AirPods or BeatsX
The AirPods ($159), of course, are Apple’s increasingly ubiquitous all-wireless earbuds. The main selling point is their ease of use —they can start and stop playing automatically, and even detect whether you’re using just one. The product’s custom W1 chip greatly simplifies pairing with Apple devices, and in fact iCloud sync means that they’ll automatically pair with any iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch signed into the same Apple ID.
The BeatsX ($149.95) also makes use of the W1 and its easier pairing. The key difference between the two products is that the BeatsX still has a tether between its buds, as well as an inline remote. For some people, one or both of those features will be more convenient.
Another thing to consider is that the AirPods run for just 5 hours on a charge, meaning you’ll have to slap them into their charging case at least once during the workday. The BeatsX doesn’t come with a charging case, but runs up to 8 hours at a time and uses “Fast Fuel” charging that can get you 2 hours of battery life in just 5 minutes.
Ecobee3 lite or Ecobee4
Ecobee is often considered the preeminent maker of smart thermostats, not just for Apple HomeKit but several other smarthome standards. You can control them through apps, a touchscreen, or voice control options including Siri.
Voice and remote controls are nice, but the real incentive to get an ecobee is energy savings. Automation, optional room sensors, and weather coordination mean your AC system should only come on when it’s needed.
One might assume the best model to get is the ecobee4 ($249), and it’s certainly the top of the line. Its only real advantages over the $169 ecobee3 lite however are a built-in Amazon Alexa speaker and a bundled Room Sensor. If you don’t care about Alexa, you could simply get the Lite and/or a two-pack of Room Sensors ($79).
Apple TV 4K
The Apple TV 4K is pretty pricey for a streaming set-top, starting at $179 for a 32-gigabyte model — people who aren’t hellbent on an Apple household should strongly consider cheaper devices like the Roku Ultra or Chromecast Ultra.
That being said, the 4K has some perks. One of those is Siri, and while you can’t use all the same commands you’d find on an iPhone, you can do things like find and control media, check the weather, and run HomeKit devices. Speaking of which, it’s an ideal HomeKit hub.
It also supports AirPlay 2 audio and video streaming, and both HDR10 and Dolby Vision for high dynamic range. Its A10X processor is the same found in the iPad Pro, giving it the horsepower needed to run high-quality 3D in games and other apps.
Want the best deal on an Apple TV 4K for Dad? DirectTV Now is offering new subscribers a free Apple TV 4K with three months of prepaid service (get both the Apple TV 4K and the three months of the basic plan for just $105).
Smartbulbs might not seem that sexy initially, but imagine having them slowly wake you up in the morning, shut off when you leave for work, and then turn back on as you pull into the garage. Imagine being able to link them to other HomeKit accessories and create complex lighting schemes and automations.
Philips’ Hue bulbs are typically considered the industry standard. If you don’t already have a Hue bridge, you’ll have to get one of the company’s Starter Kits —these range from $69.99 for a two-bulb White kit to $199.99 for a four-bulb White and Color Ambiance pack. You can also buy individual bulbs, switches, and other accessories.
If you’d rather not have a bridge take up a jack on your Wi-Fi router, an alternative to Hue is LIFX. That company’s bulbs are typically a little more expensive, but connect to Wi-Fi on their own, and are brighter than what Philips offers unless you get a LIFX Mini.
Magpul Field Case for iPhone
Magpul is normally known for its firearms gear, but its iPhone cases ($16.95) are a hidden gem. They’re relatively cheap, yet strike a balance between flimsy basic cases and the bulky, expensive, indestructible models sold by companies like Griffin and Otterbox.
There are a few catches. There’s no iPhone X option yet, and if you’re concerned about your display, you’ll need to buy a separate screen protector.
Apple Watch bands
If the Dad of the Day has an Apple Watch, new bands are an easy gift. You can spend as much or as little as you like, and something’s bound to match his unique tastes.
Apple’s first-party options tend to be a little costlier than they need to be, with the men’s selection ranging from $49 to a colossal $549 for the Space Black Link Bracelet. Thankfully there are plenty of affordable yet high-quality third-party bands from brands like Nomad and Southern Straps.
TwelveSouth HiRise Duet
The Watch has helped to revive interest in nightstand docks. If you want to go all-in, look no further than the HiRise Duet (on sale for $99.99). Its party trick is that it can mount and charge both your Watch and iPhone — the former in Nightstand mode — while taking up a minimum amount of space.
Both a Lightning connector and a Watch charging disc are included, so there’s no having to buy or repurpose other cables to make it work.
Apple Music is deeply integrated across Apple platforms, and the only native option on the HomePod, so even if someone prefers Spotify or Pandora they might enjoy getting a taste of the convenience. Apple sells three- and 12-month gift cards, priced at $29.97 and $99.
Amazon Echo Spot
Looking like it belongs in “2001,” think of the Spot as a particularly smart alarm clock. You can watch video on its round display, but it’s really meant to show the time, weather, headlines, and daily briefings. Thanks to improvements with Alexa, you can even set it to wake you up to a custom song or playlist on services like Spotify. No Apple Music so far.
The Apple connection comes not just through the iOS app you use to configure it, but integration with many, many services and smarthome accessories. It’s why the HomePod has a lot of catching up to do.
Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand EP-NG930
Really, most Qi-compatible chargers are good for the iPhone 8 and X, but the EP-NG930 is one of the fastest, and props up your iPhone so it’s easier to see. Flat pads sound fine until you realize you’ll be constantly craning your neck to see what’s onscreen — or in the case of the iPhone X, use Face ID. Plus, it’s on sale for $39.99 at B&H while supplies last, a discount of $20.
People looking to spend more on Dad this Father’s Day may want to consider Apple’s new “budget” 9.7-inch iPad. It starts at $329, and has many of the features of more expensive Pro models. Key among these is support for the Apple Pencil, which was missing from the tablet’s predecessor.
This is the model to get if you want an iPad to serve as a companion device, rather than your main. You’ll be missing Pro features like True Tone and ProMotion (120Hz) display technology, better cameras, and a faster A10X processor. The vanilla iPad also comes in just 32- and 128-gigabyte capacities, whereas Pro buyers have 64-, 256-, and 512-gigabyte options.
The Apple Pencil ($99) isn’t necessary if you buy an iPad, but it can certainly make it more enjoyable. For the average person, the accessory simply makes it easier to take handwritten notes, do annotations, or select objects and text. For artists and designers, it’s practically a must because of its low latency and pressure and tilt sensitivity.
Now if only Apple would bundle it with iPad Pros instead of selling it separately…
Looking to go all-out on a new Mac for Dad? Check out our Price Guide for the latest deals and discounts on Apple hardware.