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At this point, Apple’s 27-inch iMac is starting to seem like a bit of a dinosaur in the company’s product lineup. It’s the only consumer Mac that remains stuck on Intel — six months after its smaller sibling got a radically new design thanks to Apple’s M1 chip.
Of course, we’re confident that Apple is working on it, and the delay suggests that it has something much more impressive than just a larger screen in mind. After all, Apple could have easily released a 27-inch model alongside the 24-inch one last spring. That would have been par for the course, in fact, as the smaller and larger iMacs have nearly always been updated together.
This year, though, things are quite different, the smaller iMac got a screen boost from the older 21.5-inch model to a gorgeous new 24-inch display that also manages to be incredibly slim. Apple also released it in seven vibrant new colours, marking the first time in over 20 years that a desktop Mac has been available in anything other than silver or white.
Despite this, however, the larger iMac was nowhere to be found, which led to speculation that Apple plans to pack an even better chip into it, much like the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro lineup gained the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
While October’s debut of these new MacBooks was not accompanied by a new iMac — in fact, we didn’t even see the new Mac mini that we expected — we probably shouldn’t have been surprised.
Remember that Apple debuted the M1 chip on the MacBook Air and entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro a little over a year ago, but it didn’t find its way into an iMac until this past spring, six months later. It’s fair to say that the 27-inch iMac will follow the same pattern, with an M1 Pro/Max version coming in early 2022. That’s pretty much what all the reports we’ve been hearing are saying as well.
While there’s no doubt that the larger iMac will be more powerful — there have even been some suggestions Apple could call it the “iMac Pro” — reports are somewhat divided as to what else we can expect.
For example, it’s unclear whether the new iMac will retain a 27-inch display, or grow beyond that to 30, or even 32 inches. A size increase seems reasonable, considering that this year’s smaller iMac gained 2.5 inches over its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean that Apple has to follow suit with the larger version.
However, there’s one particularly interesting new report that’s surfaced this week, suggesting that Apple may be planning to bring the sort of fun new colours it introduced on the 24-inch iMac this year to the larger iMac as well.
According to DigiTimes, Apple plans to offer the “27-inch iMac” in multiple colours, although the report doesn’t elaborate on which colours, or even how many variations we’ll see.
We’ve already heard reports that the larger iMac will follow the same design language as the 24-inch model, but that’s more or less what we’d expect. Apple’s own M-series chips let it pack a lot more technology into a much smaller space, especially since they don’t require the cooling and power management systems of an Intel CPU, nor the additional space to house a discrete AMD GPU.
If true, Apple could go with the same colour palette of the 24-inch iMac, or it could choose to use more “conservative” colours, in much the same way that it differentiates the standard iPhone from the iPhone Pro.
Could There be Two Larger iMacs?
From the reports we’ve been seeing, it’s also beginning to look like Apple may have two different iMacs in the pipeline, which might also explain why we’re hearing seemingly contradictory information.
For instance, we’ve heard solid reports that Apple is working on a 32-inch iMac, although that’s likely not the one coming early next year. If anything, that larger one might be the mythical “iMac Pro,” in which case it could wait for a new M-series chip, or take advantage of stacked M1 Max chips to offer even more power. This would make it a true successor to the 2017 iMac Pro.
Meanwhile, other reports suggest that what we’ll see in the spring will indeed be a 27-inch iMac, likely without the “Pro” designation. However, it seems likely this would get Apple’s more powerful M1 Pro/Max chips, which could muddy the waters a bit when it comes to the “Pro” designation.
Then again, it’s probably fair to say that ship has already sailed. While the M1 Pro/Max chips have only been used in the new MacBook Pro lineup, there’s also still last year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro that includes only an M1 chip.
Further, when Apple updates the Mac mini to feature the more powerful M1 Pro/Max chips — which seems almost certain, as there’s still an Intel model it has to get rid of — it would be a bit awkward to call it the “Mac mini Pro.”
As for the 27-inch iMac, it’s still very possible that Apple could bump that one to 30 inches, which would line up with earlier reports we’ve heard, and would make it consistent with the increase from the smaller iMac. However, this still doesn’t inherently mean that it will be the “iMac Pro,” especially if there’s another 32-inch model coming down the pike.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]