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Apple on Thursday released the first update to iOS 17, bringing bug fixes and security updates just days after the major update arrived on iPhones. If you’re not running iOS 17 yet (or can’t), there’s also an update for iOS 16.
Arriving two weeks after the last minor update, iOS 16.7 and iPadOS 16.7 bring “important bug fixes and security updates and is recommended for all users.” Most notably, the update includes three zero-day patches to fix vulnerabilities that may have been exploited:
Impact: A local attacker may be able to elevate their privileges. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited against versions of iOS before iOS 16.7.
Description: The issue was addressed with improved checks.
CVE-2023-41992: Bill Marczak of The Citizen Lab at The University of Toronto’s Munk School and Maddie Stone of Google’s Threat Analysis Group
Impact: A malicious app may be able to bypass signature validation. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited against versions of iOS before iOS 16.7.
Description: A certificate validation issue was addressed.
CVE-2023-41991: Bill Marczak of The Citizen Lab at The University of Toronto’s Munk School and Maddie Stone of Google’s Threat Analysis Group
Impact: Processing web content may lead to arbitrary code execution. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited against versions of iOS before iOS 16.7.
Description: The issue was addressed with improved checks.
CVE-2023-41993: Bill Marczak of The Citizen Lab at The University of Toronto’s Munk School and Maddie Stone of Google’s Threat Analysis Group
iOS 16.7 is likely to be the last major number release, with future updates likely progressing as 16.7.1, 16.7.2, etc. Apple will continue to fix bugs and security holes for the next year and deliver occasional security updates after that, but won’t add any new features to iOS 16.
A multi-device charging station is a great way to declutter your desk or bedside table, removing multiple cables and wall chargers. The Twelve South HiRise 3 Deluxe is a small-footprint charging station for iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods that is fully certified and so charges your Apple devices at the fastest possible speeds.
Many of us have bought wholeheartedly into the Apple ecosystem, with Mac computer, iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch. That can lead to a lot of different chargers and cables to keep under control on our desk, bedside table or backpack.
A charging station that can power more than one Apple device is the taming solution to this mess of multiple chargers.
We’ve reviewed the best iPhone chargers and best Apple Watch chargers, but some can tackle the charging demands of both, and handle an AirPods charging case and even a second phone at the same time.
Twelve South makes some high-quality, stylish Apple accessories, and its HiRise 3 Deluxe is another premium hit.
It is fully Apple certified, so can fast-charge any MagSafe iPhone (iPhone 12, 13, 14 or 15 models but not SE) at 15W as well as fast-charge an Apple Watch (Series 7, 8, 9, SE and Ultra) at 5W and Apple AirPods (2nd and 3rd generation AirPods, and all AirPods Pro) at 7.5W.
You can even swap out the AirPods for a second iPhone (iPhone 8 and later) via 7.5W Qi rather than full MagSafe.
As with other Twelve South products, the cmpact HiRise 3 Deluxe will not shame your Apple products. It’s made of aluminum with a soft vegan leather-wrapped base so fits with Apple’s new no-leather mandate. It’s a small-footprint design—taking up about the same space on your desk as an iPhone Pro Max: 6.3-x-3.4 inches (15.9-x-8.5cm). It’s 6 inches (15.4cm) tall, and weighs 14oz (396g).
There’s just one model, in black—we’d have appreciated a white option to fit with alternative aesthetics.
The MagSafe iPhone charger can angle and tilt by 35-degrees, and hold the device in either landscape or portrait—so great in StandBy mode.
The Apple Watch Fast Charger can lay flat or pop up to power up your Watch in Nightstand mode.
It comes with a 40W power adapter, with four international plug heads to choose from: U.S., U.K., E.U. and AU/NZ. The power cable is 5-foot (1.5m) long.
Charging all three devices at the fastest possible speeds is the HiRise 3 Deluxe’s super-power over its competition. In tests it charged an Apple Watch to 50% in 35 minutes, and to 100% in 84 minutes. A quick 10-minute blast will easily keep your Watch going through the night. At the same time it pushed a faded iPhone to 80% in around 100 minutes.
The HiRise 3 Deluxe costs $149.99 / £149.99 / €169.99, and is available direct from Twelve South (U.S. and E.U.) or the U.S. Apple Store. It is expected to hit the U.K. Apple Store in mid October. Until then, it’s not an easy buy for U.K. customers as there is no local Twelve South store in that country and it’s an Apple Store exclusive so not yet on sale on Amazon.
Should I buy the Twelve South HiRise 3 Deluxe?
A multi-device charging station is a great way to declutter your desk or bedside table, removing multiple cables and wall chargers. The Twelve South HiRise 3 Deluxe is a small-footprint charging station for iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods that is fully certified and so charges your Apple devices at the fastest possible speeds unlike any other currently available 3-in-1 charger.
We’d have loved a version in white, but it ticks every other top-spec box we’d expect from a premium charging station. It goes straight to the top of our 3-in-1 Apple-device charging station charts.
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While it is easy to connect external displays to your MacBook for expanded desk-based screen space, you can’t easily take this set up on the road with you or pack it neatly away in a drawer.
The Limink Al Alloy Portable Triple Monitor (LK14) is a foldable package weighing 3.3lb (1.5kg) that physically attaches to your MacBook to add a 14-inch 1080p HD screen to each side of the laptop screen.
We’ve tested some screen extenders that hang off one side of the laptop and look rather strange and lopsided, like a motorbike with a dangling sidecar.
The LK14 is a much more symmetrical screen setup and looks impressive sat next to a standard one-screen MacBook. The aluminum looks don’t detract from the Apple aesthetic, and the whole package is not as heavy or bulky as you might expect.
The second and third screens measure 14 inches diagonally, and the system is compatible with 13-inch to 16-inch MacBooks. I tested it with a 14-inch MacBook Pro.
Attaching the screens is easy. Simply unfold the screens, rotate a couple of metal clips at the top, pull a ring to force the stand to expand to fit the laptop screen, and snap into place.
Then connect the required cables from the MacBook to each screen.
