Let’s get one thing straight – I absolutely love my M1 Mac mini. It has all but replaced my 16” MacBook Pro and delivers power the latter required three times the price to provide.
After just two weeks of using the mini, I was convinced it was game changing.
However, as noted in my initial two-week review, the M1 mini has a big problem. And, since that review, I’ve realised just how big a problem it is.
Here are my experiences with the M1 Mac mini Bluetooth issues.
What is the problem, exactly?
Mac mini bluetooth issues are not new – it’s worth bearing that in mind. Indeed, they plagued the 2018 Intel version of Apple’s definitive desktop powerhouse, too.
The issues with the M1 mini’s Bluetooth connectivity were first reported back in November. The inevitable support threads on Apple’s own community forms immediately kicked into life with people complaining about multiple connection issues with both third-party and Apple’s own wireless hardware.
Many describe the issues as making the machine “virtually unusable”, due to the fact that it impacts devices such as keyboards and mice.
There has been speculation that the problem relates to interference with USB 3.0 peripherals which transmit within the 2.4 to 2.5GHz range. How this translate to the real world is pretty simple: if you own an M1 Mac mini, you’ll be constantly plagued with the mouse and keyboard intermittently disconnecting themselves.
For me, the problem extends far beyond that and it has soured the experience of what should be Apple’s finest desktop machine.
How the M1 Mac mini Bluetooth issues impact my day
I bought the M1 Mac mini to retain a super-fast workflow and plenty of performance headroom. The 16” MacBook Pro did this brilliantly, and while it still amazes me that a computer which costs a fraction of the price can do the same, things quickly get ugly when it comes to Bluetooth.
Having now used the M1 Mac mini for nearly a month, I’ve noticed the following Bluetooth-related issues.
- Random keyboard connectivity problems. My Keychron K2 keyboard is now permanently wired to the mini. That’s how bad it is.
- Inability to use my Logitech mouse via Bluetooth. If I try and connect my MX Master 3 mouse to the Mac mini via Bluetooth, it drops the connection randomly and performs erratically. I’ve had to resort to the Logitech USB dongle to achieve flawless performance.
- Unreliable AirDrop. I use AirDrop all of the time, but it’s damn near unusable on the M1 Mac mini. Devices just don’t show up and the finder window hangs on both the mini and other Macs when I attempt to initiate a file transfer.
- Unusable AirPod connections. If I connect my AirPods (both Pro and Max) to the mini, the audio constantly cuts out. It’s totally unusable.
However, I have a feeling these Bluetooth issues are impacting other devices in my studio, too. I have no hard evidence on which to base this, bar some ‘weirdness’ that has taken place since the M1 mini was placed on my desk.
For instance, I have a 27” iMac sitting on a desk opposite the Mac mini’s and I can no longer trust the connection between the iMac and my AirPods Pro for calls. People complain of my audio stuttering and fading in and out of existence. Similarly, any bluetooth keyboard I connect to that computer appears to randomly disconnect.
The issues extend to my iPhone, too, which occasionally drops its connection momentarily to my AirPods Max and other bluetooth headphones.
A coincidence? I’m not convinced.
Exhausted just reading the above? Imagine living with it.
Does it affect M1 MacBooks?
I haven’t tested Bluetooth extensively on my M1 MacBook Air, but reports suggest that the issues largely impact the Mac mini.
A member of my Discord server has conducted his own tests, which appear to back this up:
“From what I’m seeing it seems to be most prominent on the Mini. Tested connecting multiple bluetooth devices on my M1 Air and swapping to and from as well. Little to no issues.”
So, if you’re solely in – or thinking of entering – the M1 MacBook world, you’re probably safe.
Is Apple fixing the M1 Mac mini Bluetooth issues?
It’s being widely reported that macOS Big Sur 11.2 is due for public release imminently. It might even have arrived by the time you read this blog post.
There are suggestions from those who have tried the beta that 11.2 largely fixes the Bluetooth issues, and Apple references them in its release notes:
macOS Big Sur 11.2 improves Bluetooth reliability and fixes the following issues:
- External displays may show a black screen when connected to a Mac mini (M1, 2020) using an HDMI to DVI converter
- Edits to Apple ProRAW photos in the Photos app may not save
- iCloud Drive could turn off after disabling the iCloud Drive Desktop & Documents Folders option
- System Preferences may not unlock when entering your administrator password
- Globe key may not display the Emoji & Symbols pane when pressed
My biggest concern is that the issue actually relates to interference which, I’m assuming, isn’t something that can be fully fixed via a software update. But we’ll see.
I’m curious, though – who else has experienced the same kind of Bluetooth issues I have on their M1 Mac mini?