TIME Smartphones

4 Reasons Amazon’s Fire Phone Was a Flop

German Launch For Amazon's Fire Smartphone
A man holds the new Fire smartphone by Amazon.com Inc. during demonstration at a a news conference in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon still has $83 million worth of unsold units

Amazon’s ongoing expansion into more and more product categories has finally hit a big speed bump. The Fire Phone, Amazon’s recently launched smartphone, was supposed to compete with high-end devices like Apple’s iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy. But consumers apparently didn’t bite—Amazon was forced to take a $170 million writedown charge on costs related to the device, it was revealed Thursday. Meanwhile, the company reportedly has $83 million worth of unsold Fire Phones still in its inventory.

While CEO Jeff Bezos is likely surprised that the Fire Phone hasn’t flown off Amazon’s virtual shelves, the device’s lack of appeal was obvious to many outside observers. Here are four reasons Amazon’s Fire Phone was doomed from the start:

Too Expensive

Amazon has a history of undercutting competitors on everything from tablets to balsamic vinegar. So it came as somewhat of a surprise when the Fire Phone launched at $199 with a two-year wireless contract, essentially the same price as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. The high price didn’t help incentivize iPhone and Galaxy owners to abandon their devices, which is what Amazon needed to happen for the Fire Phone to gain quick traction. The company saw the error of its ways relatively quickly and dropped the phone’s price to 99 cents in September, but that hasn’t been enough to turn things around.

Small App Store

Though Amazon’s devices run on Android, they use a proprietary app store tailor-made for the company’s phones and tablets. That means developers have to make different versions of their apps specifically for the Fire Phone and Kindle Fire, and many haven’t bothered. Amazon’s app store has about 240,000 apps, compared to more than 1 million in the Google Play store. Most notably, Amazon’s store lacks Google’s flagship apps, so Fire Phone owners have no easy access to Gmail, YouTube or Google Maps. Other popular services, like Dropbox, are also absent. Users can sideload Android apps onto the Fire Phone, but it’s a more cumbersome process that might be beyond the technical prowess of some Amazon fans who are used to the simplicity of devices like the Kindle e-reader.

Late to Market

The Fire Phone was a classic case of “too little, too late.” Apple is on its eighth generation of iPhones, and Android devices have been around nearly as long. Smartphones now account for 72 percent of the overall mobile market in the U.S., according to Comscore. Amazon would probably have the most luck convincing first-time smartphone buyers who have yet to develop a device preference to pick up a Fire Phone, but there simply aren’t many of those people left.

Features of Limited Interest

Many of the Fire Phone’s most innovative features, like the ability to scan 100 million real-world objects with the press of a button, are really aimed at getting customers to buy more things on Amazon. Making such features the main selling point of the device immediately means its appeal will be limited to only heavy Amazon users. Other new features, like the 3D display, were generally met with a collective yawn. The iPhone 6’s most prominent new feature, meanwhile — its big screen — is a more obvious upgrade, and its own commerce-focused perk, Apple Pay, works at plenty of places outside Apple’s ecosystem.

Overall, Amazon’s ambitious device simply doesn’t have a defining quality that would compel the average consumer to run out and buy it. We’ve all made it this far in life with perfectly suitable smartphones, and there already myriad ways to buy stuff on Amazon. The Fire Phone is solving problems that nobody had in the first place.

TIME Games

5 iPhone Games You Can’t Miss This Week

For when you're finally bored of Candy Crush

Done with Candy Crush and looking for a new iPhone game for your commute to work or lunch break at school? TIME rounded up some favorites from this week that are worth a download.

  • Enterchained

    Enterchained App Store

    For almost 15 years, countless video games have aimed to fill the cultural niche created by the Russell Crowe movie that helped pioneer fast-cut fight sequences, Gladiator. Now, a slightly more PG and much more endearing gladiator arena game has emerged. Enterchained brings simple animation and countless unlockable battle items to your iPhone.

    Enterchained is available for $0.99 in the App Store.

