Now that we have a new 24in iMac it can only be a matter of time until the 27in iMac also sees an update that could result in a larger 30in – or even 32in – display, new colour options, and the inclusion of the successor to the M1 chip.
In this article we will look at the rumours and speculation about the successor to the 27in iMac. Read on to find out everything we know about the release date, specs, features and design of the new large-screened iMac, which could feature an M2 chip and a larger 32in display.
When Apple announced its plans to transition the entire Mac lineup from Intel processors to its own Apple Silicon in June 2020 and at the time it said that the transition would take two years. So far we have seen Apple add the first of its home-made processors – the M1 Chip – to the iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and two of the MacBook Pro models.
With WWDC coming up in June it is highly likely we will see a successor to the M1 Chip. This could be the M1X or the M2 and this new processor could be used in the iMac as well as the 16in MacBook Pro.
We could therefore see Apple launch both Macs at WWDC in June.
However, it is possible that due to the global component and chip shortages Apple will be forced to wait until later this year to launch these new Macs. We could therefore have to wait until October for the new iMac.
With the successor to the 21.5in iMac arriving with a larger 24in display boasting 4.5K Retina and seven different colours to choose from, it seems likely that the larger iMac will get a similar update.
We could see reduced bezels giving way to a larger screen (discussed in more detail below), and we could see different colour finishes.
We are hoping that Apple chooses a slightly different colour scheme for the larger iMac compared to the 24in model. The 24in iMac colour scheme includes the following variegated colours: blue, green, red, silver, orange, yellow and purple that blend from dark on the back to a lighter pastel finish on the front. Apple could choose a darker finish for the larger pro-focused iMac to distinguish it from the consumer level. This would be similar to the way that Apple offered a Space Grey iMac Pro (since discontinued).
Another change we could see on the larger iMac is a black rather than a white border around the screen. Read Why we are disappointed in by the new iMac design.
The changes to the colour and design are likely to follow the 24in iMac, so our hopes for a further reduction to the size of the ‘chin’ probably won’t be answered. The iMac screen isn’t just surrounded by bezels, it has a giant chin at the base. With all the components squeezed in behind the display it seems a bit unfair to criticise this 2.5in aluminium section as it’s a requirement of the all-in-one design, but with Apple boasting about the amount of room freed up due to all components being located on the M1 it does sound like they could have done more to reduce the size of the chin.
The strange thing about the 24in iMac is the fact that the Apple logo is missing from the chin.
We had also hoped that Apple would adjust the iMac to make it more ergonomically friendly. It is possible that the hinged arm of the 24in iMac will answer the screen positioning challenge we have encountered with the older iMac design.
It’s pretty reasonable to expect Apple to reduce the bezels to allow for a bigger screen – it did exactly that for the 24in iMac. Display technology has evolved in such a way as to accommodate smaller bezels, and smaller bezels is likely to mean an even bigger screen.
Apple was able to squeeze a 23.5in screen (measured diagonally) into the 24in iMac (Apple’s telling a bit of a white lie with the name of the 24in iMac). That was an increase from the 21.5in display on the older model. And yet the size of the iMac only increased a fraction (the new model is 1cm taller and about 2cm wider. This new screen is a 4.5K Retina display, offering 4480×2520 pixels.
With the larger 4.5K display the smaller iMac is edging in on the 5K display of the 27in iMac. In that case the 5K Retina display offers 5120×2880 pixels. It’s not only the 24in iMac making it look bad – many modern displays are larger than 30in so the 27in iMac display looks small by comparison.
Could we see a 32in display on the new iMac? Apple already makes one 32in display: the Pro Display XDR. That display offers 6K resolution.
However, the new iMac wouldn’t need to be that big to offer a 6K display. A 30in display with smaller bezels could still accommodate the 6,016 x 3,384 pixels for Retina 6K resolution and a 6K iMac.
In addition to more pixels we could also see HDR. The iMac screen is already able to display one billion colours, which is great, it’s just that until Apple offers support for 4K HDR content on the iMac display all the new content that Apple’s produced for its TV+ streaming service (which is available on the Mac via the TV app) will be squeezed into the P3 colour profile. Surely Apple will want to make sure that this content will look its best on an iMac screen.
