It’s All About the Mac Studio | Could the 27-inch ‘iMac Pro’ Be Gone for Good?

iMac Pro Concept Render 2022 Credit: AppleyPro / Twitter
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More evidence is piling up to suggest that Apple has driven the final nail into the coffin of the 27-inch iMac, and while there are still some conflicting rumours, it’s starting to sound a lot more plausible.

Last week, Apple surprised us with the Mac Studio, the first new entirely Mac to join Apple’s computing family in well over a decade. As if that wasn’t enough, it packed in a new M1 Ultra chip that outpaces the considerably more expensive Intel-based Mac Pro, and all in an enclosure that isn’t much larger than a Mac mini. In fact, it has an identical footprint — it’s just about 2.3 inches taller.

That wasn’t all, though. Apple also used this opportunity to unveil its first new display in years, and it was quite a sight to behold. The 27-inch Apple Studio Display wasn’t just a nice big screen — it also incorporated a 12-megapixel webcam with Center Stage support, a Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos speaker system, a studio-quality mic, and an A13 chip to power it all.

It also looked suspiciously like a 27-inch iMac. So much so that it immediately led several sources of previous rumours to concede that they were mistaken in their belief that Apple was working on a 27-inch iMac Pro. These folks now believe that what they’ve been seeing and reporting on is actually a 27-inch “Apple Studio Display Pro” — an upgraded version of the current studio display that will incorporate mini-LED technology.

The Mac Studio and Apple Studio Display also shook up the entire Mac lineup, most notably with the quiet retirement of the 27-inch iMac, a 2020 10th-gen Intel-based machine that most figured would stick around until Apple came up with a replacement.

The Future of Apple’s All-in-One Mac

To be clear, the 24-inch iMac will live on, which makes perfect sense, as an all-in-one like this is ideal for a consumer desktop Mac. In fact, some have suggested that Apple’s decision to move to a 24-inch screen should have tipped us off that the 27-inch model would soon be riding off into the sunset.

Apple has also said as much, telling Arstechnica and others that “the 27-inch iMac has reached end of life.” Similarly, when Apple SVP John Ternus said on stage last week that there was only “one more Mac” to go to Apple Silicon — the Mac Pro — he conspicuously omitted any mention of the iMac.

Still, some of the usual sources have been attempting to read in between the lines on this one, which isn’t entirely unfair. After all, the rumoured next-generation iMac was supposed to be an “iMac Pro” and not just an “iMac” — and there’s also no guarantee that it would only be 27 inches in size.

Hence, the statement that “the 27-inch iMac has reached end of life” doesn’t preclude Apple from releasing a 30-inch iMac, or a 27-inch “iMac Pro.”

Likewise, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman believes that Ternus’ statement, while technically correct, doesn’t tell the whole story, since the “iMac Pro” doesn’t technically exist — yet.

The company’s statement is still technically true: The Mac Pro will be the last new Mac to get Apple Silicon. That’s because the iMac Pro doesn’t actually exist as a product. How can Apple update something that isn’t available? The Intel 27-inch iMac was just discontinued, and the previous iMac Pro was killed off a year ago. Mark Gurman

Nonetheless, not everyone is quite so optimistic, and it’s probably a safe bet that if a new “iMac Pro” is coming at all, it’s most likely not going to arrive anytime soon. For instance, veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo went on record last week saying that the Mac Pro and iMac Pro aren’t slated to arrive until 2023.

Now, the folks at 9to5Mac have heard from their sources that “Apple currently has no plans to release a larger-screen iMac in the near future.” They note that this information is from the same sources that revealed Apple’s plans for the Mac Studio and Apple Studio Display, so they appear to have a higher degree of reliability.

Of course, “the near future” is open to interpretation, and this doesn’t mean that an iMac Pro isn’t being developed — in fact, it would line up with Kuo’s assessment that we’ll see something arrive next year. Some of the reports we’ve heard suggest that Apple could also make this a mid-tier Pro machine, featuring only an M1 Pro/Max (or M2 Pro/Max) class of chips, saving the M1 Ultra class for the Mac Studio.

Reports are mixed as to when we’ll see the next 24-inch iMac, but 9to5Mac is suggesting that won’t come before next spring either, which would line up with Apple’s release cycle for the M1 versions of its systems. We’ll likely still see an M2 MacBook Air this fall, likely also accompanied by an M2 Mac mini and 13-inch MacBook Pro, much like what happened in 2020. Then, a few months later, the new 24-inch iMac will arrive with the M2 chip in early 2023.

[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.]

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