  • Ghostbusters Pinball

    Ghostbusters Pinball App Store

    Taking us back 30 years to when Ghostbusters was first released and to a time when movie-themed pinball machines dominated arcades, Ghostbusters Pinball is a hypnotic way to spend a few minutes. Obstacles in three dimensions, characters from the series, and different levels contained in a single map allow this app take advantage of the iPhone by invoking a charming, Ghostbusters universe without losing the authenticity of a real pinball game. Gameplay is run on tokens, and the app doles out 4 free tokens a day.

    Ghostbusters Pinball is available free in the App Store

  • Mmm Fingers

    Mmm Fingers App Store

    A reverse Hungry Hungry Hippos with graphics reminiscent of Plants vs. Zombies, Mmm Fingers is about keeping your finger safe. The goal is to navigate an increasingly dangerous field of monsters and traps without lifting your finger off the screen or colliding with obstacles. It’s a great game for quick breaks and short idle moments, and can even be played against friends.

    Mmm Fingers is available free in the App Store

  • Felllice

    Felllice App Store

    A black and white game about cell growth, Felllice is the endearingly downsized story of natural selection. Players start out as a cell, and grow by eating weaker, smaller-celled organisms. Similarly, players must avoid being eaten by larger organisms also fighting for their place in the world. Part of the fun is watching the environment and other cells interact with itself as your cell develops, grows, evolves and assimilates into an increasingly complicated organism.

    Felllice is available for $0.99 in the App Store

  • Super Mashteroids

    Super Mashteroids App Store

    Super Mastheroids follows a trend of bringing back 8-bit style games to advanced devices. Part Asteroids, part Space Invaders, the game intentionally brings together elements of celebrated 80s arcade games to create a new experience on your iPhone. Fly through a slightly tidied up version of retro space in a starship cruiser destroying asteroids and enemies, earning power ups and zooming to the next stage.

    Super Mashteroids is available free in the App Store

MONEY Apple

Here’s What Happened When We Tried Apple Pay

Sure, the new payment system looks all shiny in Apple's demos, but does it really work on the streets of New York? We set off to find out.

Updated at 9:30 pm

We gave Apple Pay a real-world test run on Monday, the day the new payment system launched. And as you can see in the video, it worked pretty well. At least where we already expected it to work.

There are a few wrinkles you don’t see on camera. Setting it up wasn’t quite seamless. I deliberately tried to set it up on my new iPhone without reading in advance about how to do it—after all, that’s how most people use their iPhones in real life. I found myself roadblocked pretty quickly. The Passbook app where credit card info is supposed to be stored… didn’t seem to have any way to enter my credit card info. It turned out I had to update my phone to the latest version of iOS 8. I got the phone just last week, and have already upgraded once, so that was a bit of surprise.

Day two (Tuesday) of trying to use Apple Pay in everyday life, with no camera crew around, was less successful. At Starbucks, I watched other customers paying with smartphone apps, but learned that they were using the coffee company’s own system. Starbucks doesn’t do Apple Pay. At a Duane Reade drugstore—a New York brand of Walgreens—the reader didn’t work. But the cashier told me most of the other readers in the store did. Later on, I successfully paid for a couple of Lightning cables at a Walgreens in Brooklyn. “Wait, that thing actually works?” said the woman behind the register.

Apple Pay doesn’t feel revolutionary. You take out your phone instead of your credit card to pay for things—it just means reaching into a different pocket. But that probably counts as a success for Apple in the long run. Using Apple Pay is similar enough to what I already do that I can see it easily creeping into my everyday routine.

MONEY Tech

Here’s Why Apple Had Such a Great Quarter

Local resident Andreas Gibson celebrates after being the first to exit the Fifth Avenue store after purchasing an iPhone 6 on the first day of sales in Manhattan, New York September 19, 2014.
Adrees Latif—Reuters

And why you can expect even more good news next quarter.

Summer is usually a slow time for Apple APPLE INC. AAPL 0.372% , much as it is for other consumer-electronics companies. For the iPhone maker specifically, summer is right before its widely publicized iPhone launches, which should intuitively create purchase delays as consumers wait for the latest and greatest. Not this time.

Apple just crushed expectations.

