Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

These Recent Apple Hardware Rumours Are Adding Up All Funny

Have you been looking at these recent Apple hardware rumours? I have, and they are adding up all weird.

On Friday, Filipe Espósito of 9to5Mac reported that Apple was developing a 7K resolution “Studio Display”:

By comparison, Pro Display XDR has a 32-inch 6K (6016 x 3384) panel with 218 pixels per inch. A higher resolution could mean that the new Apple Studio Display will have a higher pixel density of 245 PPI or that it will keep the same 218 PPI as the Pro Display XDR but on a larger 36-inch panel.

Separately, a Mac Mini-based “Mac Studio” is also apparently being worked on:

Based on information seen by 9to5Mac, the new Mac Studio is primarily based on the Mac mini, but with much more powerful hardware. Apple has two versions of Mac Studio under development. One features the M1 Max chip (the same as the 2021 MacBook Pro) and the other a variant of the Apple Silicon chip that is even more powerful than the current M1 Max.

Espósito did not give any timeline for either product’s launch.

Today, Ming-Chi Kuo acknowledged a few forthcoming products in a single tweet:

Predictions for Apple’s new desktop products:

1. 2022: More powerful Mac mini and more affordable external display (27-inch without mini-LED).

2. 2023: Mac Pro and iMac Pro.

Sami Fathi, of MacRumors, reporting on Kuo’s tweet:

Kuo’s prediction that Apple does not plan to release an iMac Pro until next year is at odds with information shared by display analyst Ross Young. Young, who also boasts a credible track record regarding Apple products, has said an iMac Pro could launch as soon as June this year.

The iMac Pro is expected to replace the 27-inch Intel-based iMac currently in the lineup and be sold alongside the 24-inch desktop computer announced in April 2021. Young has said the iMac Pro will feature mini-LED and previous rumors suggest a similar design to the 24-inch size.

I am trying to combine these rumours into a coherent narrative, but I am finding that difficult so far. Before I get into it, I know this is a little waste of time: we are only a couple of days away from Apple’s first product launch of the year, and these products will eventually launch regardless of speculation. But there are worse ways to spend a Sunday evening than indulging in some careless speculation.

The “Mac Studio”, “more powerful Mac Mini”, and “smaller Mac Pro” reported by Mark Gurman in 2020 are likely all the same product. I bet whatever this is replaces the current Mac Mini in a similar way to how, in 2018, a much more powerful Mac Mini replaced its predecessor and effectively changed its role in the lineup. No longer was it the cheap Mac for someone just trying to replace their tower Windows box at the lowest price. Overnight, it became a computer that worked as well for someone exploring the Mac world for the first time as it did for an experienced developer who was not in the market for a standalone model as hardcore as the Mac Pro.

The timing of the new iMac Pro seems like a question of supply chain capacity. When it announced its transition to its own systems-on-chips in June 2020, Apple said it expected its lineup to be fully transitioned in two years. Perhaps this is simply a case of priorities changing so systems more closely related to existing processors — like this new Mac Studio product — can launch ahead of the iMac Pro and Mac Pro.

These new displays, though — that is where I am having the most trouble reconciling these rumours. Kuo is calling for a lower-cost non-mini-LED display, but Espósito says the “Studio Display” will be a 7K model. Gurman has said Apple is working on two displays, and the report from Young — who is a display analyst — says the iMac Pro will have a mini-LED panel. All that indicates, to me, at least three different types of display: a standalone 27-inch model without mini-LEDs, a mini-LED model built into the iMac Pro — which I assume will stay around 27 inches — and a bigger display also with mini-LEDs to replace the Pro Display XDR.

Silly season seems to come earlier every year.