Finally, go into your System Settings>Displays to arrange the screens in the right order and set the resolution of each screen.
The LK14 comes with a bunch of cables: two USB-C to USB-C, and two HDMI to Mini HDMI cables. There are also USB-C to USB-A cables in case you need to power the screens with a source other than the laptop but MacBooks with three Thunderbolt ports should be fine with connecting just via USB-C, leaving on Thunderbolt port on the laptop free for power or a docking station.
The USB-C cables are over 1m long and therefore hang around the back of the screens—they don’t get in the way but could surely have been shorter to reduce albeit unseen clutter.
The stand is adjustable and reasonably firm. I preferred to use my laptop stand, and the LK14 didn’t unbalance when atop it.
After use, the MacBook can be quickly released, and the LK14 easily folded up and put away. It even comes with an attractive leather protection cover.
The screens are not as sharp and clear as the MacBook’s own—available resolutions range from 960×540, 1920×1080, 1600×900 or 1280×720 at 60Hz—but are better than some other rival portable screens we have tested.
The 14-inch size is enough to host even quite dense spreadsheets, browser windows or other applications.
Using the LK14 setup during a video call is a great use case. Leave the MacBook’s screen for the Zoom/Teams/Google Meet window and you can keep supporting apps open wither side.
You can control the Brightness, Contrast, Black Level, ECO (Standard, Games, Movie or Text modes), DCR (Dynamic Contrast Ratio), image aspect ration, color temperature, language, Signal Source, Low Blue Light and Freesync via a small wheel at the top of each external screen.
Each extra screen has a brightness of 350-400 nits, compared to the peak MacBook brightness of 500 nits for standard SDR content.
Like an external display, you can set the extra screens to either mirror your laptop’s screen or extend it for extra real estate. For example, in Slide Show mode presentations can be split across the two screens—one showing the full-screen slides and the other for the presenter with the next slide and notes. Just click Swap Displays in PowerPoint, depending on how you want it.
Price and availability
The Limink Al Alloy Portable Triple Monitor (LK14) is available in the U.S. and Canada at $699.99, and fits 13-, 14-, 15- and i6-inch laptops.
Plain non-Pro/Max M1 and M2 Macs are limited to connecting just a single monitor but you can connect two displays to an M1 or M2 Mac with some software and hardware solutions if you want to use the LK14 with M1/M2 MacBooks.
Should you buy the Limink Al Alloy Portable Triple Monitor (LK14)?
It’s not a cheap accessory but having the option of two HD screens added to your MacBook’s integrated screen offers multitasking functionality on a grand scale.
While a a desktop solution with larger external displays offers far greater screen-estate potential, the LK15 can be attached and detached with ease and stored away when not in use.
If you want a permanent large screen at home or in the office, buy a bigger external display. See our recommended best monitors for Mac.
But if you need a more portable solution that’s perfect for video conferencing or multiple application work, the Limink LK14 is a premium, neat and easy-to-use, if pricey, solution.
If you’re thinking of buying AirPods any time soon, you’ve got a few options to choose from. Apple currently has four models in the range, but how do they compare in terms of features? In this article, we take a look at which AirPods are the best for your needs, not to mention your bank balance.
What types of AirPods are there?
Apple sells various types of AirPods. These range from the standard AirPods right up to the over-the-ear AirPods Max and as the models vary quite a bit in terms of construction and features, the range also encompasses a wide span of pricing. (If you are in based outside the U.S. you will be glad to learn that Apple reduced the prices of all AirPods in September 2023.)
In September 2023 Apple updated the 2nd-generation AirPods Pro with USB-C, replacing the 2nd-generation AirPods Pro with Lightning, more about that update below.
There are some AirPods that are no longer sold by Apple, we’ll mention them here because you might still find one of these older models on sale elsewhere, so you should be aware of them:
AirPods (1st generation): Launched in December 2016 and discontinued in March 2019.
AirPods (2nd generation): The version that came with the MagSafe case is no longer sold.
AirPods Pro (1st generation): Apple discontinued the 1st generation AirPods Pro when it introduced new Pro models in September 2022.
AirPods Pro (2nd generation with Lightning): Apple discontinued the Lightning version of the 2nd-gen AirPods Pro when it introduced the USB-C equipped models in September 2023.
You may be able to get any of the above AirPods at a discounted price from an independent reseller – including the generations no longer on sale. We’ll include the best pricing for Apple’s AirPods right now in the sections below, but we also have a separate roundup of the best AirPods deals that we update monthly.
What can AirPods do?
You may be thinking of Apple’s AirPods as earbuds, earphones, headphones or whatever you call them. Perhaps all you want to do with your AirPods is listen to music, but there is so much more that they can do.
Here are a few of the benefits of having AirPods:
Simple set up – the AirPods are easy to set up to use with all your Apple products. You can instantly pair them with every device linked to your iCloud account just by tapping the AirPods once on your iPhone or iPad.
Automatic switching – You can seamlessly move from listening to audio on your Mac to answering a call on your iPhone.
They are intelligent – They sense when they’re in your ears and pause when you take them out and resume when you put them back in. They recognise when you’re speaking and filter out external noise so that your voice is clear.
Audio Sharing – You can share an audio stream between two sets of AirPods. Want to listen to your favourite album or Podcast with a friend? Bring their AirPods near the iPhone, iPad or Apple TV you’re listening to and they will connect. You can listen together and each of you will have independent volume control.
Conversation Boost – helps you hear people talking to you.
Live Listen – helps you to hear people across the room by working with your iPhone to pick up sound from a distance.
Access to Siri – Siri, your AI assistant, can read your messages or alerts as they arrive. You can even get Siri to reply to messages using voice commands.
If you are wondering what the main differences between the various AirPods read on. We also cover elements like design, controls, waterproofing, noise cancelling, sound quality, charging times and battery life, below. First we’ll run though the key differences between the various AirPods sold by Apple, starting with the most expensive model. You can also see the best prices right now.
At more than twice the cost of the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max are the definition of a considered purchase. Thanks to the size of the ear-cups, Apple is able to put a H1 chip in each one, as opposed to the single chip that appears in all of the other AirPods.