Starting with the headliners

Most of the pertinent metrics tapped new records for the quarter ended in September. Revenue came in at $42.1 billion, which translated into $8.5 billion in net income. That’s $1.42 per diluted share. Gross margin stayed strong at 38%, a modest sequential decline. Apple also declared a $0.47-per-share quarterly dividend.

The Street was modeling for $39.9 billion in revenue, $1.29 in EPS, and a gross margin of 37.9%. Apple’s own guidance topped out at $40 billion and 38% gross margin.

iPhone is officially a $100 billion business

Despite all of the speculation surrounding the iPhone 6, iPhone unit sales came in well above expectations at 39.3 million, a 16% jump from a year ago. Analysts were expecting just 37.5 million units. Average selling prices put up an encouraging $42 jump to $603. That helped trailing-12-month iPhone revenue cross the $100 billion threshold for the first time ever.

Source: SEC filings. Fiscal quarters shown. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Even better yet, Apple normally puts up another ASP increase during the calendar fourth quarter following the launch of new models, so the company could have an ASP tailwind this holiday quarter.

Apple is unsure of when it will reach supply and demand balance, since it currently has a significant backlog of orders. The company is selling every unit it can make, and CEO Tim Cook said supply and demand are currently so far apart that they’re “not even on the same planet.”

iPad is still lagging

Technically speaking, the iPad remains a relative soft spot in Apple’s results, with unit sales falling 13% to 12.3 million. There’s a broader deceleration occurring in the tablet market, and Apple is not immune. Still, Cook continues to consider the current situation little more than a “speed bump” on the long-term road to riches.

He also added some useful context. First, since Apple has been in the tablet business for only four years, it’s difficult to determine what the upgrade cycle will be. Everyone expects it to be longer than smartphone upgrade cycles, but it remains unclear by how much. On top of that, what’s not shown in these high-level figures is which countries Apple is selling in, or the demand characteristics in those countries.

Adoption in developed markets was very quick to take off, and those users are still trying to determine their upgrade cycles. Sales are now shifting to emerging markets, where 50% to 70% of buyers are first-time tablet buyers. That has important long-term implications, since those users are now on the Apple upgrade track.

Cook is less interested in the quarterly trends and remains extremely bullish on the bigger picture.

Macs set a new record

Apple sold 5.5 million Macs during the quarter ended in September, a new record and again outpacing the broader PC market. The back-to-school season was particularly kind to the company, according to Cook.

Management attributed this strength to its laptop lineup, which is even more impressive considering the mid-2014 upgrades were modest, as Apple is still waiting for Intel to ship its Broadwell chips in volume.

Cranking up share repurchases

Last quarter, Apple kind of slowed its rate of share repurchases, which made sense, since shares have recovered and it gets marginally less bang for its repurchase buck. This quarter, Apple cranked up the repurchase again, embarking upon its fourth accelerated share repurchase program, or ASR.

Source: SEC filings. Fiscal quarters shown.

Share repurchases this quarter totaled $17 billion, consisting of a $9 billion ASR program and $8 billion in open market repurchases. Even as Apple shares are now within spitting distance of all-time highs, it clearly still thinks the current valuation is compelling. Cook more or less agrees with Carl Icahn.

Once again, the buybacks helped juice EPS growth. Diluted EPS was up 20%, outpacing the 13% jump in net income. Apple has now repurchased nearly $68 billion to date, leaving over $22 billion of its total $90 billion repurchase authorization. That should hold it over until the next update to its capital return program, which is typically in March or April.

Some reporting changes

Starting in fiscal 2015, which just kicked off, Apple is also making changes to its reporting methods. The last reporting change occurred about two years ago, when the company unbundled accessories and peripherals from their related segments and established the iTunes/Software/Services segment.

Going forward, iTunes/Software is being renamed the Services segment, but this will also include other services such as Apple Pay. Other Products will include the current accessories business, along with the iPod, Apple TV, and forthcoming Apple Watch.

Current segments Future segments
iPhone iPhone
iPad iPad
Mac Mac
iPod Services
iTunes/Software/Services Other products
Accessories

Source: Conference call.

One analyst asked whether grouping Apple Watch into the Other Products segment says anything about Apple’s expectations for its upcoming wearable. Cook responded decisively, “It says nothing about our expectations.” Rather, the decision was based on current revenue bases, and Apple may decide to break out Apple Watch performance at a later time.

