $4945

For $5,000 I went all out. I upgraded my phone to the 11 Pro and also went crazy with the Apple Watch. I love the white ceramic Apple Watch but could never justify spending $1350 on something that does the same thing as the aluminum model. Its just pretty. I also upgraded the MacBook to the MacBook Pro 13-inch. It took $5,000 but I got the iPad in there. The iPad is the device I really don’t need but I enjoy having. With the extra cash I was able to go straight to the iPad Pro.

It is always fun spending someone else’s money or fake money, in this case. How would you spend your bones at the Apple Store? Let me know on Instagram or twitter!

Disclaimer – Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you decide to purchase after clicking the link.

Review: iPhone SE (2020)

In a world of $1,000 smartphones where does a $400 iPhone, with an age-old design, fit in?

My daily phone is the iPhone 11 Pro. I absolutely love it except for one thing, it is still too big. I know I am in the minority here as the Plus and Max size devices are extremely popular. But, I know there are a lot of those out there who still love a small phone. That is where the iPhone SE comes in.

Remember the iPhone 6, 7, and 8? Well the iPhone SE has the same 4.7-inch screen as those devices. There is nothing new when holding this device. This isn’t a bad thing though. The size feels so great in the hand if you like smaller phones. I love that I can hold this phone and use it in one hand. Also, coming from a bigger phone, that is very heavy, this phone is amazingly light. I sometimes had to check my pockets to make sure it was still there! The size and feel of it is my favorite part of the iPhone SE

The performance on this thing is great. I don’t have much to say other than you are getting the same power in this phone, for $400, as you do with a $700-$1,000 phone. That is astonishing.

The camera is very good. I have wanted this type of camera since the iPhone 8. I loved the dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus because of Portrait Mode. When the 8 and 8 Plus came out, I was hoping the smaller 8 would get the Portrait Mode feature but it didn’t. To get that feature you always had to pay the premium and get the larger phone. Then the iPhone XR came out. It was significantly cheaper than the iPhone XS at the time and had a single camera that could take portrait photos. That was great but you could only take portrait photos of humans with the XR camera. That is the same with the iPhone SE. If you try taking a portrait photo of anything other than a human’s face, it will tell you that it cannot detect a human. This is a downside to the camera, for sure. Outside of that, the camera is great.

Another pain point for me is the battery. If you have followed this blog for a while you will know that I get all of the new battery cases for phones when they come out. The last few from mophie and Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 11 Pro wasn’t really needed. The 11 Pro’s battery is just so good. But the iPhone SE reminds me why the battery case market was a thing years ago. If you are near a charger all day, this will not be a problem. If you cannot get to a power outlet throughout the day, you will be scrambling to find a charge at the end of the day. Of course, everyone uses their phones different, but if you plan on keeping this phone for a while, a battery pack or battery case may be something you want to invest in.

I forgot how well Touch ID worked on the iPhone. It is extremely fast and in today’s world where a face mask might be the new normal, Touch ID was a joy to have compared to Face ID. With that being said, Touch ID seems like an extra step. Coming from Face ID, I was sometimes waiting for the phone to unlock forgetting to put my finger on the button to unlock it.

If you are coming from something older than the iPhone 8, the SE is an amazing upgrade. If you want a phone that will get you through the next few years without any problem, get the SE. If you want the cheapest or lightest iPhone out there, the SE is by far one of the best values available. If you love the home button and refuse to jump into the Face ID generation, get the SE. If you have been trying to get your friend or family member to upgrade, get them the SE. If you want the latest and greatest, well, you probably already have it and it is safe to say the SE is not for you. But only you can make that decision.

You can pick up the iPhone SE from Apple starting at $400 for the 64GB model. I highly recommend paying the extra $50 and getting the 128GB for $450.

Disclaimer – Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you decide to purchase after clicking the link.

What if Apple Cancels the iPhone 12?

For years I have had an internal battle with which iPhone to buy. Should I get the 6 or the larger 6 Plus. Should I get the 7 or dual-camera 7 Plus. Should I get the iPhone 11 or 11 Pro-with three cameras instead of two. And so on and so on. We are spoiled and most times we don’t even know it.