Like on the Pros, there are features such as Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode and Spacial Audio, but the Max doesn’t have the custom high-dynamic range amplifier found in the 3rd gen and Pro AirPods, or (more surprisingly) any form of waterproofing. The smart case is also different in that you can’t use it to charge the AirPods Max, but this isn’t as bad as it sounds, as the onboard batteries provide around 20 hours of listening time.
Again, thanks to the size of the AirPods Max, controls are handled not by taps but a Digital Crown similar to that found on the Apple Watch, and a dedicated Noise Control button. There are also multiple microphones to aid with noise cancellation, plus updated sensors for better performance. For a comprehensive look at the AirPods Max, read our full review.
The AirPods Pro had a significant update in 2022, bringing Find My to the charging case, better battery life, improved noise cancellation and enhanced audio quality, new extra small ear tips and so much more.
Then in 2023 Apple switched Lightning on the case for USB-C and added a few new features including a case that charges with USB-C instead of Lightning, the ability to use an iPhone 15 to reverse your AirPods case, better protection against dust, and Lossless Audio with ultra-low latency for Apple Vision Pro.
The AirPods Pro are better than ever, but the price is still high.
The 3rd generation AirPods arrived in 2021. They add IPX4 sweat- and water-resistance, so you can wear them while working out or walking in the rain. There’s also an inward-facing microphone for better control of Siri and clearer call quality, plus an additional hour of battery life. Apple added various tap controls on this model too, allowing you to not only play and pause music like on the 2nd gen, but also skip forward and backward through tracks, and launch Siri. Oh yes, and the case supports wireless charging.
In terms of audio quality, the 3rd-gen AirPods come with Adaptive EQ which is claimed to adjust the sound to suit the shape of your ear, plus there’s also Spatial Audio for a more immersive listening experience.
There are two versions, a MagSafe version that can charge wirelessly and a Lightning version which needs to be plugged in (see below).
The only difference between the MagSafe and Lightning versions of the 3rd generation AirPods is the way they charge and how much they cost.
If you don’t care about being able to charge the AirPods by laying them on a wireless charging mat then you might as well save money and buy the lightning version. The only reason not to do that is that Apple might decide to switch Lightning for USB-C on the 3rd-gen AirPods, and you might wish you’d waited for that to happen.
If you want a simple, relatively affordable pair of earbuds for listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks and taking phone calls, then the AirPods (2nd gen) will do all of this very happily. They also, due to their age, work with some older devices such as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s, as well as the iPad mini versions 3 and 4. To read more about them, take a look at our AirPods (2nd Generation) review.
We’ll now run through all the differences between the various AirPods, looking at the design, controls, waterproofing, noise canceling, sound quality, compatibility, charging times and battery life to help you decide which AirPods will meet your needs.
All earbud style AirPods are available in white, just like the iPod earbuds that were so iconic. However, if you are willing to spend more on a pair of over-ear Apple headphones then the AirPods Max come in a variety of two-tone colours including Space Gray, Pink, Silver, Green and Sky Blue. The AirPods Max are designed to create an acoustic seal around your ear to aid noise cancellation. There’s a Digital Crown on one side for volume control.
There was an expectation that the AirPods Pro would have shorter stems when Apple updated them in 2022, but this wasn’t the case. This means that to distinguish between the AirPods (3rd generation) and the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) you need to look to the ear bud – only the AirPods Pro come with silicone ear tips to create a seal in your ear. There are four sizes: XS, S, M, L included in the box. The extra small size is new with the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). The AirPods Pro are the only other AirPods to offer external noise cancellation.
You might not be keen on pushing something inside your ear, in which case it’s worth noting that the AirPods Pro 2nd generation offer a vent system for pressure equalisation so that it feels comfortable to wear them. This vent system combined with the silicon ear tips means you may find the AirPods Pro 3 more comfortable to wear than the standard AirPods with their hard plastic tips that sit in your ear.
The most obvious difference between the AirPods 2 and 3 is the size of the stem – the 3rd generation have smaller stems. There’s a lot else that is visibly different though, as you can see from the image above.
Size is another difference, that may or may not matter to you since it doesn’t really impact comfort or fit. The second generation AirPods are fractionally lighter than the third generation AirPods and those are lighter than the third generation AirPods Pro which are 5.3g (0.19oz). The AirPods Max weigh a lot more at 384.8g (13.6oz).
One of the benefits of using any kind of AirPods is that you can also tell Siri – the artificial intelligent assistant – to do things for you. However, you don’t have to use Siri to control your music playback (luckily). You can use a combination of taps and swipe depending on which AirPods you have.
On AirPods 2nd generation you use a double tap to play, skip or answer the phone.
AirPods 3rd generation use a force sensor. It’s one press for play, pause or answer call, two presses to skip forward, and three presses to skip back. Press and hold to activate Siri.
AirPods Pro 2nd generation use touch control with different presses for different features. It’s one press for play, pause or answer call, two presses to skip forward, three presses to skip back. You press and hold to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Adaptive Transparency, swipe up and down to adjust volume, and you Say Hey Siri to trigger the voice assistant.
AirPods Max feature a Digital Crown that you turn to control volume, press to play, pause or answer a call, press twice to skip, three times to go back, and press and hold to activate Siri (or say Hey Siri). There’s also a Noise control button to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode.
Waterproofing: Are AirPods waterproof?
Given that a lot of people like to wear headphones when exercising or walking around outside, so the question “can AirPods get wet” is a fair one. The answer to the question is that the AirPods 3rd generation and AirPods Pro 2nd generation are sweat and water resistant (IPX4 rated), according to Apple. Which means you can wear then when exercising, in the shower and in the rain but not in the swimming pool.
The AirPods 2nd generation and the AirPods Max aren’t considered water resistant, so if it’s raining outside it’s probably best not to wear them on the walk to the bus stop.
Noise cancelling: Are AirPods noise cancelling?