More importantly, Apple knows that its smartwatch competitors are watching its every move and are very interested to get figures and data points surrounding this nascent business — figures and data points that Apple doesn’t want to share with its rivals. Not sharing with rivals entails not sharing with public investors.

That may be somewhat frustrating, especially at first, but if Apple Watch becomes material to the business, then Apple will probably begin disclosing pertinent figures. Until then, Apple will probably tout various milestones as it hits them from time to time.

Additionally, Apple’s retail results have long been a distinct segment, which has always made its geographical disclosures incomplete. For instance, all retail stores have been included in this reportable segment, regardless of where they are located. Apple is dissolving the Retail reporting segment and will begin including those results in the stores’ respective geographies. That will make the geographical segments much more relevant and usable (finally), particularly the all-important Greater China segment.

It’s the time of the season

As Apple heads into the holiday season with a fresh product lineup, it’s expecting another all-time record quarter. Revenue is expected in the range of $63.5 billion to $66.5 billion, which represents 13% growth at the midpoint. That would be the highest growth in eight quarters, before even considering the possibility of a blowout.

So much for slow summers — or falls or winters for that matter.

TIME Gadgets

7 Cases That Do More Than Protect Your iPhone

You already know you need a case to protect your phone from accidental drops and bumps, but did you know the right case can do so much more? Whether you want your case to perform double duty as a wallet or help keep your precious photos private, we’ve rounded up seven cases that go above and beyond protection. Some are available now, while others are coming before the end of the year.

1. iFrogz Charisma Case

ifrogz-charisma-case-510px
iFrogz

For those days when you don’t want to carry a purse but need a credit card and driver’s license or ID, the iFrogz Charisma iPhone 6 case has you covered. It’s made of soft silicone in fun, bright colors like purple and pink. Inside the case is a secret wallet compartment where you can fit three credit cards in separate slots. A built-in mirror on the opposite side accommodates a quick lipstick check after lunch.

Price: $29.99 for iPhone 6 cases on Amazon and for iPhone 6 Plus cases on Amazon

2. Pong Case

pong-iphone-6-case-350px
Pong

The Pong case not only boosts signal strength with its next-gen antenna technology, it also helps reduce your radiation exposure from the phone. It does this by redirecting wireless energy away from your head and body for a reduction of up to 89% below safety limits, according to the company, which verified its findings in FCC-certified labs.

The Pong case protects your phone as well as protecting you, offering drop protection for up to four to six feet in the Sleek and Rugged case styles.

Price: Starting at $51.90 for iPhone 5/5S cases on Amazon; $49.99 for iPhone 6 cases on Amazon; $69.99 for iPhone 6 Plus cases (available starting Nov 17) on Amazon

3. Vysk EP1 Everyday Privacy Case

vysk-iphone-6-case-510px
Vysk

The Vysk Everyday Privacy Case protects your phone and its contents with an encrypted text and photo gallery app. This stealthy case looks stylish in colors like gold, red, blue and black, as it guards against cyberthieves who might remotely access your camera and texts. The case protects your data with the help of an app that encrypts your texts and photos. And if sending all those texts drains your phone’s battery too quickly, the Vysk case’s built-in, rechargeable 3200mAh battery provides a 120% boost to your battery power.

Price: $119 for iPhone 5/5S cases from vysk.com (iPhone 6 cases coming soon)

4. Incipio Highland Folio

incipio-highlan-iphone-6-case-510px
Incipio

Incipio’s Highland Folio is a thin case with a rigid front cover and brushed aluminum finish that protects in style, with colors like gold and pink. Its built-in rear kickstand is a great addition for anyone who likes to watch videos or show demos on the new, larger iPhone. There’s a slot on the inside cover for you to stash a credit card or ID.

