The iMac hasn't significantly changed its look since 2009 when the 24in iMac became 27in and the 20in became 21.5in. In fact, the iMac's has been rocking the aluminium design since 2007... until now!
Apple has finally redesigned the iMac and the new design borrows both from the colourful designs of the iMacs of the past and the iPad Air. The new 2021 iMac range comes in seven vibrant colours.
It's not just new colours on offer though. The new iMac also has a brand new 24in 4.5K Retina display. And Apple has achieved a redesign that includes a larger display in an iMac that isn't a lot larger than the 21.5in iMac it replaces.
In the presentation announcing the arrival of the new iMac model Apple said that this redesign - which brings Apple closer to their "vision of making the computer disappear" than ever before - was made possible by the system-on-chip architecture of the M1. The M1 Chip arrived in the MacBook Air, 13in MacBook Pro and Mac mini in November 2020 and has impressed users and gained rave reviews.
We're just a bit disappointed that we aren't yet seeing the M1X, or even an M2 chip, but maybe that will come later this year with an update to the larger iMac and the 16in MacBook Pro.
When will the new iMac be out?
When Apple announced the 23 April pre-order date for the new AirTags the company revealed that pre-orders would start at 1pm in the UK (5am PST, 8am EDT, 2pm CET, 10pm AEST, etc). Apple hasn't confirmed the time when the pre-orders will start on 30 April, but we assume it will be at the same times as before.
We don't yet know when the new iMac will start shipping. Apple says that the iMac will start shipping in "the second half of May".
Apple leaker Jon Prosser is suggesting that Apple will start shipping the new iPad Pro and Apple TV on Friday 21 May so perhaps we will see the new iMac around the same time.
Here's where you can buy the new iMac once it releases.
New 24in iMac price
Apple is selling three versions of the new 24in iMac, the line up is similar to the M1 MacBook Air.
There is an 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB SSD model available in green, pink, blue and silver. That will cost £1,249/$1,299. (The education price is lower - see how to use the Apple Education Store to get a discount.)
A second new iMac offers a 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, 256GB SSD and will be available in green, pink, blue and silver as well as the additional colours of yellow, orange and purple. That model will cost £1,449/$1,499.
There is also a 512GB model that costs £1,649/$1,699. The latter two models have an additional two USB 3 ports and Gigabit Ethernet that are missing from the entry-level. These models also feature Touch ID on the keyboard while the cheaper iMac doesn't, although you can configure the Touch-ID keyboard as a build-to-order option.
Aside from the new Apple processor (discussed in detail below), something else is coming that's just as exciting, if not more so. As rumoured for some time, the new iMac is getting a redesign.
We are glad that it is finally time for Apple to redesign the iMac! We've been tired of the design for a long time and have felt that it was starting to look dated.
This is the longest Apple has ever gone without refreshing a product's design and it was much needed. In a separate article we discuss why the iMac needs a redesign.
As predicted Apple has slimmed down the boarders around the screen - often referred to as the bezels. The size of the 'chin' below the screen has also been reduced.
Additionally the iMac has a completely flat back, rather than the curved rear it had previously.
We aren't sure that one of our other grumbles about the iMac design has been addressed though - it still doesn't look all that ergonomic to us... For our thoughts about the design of the new iMac read: Why I'm disappointed with Apple's 24in iMac design.
What you will probably notice most about the redesign are the new colour options and the bigger screen, elements we will look at in detail below.
New iMac colours
As we said at the beginning of this article the new iMac takes its design cues from the iPad Air (and to a certain extent the original colourful iMacs).
The new iMacs are available in:
Only the more expensive £1,499/$1,499 model is available in all seven colours. The yellow, orange and purple are left out for the cheaper iMac. We anticipate that the purple colour will be more popular than yellow and orange.
The iPad inspiration for the iMac was predicted in rumours that the 2021 iMac would come in iPad Air colours. Apple leaker Jon Prosser also correctly predicted the new iMac colours.
New iMac dimensions
The new iMac has a more compact design and is 11.5mm thin.
The width is 21.5in (54.7cm) and it is 18.1in (46.1cm) tall. The stand is 5.8in (14.7).
The slim dimensions are possible thanks to the system-on-chip architecture and amazing power efficiency of M1, explains Apple.