The AirPods Max, 2nd generation AirPods Pro and the now discontinued 1st generation AirPods Pro offer Active Noise Cancellation. Noise cancellation works by using a microphone to detect external sounds and then countering them by playing anti-noise. The 2nd generation AirPods Pro offer better noise cancellation thanks to a new driver and improved acoustic algorithms as well as better microphones and a new speaker grille on top of each earbud to help filter out outside sounds.
There’s no noise cancelling on the standard AirPods.
Active Noise Cancellation isn’t the only sound related feature in the AirPods. There is a Transparency mode available on the AirPods Pro or AirPods Max that lets the outside noise in when you need to hear what’s going on around you. You can switch between these two modes by tapping on a location on your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max (indicated by the blue arrows in the image above).
There’s a difference between the Transparency Mode on the AirPods Max and the Pro – the new AirPods Pro 2nd generation offer Adaptive Transparency, which will minimise the intensity of loud noises like sirens, so you won’t be deafened if an ambulance passes while you are using Transparency Mode.
Conversation Boost is a feature that came to the AirPods Pro in an October 2021 software update. The feature can be used to enhance the voice of the person talking beside you, which could be helpful for the hard of hearing. The feature can be turned on in iOS Accessibility settings, here’s How to use Conversation Boost to turn your AirPods Pro into a hearing aid.
Another related feature is Live Listen, which can be used in conjunction with an iPhone or iPad to help you listen to someone speaking from across the room or in a noisy place. You can use Live Listen with AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and also Powerbeats Pro or Beats Fit Pro. Read How to use Live Listen.
Sound quality: Which AirPods have the best sound quality?
We’ve never had any reason to criticise any AirPods sound quality, although they aren’t necessarily the best sounding headphones you can buy. However, we were glad to find that the 3rd generation AirPods 3rd offer much better sound than the 2nd generations did thanks to new drivers. The 3rd generation also support Adaptive EQ like the AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation) do. Adaptive EQ tunes music to your ears using inward facing microphones that detect what you can hear and adjust the frequencies in the low and mid-range to customise the sound for you.
Another way that AirPods can create personalised sound is via Personalized Spatial Audio – which requires iOS 16 on iPhones with the TrueDepth camera and is compatible with 1st and 2nd generation AirPods Pro, AirPods (3rd generation) and AirPods Max. It can also be used with Beats Fit Pro. A personal profile based on your unique ear shape is set up for you based on a photo of your head and each of your ears in order to create a three-dimensional audio experience when you move your head. Dynamic head tracking can also be beneficial in group FaceTime calls.
As big an improvement as there is in the sound of the 3rd generation AirPods compared to the 2nd generation models, the leap from the standard AirPods to the AirPods Pro is vast, and now that the AirPods Pro 2nd generation are here that gap is even greater. One new feature of the 2nd generation AirPods Pro is a custom-built driver and amplifier that work with the new H2 chip to provide lower distortion during playback – which should allow for deeper bass and crisper highs.
All AirPods support Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio in Apple Music, but only the 3rd-generation AirPods or either generation of the AirPods Pro support Spatial Audio for video with head tracking.
Charging and battery life
Before we get onto battery life, a few words on charging. The charging case for the 2023 version of the 2nd-gen AirPods Pro includes USB-C instead of Lightning, so you can charge with a USB-C cable. But perhaps even better, you don’t need to find a power adapter to plug the cable into: you can reverse charge the 2023 version by plugging the case into any iPhone 15. You can also charge the 2nd-gen AirPods Pro and the MagSafe-equipped 3rd-gen AirPods wirelessly.
Here’s how the battery life of the different AirPods Apple sells compares:
AirPods 2nd generation – 5 hours listening or 3 hours talking, plus 24 hours listening or 18 hours talking from charging case.
AirPods 3rd generation – 6 hours listening or 4 hours talking, plus 30 hours listening or 20 hours talking from charging case.
AirPods Pro 2nd generation – 6 hours listening or 4.5 hours talking, plus the AirPods Pro 2 charging case can add a total of 30 hours of listening or 24 hours talking.
AirPods Max – 20 hrs on one charge, but no charging case boost here.
These battery life measures are claimed by Apple. It’s worth noting that the AirPods Pro 2nd generation battery life if superior to the 1st generation of that model (previously 4.5 hours and 24 hours listening time).
To check the remaining battery life users can hold AirPods next to their iPhone or ask Siri “How’s the battery on my AirPods?”. Should AirPods need charging a notification will appear on the paired iPhone.
Prospective buyers will also want to know how quickly the AirPods will charge – or how quickly you can charge them before leaving the house.
AirPods 2nd generation – 15 minutes in the case provides about 3 hours battery life.
AirPods 3rd generation – 5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of battery life.
AirPods Pro 2nd generation – 5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of battery life.
AirPods Max – 5 minutes of charge time provides around 1.5 hours of battery life.
Again, those are the times quoted by Apple.
You won’t always be in a hurry to charge your AirPods of course. Under more usual circumstances the AirPods have a variety of ways in which they can be charged.
All but the 2nd generation AirPods can come with a wireless charging case – named MagSafe Charging Case by Apple. There did used to be a version of the 2nd generation AirPods that came with a wireless charging case, but Apple no longer sells that model.
In the case of the AirPods 3nd generation you need to pay $10/£10 to get the MagSafe charger version rather than the Lighting Charging Case. The MagSafe case can also be charged via the Lightning port so there’s little reason to save that money, you might as well get the MagSafe case. In fact we can’t really understand why Apple offers the Lightning option.
The 2nd generation AirPods Pro come with a MagSafe charging case that offers two useful additional features: a lanyard loop so you can carry it around and a speaker which combines with a U1 chip inside the case to make it possible to use Find My to locate the case should you lose it. The only thing that would be more useful than being able to locate a lost case would be being able to locate a lost ear bud, but for now that’s not what’s on offer so just remember to put the AirPods Pro back in their case.
We mentioned already that AirPods don’t only work with Apple products. They are bluetooth headphones and as such can connect to any device that supports Bluetooth. In that respect there might be some difference based on the fact that both generation of AIrPods and the AirPods Max support Bluetooth 5.0 while the 2nd generation AirPods Pro support Bluetooth 5.3, which brings improvements such as less interference and improved sound quality.
