Apple is expected to release a variety of new devices this year, and it’s likely that an updated 27-inch iMac and Mac Pro will be among them. These are the last Macs that still run Intel. And considering the two-year deadline Apple set to switch from using third-party processors to its own Silicon chips, it’s a safe bet we’ll see some Apple M versions in 2022. But for the March 8 event, the most likely announcement looks like a Mac Studio, a mini desktop plus a 27-inch display with the same iPad-like profile as the 24-inch iMac released last year.
While we don’t know many specifics, my guess is a new model of the 27-inch iMac will be announced at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this year, which usually happens in early June. If there are any new or unique capabilities that Apple’s planning to add with the annual operating system update, software developers need to be the first to know.
When will the new iMac be announced?
Though the first Apple event of 2022 is confirmed for March 8, the usually spot-on display expert Ross Young thinks it will be bumped from his initial estimate of early this year to debut sometime between June and August, since he doesn’t see panels for it shipping before June.
I think later timing, whatever the reason, makes more sense since a significant revamp for a higher-end system like this won’t mesh with the lower-end focus of Apple’s usual early-in-the-year announcements. There are always new features in the operating system that Apple likes to highlight at WWDC, and it’ll likely want a flagship system like this to show them off.
What type of screen will it have and how big will it be?
So far, it looks like the initial rumors of a mini-LED-backlit display — the same type Apple’s adopted for many of its other products like the MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and iPhone 13 — remain current according to Young. Like those other products, this will likely have a ProMotion display with a maximum 120Hz refresh rate.
I’ve seen some scattered moaning about “fewer zones” for the backlight, since that means less granular control over local dimming in HDR and therefore a potentially worse experience. But really bright LED backlights of 1,000 nits or more generate a lot of heat. A lot. So to be able to cool the display (and all the other heat-generating components Apple crams into it) and keep it thin would probably require some technological feats that would jack up the price. Look at the Pro Display XDR: The entire back is a heatsink, it’s a lot thicker than most monitors and it costs upwards of $4,999.
As for how big it will be, though initial rumors pegged it at 32 inches (like the Pro Display XDR), for the moment it looks like it will remain 27 inches.
Wait, what? A Mac Studio instead?
This is an interesting question, since rumors of a large, revamped iMac tend to be vague. MacRumors thinks that a new 27-inch iMac will simply be branded “iMac Pro” to differentiate it from its 24-inch entry-level sibling. That might make sense. There’s no longer a MacBook, for instance, just the MacBook Air and MacBook Pros. (It’s also possible Apple could brand its rumored MacBook Pro 13 update as just “MacBook” and make the iMac naming supposition moot.) Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts that an iMac Pro could launch soon, writing that Apple is preparing for new Mac releases at the next Apple event in March and in May or June.
Given MacRumors’ expectation that whatever it’s called will incorporate the M1 Pro and M1 Pro Max chips which launched with the 14- and 16-inch M1 MacBook Pros in late 2021, however, the door remains ajar for an even higher-end Pro model with the earlier rumored 32-inch screen and possibly whatever CPU and GPU combos of Apple silicon end up in an all-Apple Mac Pro. The original iMac Pro was discontinued in 2021.
However, last-minute word from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, plus a report from AppleTrack based on leaks to Luke Miani accompanied by purported pictures, both indicate that a Mac Studio will be arriving before the big iMac. As shown, the Studio consists of what looks like a double-height Mac Mini and a 27-inch display that looks more like the smaller iMac than the big Pro XDR model. The monitor’s also thought by some to have an embedded M or A series processor, which was rumored to be in testing back back in July 2021. The Studio may account for the rumors about an upgraded Mac Mini that have also been floating around.
What else will we see?
There has been no mention of other design aspects, potential features or reliable rumors about it coming in colors like the iMac 24. It’s a good bet that it will incorporate an upgraded webcam. After all, Apple managed to get one in the 24-inch iMac.
It would be nice to see a smarter design with, for example, a couple of the Thunderbolt ports and SD card reader on the side, a way to raise and lower the screen (maybe even swivel or rotate!), an HDMI connection, user-upgradeable memory and storage and support for Face ID. But I don’t hold out much hope for any of that.
When and how much?
If the announcement happens around June, it could potentially ship close to when the new operating system becomes available. Young tentatively pegs it for August at the earliest. As for pricing, until we know more about the components and features, I can’t even hazard a guess. And I haven’t seen anyone else hazarding yet either. We don’t even have a ballpark for the Mac Studio, but $1,500 total would be reasonable provided it has the same or better specs as the MacBook 16.