How We Test Apple Products, Accessories, and More
AppleInsider's mission is to give you an unbiased review of Apple hardware, accessories, peripherals, and services. Here's how we do it.
AppleInsider reviews just about anything that will connect to your iPhone, can be used with your Mac, will protect your Apple investment, and so much more. When you read a review or a list of the best products in a category, we function as a team to give you the best, most experienced view possible of that product from an Apple-centric viewpoint.
Our reviews are editorially independent. We do not evaluate products with review guidance from the gear supplier or our affiliate partners. Accessories are supplied by the vendors, and are generally returned to the supplier after the review period.
We will periodically get a non-Apple product pre-release, so we can provide you with buying advice around release time.
We buy all of our review Apple hardware. While other venues have relationships with them for in-advance product testing, Apple does not provide us with early access.
We do not have a big, shiny corporate office outfitted with millions of dollars of testing gear. Instead, we're spread across the globe living day-to-day with the technology.
So, when we have a review opportunity, we select who on staff is our designated Apple product tester for any given category of product based on their experience and preferences. We're not going to give a roundup of the best Thunderbolt docks or best monitors for your Mac to somebody who lives and breathes on their iPhone, for example.
Our editors and writers are selected for a review product based on their particular skill sets. All testing is performed in the real world, using actual use cases.
And, because of that real-world testing focus, we aren't going to invent scenarios for testing that the product will never see in the real world to try to generate controversy.
While Apple product testing needs time spent on measuring parameters and benchmarks, that's not the whole story. If we're reviewing a travel-centric product, we get on the road, a plane, or a train to see how it actually works.
If it's something complex like a router, network-attached storage device, RAID enclosure, or monitor, we'll live with it for a while, integrate it into our workflows, and generate content using it before we tell you how we feel.
What AppleInsider's review scores mean
5 stars: Best in class
Does what it says it will do, and then some, and it does it with style. Not only that, this is the product that best defines the class.
4 stars: Excellent
An excellent balance of price and performance, does what it says it will do efficiently.
3 stars: Good
Gets the job done well, and nothing more.
2.5 stars: Average
Most brands that have too many adjacent consonants in their name produce products of this quality. Does the job, with some minor caveats.
2 stars: Below average
Might get the job done, but there are significant problems and compromises with the product. You probably want to look elsewhere.
1 star: Complete trash
Avoid this product. it has a good chance of wasting your money, deleting your data, hurting you, or all three.