How to buy the right Apple product for you
by Charles Martin
In addition to the many other sorts of jobs I’ve had across my life, I’ve often found myself in the role of a computer salesperson, either privately to family and friends or through a retail chain. My retail electronics experience actually began as a volunteer — I helped spread the word about the then new iMac at my local CompUSA, and did a good enough job that I got hired by Apple themselves as a evangelist and later trainer for staff at the “store within a store” concepts being rolled out at CompUSA, Circuit City, Best Buy, and Sears. All these years later, I’m still selling technology to people in one way or another. And it is still rewarding and fun.
The first thing I do when someone tells me they are thinking of a new [gadget] is ask them about the device they have now (if they have one) and what they need this new device to be able to do. This helps narrow down broad topics like does it need to be portable or not (these days, portability is the default), are there specific programs that have to be able to run, and what sort of work or play they do on it. This helps narrow down if they need a Mac or PC, an iPhone or Android or iPad or something else. Very often, from their description I might suggest a tablet … often a possibility that the client hadn’t considered.
I then try to ask some questions that give me more specific answers on what they presently do with the current device and why they need to make a change or upgrade (beyond “it’s old” or “it broke”), and what — beyond the things they already do — they’d like to do in the future. This question often reveals interests and curiosities well outside of the stuff they have to get done, which can lead to more enjoyment later.
I think if more people had a dialogue with themselves to answer these questions before heading to the store or online seller, they’d get better recommendations on what to consider — because they’d have a better idea of what they actually needed. The person who edits 4K video for a living needs an entirely different device than someone who enjoys social networks, photo organizing, surfing the web, and creating basic documents. While some folks still find a need for a desktop computer, most people actually do most of their day-to-day “computer” needs on a smartphone, tablet, or notebook. What sort of user are you?
For those who want some “specs” to look for: broadly speaking, you get what you pay for — high-quality stuff costs money, whether you’re looking at Windows or Android or Macs or iOS; that higher up-front price often pays off handsomely in longevity and flexibility as your needs or abilities grow. For computers, the higher the number of the Intel chip (i3, i5, i7, i9) the more powerful it is. RAM/memory should be at least 8GB (more if you use pro-level apps), storage should be at least 128GB (more if you prefer keeping video or photos on-machine), and the screen should be rich and vibrant in its colours.
Smartphones and tablets get away with a lot less RAM and storage (and use a different class of processor), so the main “spec” you need to focus on is the amount of storage you think you’ll need. Taking a bunch of HD movies with you on vacation, or take tonnes of selfies? Get the model with more storage. If you’re mostly on social networks and general surfing/writing/reading stuff, the base model should do you fine. Remember, though, that most Apple products can’t be upgraded in terms of memory or storage after you’ve bought it, though you can generally find a way to use external storage if you need it — or “the cloud,” which may or may not be iCloud.
While I definitely respect those buyers who concern themselves with price, the key difference that Apple offers over its competitors is value … and when you include value in the equation, the price points start to look about the same across platforms and devices, with Apple usually coming up a cropper in longevity, after-sale support, and better built-in software.
Next issue … how to sell your old Apple device!
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