So, if you were wondering if AirPods can connect to your PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox, Android or even Samsung phone, the answer is yes. You just need to connect via Bluetooth.
One last thing to note: if you have a really old iPhone and want to use AirPods, only the AirPods 2nd gen work with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 5s and the iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2 and iPad Air (1st generation) and iPod touch (6th generation). Other AIrPods won’t work with those ageing devices. But we can’t imagine many AIrPod users will have such old Apple devices.
The AirPods that are right for you will no doubt depend on a variety of factors. Perhaps you want the cheapest option, in which case the 2nd generation AirPods at $129/£129 might look the most attractive.
But if you are a real music lover the AirPods might not be enough for you. The AirPods Pro offer noise cancellation, superior sound and many more benefits (including USB-C and reverse charge from the iPhone following the 2023 update). They cost a lot more though, at $249/£229. We think they are worth the extra expense, but you might not.
If you have money to spend though then the AirPods Max, which have a very high price in comparison with the rest of the range, at $549/£549, do have a lot of appeal. But those who would appreciate what they offer can look beyond Apple’s offering and probably find something just as good, or better.
One other factor influending your decision though is if you find a good deal on a new or old pair of AirPods. Check out the deals below to see if the AirPods you want are discounted – then perhaps you can afford to splash out on the AirPods Pro instead of the AirPods.
The monitor might be the most important part of your Mac’s setup–after all, you can’t use any desktop computer without one and even the 16-inch MacBook screen can be extended to an external display twice that size. Because you’ll spend a lot of time looking at it, you’ll want to invest wisely. Not only will you want a monitor that provides a pleasing experience, but the quality of the images on the screen can also affect your work.
However, picking a new monitor can be daunting. Not only are there many manufacturers to choose from, but there are also lots of sizes, resolutions, and features to consider–and when we say lots, we mean lots. We’re here to help guide you while you shop, and we have some tips on what to look for in a monitor.
Apple sells displays for its Macs, and you could go with its offerings, but its displays are a quite bit more expensive than what third parties have. Buying from a different company may mean you may not get a feature that Apple offers, but then it may also be a feature that you don’t need, depending on how you use the monitor. Note there are compatibility issues for plain M1 and M2 Macs, which, unlike M1/M2 Pro/Max/Ultra MacBooks, can’t connect to more than one external display. Fortunately, we can show you how to connect multiple monitors to M1 and M2 Macs.
There are plenty of companies that have great monitors that you can use with your Mac, without having to take out a second mortgage. Our sister publications TechAdvisor and PCWorld have tested several displays, and we list their top-rated ones that we have been able to confirm work with Macs, alongside the monitors we have reviewed below. Here are our recommendations in order, starting with Apple’s most expensive.
Stand: Height, Tilt, Rotation stand extra $999/£949
Orientation: Landscape; Portrait with stand
Apple’s highly specced Pro Display XDR is a stunning piece of engineering, and we found it hard to find fault with the picture quality and colour output, but at that price and with these features this is a display for a very specific audience.
The XDR is phenomenally well-specced: it’s 32in and 6K, offering 40 percent more screen space than Apple’s 5K displays, and offers a peak brightness of 1,600 nits (or 1,000 sustained). But it comes with a seriously eye-watering price tag, especially if you want to include the Pro Stand for adjustability and pivoting.
While this is an expensive monitor by consumer standards, but it really isn’t a consumer monitor. It’s intended for a professional audience.
Picture quality is maintained at ultrawide viewing angles, thanks to industry-leading polariser technology. This is so that a creative team can gather round a single monitor and evaluate a photo, video or design project without suffering a loss of consistency.
Connected via Thunderbolt, it can charge a MacBook at up to 96W.–Neil Bennet
Samsung cleverly unveiled its M8 smart monitor right after the launch of Apple’s 27-inch Studio Display, which was widely criticized for its high price tag. In contrast, the M8 provides a larger 32-inch display with 4K resolution for just £699/$699 – and, unlike the Studio Display, it also allows you to adjust the height of the screen without paying an extra £400/$400.
Admittedly, the M8 isn’t designed for professional users, as it doesn’t support the Adobe RGB colour standard for graphic design, or the DCI-P3 standard used for professional-level video-editing. However, it does support the sRGB standard and HDR10, and produces a bright, colourful image that will work well for general office work and web browsing, as well as streaming video and simple graphics and photo-editing work. It’s particularly well suited for entertainment as it uses Samsung’s Linux-based Tizen operating system to run a number of built-in apps for Netflix, YouTube – and even Apple TV+ too.
It’s well connected too, providing both USB-C and micro-HDMI for connecting to computers and other devices, such as an AppleTV box (with a full-size HDMI adaptor also included). The M8 also includes dual-band Wi-Fi 5 for connecting to the Internet and streaming services, along with Bluetooth so that you can control its built-in apps with a keyboard and mouse, or connect Bluetooth headphones or speakers. It even supports Apple’s AirPlay, so that you can use it with AirPlay speakers such as the new HomePod, and there’s a detachable 1080p webcam included too.
The original 32-inch version of the M8 had the model number M80B (and you may see some good deals on that model), but Samsung has just announced an update called the M80C, with an improved webcam and support for the new Matter standard for controlling smart devices such as lights and security cameras. There’s also a less expensive 27-inch model due for release early in 2023.–Cliff Joseph
Apple Studio Display – Apple's 'affordable' 5K production monitor
Good image quality
Impressive spatial audio
12MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage
High starting price and costly upgrades
No HDR or ProMotion
Changing stand after purchase requires a service call
Stand: Tilt. Height-adjustable stand extra $400/£400
Orientation: Landscape; Portrait with $1,599/£1,499 VESA mount adapter
As a production display, the Studio Display is still expensive but is an affordable alternative to the Pro Display XDR. Buyers will enjoy its handsome design, good image quality, and impressive spatial audio, but you can save a lot of money by going with a non-Apple display.
