I’ll be the first to say it: Something is bothering me about Apple. Its gift suggestions suck. The emails the company sends when holidays roll around are terrible – gift cards are boring and most Apple products are way too expensive to work as a gift. So, in retaliation, I’ve put together this list of the best Apple gifts.
Below, you’ll get to know what the Apple fan in your life really wants for their birthday from another Apple fan – me. I’ve purchased, received, or asked for nearly every product on this list, and I think any of them would make a great gift for an Apple fan.
Just like Apple’s products, these are going to range wildly in price. Some will be hundreds, while others will be under $50. And if you go used (which I highly recommend) then your gift budget will expand even more.
I’ll also be covering which products require other products first. So don’t worry about buying an Apple Pencil for someone who doesn’t have an iPad or a Time Machine SSD for someone who doesn’t have a Mac. We’ll go through what each product is, what kind of Apple fan you should buy it for, and whether or not it makes sense for the person based on the products they already own.
Alright, let’s get to it!
The best Apple gifts to get your techie friends and family
The MOFT Z Stand
First up on our list of the best Apple gifts is one of my personal favorites, the MOFT Z Stand. This is a product I reviewed several months ago, and to this day it’s one of my most-used purchases ever.
It’s an all-in-one MacBook and iPad stand. It folds up to be flat, even thinner than a MacBook itself. That means you can throw it in your bag, keep it on your desk, or just about anywhere else.
When you’re ready to use it, it folds from a flat shape into several different combinations for different viewing angles. This allows you to position your MacBook at various angles, for different desks, and even put it in a standing mode so that you can stand while you work at your desk.
It’s affordable, too, at just $60. This makes it a great gift for Apple fans that already own a MacBook. I will say, though, that while this product is technically an iPad stand, too, it only has one angle that works with an iPad. So in my view, it’s not worth buying unless the person the stand is for already owns a MacBook (laptop).
A Time Machine SSD
Another Mac gift that’s a bit more practical is a Time Machine SSD. This is one of those gifts that, unless this person is a nerd, they probably won’t be immediately excited about. Next year, though, I can guarantee you that they’ll be throwing heaps of thanks at you for grabbing it for them.
A Time Machine SSD is a big flash drive for backing up someone’s Mac. It backs it up every hour, so if someone took their Mac and tossed it in a lake, they would only lose files that they had used in the last hour. Everything else would be preserved on the Time Machine drive.
This is great for emergencies, like when a macOS update ends up deleting all of your files, you spill coffee on your computer, or your computer is stolen. It’s also great for minor mishaps, like deleting a file by accident, downloading a virus, or making a change to a document that you want to undo. You can go into the Time Machine drive and revert the file to before the mishap took place, so it’s like it never happened.
I can’t tell you how many problems I’ve had that a Time Machine drive saved me big time. And just as many times, I’ve had friends who didn’t use a Time Machine drive delete hours of work or bust their Mac, only to find that their data was gone for good. Like a spare tire, it’s a serious lifesaver.
This can be a more technical item on our list, however, so you want to be sure that you get it right. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
- Only certain SSDs are compatible with Time Machine. For this reason, you don’t want to buy just any SSD. You can check that an SSD is compatible with Time Machine by checking its product description as well as searching for “Time Machine SSD” specifically.
- The SSD should have around twice as much storage as the Mac it’s protecting. That means a 500GB Mac will need a Time Machine SSD with 1TB of storage. If you aren’t sure what size to get, 500GB and 1TB are both good sizes to shop for. Any size is better than no size, though!
- Know the difference between HDDs and SSDs. While looking for an SSD, you’ll inevitably come across HDDs. HDDs can be Time Machine drives too, but they’re more prone to breaking. That’s because they use a spinning disc drive. If the person has a MacBook, don’t get them an HDD! It’ll probably end up breaking. If they have a stationary desktop computer, like an iMac, then an HDD can be a budget-friendly alternative. They’re less likely to break their Time Machine drive this way as it won’t be in motion, in a backpack, etc.
Another of the best Apple gifts for Mac users is a mechanical keyboard. For those that don’t know, a mechanical keyboard is a keyboard built with old-school key switches. This gives it a clickier, more satisfying feel and sound. They’re extremely popular with tech enthusiasts and make for a great accessory for any computer, including Macs. They can even be used with a MacBook, which is great for Apple fans who mostly use their MacBook at home with a desk.
