Recommended Nerd Purchases

Notebook Computer
MacBook Air, 2021 model
This is the Mac to get if you 1) need a Mac and 2) need that Mac to be portable. At $999 ($899 for students and educators), it’s an excellent value. I would buy this for myself.

Desktop Computer
If you need a non-power-user desktop, get the 2021 iMac. It’s a hell of a desktop Mac. While I wrote “non-power-user” the 2021 iMac will likely be the fastest Mac you’ve ever used. If you have a monitor you love, get the Mac mini. I have one and even in its most base configuration, it’s an incredibly fast Mac.

iPhone SE At $400, it’s a lot of phone for not a lot of money (in the world of smartphones). 64 GB of storage is fine for most people. Cameras are good but not as good as higher-end iPhones.

I bought myself the iPhone 12 mini, but it’s a lot more at $729. I wanted the smallest phone I could get because I’ve not loved any of these phones since the iPhone 5. The Xr was my last “fun” phone and I mostly think that because it was yellow (which makes little sense, I know).

If camera quality is the top feature you’re after, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is apparently the best.

If you can swing the most recent iPad Air (from fall 2020), get it. It’s excellent. If you want something smaller, the 2021 iPad mini is just spectacular. The mini starts at $500, so it’s nothing to sneeze at, but it’s incredably capable. So much so that I sold my 2018 iPad Pro (that I really do love dearly) for the iPad mini.

If the iPad Air is too rich for you then the iPad 10.2 (updated in September 2019, but updated September 2021) is a solid machine and an iPad you won’t be at all disappointed. If you are a very casual user (or take advantage of iCloud Drive), the base 64 GB of storage will be just fine.

Apple Watch
Series 7
There’s no getting around it: The Series 7 is a spendy watch. If you can’t afford the Series 7, then just wait until you can. If you really feel you don’t need the health-related sensors and can deal with having to raise your wrist to check the time, the Apple Watch SE is quite good.

AirPods Pro
If you can only get one item this year, get the AirPods Pro. Using them has changed everything. They are nearly perfect and you will love them. Absolutely love them.

iCloud Storage
200 GB
You should get over yourself and throw a couple of bucks at Apple for the iCloud storage. The prices are competitive and, if you make sure to set it up correctly, your iPhone will back itself up each night. Then turn on iCloud Photo Library and have all your photos available to you even if you fill up your iPhone. Seriously, we’re talking about three bucks a month.

Certified Refurbished
If you don’t shy from refurbs, getting one of these machines from Apple’s Certified Refurbished store is a great deal. iPhone and iPads come with new outer shells, new batteries, and have the regular one-year warranty. If money is tight (or you are smart with your money), this is the way to go. The M1 Mac mini pops up on here from time to time and it’s a hell of a bargain.

What I’m Currently Using
M1 Mac mini, 8 GB RAM, 256 SSD iPhone 12 mini, 64 GB iPad mini, 6th gen, 64 GB (as of 24 Sept 2021) Despite my recommendations of certified refurbished products, the three above were bought new.

Page updated: September 19, 2021

Bob Schulties @bobschulties