Price: $39.99 for iPhone 5/5S cases on Amazon; Starting at $32.18 for iPhone 6 cases on Amazon; $39.99 for iPhone 6 Plus cases (shipping in 1 to 4 months) on Amazon

5. Boostcase Crossbody Wallet Case

bootcase-crossbody-wallet-case-510px
Boostcase

The fashion-forward folio case from Boostcase turns your iPhone into a stylish shoulder bag with a soft leather wallet and suede base. Tuck a credit card, some cash and an ID into the card slots on the inside of the folio, snap your phone in on the other side and secure your precious cargo with the snap enclosure. The Crossbody shoulder chain is detachable in case you want to carry the phone like a clutch, and the extra outer pocket on the back is perfect for quickly stashing receipts or a metro card.

Price: $99.95 for iPhone 5/5S cases on Amazon

6. ChargeAll Battery Case

chargeall-iphone-6-battery-case-510px
ChargeAll

We all know it’s nearly impossible to get through a full day on a single iPhone charge. The ChargeAll case doubles as a backup battery, so you never run out of power. Its 2400mAh battery lets you recharge whenever you need, providing enough power to more than double the life of your phone’s charge. Its slim profile doesn’t add much bulk to your sleek new phone, and its protection is spot on, with a two-piece design and raised bumpers that guard against accidental drops and scratches. The ChargeAll is available in colors including blue, pink, green, red and purple and ships in December.

Price: $59.99 for iPhone 6 cases at chargeall.com

7. HoldTight Case

holdtight-iphone-6-case-350px
HoldTight

If your needs change on a daily basis, get a phone case that you can personalize to meet those needs. Perhaps you want to stow earbuds to take to the gym, then tuck away some cash for a smoothie after your workout or store your metro card for a trip to a business meeting. The HoldTight comes with seven interchangeable bands in a variety of colors. You choose the case color as well as the color of the bands and then stretch them to whatever configuration you want. The website offers design suggestions with names like “The Music Lover,” “The College Kid,” or “Paper or Plastic.” You can also watch a video of the HoldTight in action.

Price: $29.99 for iPhone 5/5S cases and $34.99 for iPhone 6 cases (ships at end of year) at felix.com

This article was written by Andrea Smith and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone and Android Apps You Should Try This Week

From Flickr to hands-free music control

It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

 

  • Alien Blue

    There have been a series of unofficial Reddit apps available for a while now, but last week the social networking/news website that receives over a million uniques a day sanctioned the official release of a Reddit app, Alien Bue. It’s a clean, mobile-friendly version of the site, allowing users to keep up on threads and receive notifications as well as discover new subreddits. For a short while, users can also upgrade to Alien Blue Pro for free in order to access features like switching between multiple accounts.

    Alienblue is available free in the App Store.

  • Flickr for iPad

    Flickr for iPad App Store

    Although imgur has nearly replaced Flickr on many social media sites, the decade-old photo-sharing site just released an iPad app that offers extensive editing tools for mobile devices. And because of the iPad’s retina display, early reviews suggest that Flickr’s iOS app may be more efficient than using older model computers for light editing. Flickr also offers 1TB of free storage space.

    Flickr for iPad is available free in the App Store.

  • WishBeen

    Wishbeen Google Play

    When Tripadvisor fails and your outdated travel books begin to weigh down a suitcase, WishBeen offers a solution to the most complicated, time-consuming parts of planning a vacation. WishBeen, also a popular travel website, delivers an app that allows users to search, modify, and create travel itineraries, find nearby spots to visit and tailor activities to a budget. Most importantly, travel plans can be downloaded for offline use when Internet access is limited.

    WishBeen is available free in the Google Play store.

  • Hooks

    As football season stats to pick up and a different fall television show airs every night of the week, the hardest part may be keeping track of scores and when new episodes go up on Hulu. Hooks eliminates this strange, 21st century anxiety; it is a task reminder app not for obligations, but for the things you care about and actually enjoy. No more missed parties, no more delayed celebration until you check the final results of your team’s game, no more missing your favorite band next time they’re in town.

    Hooks is available free in the App Store.

     

  • Brainwave

    Brainwave Google Play

    Brainwave integrates the sleek, Minority Report technology of hands-free device operation with Android phones. Brainwave asks which music application you wish to use (it’s compatible with Spotify, Pandora and iHeart Radio, among others), and then allows you to control these various music apps by swiping a hand in different directions over the phone. Not only is it good for the moments in which you need to play DJ with greasy kitchen hands or are serving drinks at a party, but it’s precisely the kind of fascinating technology that reminds us why we’ve allowed our lives to be run by phones.