There are a lot of mechanical keyboards out there, though all of them are similar in quality and feel. As long as you spend at least $60, you’ll be grabbing a quality, long-lasting product.
Mechanical keyboards typically range from high-end, highly-customizable, feature-packed keyboards, to simpler, more affordable options. Here’s what sets them apart:
- Expensive mechanical keyboards have more features. These features help prevent mistypes, make typing more accurate and responsive, might include colorful backlighting, etc. These features are usually more popular with gamers, but they’re not a requirement for the keyboard to work by any means.
- Customizable keyboards typically cost more. Some keyboards come with the ability to remove and replace the keycaps. This allows the user to make their keyboard look more personal, change the way the keys feel and sound, and more. But this can also bump the price up depending on where you look.
- Brand recognition comes at a price. And of course, big-name brands in the mechanical keyboard world are going to fetch a higher price. While these brands generally produce solid products, just know that there are plenty of more affordable options out there that are still great.
And that’s it for mechanical keyboards! As far as compatibility goes, any mechanical keyboard should be compatible with any Mac. Try to find Bluetooth options if you can, since Macs typically have limited ports for plugging devices in. Otherwise, you’re good to go!
A bit more of an “adult” gift that’s still a great option is AirTags. These new, nifty little devices can be attached to a variety of items, including backpacks, wallets, and keychains.
Once attached, the owner of the AirTag can view its location in an app on their iPhone. These things are super accurate, especially if you’re in the same building as them.
This is a great gift for someone worried about losing a purse, their keys, or pretty much anything else.
AirTags are also a pretty affordable option in this list of the best Apple gifts! You can purchase them directly from Apple for $29. It’s another lifesaver device that will surely prevent a lot of headaches. I know I use my AirTag to find my keys nearly once every day. They’re great!
Apple services subscriptions
One of the most affordable options on this list of the best Apple gifts is Apple services subscriptions. Apple offers several subscriptions these days, from utility-based ones like iCloud to the fun ones like Apple Arcade.
You can gift these subscriptions to Apple users pretty easily. Just choose the gift option when checking out and provide the Apple ID email (that’s crucial!). You can even choose the date that the subscription starts for the person, so you can buy it in advance.
While there are several Apple subscriptions available, these are the options that would make a good gift:
- Apple Fitness. Apple Fitness is a great subscription from Apple. It’s a video streaming service for fitness videos, including yoga, HIIT, core training, strength training, cycling, walking, meditation, and more. For $10/month, you can watch any videos on the platform. They come with playlists, vary in skill level, and sync with Apple Watch. An Apple Watch isn’t required, but it does make the experience better. You can learn more about Apple Fitness here.
- Apple News+. Apple News+ is an upgrade for the News app on Apple’s devices. With it, you can access higher-caliber journalism outlets and remove ads. For someone who is into reading magazines and staying up with the latest news, it can be a great gift. Learn more about News+ here.
- Apple Music. The most popular subscription that Apple offers is, of course, Apple Music. It offers unlimited streaming of basically every piece of music ever produced, ad-free. It’s a great service that your loved one probably already has. If they do, then you can gift them the next few months for free, and if they don’t, you can give them the gift of music.
- Apple Arcade. The most fun Apple subscription is Apple Arcade. Apple Arcade works on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac. It comes with a collection of hundreds of high-quality mobile games. There are no purchases or ads within any of these games and the subscription is just $5/month. Great for gamers and young kids. You can read here to see the best games available on Apple Arcade.
- Apple TV+. Apple TV+ is Apple’s version of Netflix. It has a bunch of original and licensed shows, most of which are highly produced and critically acclaimed. I just finished watching both seasons of Ted Lasso and can confirm that it’s so good that it justifies the price of Apple TV+ ($5/month) all on its own.
- Apple One. The last subscription you should consider gifting to a loved one is Apple One. It’s a bundled subscription, so you can gift multiple subscriptions at once for a discounted rate. There are different tiers for Apple One that mix and match different Apple Subscriptions. You can read about the different tiers here.
Next on our list of the best Apple gifts is an Apple TV. Apple TVs are devices that you can plug into your TV, and like a DVD player or game console, it’ll allow your TV to play different types of content.
Specifically, an Apple TV device shows apps like Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and YouTube on your television. Similar to channels on a DVR, you can select these apps and watch the content on them (if you have a subscription for them, of course).
