It’s been a busy year for Apple fans, with two new iPhones, a Watch refresh, and a perfectly-sized iPad Pro arriving in the space of a few months. With so many new gadgets, it can be hard deciding on a suitable gift for the iOS nerds in your life.
That’s why we’ve thrown together our 2017 gift guide for the iPhone and iPad addicts in your life — or maybe you just fancy treating yourself for the holidays?
Apple Watch 3 LTE (from $399)
So it might be the most expensive wearable Apple produces, but the LTE-compliant version of Apple’s latest Watch provides a glimpse into the future of cellular devices. It’s the first Apple Watch that can be used independently of an iPhone, so you can leave your iPhone at home while out for a run or listening to music in the gym.
Boasting the new S3 dual-core processor and Apple’s W2 wireless chip, the Apple Watch 3 is a GPS-enabled wearable with a water resistant rating up to 50 metres. The latest version features a better heart rate monitor, and offline Siri capabilities not seen in previous models.
The biggest drawback is battery life, with the LTE version waning after around an hour of use on the thirsty LTE network. You’ll also need to make sure the recipient is willing to pay a small extra $5-10 fee on their cellular plan to take the watch online.
Fit freaks will be pleased to know that the Apple Watch still outpaces the FitBit Charge in many areas. If you’d rather opt for the slightly cheaper option, the regular Apple Watch 3 is a great choice that lacks LTE, starting at $329 for the 38mm version or $359 for the 42mm model.
Apple is one of the biggest advocates for wireless technology, with technologies like AirPlay and AirDrop under their belt. The AirPods followed the company’s decision to ditch the headphone jack entirely in the iPhone 7, and they’re a faithful wireless recreation of the company’s iconic white earphones.
If your recipient already uses the wired EarPods they received with their iPhone, the AirPods aren’t a bad choice. They still don’t use silicon earbuds, so the fit isn’t that comfortable for some people and there’s no passive noise isolation. Then again, they magically pause what you’re listening to when you take them out, and can invoke Siri in two light taps.
AirPods come in a case which doubles as a portable battery, with quick charge technology so you’re never without music for long. Best make sure whoever you’re buying for has an iPhone 7 or later to take advantage of the highly efficient and excellent sounding W1 wireless audio protocol.
Beats Wireless Headphones
For everyone else who doesn’t like Apple’s hard plastic earphones, there’s Beats. Apple acquired the company a few years ago and has set about building their proprietary W1 (and now W2) wireless technology into them.
This means your headphones pair simply by holding them near the iPhone or iPad you want to use them with. They also take advantage of fast charge technology, and come in a variety of flavors to suit the wearer:
- BeatsX ($149) — wireless in-ear headphones, with an 8-hour battery life and comfortable “necklace” design.
- Powerbeats 3 Wireless ($199) — wireless in-ear headphones, with a 12 hour battery life, and waterproofing for serious sport.
- Beats Solo 3 ($299) — wireless over-ear headphones, with a 40-hour battery life and AirPod-quality microphones.
The one thing to remember about Beats headphones is that they tend to be bass-heavy, and better suited to modern electronic music, hip hop, and pop rather than acoustic, metal, and classical genres. The latest Beats headphones certainly aren’t as bad as they used to be, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Apple TV 4K (from $179)
You’d be forgiven for missing the arrival of the 4K version of Apple’s little black set-top box. Available in 32GB and 64GB variants, the A10X-powered media streamer outputs a UHD 2160p image with full support for Dolby Vision and HDR10.
What that means is that provided your recipient has a 4K TV with high dynamic range, they’ll be able to take advantage of a resolution boost and better color rendition. If they own any films and TV shows on iTunes, they’ll get an automatic upgrade to a higher resolution in most cases.
You’ll also be able to stream Netflix, Hulu and other services in full 4K. Being able to stream audio visual content from your iOS devices to your TV via AirPlay is the cherry on top.
For a cheaper option, try the Incipio Ghost. Apple is working on bringing their own wireless iPhone, AirPod and Apple Watch charger to market but it won’t be available till some time in 2018. It’s also likely to be expensive, because Apple.
But if your recipient is still rocking an iPhone 7 or earlier, you might want to opt for…
While cables and adapters might not scream “Christmas morning” to you, these useful bits of wire and plastic make ideal stocking stuffers. If you have someone in your life who constantly complains about their fraying chargers, why not get them something “virtually indestructible” like the Fuse Chicken Titan Lightning cable?
Another option is an iPhone charging dock. Apple’s own iPhone Lightning Dock ($49) is available in four colors and provides access to USB charging and a 3.5mm stereo jack, and is compatible with every Lightning-compliant iPhone since the iPhone 5.
For charging both an iPhone and an Apple Watch, the Belkin Valet Charge Dock ($130) will look great on any nightstand, though it lacks the 3.5mm stereo output that makes Apple’s own dock so useful.
Finally, there’s always a battery. For iPhone 8 and X owners in particular, a high output portable battery that can charge their devices quicker than a conventional charger is ideal. Look for something like the Qualcomm Quick Charge 26800mAh (around $50) which can charge iPhones, iPads, and even MacBooks.
An iPhone Gimbal
Whether you’re live streaming to Twitch or Facebook, or using an iPhone to capture video or b-roll for creative projects; a gimbal can help you achieve smooth footage and sweeping pans with only an iPhone. One of the best gimbals for the job is the Zhiyun Crane M, designed specifically for smartphones “between 4.3oz and 22.9oz” (122g-649g).
The DJI Osmo Mobile ($199) is another slightly cheaper option which still provides great results, though it’s showing its age a bit now.
Star Wars Tat
Since Disney got their hands on the license and planned another 57,000 films, Star Wars is cool again. That means the hype machine has kicked into overdrive with mountains of Star Wars tat. This started with Sphero’s remote controllable BB-8, and the latest additions are equally fun — like Sphero’s app-enabled R2D2 ($130).
For an educational spin, the littlebits Droid Inventor Kit ($100) provides you with all the things you need to construct a controllable R2 unit, and it’s a great way to get youngsters excited about Swift.
There are also three new app-enabled drones from Propel, including a T65 X-Wing, an X1 Tie Fighter, and 74-Z Speeder complete with mounted Storm Trooper. You can buy a few and battle them at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, though they’ll cost you just short of $150 each.
Gift Cards Galore
When in doubt, you can always rely on a gift card. iTunes gift cards are useful in that they can be used for a variety of purchases, including apps, Apple Music subscriptions, movies, TV shows, and even Mac App Store purchases.
Apple Store gift cards are a little different in that they are used to purchase hardware and accessories from the Apple Store (both online, and retail locations). The two are non-transferrable, so make sure you know what your recipient wants before you pull the trigger.
For a detailed look at the difference between the various gift cards, check out our Apple gift card guide.
What are you hoping for in your stocking this year?