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 M1X or M2 chip and a larger 30in or even 32in display.
Bloomberg's Apple expert Mark Gurman (in his July Power On newsletter) reports that Apple is developing another new iMac that is intended to replace the old 27in model, so it's not only us suggesting this is the case.
If you are on the market for a new iMac read: Should I buy a 27in iMac now or wait?
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 smaller iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and two of the MacBook Pro models.
When is the larger iMac likely to get the same treatment? We can certainly surmise that there will be a new larger iMac by the summer of 2022 - as that was Apple's self-imposed deadline for the transition, but by that point it will be almost two years since Apple last updated the 27in iMac (in August 2020), so Mac users will be chomping at the bit for a new model.
While we could see a new larger iMac in the autumn of 2021 - perhaps in October - we think it's more likely to arrive in March or April 2022.
However, there could be an even longer wait. In an August Power On newsletter Mark Gurman has indicated that the last Macs to transition to Apple's own processors will be the iMac and the Mac Pro, and that this transition will happen just on the cusp of the two year deadline that the company set itself: which he interprets to be November 2022. Read: Apple to complete M-transition by next November.
Technology leaker Dylandkt also expects that the replacement for the 27in iMac will not arrive before 2022.
The high end iMac will release in 2022. 🙃— Dylan (@dylandkt) July 23, 2021
With the global component and chip shortages already causing Apple to have to delay the launch of various new Macs it's unlikely that the situation is any different with 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.
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 4,480 x 2,520 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 5,120 x 2,880 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.
Another screen tech that could be coming to the iMac is XDR. The iPad Pro now has an XDR display, as does Apple's Pro Display XDR, obviously. It certainly looks like a tech that Apple is positioning for its pro users.
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.
It is highly likely we will soon see a successor to the M1 Chip. This could be the M1X or the M2 or even the M2X, and this new processor could be used in the iMac as well as the 16in MacBook Pro and the remaining 13in MacBook Pro - which is rumoured to be getting a 14in display in a redesign. It's also rumoured that it could make an appearance in a new Mac mini.
This new chip is 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."
This opinion is shared by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who suggested that the big-screen iMac will feature a more powerful variant of Apple's proprietary processor, in a July PowerOn Newsletter. Gurman references the M2X chip for the new larger iMac.
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 question is will Apple's new graphics solution match the discrete graphics the typical 27in iMac user requires.
One of the biggest limitations of the M1 Macs is the fact that they cannot support more than 16GB RAM. This just isn't going to cut it for those who need a high-end machine.
But, given that current 27in iMacs can be upgraded to 128GB of RAM respectively, what are the chances that the new iMac will have a similarly high RAM allocation. We anticipate some disappointment when Apple's new high-end Mac tops out at 64GB, or maybe even 32GB, RAM.
Apple will no doubt explain that it's M1 RAM isn't like standard RAM because of how it works so efficiently. But there's simply no way that 32GB of Apple's RAM can match 128GB RAM.
Where the 24in iMac has just two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports on the entry-level and an additional two USB 3 ports on the other models, the larger iMac is likely to have a larger selection of ports. At least that's what the usual market for this iMac will be hoping for.
The traditional 28in iMac user requires a lot more connectivity than the typical 24in iMac user will and with rumours that the SD card slot is returning to the MacBook Pro there is hope that the slot loved by photographers will make a return to the iMac too.
One thing that is likely to change - as on the 24in iMac it seems likely that the ethernet slot will move to the power brick.
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.
Mark Gurman writes in the subscriber edition of his Power On newsletter that he thinks Apple's Face ID will come to Mac within a couple of years. Gurman believes Apple's long-term goal is to provide Face ID on all Apple products.
If the rumours are correct it's bad news though: it seems that Face ID won't come to the iMac until 2022, although it could take even longer than that.
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.