Saturday, December 4, 2021

Apple Breakfast: Christmas is cancelled

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Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our Saturday-morning roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.

If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up to our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news stories.

Christmas is cancelled

We’re in a Sheriff of Nottingham mood this week. “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!”

Our festive woes, to be honest, have been coming for a while. The global semiconductor shortage started way back in 2020, caused by COVID-19, the US/China trade war and several other factors, and while Apple managed to ride it out for a while – securing preferential treatment from suppliers thanks to its size and market leverage – that was never going to last. At the company’s blockbusting Q3 earnings call last month, CFO Luca Maestri warned of imminent supply constraints.

And this week the chickens started roosting. We heard that the iPhone 13 shortage is likely to last until February, while delivery times started to stretch on the new MacBook Pro: UK consumers are being told to expect a wait of 22-29 days (up from the usual 2-6), while US customers may not get their laptops until the New Year.

This is all coming at the worst possible time, with the deals season well underway (it’s nominally centred on Black Friday on 26 November, but in reality takes up the entire month) and the crucial Christmas buying period looming. But of course that isn’t coincidental: when demand is at its highest is when the supply chain is stretched the most.

Cash-rich Apple will weather the storm, and even the considerably less wealthy third-party retailers should be able to get through what is likely to be a difficult winter. So we will instead focus our sympathies and advice on consumers.

With demand massively outweighing supply, retailers are under very little pressure to offer genuinely good-value deals: they are likely to sell out of most Apple products no matter what price they charge. What they are under pressure to do, given the circumstances, is maximise their margin per unit, which means prices are likely to stay high.

So please be vigilant this deals season. There will be some good offers, but there will be far more stinkers. Check, check and check again, for example, that the “original price” being quoted is real and recent, and isn’t the old RRP before Apple cut the price for everyone; make sure the device you’re buying is new enough to be worthwhile, and isn’t ancient stock being flogged off to clear space in a warehouse.

We will be providing large volumes of detailed and expert deals advice from now until Christmas, and will do our best to guide you through the minefield. But the first thing we should all do is admit that this might not be a particularly good season for Apple deals. And remember that the beheadings are going to be the painful kind.

News in brief

More ups and downs in the rollercoaster-esque Apple vs Epic Games legal dispute: after declaring “resounding victory” and then appealing (slightly bizarrely), Apple has had its request for a stay denied and will now have to allow external app payments by 9 December. That’s assuming no more ups or downs get in the way before then.

Two years after Apple TV+ and Disney+ launched we have news that Disney already has more than 118 million paying subscribers worldwide. There is a debate over whether Apple even has 40 million subscribers, as we explain in Disney+ is so far ahead of Apple TV+ it’s embarrassing.

Readers may recall Apple’s notorious Polishing Cloth, a 16x16cm wiping rag for which customers were charged the extraordinary sum of £19/$19, and which against all reason and logic sold out in record time. Samsung, in a brilliant piece of lampooning, has given away a bunch of 20x20cm cloths for free! That’s one in the eye for ol’ Tim Cook, who is presumably crying all the way to the bank.

Image courtesy of Apple.

Forget the Apple Car, Samuel Nyberg this week told Apple in our Different Think column, and revolutionise health instead. (Samuel, or Negative Nyberg as he may soon become known, has previously poured water over the idea of a touchscreen Mac.)

Tim Cook has given a cautious thumbs up to cryptocurrencies as part of a balanced diet… sorry, I mean part of a diversified investment portfolio. Cook has invested in crypto himself, so could hardly denounce it as an environmentally ruinous pyramid scheme.

In the past, Apple has ‘paused’ the App Store over the Christmas period, making developers wait before rolling out any updates or price changes. But that’s all in the past, we learned this week. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Software, bugs & problems

A zero-day vulnerability in macOS Catalina was used to hack Hong Kong web users back in August, according to Google’s Threat Analysis Group. Researchers believe the attack was likely state-backed – or, as security expert Patrick Wardle puts it, China or somebody wanting to look like China.

Several owners of the new MacBook Pro have reported crashes when they watch an HDR video on YouTube. It’s not been easy for Apple’s premium laptop; this follows a previously reported issue that caused menu bar items to hide behind the notch, and was followed by complaints that ‘MagUnsafe’ is not doing its job.

