Apple products weren’t exactly allowed in my house growing up. My school had a lab filled with Apple computers, so I got exposed to the basic ins and outs of macOS. But inside my home it was Microsoft-Microsoft-Microsoft. My dad was a computer hardware engineer, and he worked with Windows, so it’s not surprising.
He set me up for a life of endlessly comparing Apple products to everything else, weighing the pros and cons of every feature — especially price. You like Apple’s gadgets with their nifty features, but don’t wanna fork over a chunk of your paycheck? I get it. There are alternatives, and not all Android alternatives, either. (Worth noting that you likely won’t be able to grab these in time for Christmas, but hey – it’s still fun to shop.)
Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones ($AU439)
One of, if not the best, pair of headphones you can buy for less than Apple’s new AirPods Max: 20 hours of battery life, 40mm custom drivers, and a carrying case that looks more like a bra-shaped purse for $US550 ($722)? Psh! Sony’s WH-1000XM4 headphones are $AU283) less (they are currently being sold on Amazon outlets for around $AU439), have industry-leading active noise cancellation, touch controls, and other features that Apple’s AirPods Max come with as well.
These headphones also have 30 hours of battery life, up to five hours of playback after just 10 minutes of charging, and customisable EQ. They’re super comfortable, and they don’t look as weird as the AirPods Max. But probably the coolest feature is the ability to connect to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, which allows the headphones to switch between the two based on audio cues or incoming calls. Sure, the AirPod Max can do that, but can it do that for under $AU500? Nope.
Jabra Elite 77 T with ANC ($AU295.88)
The Jabra Elite 77 T with ANC can connect to any device: Apple, Android, you name it. They also stay paired to multiple devices simultaneously. They’re slightly cheaper than the AirPods Pro, way more customisable, and have an hour longer always-on battery life, 5.5 hours versus 4.5. At launch, the Elite 77 T were $US230 ($302), but right now they go for around $296.
Also, these buds have the squishy end pieces, which fit and conform to the inside of your ear much better than the AirPod Pros. You could whip your head around and not worry about one falling out and flying down into a storm drain as much. Those of us with tragus piercings understand this struggle all too well. The AirPods Pro have soft end piece as well, but the fit isn’t as secure.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 ($523.68)
If you like the idea of a smart phone-smart watch ecosystem, but don’t want an iPhone or an Apple Watch, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 is where it’s at, especially if you already have a Samsung phone. The Watch 3 has a beautiful round watch face with a rotating bezel, customisable backgrounds and widget pages, and Samsung fixed a lot of other features that were kind of broken on its previous Watch models.
It’s fitness algorithms are way more accurate, especially the GPS and step counter. The ECG feature is FDA-cleared, and it has a host of other features like running metrics, VO2 Max, and blood oxygen-monitoring that make this smart watch a wonderful gadget. The hourly reminder to get up and stretch so I can tear my eyes away from my computer screen is one of my favourites and one that I need the most. It starts at $US400 ($523.68), about the same as the Apple Watch Series 6.