If you are reading this, more than likely you like getting the new gadgets every year. I do too. Since I was little, I always enjoyed technology. But have we gone too far with getting the new iPhone every year?

What if, due to the global pandemic, Apple scrapped its plans for its iPhone 12 this year? What then? Miraculously, our iPhone 11’s would survive another year. Of course, after all of the podcasts and news articles are released about how Apple is doomed, we would move on with our lives. Eventually, the rumor mill would ramp up again and we would start to hear what the next iPhone is going to be like. Then, before you know it, it will be September 2021 and we will be waiting for the newest iPhone.

Would I be bummed? I don’t think I would. It would allow the entire tech community to take a breath and take a step back. Trust me, I don’t wish for this. I am ready for the world to get back to normal just as much as the next guy. I absolutely love what Apple has done over the years. It is the one thing in life that I like to splurge on.

But, just thinking out loud, maybe this is the year Apple could give us permission to skip an upgrade. I honestly think it would build that anticipation for a new iPhone more than ever before.

Saying all of that, I do believe there will be an iPhone 12 this year. How when, and where Apple announces it is a different story. My optimistic side hopes and prays for an end to all of this craziness very soon.

Bottom line, we will be just fine.

You Don’t Always Need the Best – iPad

My sweet wife told me to pick out an iPad for my Christmas gift this past year. She knew I had my eyes on the 11-inch iPad Pro since its launch in 2018. Best Buy had an amazing deal, so I bought it.

Almost 3-months later, here I am, typing this on a $250 7th-generation iPad while the iPad Pro is back at Best Buy. Here is why.

I really love the look of the iPad Pro. The flat edges wrapped the entire way around the device takes me back to the iPhone 4 and 5 days, which in my opinion, were the best looking iPhones.

But it was just that, the look. It is still an iPad. My battery on my iPad Air 2 was quickly diminishing and definitely wanted an upgrade. As I was using the Pro, I couldn’t help but notice that it felt like, and performed like-for my workload- my current 5-year-old Air 2.

If I was editing video or my podcasts on the iPad, yes I know the Pro would show significant speed advantages. But I don’t.

A lot of the time I use my iPad for consumption. Scrolling twitter, catching up on some of my favorite blogs, YouTube, and general web browsing. I just couldn’t justify the price difference between the Pro and regular iPad for how I use the iPad

Like I said, I was able to pick up the iPad Pro for a really great deal, at $650. At the same time, Best Buy dropped the price of the 7th generation iPad down to $250. For how I use an iPad, It would have been silly to have kept the Pro for a $400 price difference.

A few months in, I am loving the 7th generation iPad. I picked up Apple’s Smart Keyboard and have started writing on my iPad, which is something I wanted to do for quite some time. The upgrade in screen from the Air 2’s 9.7-inch screen to the new iPad’s 10.2-inch screen is very noticeable and welcoming. The battery isn’t the greatest which is kind of surprising to me. I remember when my Air 2 was new, it seemed like you couldn’t kill the battery. For some reason, and maybe it is because I am using the iPad more than ever, the battery isn’t as impressive. I did pick up the Apple Pencil but have not found a good use for it yet. I do plan on editing me and my wife’s podcast on the iPad once we start recording again.

All in all, for $250, this iPad is amazing if you want an iPad for your day-to-day use. Even at the regular $330 price, I would purchase this one again.

You can pick up the iPad Pro and iPad 7th generation on Amazon at some of the lowest prices.

What iPad are you currently using? Do you plan on upgrading soon? Let me know on Instagram or twitter!

Disclaimer – Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you decide to purchase after clicking the link.

Review: Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 11 Pro

Do you really want to read about another battery case? If so, go check out my review of the Smart Battery Case for the iPhone XS. It all essentially pertains to this case as well. For everything new, please read on!

The one difference with this case is the camera button on the side of the case. Yes, a button. This is a nice addition to the Smart Battery Case. If you hold in on that button it will immediately open the camera. Not once did I accidentally trigger this feature. Which is surprising. Apple knew what they were doing when designing this case. This will remind you of your old point and shoot camera that you used to carry around with you before smart phone cameras were so good.