Apple displays have always produced very good image quality, and the Studio Display continues that tradition. Colors are rich, contrast is good, and the brightness is suitable for most tasks.
The Studio Display has a tilt-adjustable stand, but it does not pivot between landscape and portrait modes, like the Pro Display XDR, although a very expensive WESA mount does add a portrait option. You can get a stand that provides about four inches of height adjustment but it doesn’t come cheap. The price tag for the tilt- and height-adjustable stand is a whopping $400/£400 more.
The Studio Display has six speakers (four force-canceling woofers, and two high-performance tweeters) that sound better than any display we’ve used.
Connected via Thunderbolt, it can charge a MacBook at up to 96W.–Roman Loyola
Most monitors that use standard HDMI, USB-C or DisplayPort interfaces are compatible with Macs, but BenQ has a number of displays that also include Thunderbolt 3 and are specifically designed for Macs. There’s a special section on its website to provide help for Mac users, and even Help files for owners of Macs with M1 and M2 chips as well.
The PD2725U is the first of its Mac monitors, offering a 27-inch screen with 4K resolution (3,840×2,160) for a competitive $899.99/£859.99, and there are 32-inch and 34-inch versions as well. BenQ quite rightly emphasizes the versatility and ergonomic design of the PD2725U, as the sturdy metal stand allows you to tilt, swivel and adjust the height of the screen without paying extra (as you have to do with Apple’s Studio Display). You can even rotate the screen into the upright (portrait) position as well.
It’s well connected too, with two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort interface, plus two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which allow you to connect the PD2725U to your Mac and also to daisy-chain a second 4K display for a twin-monitor setup. There’s also a built in hub that provides two USB-A (3.1) ports, and the ability to share your keyboard and mouse with two computers so that you can use the monitor with two computers and switch between them as required.
There’s a small set of built-in speakers, which aren’t particularly powerful, but the display also includes a 3.5mm audio socket for connecting headphones or external speakers as well. The display doesn’t have a built-in webcam, but BenQ includes a small puck–a kind of dial control that lets you quickly adjust the various display settings for different tasks and applications.
The image quality is very good–clear and detailed, with bold colours, and the display supports 100% of the sRGB colour space, so it’ll be suitable for basic graphics and design work. However, it only supports 95% of the DCI-P3 colour space used for high-end video work, and its 400 nits brightness isn’t quite as vibrant as the 500 nits of my MacBook Pro’s built-in display. Professional users who need a high-end display for video-editing may prefer to pay a bit more for a display with full P3 support, but the PD2725U provides an excellent and affordable 4K display for most Mac users to use at home or for general office work.–Cliff Joseph
Alogic Clarity Pro Touch Display – Best touchscreen display for Mac
The Alogic Clarity Pro Touch offers Mac users a large, premium touchscreen on a monitor that boasts one of the best height-adjustable, tilt and pivot stands that we’ve tested. It’s a precision, 10-point multitouch, One Glass Solution (OGS) touchscreen that combines the monitor’s protective layer with its input layer via a conductive medium keeps the Clarity Pro Touch’s screen as thin as the other Clarity monitors, while maintaining the monitor’s bright picture.
Touchscreens are useful for artists and video professionals, with many pro tools having accurate touch functionality that beats using a mouse. It’s a more intuitive way to fine-tune levels and effects in photo-editing or music mixing, in applications such as Adobe Lightroom and Audition, and Apple Pro Logic.
Alogic has an optional accessory, the $199 Clarity Fold Stand, to better facilitate comfortable drawing or interacting onscreen—the articulating stand securely holds the monitor raised at an angle like a drafting board. It can rotate 360° so that you can share work with colleagues.
We did find the touchscreen setup a little fiddly as you have to install drivers for Mac, but once up and running, operation was smooth.
Its retractable webcam automatically raises itself from within the monitor when an app requires it, and then auto-retracts when it’s no longer needed.
The Pro Touch is the top-end of Alogic’s Clarity range of monitors: the entry-level Clarity (reviewed below) boasts the same premium screen but isn’t a touchscreen and lacks the webcam; the Clarity Pro is also non-touch but does come with the smart webcam.–Simon Jary
HP Z27k G3￼
Affordable 4K display
Adjustable stand -tilt, swivel, height and rotation
We liked HP’s E27u (reviewed later in this feature), which provides a very affordable 27-inch display for just $424/£287. However, the E27u provides onlyQHD resolution (2,560×1,440), and while that’s fine for web browsing or running office software such as Microsoft Word or Excel, many Mac users will prefer a full 4K display for graphics and design work, or watching films and video. There’s an HP solution here too, as its Z27k G3 provides an attractive 4K display (3840×2160) for just $544/£479.
That’s barely a third of the price of Apple’s 27-inch Studio Display, and it does mean that the Z27k G3 has to make a few compromises to keep the price so low. However, it gets the basics right, with a smart, compact design, and good image quality and connectivity features – not to mention a few additional features that even the Apple Studio Display lacks.
The display is neatly designed, with a simple metal stand and base, and very narrow borders around the edge of the screen—in fact, it’s so compact that I had to whip out a tape measure to confirm that the screen really is a full 27-inches in size. The stand allows you to tilt and swivel the screen, and also adjust the height—which is a costly optional extra for the Apple Studio Display—and you can even rotate the screen into upright (portrait) mode if you want to.
There are USB-C, HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces for video input, and a second DisplayPort interface that allows you to daisychain a second monitor as well. The USB-C interface can provide 100W power to charge a laptop, and also allows you to use the four additional USB-A ports that are located on the back panel. There’s one big limitation here, though, as using the display in 4K mode with 60Hz refresh rates limits these USB-A ports to the slower USB 2.0 standard, which is probably only suitable for simple devices such as a mouse or keyboard. If you lower the refresh rate to 30Hz then the USB ports can run at faster USB 3.0 speeds, but that’s not a compromise many people will want to make. There’s no built-in webcam or speakers either.
