Apple has a better track record updating iMac-display tech than display-display tech

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Since 2014, we’ve been waiting for Apple to release a 27-inch standalone display. Apple discontinued the Intel 27-inch iMac without a planned Apple silicon-powered variant for this year in the process.

Apple’s all-in-one desktops may be disappointing to some, but there’s a chance that this might be good news for the company’s display goals — or bad news.

Let’s ignore the 4.5K iMac (which lacks nano-texture) and the 6K Pro Display XDR (which lacks a stand) for the time being.

In the past few years, Apple has released four separate displays that cost less than $6,000:

  • The 27-inch Studio Monitor (2022)
  • The Thunderbolt Display has a 27-inch screen (2011)
  • A 27-inch Cinema Display (2010)
  • Display Size: 24 Inches (2008)
  • It’s been 14 years since the last display change.

It’s easy to point to four display upgrades in the iMac space over that period:

  • P3 color gamut at 5K resolution
  • Nano-textured glass for True Tone display

Every one of these features is available or included in Apple Studio Display, but it’s important to remember that the screen improvements were made using hardware revisions of the iMac.

These additions were spaced out by no more than a few years. That’s compared to the pace of Apple’s display refreshes on a standalone basis.

Apple’s iMac display characteristics have outperformed its standalone display capabilities by a wide margin during the past eight years.

For starters, iMac displays have a better track record of introducing new capabilities than standalone monitors.

So where do we go from here? How do I go about answering this question? How often will Apple make incremental improvements to the Studio Display’s display? Or is the delivery of incremental display improvements dictated by iMac hardware updates?

However, I don’t think the desire for iterative displays improvements satisfied by recent generations of iMacs will be satisfied by a display model priced between Studio Display and Pro Display XDR. Only time will tell.

In two years, features like variable refresh rate and HDR support are more likely to be found in a mid-tier monitor rather than an updated Studio Display for the same price. However, I would love to be incorrect about this.

True Tone or optional nano-textured glass, on the other hand? In the future, would new iMacs and updated Studio Displays have features of this caliber at a similar pricing point?

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