There are very few people who actually need this case. As someone who buys multiple battery cases, and has relied on them over the years, the iPhone 11 Pro doesn’t need one. If you are constantly traveling, or away from power outlets all day, ok, you may need this case. For $130, and the amount of times that I needed it, the value just wasn’t there. For how much I would use a battery case, I would be better off buying the mophie Juice Pack Access. If you hold onto your phone for multiple years, this will be a great acccessory in a year or two when your iPhone 11 Pro battery is degrading. Plus, you will be able to find it significantly cheaper.

The iPhone 11 Pro Smart Battery Case can be bought here if you are still interested.

Let me know on twitter or Instagram if you are picking up the Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 11 Pro.

Disclaimer – Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you decide to purchase after clicking the link.

Review: mophie Juice Pack Access for the iPhone 11 Pro

Another phone, another battery case. I wont spend too much time on this one because at this point, there isn’t much that has changed over the years.

The mophie Juice Pack Access is mophie’s latest battery case for the newest iPhones. They made them for the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max.

The cool thing about the Juice Pack Access is that the bottom of the case is open to allow you to use the Lightning cable that came with your iPhone.

To charge the case up, you can plug in the the included USB-C cable or sit it on your wireless charger. Either way, when you charge the case, it will also charge up your phone.

To use the battery portion of the case, which is the entire point of it, there is a button on the lower-back of the case. Pressing and holding the button will turn on the case and in turn, start charging up your phone.

In my tests, I got about 36% extra charge using the mophie Juice Pack Access. This isn’t very impressive but if you know the iPhone 11 series batteries, you really don’t need too much extra.

The cases come in black, blush pink, and red.

The case is normally $80. Is $80 worth an extra 36% battery? That is up to you. But if you act quickly, you can actually get this battery case for around $48 through mophie.com. They are running their post-Black Friday deal and for $48, I say go buy this case.

What do you think about the mophie Juice Pack Access? Will you be picking one up? Let me know on twitter or Instagram!

This post is not affiliated with mophie or Zagg.

The Mealy Apple Turns Three

It is hard to believe the blog is three years old this month. A lot has happened over the last three years. Not only in my personal life, but also in the tech world.

We had the original AirPods release, the iPhone 8 and of course the iPhone X. Another year went by and we got the iPhone XS and then the iPhone 11, this year.

The iPad has gotten some great improvements with the iPad Pro and has really hit the sweet spot in price with the 7th generation iPad.

Over the three years, I have learned a lot. I have gotten my first paid gig. I received my first products to review from very gracious companies. And, I have also made a few bucks from affiliate programs.

I have felt pretty nostalgic lately—about a lot of things. From video games, to TV shows, to older technology that has come and gone. But more recently, I have been thinking a lot about Tech TV. Remember Tech TV? It was a network that had a slew of tech programs. One of the lead hosts at Tech TV, Leo Laporte, started his own podcasting network over at TWiT.TV and that has been as close as anyone has gotten to the old Tech TV days.

I miss the shows like Call for Help, The Screen Savers, and the video game review show, X-Play. Now, I’m not going to start my own tv network. But I have been thinking more about legacy. I am not doing the blog for money, though I’m not turning it away either. This is my outlet to talk about the things that I love. 10 years from now, I want my audience to have grown and look at me as someone they can trust with my opinion and thoughts on tech. This is a marathon and I am enjoying the ride.

There have been so many times over the last two years that I have wanted to give this up because I am not putting out as much content as I would like. But I would rather put out quality content over quantity and trying to keep up with news outlets. Because that is impossible. Then, each September, I have folks send me a message asking which iPhone they should get and what the best value is. I love that. That keeps me going.

So, where does The Mealy Apple go from here? I am going to keep up what I have been doing with reviews and the random thoughts on news. Could there be a podcast in the future? It is possible. With all of the tech podcasts currently out there, I would want to try something different that would set me apart. So until then, I will keep thinking on that part. I thought about putting out an audio version of each blog post that I put out. I know YouTube is a happening place, but I have never thought seriously about video. Writing is where I wanted to start and that is where I plan on keeping my focus over the years to come.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by the blog over the last three years. You are all awesome.

Come give me a follow on twitter and Instagram so that we can connect and you can let me know what you like or don’t like!