Apple TVs are relatively affordable, at around $100 for a decent used device. And they’re compatible with just about any TV around, making them a simple and great option for a gift. The only thing to check before buying one is that the person you’re buying it for doesn’t already have one.
Also, eBay is a great place to get used Apple TVs. They aren’t updated very often (like the iPhone) so getting a used one will be no different than getting a new one. Just make sure that you don’t buy one much older than 2017, as there may be compatibility issues with newer apps.
Similar to Apple TV, the HomePod mini is a great all-around gift at an affordable price. A new device is just $99, and for that price, you’ll be buying an excellent, colorful smart speaker.
This speaker can be connected to an Apple Music subscription, so the user can listen to all of their favorite songs, artists, and playlists. HomePod mini devices have incredible sound for their size, include Siri support for easy interactions, and can do a bunch of other things as well.
These other things include being able to set timers, look up information on the internet, set reminders and calendar events, text and call friends and family, and run smart home devices.
As far as Apple products go, they make one of the best gifts around. Worth considering, especially if your loved one is a fan of music.
Smart home accessories
Some of the most flexible options of the best Apple gifts are smart home accessories. These are devices like smart lightbulbs, appliances, cameras, and locks. They connect to your iPhone and provide unique features.
For instance, smart lightbulbs can be turned off with your voice, dimmed, show different colors and color temperatures, and be set to turn on and off at certain times of the day. A smart lock, on the other hand, allows someone to lock/unlock their door with their smartphone, adding an extra layer of security whenever they aren’t home.
There are tons of smart home accessories to choose from, which can make it a fun or overwhelming gift to shop for. Luckily for you, we’ve covered this before! You can read here to see our recommendations for the best smart home accessories for Apple fans. They range wildly in price and function, so you have a lot of options to choose from.
Just be sure that before you purchase a smart home accessory, you make sure the Apple fan in your life has an iPhone! Most of these devices require an iPhone to work. A Mac alone won’t do.
An all-in-one wireless charging stand
A much more direct item on our list of the best Apple gifts is an all-in-one wireless charging stand. These are stands that can charge multiple Apple devices at once, wirelessly. This generally includes an Apple Watch, iPhone 8 or later, and AirPods with wireless charging capabilities.
These will range from the easily affordable ($15) to high-end devices meant to enhance your interior design. And best of all, you don’t need to worry too much about compatibility! Most mobile devices these days have some kind of wireless charging capabilities, so you should be able to buy any all-in-one wireless charging stands you find on Amazon or Apple’s website.
Here are some brand recommendations for quality wireless chargers:
Again, there’s no need to grab from these more well-known brands – Amazon is packed with quality all-in-one wireless chargers!
You can also opt for MagSafe wireless chargers, which are compatible with the iPhone 12 and newer. These magnetize to the back of the user’s iPhone, adding a bit of cool factor as well as some extra functionality. You can browse MagSafe accessories here. Just be sure that the person you’re shopping for has an iPhone 12 or newer!
For the artist in your life, there’s the Apple Pencil! The Apple Pencil is an excellent tool for digital drawing. It allows you to draw and write on the surface of an iPad, making it more natural than apps like Photoshop or Illustrator. My partner is a graphic designer and loves to draw and sketch out ideas on the iPad with an Apple Pencil.
There are some requirements, however, for buying an Apple Pencil:
- The person must already own an iPad
- Depending on the iPad they own, you may need an Apple Pencil 1st Generation or 2nd Generation
- Only iPads 2018 and newer are compatible with the Apple Pencil (unless it’s an iPad Pro, which are all compatible with the Apple Pencil)
Not to mention that the Apple Pencil is an expensive accessory. Expect to spend $100 for a 1st Generation and $130 for a 2nd Generation.
Still, if your loved one owns a compatible iPad and loves to draw, then an Apple Pencil can be the gift that keeps on giving.
To check if your loved one has a compatible iPad, ask them how old their iPad is and if it has a Home Button. The iPad needs to be from 2018 or newer to work with an Apple Pencil. If it’s compatible and has a Home Button, grab the 1st Generation Apple Pencil. If it’s compatible and doesn’t have a Home Button, then grab the 2nd Generation.
Apple accessories that need no introduction are AirPods. AirPods have been immensely popular over the last few years, and for good reason. They’re a great product, work seamlessly with any Apple device, are small and compact, and aren’t too expensive for what they are.