Bigger, better screen
Previously the iMac offered either a 27in or 21.5in display. The 27in iMac is yet to be updated, but here we have a 24in replacement for the 21.5in iMac display.
This is the first time the iMac has seen a screen size increase since 2007 when the screens grew from 20in and 24in to 21.5in and 27in.
The upgrade was necessary. Many modern displays are larger than 30in so even the 27in iMac display looks small in comparison while the 21.5in was just tiny.
The slimmer bezels allow for a larger 24in display without the iMac being much bigger than the previous model though.
Plus, this isn't just a bigger display, we also get better display tech: this Retina display is now 4.5K rather than the 4K of old. It offers 11.3 million pixels, 500 nits of brightness, and over a billion colours, according to Apple.
The redesign of the iMac will no doubt be the big attention grabber, but a lot has changed on the inside too.
We were hoping that the new iMac would be furnished with the rumoured M1X Chip, but unfortunately that was not to be. But the M1 Chip inside the new iMac is no slouch. We saw some impressive results in our tests on the MacBook Air and we anticipate similarly great results for the new iMac.
Apple is claiming that the M1 in the new iMac will offer up to 85 percent faster CPU performance.
In its transition to the M1 chip the new iMac loses one of the best features of the 21.5in line up: the inclusion of discrete graphics (with the exception of the entry-level iMac).
The M1 Macs all offer integrated Apple graphics. The entry-level model offers 7-core GPU, while the other 24in iMac has an 8-core GPU. This is a similar set up to the M! MacBook Air.
The good news is that the Apple graphics seem to compete very well with the competition.
Apple claims "up to 2x faster GPU performance for certain apps like Affinity Photo and Photoshop, and up to 50 percent faster than the most powerful discrete graphics in the fastest 21.5-inch iMac."
Apple also boasts the "ability to edit up to five streams of 4K footage, or one stream of 8K footage, without dropping a frame in Final Cut Pro".
The GPU capabilities of the M1 Macs that arrived in November 2020 have proved to be impressive and are beating the existing Intel Macs with integrated graphics.
However, there will no doubt be some question about whether these graphics solutions will be adequate for the pro-creative iMac users who are looking for a Mac with a high-end external GPUs, so we do expect a better solution for the successor to the 27in iMac.
Apple's pro creative Mac users who are wondering if the Apple Silicon graphics processors will ever be able to match the solutions from AMD should read this for more information about Apple's graphics plans: Details of Apple's Silicon graphics plans emerge.
FaceTime camera and mics
Perhaps one of the features that was most in need of an update was the FaceTime camera. In this time of COVID the poor quality of the Apple Mac webcams has been a source of embarrassment.
The arrival of a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system will do much to fix this problem.
The FaceTime camera will be aided by the signal processor in the M1 chip and the Neural Engine to enhance the camera quality and for noise reduction, auto exposure, and so on.
The FaceTime camera is accompanied by a three-microphone array and "the best sound system ever in a Mac," according to Apple.
The iMac also has a six-speaker sound system that includes two pairs of force-cancelling woofers placed side by side for what Apple describes as "an impressive bass response, while reducing unintended vibrations." And each pair of speakers has a high-performance tweeter.
With this sound system users should be able to enjoy watching everything from home made videos to Hollywood blockbusters - the iMac even supports spatial audio when playing video with Dolby Atmos.
Touch ID, new keyboard, mouse and trackpad
Also arriving on the Mac for the first time is Touch ID - not Face ID as we had hoped.
Touch ID will be a great addition though. It arrives via a button on the keyboard and is protected by the Secure Enclave in M1, so the user's fingerprint data is safe.
Apple also notes that "Touch ID works with Fast User Switching, so customers can change to a different user profile with just the press of a finger."
Speaking of the keyboard, the keyboard, mouse and trackpad also get a new look that is in keeping with the new iMac design. A sliver of colour on the side that will make them fit with the new iMac.
We hope these new peripherals will be available for people to purchase separately.
Power adapter and ports
Even the iMac's power adapter gets a new design with a retro feel - the power connector that attaches magnetically, just like the old MagSafe cables did on old MacBooks.
There's also a handy port for an ethernet cable in the back of the power adapter.
On the back of the new iMac are up to four USB-C ports, including two Thunderbolt ports for super-fast data transfer. There is also support for up to a 6K display.