Joining the Apple Ecosystem on a Budget – Part II

MacBook Air, Apple TV 4K, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3

In my previous post, I looked over joining the Apple Ecosystem if you had a budget of $1000, but what if you have even less than that? It’s definitely possible, but we’re going to make some sacrifices along the way. As before, the only requirement I’m making for this article is that it must be devices that are still natively supported by Apple.

Though I offered a few different options, what I ultimately went with for the purpose of that article was a 2015 MacBook Air, an iPhone 7, the 6th generation iPad and the Apple Watch, Series 3. But that’s also assuming we have $1000 and wanted as much as possible. But… what if you only had $750? Or even just $500? It’s possible, but it’s worth some sacrifices along the way. Let’s take a look.

The nice thing is that for $750, your options still look pretty similar to what you picked in the previous article. In fact, you could reasonably get the same laptop and iPhone, and just choose between the Apple Watch or iPad as your third item. But if you did want all four items, you can just go with a bit older with your picks.

The MacBook Pro and Air lines are still receiving updates back to their 2012 release; the 2012 Air featured the upgrade for 8GB of RAM (a must in 2020), so you’re in luck there. The Unibody MacBook Pro, the one without the retina screen, is also user relatively easy to upgrade yourself, though you’re looking at the additional costs for those parts. Personally, I’d just go with the 2012 Unibody MacBook Pro, preferably a model that’s already been upgraded with 16GB of RAM.

Phone-wise, you can still stick with an iPhone 7. The 6S is still receiving upgrades (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t get iOS 14, personally), and is still kicking along well by today’s standards. Keep in mind the base storage for this model was 16GB, which won’t really cut it nowadays. 32GB is passable, but I’d try to get a model with 128GB or 64GB of storage. If you want a smaller device, the SE was released the same time and can generally be found slightly cheaper.

You get more openings on the iPad line, since we’re trying to be extra-frugal and don’t necessarily care about Apple Pencil support. If you want the smaller size, your only option in this instance is the Mini 4; unfortunately, it features an even older chip than the iPhone 6S and SE and can struggle even with its 2GB of RAM on occasion. However, the fifth generation iPad can be found for under $200 and, since it features the same A9 chip as the 6S and SE, it’s still holding up as well.

Like I mentioned yesterday, try and go with a Series 3 Apple Watch if you can. But if you’re close to your $750 limit and really want an Apple Watch, you can definitely get by with the Series 2. It’s what my husband uses as his smart watch, and it’s still holding up if you don’t try to make it do more than it can handle.

Now, if you’re wanting to get into it for $500? It’s also possible, though you’re going to have to dig far back. YouTuber Luke Miani actually did a video on this a few months ago, and he puts the advice to use in a visual manner. I’d definitely recommend checking out his video if you’re curious.

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