More news about iOS 15.2, which is being beta-tested right now. This week we discovered that the new version will be able to scan for devices (like AirTags) that may be tracking you via a new ‘Items That Can Track Me’ function. Plus in iOS 15.2 it will be possible to specify who will be allowed to access one’s accounts in the event of death, thanks to the new Legacy Contact feature that didn’t make it into iOS 15 in time for launch. For more information about the new features coming to your iPhone read: What’s coming in iOS 15.2.

Similarly, Apple and beta testers are working on macOS Monterey version 12.1. New features coming (probably) before the end of the year include: SharePlay – so you and your friends will be able to watch series and movies together at your different locations; you’ll be able to use the iCloud+ Hide My Email feature within the Mail app; and there will be support for AMD’s Radeon 6600XT GPU. Read more here: macOS Monterey 12.1 beta brings SharePlay and more.

Apple has also released an important Monterey fix for Macs with a T2 chip, which could be bricked by a bug.

Apple has released a new version of iCloud for Windows, including support for ProRes video and ProRAW images, and strong password generation.

The rumour mill

Apple will move to a 3nm production process as early as 2023 for both Mac and iPhone processors, according to the latest report. This will enable it to “easily outperform” Intel’s future processors.

As 2022 looms on the horizon we’ve got out the crystal ball to update our predictions story to include every new Apple product coming in 2022. We are definitely most excited about the MacBook Air and the replacement for the 27in iMac.

Speaking of the MacBook Air, it might not even be called the MacBook Air, it might just be named MacBook. We think that idea makes a lot of sense, as we explain in our MacBook Air 2022 rumour roundup.

Is Apple working on a drone? Probably not – despite the discovery of more drone-related patent activity – but can you imagine?

Apple deals of the week

We’re getting ever closer to Black Friday (which is on 26 November, so mark your calendars), but you don’t need to wait that long to save money on Apple products. Retailers started rolling out their Black Friday sales at the start of the month, and we’ve been seeing some appealing deals – if you’re able to grab them before stock runs out.

Remember the warning from the beginning of the article. Not every deal out there is worthwhile, and it’s worth taking the time to research whether the product, and the price, are really as strong as they sound. KRCS’s 10% discount on the new MacBook Pro is an example of what you should be looking for: a solid discount on a device that’s only a month old.

I’ve embedded a list of the best current Apple deals below, but other than that, we’re done for this week. See you next Saturday, enjoy your weekend, and stay Appley!

1. Apple 16in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 10-Core CPU/16-Core GPU, 2021


Now: £2,159.10  (£239.90 off)

KRCS has doubled its already appealing discount on the new 16in MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip, jumping from 5% to a 10% saving.

Similar discounts are available on the other configurations on KRCS’s website.

2. Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case


Now: £199  (£40 off)

A solid saving on the AirPods Pro, Apple’s excellent true-wireless earphones with ANC.

Note that these now come with a MagSafe-compatible charging case, something that wasn’t available until the launch of the AirPods 3 in October 2021.

3. Apple 14in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 8-Core CPU/14-Core GPU, 2021


Now: £1,709.10  (£189.90 off)

The new 14in MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chips has nearly £200 off at KRCS, after the site doubled its usual discount for Black Friday.

You can save even more on the models with more cores.

4. Apple iPhone 12 (64GB)


Now: £657  (£22 off)

A £22 discount on a year-old phone might not sound like much, but bear in mind that Apple already reduced the RRP – this is an additional saving on top of that.

In fact AO, slightly naughtily, is citing the price it charged before Apple dropped the RRP and claiming this as a discount of £106. That’s pushing it, but this is still a good deal on a phone that remains powerful and reliable.

5. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB (2020)


Now: £899  (£100 off)

6. Apple iPad Air (2020, 64GB)


Now: £544.97  (£34.03 off)

This is the cheapest we can find the latest iPad Air right now, although both Laptops Direct and eBuyer had it cheaper recently – they simply ran out of stock. Check both in case they’ve got their hands on some more.

7. Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm)


From: John Lewis

Was: £379

Now: £319  (£60 off)

Following its official discontinuation in September 2021, retailers have continued to sell the Apple Watch Series 6 at a discount. It cost £379 when new, so this is a sensible rather than ultra-generous saving; but bearing in mind that the Series 7 does not represent a huge step forward, this is a decent option.

We went with John Lewis because of its two-year warranty, but otherwise identical deals are offered by Amazon and AO. We recommend checking them all to see how the delivery fees compare.

8. Apple iPad mini (2021, 6th gen)


Now: £459  (£20 off)

A small but worthwhile saving on Apple’s new iPad mini model for 2021. This price applies to all four colour finishes at the 64GB/Wi-Fi tier.