    Brainwave (beta) is available free in the Google Play store.

MONEY mobile payments

These Are the Stores That Accept Apple Pay

a cash register terminal promotes usage of the new Apple Pay mobile payment system at a Whole Foods store in Cupertino, Calif.
Whole Foods is jumping on the Apple Pay train. Eric Risberg—AP

Apple Pay is going live today. Here's where you can use it.

On Monday, Apple fans everywhere will finally get their hands on Apple Pay, the company’s new mobile payment solution that promises to turn your iPhone into a wallet. The product sounds great, but where can we actually try out this magic future technology?

The answer is probably, not at just any store. Apple Pay relies on near-field communication (NFC) technology to securely transmit your payment details, meaning businesses must have a special sensor installed at checkout for the system to work. Over time, more shops will likely upgrade their terminals, but as of now, only 220,000 locations are Apple Pay compatible. That’s about 2.4% of the roughly 7 million to 9 million merchants in the U.S. that accept credit cards.

But fear not, early adopter. iCEO Tim Cook has made sure those stores that do accept Apple Pay are probably the ones you use the most. Once you’ve set up Apple Pay to work on your device, head down to any of these chains and give it a whirl.

Clothes

  • Bloomingdales
  • Aéropostale
  • Champs
  • Macy’s

Footwear

  • Foot Locker
  • Kids Foot Locker
  • Lady Foot Locker
  • Footaction
  • Nike
  • House of Hoops
  • Run by Foot Locker

Sportswear

  • Champs
  • Sports Authority
  • Six:02

Technology

  • RadioShack
  • Apple Store

Pets

  • Petco
  • Unleashed

Pharmacy

  • Duane Reade
  • Walgreens

Gas

  • Chevron
  • Texaco

Food

  • McDonalds
  • Whole Foods
  • Panera Bread
  • Subway
  • Wegmans
  • ExtraMile

Office

  • Office Depot

Big Box

  • BJs

Kids

  • Toys R Us
  • Babies R Us

 

Apple
Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.12.05 AM
Apple

 

 

 

TIME Gadgets

Buying Guide: Apple’s Holiday Gadgets Lineup

For a company that’s made a lot of money by selling the concept of simplicity, Apple’s holiday lineup features an almost overwhelming number of gadgets. Here’s a look at the main product lines, along with some buying advice for each category.

Computers

MacBook Air Laptops ($899+)

MacBook Air
Apple

When it comes to Apple’s portable computer lineup, you’ve got the less expensive, more portable MacBook Air line or the more expensive, more powerful MacBook Pro line.

There are two base models to choose from in the MacBook Air line: an 11-incher starting at $899 and a 13-incher starting at $999. They were last updated in April of 2014.

The 11-inch model is — surprise — the more portable of the two, weighing in around 2.4 pounds. However, for $100 extra, the 13-inch model gives you a higher-resolution screen, three additional hours of battery life (9 for the 11-inch, 12 for the 13-inch), and an SD memory card slot.

Product Page [Apple.com]

MacBook Pro Laptops ($1299+)

MacBook Pro
Apple

The more potent of Apple’s portables, the MacBook Pro line consists of 13- and 15-inch models with super high-resolution “Retina” screens and a top-of-the-line model with a starting price (before custom configuration) of $2499. The line was last updated in late July of 2014.

They’re still plenty portable: Each model measures less than three quarters of an inch thick, with the 13-incher weighing just shy of 3.5 pounds and the 15-incher weighing just shy of 4.5 pounds.

Making the leap from the base 13-inch model to the base 15-inch model commands a $700 price premium, but nets you a better processor, double the RAM, double the storage, and higher-resolution screen with a better graphics chip. You lose an hour of battery life with the 15-inch model (eight hours versus nine hours for the 13-incher), and there are a couple upgraded 13-inch models to choose from ($1499 and $1799) before you get to the first 15-inch model.

