Last week, I revealed that for as incredible a machine as the M1 Mac mini might be, it was crippled by one huge problem.
The Bluetooth was completely unreliable.
Some people questioned why this was such a big issue. For me, the inability to use wireless devices and seamlessly switch my AirPods between Macs was a productivity killer and source of immense sense of frustration. It impacted my ability to get things done for my business, and I suspect that was the same for many other owners.
I was even experiencing problems with Bluetooth devices that weren’t connected to the Mac mini. For instance, while attempting to use my AirPods Pro on an adjacent iMac, the audio and mic would constantly stutter and cut out, making video calls impossible.
Yesterday, Apple launched the long-awaited macOS 11.2 update – early beta releases of which had fixed the Bluetooth issues on M1 Mac minis. But with readers of my previous article suggesting that older intel machines were also troublesome with Bluetooth, is 11.2 really the fix that has been so long coming?
Has Apple admitted the M1 Mac mini Bluetooth issues?
In classic Apple style, they’ve covered it as much as they feel they need to. That’s why the release notes for macOS 11.2 simply say, “improves Bluetooth reliability”.
That isn’t an admission or recognition of the tidal wave of complaints and frustration echoed across the web on Reddit, Medium articles and within Apple’s own support forums. In fact, the only place in which the Bluetooth issue was conspicuous by its absence was, interestingly, the big-name influencer crowd.
But, then, we’re used to this with Apple.
I’m labouring the point here because the M1 Mac mini Bluetooth issue was significant and caused a great many people some serious problems. It also spoilt my initial experience with what is, arguably, the most exciting Apple Mac I’ve ever owned.
The fact Apple hasn’t admitted the problem or gone into any detail about which Macs it affects does concern me. What have they done, exactly, in 11.2 to fix it? Does the use of the word ‘improves’ rather than ‘fixes’ signal that there are still inherent Bluetooth issues with the Mac mini’s design?
But, who cares, right? You just want to know if it has fixed my issues.
Did macOS 11.2 fix my M1 Mac mini Bluetooth issues?
Yes, it did. Big time.
I have used the Mac mini for nine hours of solid work today, and it’s a completely different computer now that macOS 11.2 is installed.
Here are my findings.
Keychron K3 keyboard
I’m currently using a Keychron K3 wireless RGB keyboard with the M1 Mac mini. Prior to 11.2, it would not maintain a connection for love nor money.
If I left it while the Mac fell asleep, I’d have to say goodbye to the Bluetooth connection, but it would also randomly disconnect while in use, too (and it was near impossible to reconnect it).
Last night, after installing macOS 11.2, I removed the USB cable from the K3, took one large breath, and connected it via Bluetooth.
This morning, it was still connected. And it has remained solidly connected all day. There hasn’t been a single issue.
Result: totally fixed.
Logitech MX Master 3 mouse
Prior to macOS 11.2, the MX Master 3 mouse I now love dearly would not play ball with my Mac mini via Bluetooth.
The pointer would skid and stutter across the screen making it barely useable, and leaving me with no option but to use Logitech’s own dongle (which restored its buttery-smooth operation but left me with one less USB port on an already port-starved computer).
Under 11.2, the MX Master 3 mouse is… no different. It still runs like a dog on Bluetooth. However, I think that’s an inherent issue with the mouse and Mac combo in this case, as some quick research on the topic suggests it’s a common issue.
So, I’ve had to stick with the dongle.
Result: not fixed (but it may not have been related to the Bluetooth issue).
AirPods (Pro and Max)
I’m sitting here typing away on my M1 Mac mini with a pair of AirPods Max connected wirelessly. In fact, they have been connected pretty much all day and they haven’t dropped a millisecond of audio, once.
This is quite a thing. Before macOS 11.2, the AirPods Max (and, indeed, any third-party pair of Bluetooth headphones) were unusable on the Mac mini. They’d constantly cut out and barely ever reconnect quickly if at all.
Now, they behave exactly as they should. Audio never drops and switching to the AirPods Max on the Mac mini while they’re attached to another device is much, much quicker.
It’s the same story with my AirPods Pro too if you’re in that camp.
Result: totally fixed.
General Bluetooth weirdness
As noted in my original article about the M1 Mac mini’s Bluetooth problems, there had been a noticeable increase in connectivity issues since installing that computer in my studio.
There were the aforementioned problems using my AirPods Pro on the iMac, but I’d also experience weird audio dropouts while using the AirPods Max on my iPhone.
With macOS 11.2 installed, all of these issues have completely disappeared. And I should probably note at this juncture that I have a total of four Macs in this small studio, along with countless Bluetooth headphones, an Apple Watch, HomePod mini, two smartphones and two iPads.
That’s a lot of Bluetooth activity. But all of it, from what I can tell after a day of hard graft, is working in perfect harmony.
Result: totally fixed.
What has your experience been?
I contemplated waiting a couple more days to write this report but thought I’d tempt fate, so positive has the experience been. However, it’s clear that there was a lot wrong, so comprehensive is the change and overall experience now I’ve updated macOS.
But I’m curious – if you’ve installed macOS 11.2 and had experienced Bluetooth issues beforehand, has it fixed it for you? Let me know below!