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All the Apple devices you can buy instead of the $3,499 Vision Pro

Published Jan 10th, 2024 8:17PM EST
A person using the Vision Pro mixed-reality headset at home.
Image: Apple Inc.

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It’s finally happening: The Vision Pro spatial computer is going on sale in early February in the US. I expect the Vision Pro to be sold out soon after preorders start next week, but only because of limited stock. But there’s no question that the $3,499 spatial computer is a tough sell. In some ways, the Vision Pro is the most expensive iPad you can buy.

I plan on buying the Vision Pro once it reaches Europe, and the nature of my job gives me the perfect excuse. I want to experience the product from the first-gen device, as I believe we’re looking at the first steps towards the future of computing. 

That said, $3,499 is a lot of money. Enough to buy a handful of other devices. In what follows, I’ll cover everything you can buy from Apple for that amount of money.

The good news is that you don’t need the most expensive iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch to get an amazing experience. All these products are mature devices that run on powerful custom Apple chips that can power your computing needs for years. 

iPhone 15

The iPhone should be your gateway into Apple’s ecosystem. Since it’s 2024, I won’t go for an expensive model. I’ll choose the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 with 128GB of storage. That’s the cheapest new-gen iPhone you can get right now from Apple. It costs $829 before any discounts. You can score $30 off right away when ordering from Apple. 

That leaves us with $2,670 to spend.

iPhone 15 Screen and USB-C port.
iPhone 15 Screen and USB-C port. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

MacBook Air

You’ll need a proper computer, too, and the MacBook Air should do just fine. Since Apple still sells the 2020 M1 MacBook Air and the device is still an unbelievable machine, I think it’s the perfect way to experience macOS and get some Continuity going with the iPhone 15. The M1 MacBook Air has 256GB of storage and will set you back $999. 

Mind you, much better deals are available from Apple’s partners. Also, if you want to spend $100 extra, you can get the M2 chip and a brand-new design. 

But for the sake of saving money, we’ll choose the base $999 M1 Air model. This leaves us with $1,671 (and the knowledge that we could have splurged a little for the M2 Air or more storage).

MacBook Air 2020
The M1-powered MacBook Air that launched in November 2020. Image source: Apple Inc.

iPad Pro

Since we have a sizable remaining budget, I won’t point you to the cheapest iPad, which is the iPad 9. I won’t point you to the iPad Air, either. Instead, I’d go for the 11-inch iPad Pro model, which features an M2 chip and 128GB of storage. This device should serve you well for several years, complementing the MacBook Air for certain computing needs. 

The 11-inch iPad Pro costs $799 before any deals and discounts you might find online. This leaves us with $872, which can go towards purchasing Apple wearables. 

Apple iPad Pro Display
iPad Pro (2022) Display Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

AirPods Pro 2

Maybe AirPods should have been the second product on this list since they go so well with the iPhone. But I wanted to see how much money we would be left with after the Mac and iPad purchases. Since we have almost $900, we can’t afford to splurge on wearables, starting with the AirPods Pro 2.

The second-generation AirPods Pro cost $249 at, and they give you the best possible AirPods experience. You’ll find much better deals at Amazon and other retailers. But, again, for the purpose of this exercise, we’re going with official Apple prices. 

Now we’ve got $623 left.

Apple AirPods Pro Buds
AirPods Pro 2nd Generation earphones. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Apple Watch Series 9

Going into this exercise, I expected to recommend the Apple Watch SE 2, Apple’s cheapest smartwatch. But given the money we have left, I’ll recommend the Series 9 instead.

The 41mm Apple Watch Series 9 Wi-Fi model costs $399, and that might be a great choice for many people. I’m wearing a 40mm Apple Watch since I don’t care much about what happens on the screen. A 41mm version would be even larger.

If you want the 45mm option, you’ll be spending $429 instead.

After the $399 41mm Apple Watch purchase, we’re left with $224. That could cover subscriptions to iCloud or other Apple services or… an Apple TV.

Apple Watch Series 9 On Wrist
Apple Watch Series 9 On Wrist. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Apple TV 4K

Given the budget surplus, I’d select the more expensive Apple TV 4K model Apple currently sells. It costs $149 and comes with 128GB of storage and Ethernet connectivity. 

We’re still left with $75, if my math is correct. That’s good for accessories or, again, digital services from Apple. 

One more thing

This isn’t even the best-case budgeting solution for buying all the Apple gear you can for the $3,499 you’d spend on the Vision Pro. You can save money by buying new Apple devices from third-party retailers. MacBook discounts and AirPods sales happen all the time. Plus, your carrier might offer a trade-in deal that’s too good to pass up.

You could save hundreds of dollars on these products. Then you might choose to buy an Apple Watch Ultra 2 instead of the Series 9.

My point is that Apple gear is expensive, sure. But you can find great savings to get into the Apple ecosystem. It will be cheaper than the cheapest Vision Pro, and you don’t have to spend that theoretical $3,499 budget all at once to get there. 

However, getting into Apple’s ecosystem means that, down the line, you might find yourself in my position: Justifying the expensive purchase of Apple’s brand-new gadget, the Vision Pro. 

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.