The screen quality is very good, though, especially at this price. The display only provides 350 nits maximum brightness, so it’s not quite as bright as the 500 nits display of the MacBook Pro that we tested it with. Even so, the image still looks bright and colourful to the naked eye, and the Z27k G3 is a good low-cost option for anyone that wants a high-res 4K display for office work or entertainment. And, while it’s not aimed at professional users, the display supports 99% of the sRGB colour standard, so it can handle some basic photo and video-editing work too.–Cliff Joseph
The Alogic Clarity is a stunning looking 27-inch display with built-in hub and a fantastic height-adjustable, tilt and pivot stand. It will appeal to Mac users with its Apple looks and is even, in some ways, a superior monitor to Apple’s own Studio Display, although its 4K resolution isn’t as sharp as Apple’s 5K screen.
The stand is one of the best we’ve seen, and easily beats Apple’s standard monitor stand.
It features multiple display connections and can power your MacBook at up to 90W via either USB-C or USB-B.–Simon Jary
The sylish Dell Ultrasharp U2421E is a slick design perfect for those with a USB-C/Thunderbolt charged MacBook, as the docking station features are handy. The color range is also good, and while the price is high for this resolution and size, there are cheaper prices available online—check the latest prices above.
It’s big enough for general office work and a nice option for those who use a laptop as their daily workhorse.
it looks professional and almost Apple-ish, and the support arm allows it to pivot and tilt extensively. It’s also got decent color representation with close to 100% sRGB coverage and 83% of the P3 color space.
There’s also a decent range of ports at the back and underneath. Connected via USB-C, it can charge a MacBook at up to 90W.–Mark Pickavance
Limink LK14 Laptop Triple Screen Extender — Best screen extender for portability
If you need a bigger screen you can plug a display into your Mac laptop, but if you want multiple screens without the giant extra monitors, a better option is to buy a portable external display. These displays tend to not be much larger than the display on your laptop, but they don’t add a much more weight and can more than double your screen space.
The Limink LK14 portable Tri-screen Monitor is a screen extender that your MacBook fits into and adds a 14-inch screen either side of the laptop’s own. It is compatible with 13-16-inch MacBooks, and connects via either USB-C or HDMI cables (included).
Setup is easy and you can attach and detach this extender to your MacBook in about a minute.
It’s HD rather than 4K and so is not as sharp and clear as the MacBook’s own. But it’s fine for spreadsheets, browsers and other mainstream applications. It’s great for adding supplementary screen estate when you’re on a video call, or for presentations.
At $699, it is expensive, but you are paying for portability and two decent screens. The whole package, which comes with a leather protective cover, can be fodled up and placed in a drawer when not in use, and is light enough (3.3lbs; 1.5kg) to take with you on your travels.–Simon Jary
The Asus ProArt PA279CV is a 4K monitor that offers accurate color and important “pro” features such as accurate gamma presets. It even has USB-C connectivity, making it an excellent choice for creators looking to upgrade from their laptop display.
It’s not a great-looking monitor, with larger than average display bevels on the plasticky chassis. It’s not luxurious but it’s fine for an office or workstation.
Asus’ ProArt PA279CV is a sensible choice for content creators who want a color accurate 4K monitor but don’t want to clean out their savings account.
Connected via USB-C, it can charge a MacBook at up to 65W—enough for a MacBook Air or 14-inch MacBook Pro.–Matthew S.Smith
Acer’s Nitro XV272 costs more than a lot of 1080p monitors, but the IPS, 165Hz screen provides above-average image quality, excellent color accuracy and motion performance, and a full range of monitor-stand adjustments and a generous array of ports make it worth the cost.
It also has three video inputs, four USB ports, and a stand that feels a bit cheap but offers numerous ergonomic adjustments. These features signal that the Nitro XV272, though not expensive, is a cut above entry-level 1080p monitors.
It lacks a USB-C with Power Delivery port, so won’t charge your MacBook.–Matthew S.Smith
The Dell U3223QE uses LG’s IPS Black tech to deliver a top-notch, professional-level, 31.5-inch 4K display with a built-in USB-C hub.
It retains the great color performance high-end IPS panel monitors are known for, and, to sweeten the deal, provides crisp 4K resolution.
But there’s more to the U3223QE than the panel. It’s also a fantastic business, productivity, and professional monitor loaded with image-quality options and a king’s buffet of connectivity.
The stand adjusts for height, tilt, and swivel—features that shoppers expect at this price. However, it throws in a bonus: It can pivot 90 degrees for use in portrait mode. This is rare for a 32-inch monitor, as most stands lack the height to allow it.
The USB-C hub is crammed to the gills with connectivity. This includes multiple USB-C ports, one of which can handle up to 90 watts of Power Delivery, five USB-A ports, and ethernet.
Connected via USB-C, it can charge a MacBook at up to 90W.–Matthew S.Smith
The Alienware AW3423DW makes every other 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor obsolete. It’s also a somewhat flawed display that won’t be ideal for everyone.
PC gamers will love this monitor. SDR image quality is great straight out of the box, providing a sense of dimensionality and realism that’s a cut above the competition.
A massive stand keeps the monitor planted and adjusts for height, tilt, and swivel. It feels nice in-hand thanks to its heft and smooth, high-quality plastic cladding, but it’s less practical than it looks. The stand’s legs sweep forward, eating into desk space, and the stand’s neck is deep.
It lacks a USB-C with Power Delivery port, so won’t charge your MacBook.–Matthew S.Smith
Apple’s Studio Display and Pro Display are seriously expensive, and they’re very much designed for professional and creative users who need 5K or 6K displays for graphics and video work. Not everyone needs such a high-res display though, and I’ve always found that a QHD (quad-HD) display with 2,560×1,440 resolution is the affordable sweet spot that works well for both general office work and off-duty entertainment. HP’s somewhat clumsily named E27u G4 is a good option here, providing an attractive QHD display with a variety of connectivity features for just $424/£286.80.