Note that there’s also an aging non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s still for sale with a $1099 starting price. It’s not touted on Apple’s main MacBook Pro page, however, and hasn’t been updated for quite a while. It’s been rumored that it’s being killed off entirely. You can do better with $1099.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iMac All-in-Ones ($1099+)

iMac
Apple

Apple’s all-in-one desktop line comes in 21.5-inch models starting at $1099 and 27-inch models starting at $1799. They were last updated in late September of 2013, with the entry-level model added in mid-June of 2014. The Retina 5K model was added in mid-October 2014 with a $2499 starting price.

The entry-level $1099 jobber tends to steer you into taking a good, hard look at the next step up; a $1299 21.5-inch model which, for $200, gets you a much better processor (2.7GHz quad-core versus a 1.4GHz dual-core), double the storage space, higher-end RAM, and a better graphics chip.

Stepping up to the baseline 27-inch model (starts at $1799), gets you a super high-resolution screen (2560 x 1440), a better processor and a better graphics chip. You’re paying mostly for the enormous 27-inch screen. It’s a really nice screen — I use one for work on occasion — but the rest of the system’s innards aren’t mind-blowing by any means. You can do some custom upgrades to increase the mind-blowingness, of course.

Find another $700 in your couch cushions, and you can step up to the all-new Retina iMac, which starts at $2499 and sports an insanely high-resolution screen (5120 x 2880). Apple blew right past “4K” and is calling this “5K” instead. Aside from the screen technology, this model starts out with a quad-core Intel processor, a faster graphics chip and a faster one-terabyte hybrid (solid-state + standard storage) hard drive.

Product Page (iMac) | Product Page (Retina 5K iMac) [Apple.com]

Mac Mini ($499+)

Mac Mini
Apple

The diminutive Mac Mini desktop is still kicking, with a $499 starting price (d0wn from $599) and the continued understanding that you’ll need to bring your own monitor, keyboard and mouse. There’s a $699 model that gets you almost double the processing speed, double the storage, double the RAM and a better graphics chip. Tough choice, to be honest.

Product Page [Apple.com]

Mac Pro ($2,999+)

Mac Pro
Apple

The Mac Pro comes in quad- and six-core configurations, starting at more than many people’s monthly mortgage payments. If you’re buying this as a gift for someone, you are incredibly generous, well-off or both. Either way: congratulations on all your success!

You should check with this person to see what he or she actually wants out of a Mac Pro. This isn’t a great “surprise” gift, in other words. At the most basic, however, an extra $1000 jumps you from four to six processing cores, and gets you more RAM and a better graphics chip.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPhones

You have four iPhone models to choose from, running the price gamut from free with a two-year contract to $499 with a two-year contract.

iPhones
From left to right: iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C Apple

iPhone 6 Plus ($299+)

Starting on the left-hand side of the above image, the iPhone 6 Plus is Apple’s biggest phone to date. With a 5.5-inch screen, it straddles the tablet-phone chasm with a starting price of $299 with a two-year contract. Going this big (and expensive) gets you a higher-resolution screen than the iPhone 6, optical image stabilization, and longer battery life.

iPhone 6 ($199+)

Apple’s flagship phone until (probably) late 2015, the iPhone 6 attempts to summon Goldilocks with a not-too-big, not-too-small 4.7-inch screen. Apple promises up to 14 hours of 3G talk time or up to 10 hours of web surfing. Like all iPhones, an extra $100 for each trim level gets you more storage, though where previous lines doubled the storage for every $100 you spent, the 6 and 6 Plus jump you from 16 gigabytes to 64 gigabytes this time around. Another $100 pops things up to 128 gigabytes.

iPhone 5S ($99+)

Last year’s flagship model, the iPhone 5S sports a four-inch screen, fingerprint sensor, decent processor and 8-10 hours of continuous-use battery life. It’s still a fine phone, with a good camera and a 32-gigabyte storage option that costs an extra $50.

iPhone 5C (Free)

On the low end, the iPhone 5C is free with a two-year contract, comes in five colors and is available with eight gigabytes of storage. For all intents and purposes, this is a late-2012 iPhone 5 gussied up and re-released in late 2013. An extra $100 gets you more processing power and double the storage in an iPhone 5S, but if you don’t care about that and you don’t care about the fingerprint reader, this one’s a solid choice as a free phone.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPads

