There’s always been a market for luxury Apple accessories, with leather sleeves and cases leading the charge. But the latest trend seems to be charging a huge markup for rebadged versions of existing products, where most of the cost is for the branding …
We saw that recently with Louis Vuitton charging $995 for a pair of – admittedly excellent – true wireless in-ear headphones that normally cost $299. That one got you a different finish and case (a far less attractive one, in my view) and some LV initials.
The latest example is a rebadged Native Union wireless charger. Buy the standard one (already very nice), and it will cost you $60. Buy the Berluti-branded one spotted by The Verge and it will instead cost you a cool $720.
Granted, the French fashion house does put in some work. It’s rather beautifully covered in aged leather, and even has a leather-covered cable. I must admit I like it. Just not enough to pay seven hundred bucks for it.
If you’re looking for some rather more affordable luxury Apple accessories, here are a few things we’ve tested …
Started by three former Mophie executives, Nimble is a new company taking a fresh approach on making accessories like power banks and wireless chargers. With the mantra, “Tech for Good” Nimble thinks users should know where products come from, how they are made, and the impact they have on the environment.
All in all, I think Nimble has created a compelling lineup of products. They have a solid build quality, sharp look and feel (as long as you’re cool with fabric-wrapped gear) and do it all using an eco-friendly approach.
Most MacBook stands on the market fall into one of the few aluminum-based styles that have become commonplace. That’s why we jumped at the chance to go hands-on with Yohann’s MacBook and MacBook Pro Stand that breaks the mold with both its material choice and striking design.
This stand certainly isn’t for everyone at $159 for the oak version and $179 for the walnut variant. However, for those who aren’t price sensitive and value a unique, high-quality MacBook stand, Yohann’s offering feels like a top-pick.
Apple’s sleeve costs $179 for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and $199 for the 15-inch model.
Woolnut’s costs $89 for the 13-inch version, and $99 for the 15-inch one – so pretty much exactly half the price.
Even if both were identically priced, the softer feel in the hand and ability to charge while inside the sleeve would be solid arguments in favor of Woolnut. But throw in the fact that the Woolnut sleeve is literally half the price for something which looks and feels just as good, then – unless you have a strong preference for aniline leather or are willing to pay a lot for that Apple logo – Woolnut presents a very compelling case.
The Twelve South Journal isn’t cheap. The one for the 13-inch MacBook Pro costs $149.99, while the 15-inch version is $169.99.
But that sort of pricing isn’t unusual for premium leather cases for Apple kit. Apple’s own leather sleeve (review, with video below) for the 15-inch version costs $199, and this is a much more substantial product. Journal is both beautiful and functional, and you’ll be able to use it for as long as you keep the MacBook – or any subsequent model of the same size – so I’d say it justifies the price.
With a full aluminum build, great key feel, color options of space gray, silver, gold, and rose gold, Satechi’s Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard is a winner for $70 less than Apple’s Magic Keyboard.
Other features like USB-C charging, pairing with three devices, and dedicated Mac shortcut keys make this a compelling keyboard choice for Mac users.
Both Brydge and Picaso Lab leather iPad Pro cases and sleeves are solid options. Both companies tick all the boxes for high-quality leather and craftsmanship. All the products tested look and feel great, and the prices are reasonable for the quality you’re getting.
But the choice will be a personal one. Do you prefer open sleeve or zipped case? Do you have a keyboard or not? And do you want a choice of color? I don’t think you can go wrong here with either company.
If your desire for tidiness doesn’t quite extend to having a custom desk created for you, a rear shelf for an iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display can be a good way to keep things tidy.
The base-model 15-inch Butler is twice the price of Twelve South’s metal shelf. Both look good, but personally I’d be willing to pay the premium for wood.
What’s your view on the trend for fashion-branded luxury Apple accessories at high three-figure prices? Ripoff, or choice is good? Let us know in the comments.