Apple’s aptly named Spring Loaded event on 4/20 revealed a couple of neat products with the usual cinematography that an Apple keynote revels in. Its 23.5" iMacs are its best yet, with Apple’s custom M1 silicon no longer restricted to MacBooks and the Mac mini. 85% faster CPU performance and up to 50% better GPU performance are claims that are no longer within the realm of fiction. The new Mac’s seven vibrant hues remind me of the original candy-colored iMacs that pushed Apple’s fortunes forward.
Equipped with a 4.5K Retina Display with 11.3 million pixels, Apple managed to cram a productive workhorse with a tidy screen into a 11.5 mm thick system. P3 1B color support and True Tone tech in addition to a beast of an audio system (six speakers and two pairs of force-canceling woofers) round out the impressive yet svelte package. And yes, there’s an ever-important 1080p webcam sitting above that gorgeous display. But what’s below that fine screen is what’s bothering me.
White bezels and an airstrip for a chin?
That first part still makes little sense to me. Black bezels have been the de facto standard on displays since time immemorial. Even Apple’s own swanky Pro Display XDR plays by that rule. As for the chin, there’s a good reason why it still exists. Chins made sense back when technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today and when bezel slaying wasn’t a national pastime.
In 2021, the 23.5" iMac looks woefully outdated next to its 32" sibling launched two years ago. Sure, Apple’s Pro Display XDR cost $5000 at launch and doesn’t have to stuff in a meaty processor. But I don’t remember the last time someone bothered about monitor thickness. I’d have rather had a thicker display without that highway of metal at the bottom.
Judging by the device’s critical reception, I’m not the only one who expected a smaller version of Apple’s excellent Pro Display XDR. No one complained about it being 27 mm thick despite not having a processor inside. During the presentation, an image showed that most of the internal space in the new iMac was empty, save for the chin packed with components. This allowed Apple to drastically reduce the device’s thickness. But at what cost?
Does Apple still have its chin in the game?
A thicker M1 iMac without the chin would have been heralded as a step forward for the Cupertino giant. While chins gave a sense of identity to smartphones, Apple didn’t hesitate to drop TouchID in favor of slimmer bezels. They could have done it the way Microsoft designed its Surface Studio, by placing the power-sipping components in a small enclosure at the base of the monitor.
Perhaps Apple is saving the inevitable chin trim for a successor. And with its chips getting more powerful and efficient with time, I suppose it’ll happen sooner than later. But for a major redesign, the first major one since 2012, I expected more. Apple can’t just keep its chin up this time.