Can’t wait to see what the Memorial Day sales hold? Desperate to get your mitts on some AirPods or AirPods Pro, or maybe even an iPad 10.2 or MacBook Pro? You’re in the right place. All of these devices are on sale right now, the latest in a string of fantastic Apple deals we’ve seen in recent weeks.
What’s the difference between the first and second generation of AirPods besides the wireless charging case upgrade? Not much, to be honest. They look exactly the same, although there are some notable improvements underneath the hood, including the H1 chipset, longer talk time, and support for voice-activated Siri. They also remain ridiculously easy to operate and set up for iOS devices, although the lack of waterproofing or workout features is baffling considering the price point (you can take the Galaxy Buds to the gym, and they cost less). Right now, you can get the AirPods 2 with the standard wired charging case for $130 (down from $160) at Verizon and $165 (down from $200) for those with a wireless charging case. Discounts apply upon checkout.
The latest AirPods rock the same golf-tee shape of their predecessors. A lot of people seem to like this design (considering how immensely popular they are), although if you ask us they look like the old EarPods with the wires cut off. Compared to its wired counterpart, the wireless charging case now has its LED lights on the front, which allows you to see charging status when the case is placed atop a Qi charging pad. Apple claims that the case can carry the same amount of reserve charging it did three years ago, offering up to 24 hours, which still beats most competitors.
The onboard controls are the same as before – for better or worse. Each AirPod works autonomously, which means they don’t run out of juice at the same time. They auto-pause audio immediately when you take one out — but only with Apple devices. As usual, they don’t have volume and song-skipping default controls, offering only play and skip forward with a double-tap. You can assign play/pause, next track, and previous track controls in your iPhone’s Bluetooth settings on either earbud if you want to, though. To change the volume, you can simply ask Siri to turn it up or down for you. If you have an Android phone, you’re stuck with doing it manually.
Speaking of Siri, voice-activated control wasn’t possible with the old AirPods. You can thank Apple’s new H1 chip for this, alongside lower gaming lag, and its “50% faster” connection for phone calls — although we didn’t really notice any difference compared to other true wireless earbuds, including the original AirPods. Apple also claims that the chip can significantly reduce the distortion of your voice in windy conditions for superior call quality. We tested this in moderate wind, and it actually worked. Despite all these extremely welcome new additions, it’s hard to forgive Apple for the fact that it still hasn’t made the AirPods sweatproof. For that, you’ve got to pay a premium price for the Airpods Pro, which also boast active noise canceling.
When it comes to sound quality, the AirPods fall under the “Not bad” category. It reminded us a lot of the wired EarPods. It’s far from terrible, and we do appreciate the softness and warmth it lends to certain songs, but that’s not exactly what you’re looking for when you’re listening to hip-hop, rap, and other beat-driven genres. It’s a very safe sound signature, designed not to offend anyone.
You get a modest update with the AirPods. If you’re an iPhone user, these are the best true wireless earbuds to get, especially if you’re after convenience. If you already have the old AirPods, you don’t need to buy these.
AirPods (2nd Gen) with Charging Case — $139, was $160:
AirPods (2nd Gen) with Wireless Charging Case — $169, was $200:
It’s probably pretty obvious that we weren’t all that impressed with the standard AirPods. There are just several other true wireless earbuds out there that offer better value for your hard-earned money. So when Apple announced it was going to release the souped-up AirPod Pro, we were naturally skeptical. Will the company be able to deliver this time and improve on all the areas that the AirPods failed at? The answer is a resounding yes. The AirPods Pro are shockingly good and a huge win for Apple. Their sound quality has improved tremendously, their noise-canceling is spectacular, and they’re extremely comfortable to use even for a long time. The only problem we foresee is their questionable long-term battery life. Right now, you can score the AirPods Pro at Amazon for $228 upon checkout instead of $249 – a cool $21 off.
Love it or hate, the AirPods’ golf-tee design is iconic, so Apple didn’t stray too far away from it when designing the AirPods Pro. They just now sport a shorter stem, which brings us to this major concern: Battery life. While the AirPods Pro offer the same battery performance as the standard AirPods (roughly 4.5 to 5 hours of listening time and/or 3.5 hours of call time per charge), we fear that their smaller batteries might not last in the long run. Unlike the Airpods, the AirPods Pro come with three sets of silicone eartips that snap on with a satisfying click instead of sliding onto a little nubbin as so many other in-ear buds require. This change not only offers a more secure and comfortable fit but also contributes to a better bass response.
The AirPods Pro inherit the original AirPods’ controls which means they’re ridiculously easy to operate and, as expected, Siri is always listening and ready to obey your every command. As with most true wireless buds with active noise-canceling, you have the option to either shut noise out or let it all in. Apple calls the latter feature “Transparency Mode” and activating this allows sounds from the outside world to arrive in a very natural way, almost as if you’ve taken the buds themselves out. Noise-canceling is decidedly top-notch and almost on par with what over-ear ANC headphones offer. Last but certainly not least, the AirPods Pro deliver a pretty impressive sonic performance. Their sound signature is terrific, rich in subtle details with some zesty treble, rounded-up by a full-bodied bass.
We tip our hats to the Apple AirPods Pro. These are absolutely the best true wireless earbuds that you can get if you’re an iOS user. Get them for $220 at Verizon today (discount applied at checkout).
