We’ve been hearing reports of Apple working on some pretty big redesigns for its lineup of Mac computers, from its MacBooks to the venerable desktop iMac, and now it’s looking like Apple may be making one even bolder move than we first expected, bringing colour to its desktop computers for the first time in well over 20 years.
While the design of Apple’s iMac has become downright iconic, it’s also arguably gotten a little stale, having remained basically unchanged in almost a decade.
Apple first moved to the all-aluminum design back in 2009, and then in 2012 it slimmed the edges down significantly, presenting a more tapered side-profile, which has been the standard design ever since. Even when Apple added a Retina 5K display in 2014, it didn’t result in any change in the physical design.
So we were pretty enthused when we heard rumours last year that a major redesign was on the horizon, and while some predicted that it was right around the corner, later reports threw some cold water on that idea, particularly since it seemed like the transition to a new design would be tied to the move to Apple Silicon, which Apple wasn’t ready to bring to the iMac last year. This was confirmed when what actually did arrive was a 10th-gen Intel i9 iMac, which offered several nice spec boosts, including finally offering a 1080p FaceTime camera for the first time ever.
However, with the iMac almost definitely making the move to Apple Silicon this year, it’s safe to say that the anticipated fresh new design will also be upon us, and while we’ve seen some really cool concept renders for a futuristic computing platform, now a new leak suggests that Apple could very well be going the other way instead, with a more retro design.
A Big Visual Update
The news comes from prolific leaker Jon Prosser, who claims to have information that Apple will offer the new iMac in the same colours as last fall’s iPad Air — Space Grey, Silver, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue.
This would mark the first time since before 2009 that the iMac has been available in anything other than the classic Apple silver aluminum, and the first time since the late 1990s that any Mac has offered traditional colours like blue and green.
Before 2009, the iMac featured a plastic enclosure in the then-iconic glossy Apple white — the same colour used in Apple’s lower-end iBook laptop (in the days before they all became “MacBooks”), and of course, all the early iPods.
However, to see any real colours on Apple’s desktop computer, you’d have to go all the way back to the iMac G3, first released in 1998. This was the last version of the Mac to feature a full CRT display, and it was originally released in a “Bondi Blue” design, which was later followed by five “Fruit Colours” — lime, strawberry, blueberry, grape, and tangerine, with about seven more colours eventually added over the lifespan of the product.
This would be the last time that Apple ever offered its computers in such fun colours, however, as the 2002 release of the iMac G4 adopted the flat-screen white design that would ultimately pave the way for the iMacs that we see today.
If Prosser’s information is correct, however, Apple may very well be taking us on a trip back to the era when Macs were much more fun, which also suggests that the new iMac could be much more consumer-focused than it’s been in recent years.
That said, even Prosser notes that these are only in the prototype stage right now, and while he’s shared an image of what they may look like, this is merely a concept render right now, and Prosser adds that some details remain unknown.
For example, his graphics show the normal collection of ports on the back, but Prosser was quick to point out that this is only for the renders, as he has not seen any images of the rear of these iMac prototypes.
Some other information Prosser shares has also been corroborated by other sources such as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, such as the edge-to-edge display and a return to a more squarish look that would follow the design language of the iPad Pro and Pro Display XDR.
In fact, Gurman weighed in last month, sharing that he’d been told by sources the iMac redesign will be “one of the biggest visual updates to any Apple product this year,” and it’s not hard to see how the addition of colours would fit into those plans.
Still, this does leave us with a few questions as to exactly what the iMac lineup may look like. While Apple will almost certainly offer replacements for both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac models, some have suggested that these may grow to 24 inches and 30 inches, respectively, and it’s unclear if Apple would offer both models in the full spectrum of colours, especially since it’s traditionally limited the more “fun” colours to its lower-end devices.
For instance, it was the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and iPhone 12 that received the widest selection of colours, while the iPhone XS, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro have stuck with more conservative options, expanding only into areas like Midnight Green and Pacific Blue. Likewise, while the iPad Air has a range of five colours to choose from, the iPad Pro remains limited to Space Grey and Silver.
We can even see the same with Apple’s MacBooks, where only the new M1 MacBook Air comes in Gold, with the MacBook Pro limited to the traditional Silver and Space Grey.
So it’s clear that limited colour options seems to be Apple’s design ethos for its “Pro” products, but of course, this begs the question as to exactly where the iMac fits into that. While Apple did release an iMac Pro back in 2017, so far, that’s been a one-off product that largely seemed to be designed to tide users over while awaiting a new Mac Pro, and it’s hard to say whether Apple has any reason to keep that product line alive now that the Mac Pro is back on track.
Regardless, though, it’s not hard to see how adding more colour options could help to position the iMac as a more consumer-friendly computer for homes and families, moving it away from the more sterile “boardroom” feel that it’s had for the past ten years.