And what they are are Bluetooth headphones. AirPods connect wirelessly to any Apple device, from Mac to iPhone to Apple Watch. From there, they work like normal headphones, playing music, answering calls, and giving you feedback from Siri.
There are currently three tiers of AirPods:
- AirPods. These are the basic AirPods available. They’re the most affordable but also have the fewest amount of features. Overall they’re a solid choice and will be great for just about everyone. There are different generations of AirPods – don’t worry too much about these differences. Only the 3rd Generation is significantly different, and it’s only different in design. The features are the same as previous generations.
- AirPods Pro. The next tier up is AirPods Pro. These are pricier but come with some extra features. These features include sweat resistance (making them safe to wear while exercising), Active Noise Cancellation (great for loud environments), and slightly improved sound quality. They’re the more “adult” version of AirPods.
- AirPods Max. The third tier is by far the most expensive, coming in around $450. These are over-ear wireless headphones, meaning they’re significantly bigger and better than their smaller counterparts. These are headphones that are meant to last a long time and provide a great listening experience. While they aren’t good for exercising with, they’re the best option for music fans.
In short, grab AirPods by default, AirPods Pro if you want to be fancy, and AirPods Max if the person is attached at the hip to their music. I use the AirPods Max and love them, but I’ve had AirPods as well and enjoyed those, too.
The base iPad
The base iPad has been one of the best Apple gifts since its initial launch in 2011. And to this day, it’s still a great option. At just $329, it’s one of Apple’s most affordable devices. For the price, you get a lot of power, functionality, and longevity.
The basic iPad model is compatible with Apple Pencil, is likely to last for five years or more, has a great camera, plenty of power for editing videos and drawing, is a solid reading and media device, and is fun to play games on.
It’s great for kids and students and is a solid gift for others as well. You really can’t go wrong by grabbing one. Just be sure that if you’re grabbing it for young kids (or clumsy adults) you also grab a secure case for it. It can be a bit susceptible to a cracked screen, but a $20 case can easily prevent this.
Also, the base storage option, 64GB, probably isn’t enough. My iPad and iPhone with 64GB of storage are both nearly full, and that’s with iCloud and minimal app downloads. You don’t have to upgrade to 64GB, but it can make a big difference. Conversely, I think most people can go without the upgrade to cellular connectivity unless they’re a professional who will be bringing this iPad with them everywhere.
Legacy Apple products
Nearing the end of our list of the best Apple gifts are legacy Apple products. This one’s for the collectors.
Legacy Apple products are products that Apple no longer produces or supports. For example, the original iPhone or Macintosh computer from the 1980s are both legacy products.
It’s surprisingly easy to find most of these products on platforms like eBay in functioning condition. That’s because these products were built to last and were popular enough in their time that they’re easy to come across online.
For the true Apple fan in your life who loves tech as well as the brand, these can be exciting, one-of-a-kind gifts. Just be sure to purchase from reputable sellers on sites like eBay. If you already know what kinds of legacy products your loved ones might be into, search for those of course. But if you don’t know, here are some suggestions:
- The original Macintosh computer
- The Apple II computer
- The first iPhone
- The iPhone 4S
- The iPod Classic
- The colorful iMac G3
- The colorful iPhone 5C
dbrand cases and skins
Last on this list of the best Apple gifts are dbrand cases and skins. dbrand is a company that makes perfect-fit stickers and cases for Apple devices. These stickers and cases are super precise and detailed, so much so that it’ll almost look like you gave your device a paint job.
dbrand makes excellent cases and skins for nearly every Apple device. This includes MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, AirPods, and more. They’re relatively affordable, too, with an average price of about $30.
Some of its most interesting offerings are its teardown skins, which make it seem as though you’re looking through your device to see the battery, processors, and chips, and its grip cases, which are slim, sleek, protective cases for several devices. The Icons series by MKBHD is another great series of skins to consider.
Buy the best Apple gifts for the Apple fan in your life
And that’s it! Those are our recommendations for the best Apple gifts. I hope you found this list helpful and packed with inspiration. If I had to narrow the list down to the best options, it would be:
- The base iPad
- Apple TV
- HomePod mini
For more insights, news, and guides on all things Apple, check out the rest of the AppleToolBox blog.
See you next time!