Macworld

Apple’s 2020 report card

How did Apple do last year. Michael Simon, Jason Cross & Roman Loyola report

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What started out with an earnings warning, stock drop and store closures ended up being a very successful year for Apple. Nearly every product in Apple’s catalogue saw a refresh, a couple of new ones joined the fray, and tens of millions of devices were sold to happy customers.

Here’s our 2020 Apple product report card, where we give each segment of Apple’s business a grade from A to F.

IPHONE

New products: iphone SE, iphone 12 mini, iphone 12, iphone 12 Pro, iphone 12 Pro Max

Michael Simon: First came the iphone SE, which somehow made the iphone 8 feel fresh again with a speedy chip, better camera and lower price tag. Then we got OLED displays and 5G support across the board, better cameras, a new design and a new charging and accessory system in the iphone 12, along with a larger

Max and a new 5.4in mini. Whether you’re comparing them to the iphone 11 or the best Android phones of the year, the iphone 12 line-up is among the best ever made and pushed the boundaries of what a smartphone can do. Grade: A

Jason Cross: The iphone 12 is a great line-up, with good sizes, performanc­e and features across the line. That 5G is included without ballooning the price is a big feather in Apple’s cap. Magsafe has a lot of potential. And let’s not forget the iphone SE, a really great budget alternativ­e introduced early in the year. Yeah, I want an always-on display and Promotion, but there’s no denying that these are stellar products. Grade: A

Roman Loyola: I usually buy a new phone every year, but this year I didn’t. My main reason for upgrading is 5G, and it’s just not widespread enough now to make the investment. That’s not Apple’s fault and that doesn’t mean that Apple’s offerings aren’t great – they are, as Michael and Jason point out. Grade: A

MAC

New products: Macbook Air (M1), 13in Macbook Pro (M1), Mac mini (M1), Macbook Air (Intel), 13in Macbook Pro (Intel), 27in imac (Intel)

Michael Simon: Until November, the Mac was languishin­g through another year of perfectly fine and utterly forgettabl­e products. But then the M1 landed. Apple shipped new models with the M1 chip and they were faster than nearly every Mac Apple has ever made while keeping the same prices (and even lowering it in the case of the mini). There’s plenty more I want to

see – most of all a better webcam in the notebooks – but I’ve never been more excited for the Mac. Grade: A

Jason Cross: This is a hard one to give a grade to. The M1 is an absolute triumph, and has injected real enthusiasm and excitement into the Mac for the first time in years. But is the only thing preventing the Mac from completely treading water. Apple is behind the industry on industrial design, display technology (no HDR or high/variable refresh rates?), and Face ID should have come to the Mac, along with a much better webcam, a long time ago. Grade: B

Roman Loyola: The Mac was having a failure of a year until the M1 was released, but you could also say that the M1 was the reason the Mac was failing until November 2020. The M1 release was monumental, and 2021 for the Mac is going to be even bigger. Grade: B

IPAD

New products: ipad Air, ipad Pro, ipad

Michael Simon: Like the Mac, Apple completely redeemed a lacklustre year for the ipad with the launch of the completely unexpected, fully redesigned ipad Air. Among the highlights, the new ipad Air has a fantastic ipad Pro-style design, has a Touch ID scanner built into the power button, is as fast as the iphone 12, and comes in colours other than space grey and rose gold. It’s so good, there’s really no reason to buy a Pro. Grade: A

Jason Cross: The hardware itself isn’t really stepping forward a lot, but the new ipad Air is a lot better than the old one. ipados 13.4 added mouse/ keyboard support in a thoughtful way, and the

magic keyboard is a great accessory. ipados is slowly breaking away from IOS, and needs to go faster. The ipad Pro update was lacklustre, though, and the regular ipad is getting pretty long in the tooth. Grade: B

Roman Loyola: It feels like the ipad line-up is in flux, with non-pro ipads feeling like Pro models, and the Pro models not getting much with upgrades. You can do more with the ipad and ipad Air, which is great in my book. Grade: B

APPLE WATCH

New products: Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 6 Michael Simon: There’s no denying that the two watches Apple launched this year are the best smartwatch­es you can buy, but they still left something to be desired. Apple’s cheaper SE is missing several important features, including the always-on display, EKG sensor and blood-oxygen sensor, and the Series 6 wasn’t much of an upgrade over the Series 5. Sleep tracking is meh, battery life is still an issue, and bloodoxyge­n tracking isn’t integrated as well as it is on the Fitbit Sense. And wouldn’t recommend the £199 Series 3 to my worst enemy. Grade: B

Jason Cross: The Series 6 is a modest step forward from the Series 5, with not a lot of real tangible reason to exist. The SE is a great idea but should be less expensive, and Apple should have stopped selling the

Series 3. What Apple Watch needs more than anything is multi-day battery life, and year after year we get stuff we don’t need like faster

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? We were impressed with Apple’s iphone 12 line-up.
We were impressed with Apple’s iphone 12 line-up.
 ??  ?? Apple’s M1 Macs are an absolute triumph.
Apple’s M1 Macs are an absolute triumph.
 ??  ?? 2020 was a lacklustre year for the ipad.
2020 was a lacklustre year for the ipad.

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