You’re not going to get a top-of-the-range display for that price, and the E27u does lack a few added extras, such as a built-in webcam or speakers. It gets all the basics right, though, with good image quality, multiple video inputs, and a useful built-in USB hub. The display’s 250 nits brightness may be relatively modest, but we found that the E27u looks bright and sharp enough for working with productivity software such as Microsoft Office, and also for streaming video from the BBC iPlayer and Apple TV+. And while Apple charges an extra £400 for an upgrade that allows you to adjust the height of its Studio Display—which is more than the entire cost of the E27u—you can tilt, swivel and adjust the height of the E27u, and even rotate it into upright (portrait) mode at no extra cost.
The E27u includes HDMI, DisplayPort and USB-C interfaces for connecting to your Mac, with the USB-C port also providing 65W power to charge a MacBook or other laptop if required. When using the USB-C connection you can also use four USB-A ports to connect devices such a keyboard, mouse or hard drive, and there’s also a second DisplayPort interface that will allow you to daisy-chain a second monitor if required. Our only complaint is that there’s no audio connector that would allow you to connect headphones or a set of external speakers to the display – although HP does sell a special ‘speaker bar’ that bolts onto the bottom of the screen if you want to add audio ($43.00/£40.00).–Cliff Joseph
How to choose a Mac monitor
Display technology is a bit of a movable feast, with a lot of confusing jargon and technical features to wade through, as well as a variety of different interfaces and cables that are used by Apple itself and the various monitor manufacturers. So it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the factors that you need to think about when buying a monitor for your Mac.
Size isn’t everything, as the saying goes, but it’s a good place to start. Your decision will be influenced by how much desk space you have, and how comfortable you are while using the display. Some people think that a big screen is best, but then when they start to use it daily, they find that it’s too big. And the same goes for customers who think a small screen is best.
If you’re looking for a size to start with for your own personal research, we recommend 24 inches—just like with Apple’s iMac. That seems like a good size for most people, and it’s easy to go up or down from that point. Most people tend to go between 24 and 27 inches for home use.
For professionals—graphics, video, audio, even spreadsheets—a large screen will help you be more productive. Think 27 inches and higher. You’ll be able to fit more elements on the screen and not waste your time scrolling.
If on-screen real estate is valuable to you, consider a multi-display setup. A smaller screen can be used for things like chat, email, web, and more, while the bigger screen is your main workspace. Or get screens of the same size and maximize the space.
Screen resolution can go hand-in-hand with screen size. Screen resolution refers to the number of pixels used to create what you see on the screen. The higher the resolution, the more detail you can see. Larger displays tend to have more resolution options, as well as the ability to support higher resolutions.
Often, when you find two displays that are the same size but have a wide price difference, it’s mostly because of the screen resolution. Monitors with high resolutions are more expensive. For example, Apple’s $1,599 Studio Display is 27 inches, and it has a high screen resolution of 5120×2880 (5K resolution). On the other hand, LG sells the 27-inch 27UK650-W, but it’s a 3840×2160 (4K) resolution display for content creators, and it’s $350–lower resolution, but $1,249 cheaper. (There actually aren’t other 27-inch 5K monitors available, except for the $1,449 LG UltraFine 27MD5KL-B.)
So what screen resolution should you get? Here are some suggestions; these are guidelines that you can adjust based on your preferences.
For general purpose use, such as web browsing, email, media viewing, small photo and video projects and viewing: 1920×1080 or 2560×1440 (HD)
For more-involved content creation, productivity, and media viewing: 3840×2160 (4K)
For pro-level content creation, productivity, and media viewing: 4K or higher
How a monitor connects to a Mac can be confusing. The traditional HDMI and DisplayPort connectors used by many monitors are being replaced–or complemented–by USB-C and Thunderbolt ports. And though USB-C and Thunderbolt cables may look the same, there are actually some important technical differences between them, so it’s important to check which ports your new monitor uses and make sure you buy the correct cables and adapters.
Most recent Mac models have Thunderbolt ports, so if you buy a monitor that has HDMI or DisplayPort interfaces only, then you’ll need an adapter to connect to the Mac. This can get a bit confusing, but Apple does provide a list of the ports included on most recent Mac models so that you can figure out what you need.
Apple also provides a guide to HDMI and DisplayPort technology, which covers Mac models going right back to 2008, so that should provide all the info you need for all the Macs you use at home or at work. Less expensive monitors still tend to use HDMI and DisplayPort, and while it’s not too costly to buy adapters that will allow you to connect your Mac, we reckon it’s worth future-proofing your new monitor by getting one that includes at least one USB-C or Thunderbolt port.
If a display uses Thunderbolt to connect to the Mac, it may have additional USB-C or Thunderbolt ports so the display can act as a hub. In this case, If you have a device you want to connect to your Mac, you can connect it to one of the ports on the monitor, which is already connected to the Mac and probably in an easier location for access.
Look for a USB-C or Thunderbolt connection with power delivery (PD) that can charge your MacBook. A 65W PD will be enough for a MacBook Air or 14-inch MacBook Pro, but you’ll need at least 90W for a 15-inch or 16-inch Pro.
Read our article on how to connect a second screen to a Mac which explains everything you need to know about how to identify which ports you have, the adapters you will require, and how to set things up.
If you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting at a desk looking at your lovely new display then you need to keep ergonomics in mind. The ability to tilt the angle of the monitor back and forth, swivel it around for easy viewing, and adjust the height of the monitor in order to avoid an aching back or neck.
Some monitors can pivot or rotate in either landscape or portrait mode.
As a rough guide, there is a point at about 2 to 3 inches from the top of the screen that should be at eye level. Obviously, eye level varies from one person to another, so it’s important that you can adjust the screen for your own personal comfort. You may also prefer a monitor that doesn’t suffer from glare, or you will be forever repositioning the monitor (or your head) to compensate for that.
There are other considerations you’ll want to make when shopping for a monitor. A lot of these come down to personal preference or what you need for the work you do. They include:
Color space (gamut): The number of colors a monitor can show. Professionals need specific color spaces.
Refresh rate: The frequency when a screen is refreshed. Higher rates produce smoother animations.
Webcam: Some displays have a built-in camera you can use for FaceTime and other video conferencing apps, or to record yourself.
Speakers: If you plan on frequently viewing or listening to media, a good set of speakers makes for a better experience.
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