Since Apple's Spring Loaded event a month ago, there has been a great deal of criticism of the new products on display. Now that Macworld has been able to test the devices ourselves, we agree with some of the complaints - but it's also become clear to us that the market at large has failed to understand how the products fit into Apple's plans for the longer term.
Here are some of the most common complaints, and why I think they're missing the point.
"The new iMac is worse than the old one"
Many critics have claimed the new 24in iMac is worse than the old 27in model. Sure, but it's not meant to be a replacement for the 27in, which is why that model continues to be sold. It's a replacement for the old 21.5in.
If you think of it in those terms, arguments such as the screen being smaller and lower-res, the processor being slower and so on can be quickly addressed.
- Yes, it has a smaller screen than the 27in model. But it has a larger screen at a higher resolution than the 21.5in.
- It's significantly faster than the 21.5in.
- Yes, it has less memory, but that's not as important as Apple's M1.
- Yes, it offers fewer old USB-A connectors, but on the other hand it has both USB4 and USB-C.
- In addition, it has Touch ID and a better FaceTime camera.
"The new iMac looks frivolous in the office"
If colour is your issue, then please choose the silver model.
But aside from that obvious solution, the detractors have again missed the point. This is intended to be the cheap and fun model for home use, not the professional model for the office. Which exactly follows Apple's philosophy with its other products:
- iPhone 12 Pro: sensible colours
- iPhone 12 and 12 mini: fun colours
- iPad Pro: sensible colours
- iPad Air: fun colours
- iMac Pro: sensible colours
- iMac 24in (2021): fun colours
- MacBook Pro: sensible colours
- MacBook Air: rumoured to come in fun colours
"The iMac should have a faster processor"
Rumours - and basic logic - suggest that Apple is currently working on faster variants of its M1 processor: perhaps an M1X, perhaps an M2. Some Apple watchers thought one of these new chips would make its debut in the new budget iMac, and were disappointed when it didn't.
But that simply doesn't fit in with what is beginning to feel like a clear plan for the Mac range.
- Budget M1: MacBook Air; entry-level MacBook Pro; Mac mini; smaller iMac.
- Accelerated M1X: High-spec small MacBook Pro; next-gen MacBook Air; larger iMac (potentially 30in?).
- Professional M2: High-spec large MacBook Pro; new iMac Pro; new Mac Pro.
It's only logical that Apple will continue to upgrade its budget models with the M1. Faster chips will arrive when the more professional models are updated.
"The new Apple TV is worse than the old one"
Okay, we have to agree with you there. It can't be denied that it has slower graphics and that the remote control can no longer be used for motion controls.
But it could be that the now released model was intended as a budget variant of the real gaming model. That would explain why Apple removed everything game-related from the Apple TV 4K (2021). It's just that Apple, for some unknown reason, failed to launch the two models in parallel. That could be down to COVID-related logistics problems or the severe lack of semiconductors.
Apple has a cunning plan
We're pretty sure that Apple, like Blackadder, has a cunning plan in its back pocket. If we look back, most of the company's launches which we didn't understand at the time have subsequently proved to be logical. For Apple. Which never tells anyone what it's planning. And that is the problem, not the products.
It's reasonably clear that Apple is creating two tiers of products within each category: a budget model with lower performance and fun colours, and a premium model with the latest hardware and more austere design. It's just that in some categories we haven't yet seen both of them.
- iPhone 12 mini/iPhone 12 Pro
- iPad Air/iPad Pro
- MacBook Air/MacBook Pro
- iMac 24in/iMac 30in or iMac Pro
- Mac mini/Mac Pro
- Apple TV/Apple games console
So keep your hair on. It's sure to be an interesting year for new Apple products!
This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation by David Price. Different Think is an occasional column in which Macworld writers expose their less mainstream opinions to public scrutiny and, where appropriate, ridicule.