The standard iPad’s bezels are still obscenely large (slimming them down would have made it look a tad more contemporary), but this tablet now boasts a bigger 10.2-inch screen compared to the previous model’s 9.7-inch display. In comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6’s trimmed bezels look fetchingly modern, and so do those of the iPad Pro. None of this means that the iPad feels cheap, though. It has a nice substantial weight to it, plus it sports a 100% recycled aluminum enclosure which is good for the environment. Instead of Face ID, which remains exclusive to the iPad Pro and the latest iPhones, you get Touch ID, although that’s not exactly a deal-breaker for most users. What sets this apart from the older iPad 9.7 is support for the Smart Connector so you can use it with Apple’s Smart Keyboard (sold separately).
As mentioned earlier, this device offers a slight increase in screen size. The LCD panel’s pixel density is the same at 264 pixels per inch, although it looks sharp, and is colorful and very bright. And thankfully the headphone jack has not been removed, unlike the iPad Pro. You don’t have to go hunting for a 3.5mm-to-Lightning jack once your Bluetooth headphones lose power.
Strangely, the iPad 10.2 didn’t get a processor upgrade, unlike the rest of the iPad lineup, which now boasts the A12 Bionic chipset. However, this tablet’s A10 Fusion processor still packs plenty of power. Multitasking with several apps open won’t be an issue, and navigating the new iPadOS is buttery smooth. The previous iPads ran with just a slightly altered version of the iOS, but the iPadOS is an entirely different beast. You have the ability to use multiple apps in the Slide Over menu, a revamped home screen layout that includes the Today View widgets, desktop-grade Safari, and multi-window apps. You can now even use Split View on the same app, like having two Google Docs open side by side.
The first-gen Apple Pencil is compatible with this iPad, and it remains an excellent and responsive tool. There’s still no way of storing it, though, unlike the second-gen Apple Pencil which magnetically attaches to the iPad Pro, and it’s still in danger of snapping in half every time you charge it through the Lightning port. Finally, the battery life was pretty good. You’ll be able to use the iPad for a maximum of three days with intermittent use, or a full workday if you’re going to use it as your primary device.
Despite its shortcomings, the iPad 10.2 is the best tablet that you can buy on a limited budget. It is powerful, has a fantastic operating system, and serves up solid battery life. You can get it with 32GB of memory at Amazon for just $279 instead of $329, a cool $50 worth of savings.
13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar — $1,149, was $1,299
The 13.3-inch MacBook Pro is a thing of beauty and remains the most luxurious laptop out there. It’s sturdy as a rock and features an all-aluminum unibody that lacks any visible seams aside from those on the bottom. However, there are quite a few things that stop us from fully recommending it. Although it does boast a fantastic display and top-tier processor and hard drive performance, its frustrating lack of ports and lackluster keyboard need to be fixed. Right now, the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with 7th-gen Intel Core i5 processor is available on B&H Photo Video for a huge $150 below its usual price. Get it for $1,149 instead of $1,299.
Let’s start with the good stuff. The MacBook Pro’s Retina display is terrific. Boasting a pixel resolution of 2,560 × 1,600, the screen is not only super high definition but also ridiculously bright, colorful, and rich in contrast. With a maximum brightness of 548 lux, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to use this in the brightest room on the planet — you’re bound to see everything. Images look extremely realistic and colors are fantastic thanks to True Tone technology. Finally, the contrast ratio is excellent. The MacBook Pro can deliver perfect blacks next to the whitest of whites without trouble.
We also don’t have any major complaints when it comes to performance. In our processor and hard drive tests, the MacBook Pro was able to give outstanding numbers that are among the best we’ve ever encountered. However, this laptop isn’t for gaming. Graphically demanding games like Civilization VI ran poorly with lots of glitches. We blame the Intel integrated graphics chip and Apple’s OpenGL support, which hasn’t been updated significantly for years.
Even though we’re super happy to see that the MacBook Pro still has a headphone jack, Apple decided that USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 is the future and has ditched every other port. Yes, USB-C is all you get, two on each side for a total of four. Although the simplicity of the port selection does have some benefits (every port is a charging port, so you can plug the wall adapter into whichever is more convenient), you’re going to need lots of adapters for any other peripheral you’re planning to attach. Want to use an external display? You need an adapter. External hard drive? Adapter. Wired input of any sort? Adapter. Ethernet? Adapter. SD card? Adapter. The biggest crime of all? You can’t even plug an iPhone into it without purchasing an adapter.
The keyboard is also not very good. While it’s definitely an improvement over the older MacBook Pros thanks to improved key travel, it continues to suffer a stiff, abrupt bottoming action that can make long typing sessions tiresome.
This MacBook Pro includes the Touch Bar (units that don’t have this feature tend to be cheaper) but it’s honestly not very useful. It’s great to look at, and that’s about it. Yes, it provides a quick way to scroll through lists and can also be useful if you’d like to scroll through a video, but it is limited by its size. The miniature content previews it displays are helpful but are so small that it’s often hard to tell tabs apart, even with just three or four open. Opening even more tabs renders each of them impossible to tap. Sadly, it’s just not very integral to the MacBook experience.
Despite its flaws, its hard to discredit the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro’s incredible build quality, lightning-fast performance, and stunning display. Get it for $1,149 on B&H Photo Video today.
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