You have five iPad models to choose from. Starting prices range from $249 to $499.

iPads
From left to right: iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini Apple

iPad Air 2 ($499+)

The first version of the iPad Air was thinner than a pencil at 0.29 inches. Thanks to a new anti-reflective screen, the iPad Air 2 is thinner than that at 0.24 inches — an 18% reduction — and slightly lighter (like, 0.04 pounds lighter). There’s a souped-up iPhone 6/6 Plus processor onboard, too (the A8X), which Apple says is 40% faster than previous efforts.

Battery life remains 10 hours, as before, and the rear camera has been bumped from five to eight megapixels and can capture time-lapse and slow-motion videos. The front camera has been improved, as well, and wireless connections have been bolstered to provide faster data access.

The newest iPad Air rounds things out by adding the TouchID fingerprint sensor that debuted with the iPhone 5S, so you can unlock the tablet and log into apps and sites without typing passcodes. It’ll be available in gold, silver and gray, and there’s a new 128-gigabyte storage option available starting at $699.

iPad Air

Late November 2013’s iPad Air is sticking around, though this time with a $399 starting price (down from $499). This is still a more-than-fine full-size iPad. Spending the extra $100 on the iPad Air 2 gets you something marginally thinner and marginally lighter, with a better rear-facing camera, the fingerprint sensor and a beefed up processor. If none of these are super important to you, the iPad Air is now a comparatively good deal.

iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini 3 is almost pound-for-pound a shrunken-down iPad Air, all the way down to the $399 starting price. You do get the fingerprint sensor, so there’s that. There’s also a 128-gigabyte option (the iPad Air tops out at 32 gigabytes). It’s smaller and lighter, too, of course (although not thinner) with a starting weight of 0.73 pounds.

iPad Mini 2

If you’re interested in a small iPad, the iPad Mini 2 looks like a really good bet, actually. It’s very similar to the iPad Mini 3, but doesn’t feature the gold color option, the 128-gigabyte storage option or the fingerprint reader. Just about everything else is there, minus $100 off the starting price.

iPad Mini

The iPad Mini is sticking around, with a starting price of $249. If ever you were to try to scrounge up an extra $50, this is the time to do it. Stepping up to the iPad Mini 2 gets you a much better screen and a much better processor. If the price was $199, it’d be a much harder decision. This thing’s already two years old, though.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPods and Apple TV ($49+)

iPod Shuffle ($49)

iPod Shuffle
Apple

This is one of the cheapest Apple gadgets to own. A handful of sawbucks will get you a wearable music player good for 15 hours of playback that can hold hundreds of songs (up to around 500 if you really compress them, but bank on a couple hundred at least). Keep in mind that you’ll need a computer to transfer songs: This little guy has no wireless connection.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPod Nano ($149)

iPod Nano
Apple

The iPod Nano is a good option if you’re looking for a pocketable gadget that can be used for working out, watching video, looking at photos and listening to music. Like the iPod Shuffle, you’ll need to use a computer to load stuff onto it, but it does feature a Bluetooth connection you can use to sync it to your car’s audio system or wireless headphones. And there’s Nike+ integration if you want to track your workouts.

Product Page [Apple.com]

iPod Touch ($199+)

iPod Touch
Apple

Buying an iPod Touch is basically like buying a phone-less iPhone 4S, specs-wise. It’s a great option for kids who aren’t ready for a full-fledged cell phone (and the monthly bill it entails), but who want access to apps and a decent camera and fun stuff like that. Best of all, you don’t need a computer to load content onto it; just a Wi-Fi network.

Product Page [Apple.com]

Apple TV ($99)

 TV
Apple

Hooking an Apple TV box up to your TV serves two main purposes. One: You can use it to stream music and video from popular services like Netflix and other providers. Second: You can use its AirPlay feature to sling content from your iPhone, iPad, MacBook and other Apple gadgets, expanding it for viewing on the biggest screen in your house. Your TV is the biggest screen in your house, right? Right?!

Product Page [Apple.com]

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