Apple Shakes up Its 2021 Colour Palette with Starlight and Midnight

Starlight Midnight Colors Compared Credit: Apple
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One of the smaller but more interesting surprises in this year’s iPhone 13 lineup was Apple’s choice to move away from the more basic black, white, and silver scheme into a more creative and classy palette.

White and silver have always been staple colours in Apple’s product lineup – from the very first iPod through an era of iBook and plastic MacBook laptops and iMacs, and even into today’s AirPods, glossy white electronics have become almost synonymous with Apple’s brand.

Likewise, Apple’s early foray into aluminum G4 Powerbooks nearly 20 years ago introduced the silver designs that have carried through to today’s MacBooks.

While it hasn’t appeared quite as often in Apple’s product history, glossy black finishes entered the room with Apple’s 2004 Special Edition U2 iPod, and then went mainstream with the original 2005 iPod nano. This was followed up with a metallic black finish when the 2007 iPod classic switched out the traditional plastic front for aluminum, along with a matte black for Apple’s then-plastic entry-level MacBooks.

Naturally, these colours came to Apple’s early iPhone models as well, with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS both available with glossy black and white backings, and gorgeous black and white glass finishes on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Although Apple abandoned these basic colours for a few years, moving toward silvers and greys instead, the basic black and white returned with the debut of the iPhone XR back in 2018 — the first mainstream iPhone that was available in anything besides grey, silver, and gold.

With so much of Apple’s history invested in black, white, and silver, it’s a bit surprising that it’s abandoned these basic colours in this year’s iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPad mini, and Apple Watch Series 7, replacing them with two new ones instead: Midnight and Starlight.

To be fair, these new shades actually help to unify Apple’s products a bit more, especially in the case of the iPhone 13, where the black and white models always seemed like outliers next to the Apple Watch and Apple’s colourful new iPad Air and 24-inch iMac.

Although both Midnight and Starlight replace Black, White, Silver, and Space Grey in their respective products, they’re both different enough that you shouldn’t assume that they’re direct replacements. If you’re considering an iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7, or iPad mini this year, you may want to check out these new shades in person before you commit to your colour choice.

Midnight vs. Black and Space Grey

Except for the iPhone 13 Pro, which comes in the same Graphite finish as last year’s iPhone 12 Pro, the rest of Apple’s new product lineup has settled on a common new dark Midnight colour.

We’ll have to wait until we get our hands on the new devices to get a true feel for what Midnight looks like, but it appears to be more of an extremely dark blue or indigo, as opposed to pure black.

On the iPhone 13, Midnight is just as dark as the Black iPhone 12, but on the Apple Watch it comes in slightly darker than the aluminum Space Grey.

Starlight vs. White and Silver

Similarly, Starlight has an off-white look that’s more akin to champagne, although not quite as pink or gold as that implies. It’s probably better to think of it as a slightly warmer version of silver.

As with Midnight, the new Starlight colour is common to the iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7, and new iPad mini. It replaces the white found on the iPhone 12, and the silver Apple Watch Series 6, and fifth-generation iPad mini.

‘Premium’ Colours

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Midnight and Starlight are only available on the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, and the aluminum Apple Watch Series 7. It’s clear that Apple doesn’t see these as “premium” colours.

By contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are sticking with the same Graphite, Gold, and Silver colours as last year, and adding Sierra Blue as the unique colour option, replacing the Pacific Blue and Midnight Green or prior Pro models.

The Stainless Steel Apple Watch Series 7 and Titanium Apple Watch Series 7 Edition models will also continue in the same finishes as last year, which means Silver, Gold, and Space Black for the Stainless Steel model, and Space Black and natural Titanium for the Edition version.

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