We’ve spotted a few retailers lately raising their prices ahead of Black Friday (very poor form, that) but this is fractionally cheaper than the £459.97 Amazon was charging a week ago.

9. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (128GB) – Returned Stock


From: BT Shop

Was: £1,049

Now: £953.70  (£95.30 off)

BT already has nearly £100 off a refurbished iPhone 13 Pro Max in ‘excellent condition’. It’s a handset that’s been returned, which means it’s practically new (as the handset only released on 24 September). To find the deal, scroll down to ‘Buy Used Stock’ on BT’s page. You also get a 6-month warranty.

10. Apple 24in iMac (8-Core GPU/8-Core GPU, 512GB)


From: BT Shop

Was: £1,649

Now: £1551.48  (£97.52 off)

BT has one of the biggest discounts on the 24in M1 iMac (512GB).

11. Apple Watch Series 7


From: John Lewis

Was: £369

Now: £349  (£20 off with MYJL200)

The Apple Watch Series 7 offers a larger, brighter display, slimmer bezels and more. Over at John Lewis you can save £20 when you sign up for a free My John Lewis account and spend £200 or more. Just use MYJL200 at checkout.

12. Apple MacBook Pro (2020, M1, 8GB/256GB) – Refurbished “Pristine”


From: MusicMagpie

Was: £1299

Now: £889.99  (£409 off)

If you prefer, there’s now over £400 off an M1 MacBook Pro with 256GB storage in “Pristine” condition from MusicMagpie when you consider the additional £90 discount at checkout. Students can also save an extra 10%!

13. Apple iPhone SE (2020, 256GB)


Now: £539  (£30 off + includes EarPods and adapter)

This fantastic offer on the iPhone SE includes a £30 discount along with a free pair of Apple EarPods (wired) and a charging adapter.

14. Apple 13in MacBook Pro, 2.0GHz quad-core, 512GB (2020)


From: LaptopsDirect

Was: £1,799

Now: £1,629.97  (£169 off)

If you aren’t ready to move to the M-series of chips, this is a good price for the 2.0GHz MacBook Pro with Intel processor that Apple is still selling (for now).

Laptops Direct is advertising this deal as a Black Friday deal. Other Black Friday offers on sale from Laptops Direct include:

  • MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB, silver (2020), RRP: £999, now: £899.97 here. That’s £99 off.
  • MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 512GB, space grey (2020), RRP: £1,249, now: £1,119.97 here. That’s £129.03 off.

15. Apple iPhone 13 with new AirPods (3rd gen)


From: Three

Was: £69 per month, £49 upfront

Now: £34.50 per month for 6 months  (includes AirPods 3 + £100 Amazon voucher)

If you’re currently with another network provider and looking to switch, you can get a £100 Amazon voucher from Three with this bundle deal that not only slashes the monthly price in half the first six months, but also includes a pair of the latest AirPods.

16. Apple 27in iMac, 3.3GHz six-core, 10th-gen Intel, 512GB SSD (2020)


From: Currys

Was: £1,999

Now: £1,689.97  (£309.03 off)

Currys has a saving on the price of the mid-range 27in iMac that was introduced in August 2020, with 3.3GHz 6-core Intel processor and 512GB storage.

LaptopsDirect also has a similar saving here.

17. Apple 12.9in iPad Pro (2021, M1, 2TB) – Wi-Fi + Cellular


From: Amazon

Was: £2,149

Now: £1,880.87  (£268.13 off)

Amazon has nearly £270 off the M1 iPad Pro 12.9in with 5G. With 2TB of storage, it’s ideal for anyone dealing with lots of 4K video editing. This discount is the biggest we can see at the moment.

18. Apple 21.5in iMac, 3.0GHz six-core, 8th gen, 256GB SSD (2019)


From: LaptopsDirect

Was: £1,449

Now: £1,229.97  (£150 off)

You can save money on this 2019 21.5in iMac with 6-core 8th-gen processor at LaptopsDirect right now.

If you want an Intel-powered iMac this is a much better option than the 2.8GHz iMac Apple was still selling until recently.

19. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (256GB)


From: Amazon

Was: £1,199

Now: £961.15  (£237.85 off)

20. Apple AirPods Pro (Amazon Renewed)


Now: £169.99  (£49 off)

You can save £49 on a refurbished pair of AirPods Pro on Amazon right now. As an Amazon Renewed device, it’ll be just as good as new!





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