If there’s one thing everybody knows about Apple, it is that the company makes premium products. Barring a few offerings like the iPhone SE, the iPad 2017 or the MacBook Air, most other Apple products occupy the high-end spectrum of the category they are in.
The company upped the asking price for their flagship smartphone of this year — the iPhone X — to $999 from the typical $649-$769 price points of earlier models. Although smartphones have become centerpieces of everybody’s professional and personal lives, not everyone can justify paying a thousand dollars for a smartphone, especially considering people change phones every two to three years.
But beyond Apple’s iPhone X, there are some Apple accessories that are priced a bit over the top. Here’s five of the worst offenders that I’ve come across.
Disclaimer: Although this may come off as a rant, my intention is not to question why Apple charges what it does for its products; it can charge as it pleases. I only want to shed light on certain overpriced products that Apple product buyers ought to take into consideration, and maybe check alternatives where applicable.
1. iPhone 8 and iPhone X Fast Charger
Fast-charging has been available on Android phones across multiple price points for a couple of years now. The Moto G5 Plus is an inexpensive phone that comes bundled with a 15W charger. In comparison, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X are still bundled with a slow 5W charger in the box. So, while the 3,000mAh battery on the aforementioned Android phone charges from zero to hundred in an hour and half, a comparably-sized 2,691mAh iPhone 8 Plus battery will take nearly two-and-a-half to three hours to fill up with the bundled slow-poke charger.
But here’s the thing — although folks in the past have been using 10W iPad chargers to charge iPhones quicker, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X now officially support USB Power Delivery. This is the recommended fast-charging standard by Google to its manufacturers, and used on their Pixel phones too. But to get this rapid charging on the newer iPhones, you’ll need to buy two additional accessories — a USB-C adapter that supports USB Power Delivery and a USB-C to Lightning Cable.
Apple sells a 29W USB-C adapter (that comes bundled with the 12-inch MacBook) for $49. Add Apple’s 1 meter USB-C to Lightning priced at $25, and you’re spending around 75 bucks just to fast charge an iPhone 8 or X. Considering these iPhones start at 700 dollars and above, the least you could expect was fast charging out of the box (but hey, at least the base SKUs come with an ample 64GB of storage now).
Alternatively, you could buy a compatible Aukey USB-PD charger + Metrans USB-C to Lightning cable for a total of $35.
2. Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro
The iPad Pro, since its launch a couple of years ago, has been pitched by Apple as a replacement for computers (your mileage may vary though). Apple even created several fun commercials to drive this point home.
But in most of those ads, you’ll an iPad Pro propped up on the Apple Smart Keyboard accessory. The fact that this keyboard isn’t part of the standard package may be something that every potential buyers may not know. The iPad Pro 10.5-inch starts at $649, and goes all the way up to a thousand dollars for higher storage and cellular connectivity. And then you have to spend $159 to buy the Smart Keyboard case ($169 if you’re buying the 12.9-inch iPad Pro).
So, what is so smart about this keyboard case? Like iPad Smart Covers from the past, it magnetically sticks to the tablet’s side, covering the screen. Fold it into a triangle and the iPad rests at an angle with the keyboard at the bottom, mimicking a laptop-like appearance. The keys aren’t as clicky as the MacBook Pros with the butterfly mechanism, but are fairly easy to type on. And the keyboard receives power and communicates to the iPad with golden contact points, which Apple calls the “Smart Connector”, so there’s no need for Bluetooth pairing or a battery in the keyboard.
But $159 for a keyboard cover seems a bit too much — you can buy an iPad 2017 for the price of two iPad Pro 12.9-inch Smart Keyboards. And unlike Microsoft’s Type Cover for Surface Pros, Apple’s Smart Keyboard neither has a trackpad nor backlit keys. Unfortunately, the 3rd party market for Smart Connector accessories has remained slim even after two years of its introduction.
3. Siri Remote for Apple TV
Apple radically changed how the Apple TV is used with the 4th generation of the product, thanks to the introduction of Siri Remote. Unlike the spartan button remote that came before, the Siri Remote is vastly different. First, there’s a clickable touchpad that makes scrolling through the interface easier than repeatedly pressing buttons on a D-pad. Next, as the name suggests, it’s got two microphones to speak to Siri and fill text fields with your voice. Moving on, the Siri Remote also packs an accelerometer and three-axis gyroscope to detect motion; these sensors are used mostly for gaming. Lastly, there’s also an IR blaster on top that helps control your TV volume, eliminating the need to keep your TV remote nearby (now that’s how it’s done, Amazon Fire TV Stick!).
So, is the Siri Remote absurdly priced? Well, considering all that functionality packed in, the 59 dollar price tag doesn’t seem like a big ask. But when you realise it costs a third of the Apple TVs it comes bundled with, you will quickly realise how valuable this tiny remote is. And it’s important that users of the Apple TV remember this, because the Siri Remote can easily slip out of your hand, or get lost. And if you lose this thing, you’re either spending $59 to get another one, or using an iPhone, which has a virtual Apple TV remote in iOS 11.
4. Apple USB-C to USB Adapter
When Apple removed the 3.5mm jack from its iPhone 7 last year, it started bundling a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in the box. This move was to ease transitioning to the wireless future Apple wants to create. In another bold move, Apple knocked off the still-widely-used USB-A port on its 12-inch MacBook and new MacBook Pro laptops, replacing them with futuristic USB-C ports. It’s really crappy that $649 iPhones have these adapters in the box, but MacBooks that cost upwards of a thousand dollars (even a couple of thousand dollars) don’t get a USB-C to USB-A dongle, to ease their transition into the future of computing.
To mitigate the ire of potential buyers, the company decided to discount prices of dongles like the one mentioned above. But fun fact, the price cut was only temporary and the USB-C to USB-A Adapter that was being sold for a reasonable $9 is back to its original $19 price. And the worst part — this $19 adapter doesn’t even support USB 3.0 transfer speeds, and has terrible reviews on Apple’s own site. In comparison, third-party players like Aukey sell USB 3.0 compatible USB-A to USB-C adapters at $9 for a pack of two. I’ve personally been using these and they work fine.
5. Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock
Apple Watches are charged using a magnetically-latching inductive charger. The magnetic charging cable that comes out of the box can be purchased separately for $29. But say you want a stand that turns your Apple Watch into a bedside clock? That’ll be a whopping $79 for the Magnetic Charging Dock.
No doubt it’s got a simple and versatile design — the magnetic charging portion either sits flush or stands upright surrounded by the donut-shaped cushion. So the Apple Watch will either lie flat like phones do on typical Qi wireless charging pads, or propped up in “nightstand” mode, where it persistently shows the time. Although it works great, spending a third of what an Apple Watch Series 1 costs on it seems like a stretch.
If you really want a nightstand, you could check out Spigen’s Apple Watch charging dock that retails for just $7, mainly because it’s just a stand that uses the existing magnetic charging cable bundled with your Apple Watch. The Wirecutter has some other interesting options that you’ll want to check out too.
So, which Apple accessories do you think aren’t worth spending your dollars on? Or have you submitted to paying the Apple tax in lieu of trust and convenience perpetually? Let us know of any effective alternatives you’ve found.