Clap. Clap. Clap.
The era of Apple being an arrogant “can’t innovate anymore, my ass!” and out-of-touch behemoth obsessed with making thinner gadgets is over. Its return to function (but not at the expense of still-sleek form) was in full show at its Peek Performance event today.
After blowing through refreshes for the 2022 iPhone SE, iPad Air 5, Apple announced what everyone was waiting for: the Mac Studio and Studio Display. Yes, the Mac Studio is expensive, starting at $1,999 for the M1 Max version and $3,999 for the M1 Ultra model, and so too is the Studio Display which goes for $1,599 for the standard glass version, $1,899 for the nano-texture glass, and $1,999 with the special tilt- and height-adjustable stand. But ignoring the pricing, which let’s be real, is always a premium for Apple products and is aimed at prosumers, Apple once again reminded everyone it’s different now.
Jony Ive has not been in the driver’s seat at Cupertino since 2019 and Apple’s hardware team seems to legitimately be listening to what users actually want in their machines.
Apple’s hardware team seems to legitimately be listening to what users actually want.
I could spend an entire article unpacking the sheer performance of the M1 Ultra chip — up to 3.8x faster CPU versus the 27-inch iMac, up to 90 percent faster CPU than the 16-core Mac Pro, up to 4.5x faster GPU performance than the 27-inch iMac, etc. — but the thing that immediately got me on the Mac Studio was the ports. There are so many ports on the Mac Studio — both on the front and back. The Mac Studio is a love letter to professionals and creators. “We see you, and we know you need them, lots of them, so here you go. They’re back!”
Right on the front, there are two USB-C (M1 Max, up to 10Gb/s) / Thunderbolt 4 (M1 Ultra, up to 40Gb/s) and — my favorite — an SDXC card slot (UHS-II). Apple brought it back on the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros last year and now the Mac Studio has it. It still somewhat upsets me that the SD card is now considered a “pro” feature, but I am so glad it’s back.
Apple was wrong when it thought the SD card was the past and wireless media transfer was the future. I would love to live in that world, but the reality is that SD cards are still commonly used in cameras. And their capacities are only getting higher. SD cards will be around for a long time, full-size or micro. Good to see the port is recognized as essential now.
On the rear of the Mac Studio:
- 4x Thunderbolt 4 (up to 40Gb/s)
- 2x USB-A ports (up to 5Gb/s)
- 1x HDMI port
- 1x 10Gb Ethernet jack
- 1x 3.5 mm headphone jack (Pro audio, supports high-impedance headphones or external amplified speakers)
HDMI! USB-A! Is this the same Apple that shipped the MacBook Pros with the very bad, easily breakable butterfly keyboards, the Touch Bar, and ditched every port for USB-C? All is forgiven. If that was the old Apple, good riddance. New Ive-free Apple is checking off all the boxes to please people.
I mean, old Apple would not have made half the Mac Studio a cooling system to ensure the whole system is silent and cool. Old Apple shipped the trash can Mac Pro and alienated pros for years.
The Studio Display is almost exactly the Apple-made display everyone (including myself) has been asking for. A 27-inch 5K display with two types of stands (tilt or tilt- and height-adjustable) that isn’t the janky LG UltraFine one. The Studio Display has a built-in 12-megapixel camera (same quality as the iPad Air 5 according to Apple), a six-speaker system that supports Spatial Audio, and three USB-C ports (1x Thunderbolt 3 and 3x USB-C). It comes in either standard glossy glass or nano-texture glass for less glare. And most importantly, starting at $1,599 it’s way cheaper than the $4,999 (without stand!) Pro Display XDR.
Now, the Studio Display is not without its own fine print. The screen is not mini-LED (even the M1 iPad Pro is), the brightness only maxes out at 600 nits versus the Pro Display XDR’s 1,600 nits of peak brightness (1,000 sustained), and its refresh rate is only 60Hz, not 120Hz. I’ve been spoiled by the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro’s 120Hz ProMotion displays and there’s just no going back. Sure, the Pro Display XDR only tops out at 60Hz, too, but there are plenty of third-party displays with higher refresh rates for the same or lower price as the Studio Display. Look, not a perfect screen, but still offers a lot. That’s a step up from Apple ending production for its Thunderbolt Displays and then farming them out to LG to make a crummier product.
I said on Twitter after the MacBook Pro event last year that Apple was breaking my brain. Apple broke my brain again today. The company is making products with features that customers want as opposed to features it thinks users should adapt to. Apple gets it again. I strongly believe Apple is going to keep breaking our brains with new products. I welcome it. Love to have my brain broken (in a good way).