A quick look at the Pro Display XDR can give us an insight to some of the other features we could gain with the new iMac screen, although we certainly wouldn’t expect to see them all.
The Pro Display XDR offers:
- A maximum of 1,600 nits of brightness, 1000 nits brightness (sustained, full screen), 500 nits SDR brightness.
- XDR (Extreme Dynamic Range).
- 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
- P3 wide colour gamut, 10-bit colour depth for 1.073 billion colours
- A superwide viewing angle at 89 degrees left, 89 degrees right, 89 degrees up, 89 degrees down.
- Monitor works in both landscape and portrait orientation.
- Standard screen is engineered for low reflectivity, but the optional nano-texture glass surface (which adds $1,000 to the price) etches a matt finish into the glass “at the nanometre level” to scatter light and avoid glare.
Another change we could see is an ultra-wide screen. Ultra-wide displays have become a bit of a thing over the past couple of years, and it might be something that Apple could adopt for the iMac, although it might be something we see for the new Apple display first. We’d love to see an ultra-wide iMac with a 21:9 aspect ratio, compared to the 16:9 aspect ratio currently seen (which is a standard widescreen aspect ratio).
One reason we may have a longer wait for Apple to update the larger iMac is if Apple wishes to transition the line up to mini-LED. Analyst Ming Chi Kuo has said that coronavirus-related delays have pushed Apple’s plans to use these screens (which should allow for thinner and lighter products, deeper blacks and better HDR) back.
The larger iMac is generally designed with the creative pro in mind. It’s tended to feature a more powerful processor and graphics option than the smaller model, and can generally be outfitted with more RAM and storage. There is even a hatch via which a user can access RAM on the back of the iMac display, a usability feature designed with pro-users in mind.
But what can we expect to see in the next generation 27in iMac – or 32in iMac if that’s what it is to become?
The M1 has proven to be a very powerful chip, gaining outstanding benchmarking scores and rave reviews. But Apple won’t be stopping there. The company will be working on the next generation to the M1 that will be even more powerful.
What’s not clear is what this new chip will be called. There are various rumours indicating that Apple is working on an M1X Chip – but that might not be destined for the larger iMac. The M1X, if it exists may end up being used in the remaining 13in MacBook Pro – which are rumoured to be getting a 14in display in a redesign.
For the larger iMac we may see something even better: an M2 Chip rumoured to offer 16-core CPU. According to a Bloomberg report in December 2020: “For its next generation chip targeting MacBook Pro and iMac models, Apple is working on designs with as many as 16 power cores and four efficiency cores.”
The M1 offered eight graphics cores (or seven in the case of the entry-level MacBook Air and entry-level 24in iMac). The GPU capabilities of the M1 Macs have proved to be impressive and are beating the existing Intel Macs with integrated graphics. However, they are not beating Macs with high-end external GPUs, so we do expect a better solution for the successor to the 27in iMac.
That appears to be the case: leaked benchmarks from CPU-Monkey indicate that we can expect to see a 16-core GPU in the M1’s successor.
Those benchmarks indicate that there will be 256 execution units for the M1X (or whatever it is called), compared to 128 execution units in the M1.
The 24in iMac ships with a colour-matched keyboard with Touch ID, offers improved audio features – including a high-fidelity six-speaker system with force-cancelling woofers, and features an improved 1080p FaceTime HD camera with M1 image signal processor.
It seems likely that the new larger iMac will ship with these same features. But what other new features might we see?
Face ID for iMac
The FaceTime camera seems sure to be updated as it was for the 24in iMac, but could Apple go a step further?
Many would like to see Face ID arrive on the iMac as an easy way to unlock and enter passwords and there is evidence that Face ID is coming to the Mac – the Big Sur beta contains code that references a TrueDepth camera. This suggests that Apple could be incorporating the TrueDepth camera technology that was introduced on the iPhone into the iMac display.
If the rumours are correct it’s bad news though: it seems that Face ID won’t come to the iMac until 2022.
This is probably a case of wishful thinking, but we think that with the arrival of Apple Silicon processors and the ability to run iOS apps on the Mac it’s high time that Apple rethought its stance on touchscreen Macs.