As we head into March, the Apple rumour mill is gathering pace. What we’ll see at the next event is anyone’s guess, but I’m going to focus on one rumour today which is getting me rather excited.
Let’s talk about the next iMac.
What can we expect from the 2021 iMac?
As noted by MacRumors.com, the long-awaited iMac redesign is likely to include thinner bezels, an overall fit and finish which will resemble the Pro Display XDR and a bunch of iPad Air-inspired colour options.
If true, this will be the biggest design change to Apple’s all-in-one desktop computer since 2012.
I still have (and use) a 2017 27” 5K iMac. And, despite having switched recently to an M1 Mac mini and 34” widescreen monitor, I still have a very special place in my heart for that iMac.
But I can’t deny that it’s looking rather outdated. What’s more, my early experiences of Apple silicon have made me incredibly excited for what Apple might do next without the need for Intel.
I think it’s pretty clear that the next Apple M-series chip is going to debut in an iMac of some kind. That’s where I’ll start my wish list, but there are a few other essentials Apple will need to throw my way if I’m to part with my hard-earned.
I’ve identified six things I need to see from the next iMac if it’s to be worth investing in for my business.
1. The next iteration of Apple silicon
I’m blown away by what I can do with the M1 Mac mini. It never stutters, sweats or exhales (honestly – I cannot get the fan to spin up), and handles every single task I throw at it daily.
In fact, it’s so good that I wonder where Apple will take it next. Beyond the next iMac, the prospect of the sequel to the M1 Mac mini gets me very excited indeed.
But the iMac is probably going to get there first, and that means it’ll probably pack in a new variant of the M chip – unless Apple decides to simply chuck in the current M1. The latter wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, but I’d much rather see a few more cores (for both the CPU and GPU), higher RAM options and the ability to cope with more ports.
To be honest, if it turns out to be just another M1 machine in an iMac suit, I’ll probably wait.
2. No fiddling with ports
I think I’ve found a pretty decent interim solution for the lack of ports on the M1 Mac mini, but it’s still a troublesome Achilles heel for the Apple chip.
My 27” iMac is the only Apple computer in my studio which has decent connectivity. There are two USB-C ports, four USB-A ports and that all-important SD card slot.
It’s hard to overemphasise just how important that SD card slot is to a video creator and photographer. It shaves off significant time each month when it comes to transferring large files, and completely rids the need for any form of a dongle.
Please, please don’t take it away, Apple.
To be honest, I’ll just be happy if they leave the ports as they are. A couple more USB-C ports would be nice, but I think that’s unlikely.
3. A new design
As much as I love my 27” iMac, it looks old. Those bezels are indeed huge, and the design is closing in on its tenth birthday.
Granted, there’s not a huge amount you can do with an all-in-one computer design, but I do like the idea of a Pro Display XDR aesthetic. Smaller bezels are really all that’s needed. If the new iMac has a flat back with zero impact on thermal performance, that’ll be nice, but I place my iMac against a wall, therefore any additional exterior changes aren’t going to be appreciated on a daily basis.
The iMac signalled a triumphant return of Steve Jobs when it was introduced in 1998, and it was the design which took centre stage; “the back of our computer looks better than the front of the other guys’,” said Jobs. If Apple needs to do anything with the next version, it’s throw in a heady sense of nostalgia with a design which once again elevates its all-in-one to the front of the national conscience.
4. A better webcam
I’m fully away that the latest update to the 27” iMac includes a 1080p webcam, and while I’ve never tried it for myself, it does appear to be a decent upgrade to the current 720p ‘potato’ in mine.
I want at least that in the new iMac, but I’d like Apple to lean on that M chip as much as they can in order to improve dynamic range (the webcam in my iMac is hilariously bad in that regard).
And, no – I don’t care if the computer needs to be thicker as a result.
5. Face ID
Go, on, Apple. Why not?
Biometric security is sorely missing from my iMac. Touch ID would be a bad move, because it’d demand use of Apple’s bundled keyboard, and I, like many others, would rather keep my third-party mechanical keyboard.
Face ID is a must for the new iMac – I cannot think of a single reason not to include it.
6. A higher-quality LCD panel (or better)
I should start this wish list item by confirming that I love the 5K 27” iMac screen. It’s beautiful.
But it has one irritating issue: screen uniformity.
I know this is an inherent problem with LCD technology, but my iMac (and, indeed, every other I’ve used) does have noticeable issues with screen brightness across the panel. Move a white window around the screen, and you’ll spot dark patches.
I’ve got used to it, but the poor screen uniformity bothered me when I first purchased the iMac. It doesn’t seem right that such a high quality, high-DPI screen with such fantastic colour reproduction should suffer from a poor panel.
At the moment, it’s a lottery when it comes to screen uniformity on most Mac displays. While I know this isn’t of concern to most ‘normal’ consumers, the next iMac is Apple’s opportunity to really up their panel game. Whether that simply means a higher-quality LCD, better QA or introduction of new display technology is for people far smarter than me to debate.
I just want an iMac with consistent screen brightness across that panel please, Apple.
That’s it! I don’t want for much, really. I’ve written recently about the need for Apple to drop the ‘Pro’ moniker, and I think the next iMac will give them the perfect opportunity to do just that.
We don’t need an iMac Pro anymore – we just need a brilliant desktop which can be configured to satisfy each owner’s budget and task load.
So… what have I missed above?