With a lot of Apple products rumored or confirmed to receive updates in 2020, from the iPad Pro to the revamped MacBook Pro 14, attention has now turned to the iMac. Apple's famous all-in-one device was last updated in spring 2019. However, there is talk that it could be visited again sometime in 2020.
Is it only optimized or completely revised? What performance can we expect? And how much does it cost? We looked in the fog and analyzed the rumors to get answers to these and other questions.
Price and release date
Details about when we should expect a new iMac are very thin. However, there are two main ideas: that a publication is imminent or that it could be published in late 2020 or early 2021.
The reliable industry analyst Jon Prosser is an integral part of the first school of thought. On May 6, he tweeted that Apple had a new iMac model "ready to ship," adding that it "could fall at any time." This tweet came after the Twitter leaker CoinX, which previously provided reliable details about the new iPad Pro and other Apple products, released a cryptic tweet on March 4, claiming a new iMac was coming "soon".
This claim is supported by a tweet from the well-known treat Sonny Dickson. He claimed that not only will a new iMac be launched later this month at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), it will also be a revised model with several new features. For example, Dickson claims that the new iMac will use the "iPad Pro design language", which probably means flat edges on the sides of the display. He also said that it will have thin frames like the Pro Display XDR, and for the first time will include the T2 Security Chip and AMD Navi graphics cards. Finally, Dickson believes the new iMac will drop the Fusion Drive option. This could mean that every iMac comes with an SSD as standard, although it didn't mention the regular rotating disk option that may remain.
Other sources suggest that the release date may not be that soon. A report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in mid-April 2020 said Apple was working on a new iMac. There were no further details and a release date was missing from the report, which may indicate that the next iMac is still far away. A publication on the WWDC in June is also possible to receive an announcement about Memoji and Face ID.
The earlier versions of iMac from Apple show hardly any pattern. It was last updated in March 2019; In recent years, we've seen new iMacs in June 2017, October 2015, May 2015, October 2014, and June 2014. This indicates that updates occur approximately every two years and different models are updated within each update year. Given that the last update was in March 2019, an announcement later in 2020 or even early 2021 seems most likely. However, we could get an update earlier, but according to the China Times, Apple will launch an inexpensive 23-inch iMac in the second half of 2020.
In fact, these two seemingly different release periods don't have to contradict each other. Apple may very soon release an iMac with undisturbed specs and release a revised 23-inch version later in the year. Apple did something similar with the MacBook Pro in 2019, updating the 15-inch model in summer and completely replacing it with the MacBook Pro 16 in winter.
What about the price? The currently cheapest iMac costs $ 1,099, but is outdated with a 7th generation Intel processor, a 1 TB hard drive (and no SSD), integrated graphics and a 1080p display without retina. The next cheapest model is "more modern" (although it is still somewhat outdated according to competition standards), with an 8th generation Intel chip, a Radeon Pro 555X graphics card and a Retina 4K display. If Apple wants to keep the starting price at $ 1,099, an 8th generation Intel model will likely be kept as a low-end option, while newer versions will be launched at $ 1,299.
It is also possible that Apple will lower the price slightly to arouse more interest. The iMac is not the main seller in the Mac range (this award applies to different MacBook models), and Apple has recently lowered the price of the MacBook Air, suggesting the company won't refuse to do so when it is necessary holds. Offering an entry-level iMac for under $ 1,000 would be a great way to revive interest in the all-in-one computer.
23-inch design with thinner bezels
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
The current iMac design has been with us since 2012 (or 2007 if you count the slightly thicker models). As mentioned in our test of the latest model, you can take a look at the iMac 2019 and think it is a much older version. In particular, the thick bezels look completely out of place in 2020.
There is hope on this front, as Apple has shown its willingness to reduce the MacBook Pro 16's bezels. This not only has aesthetic advantages – the MacBook Pro 16 takes up almost exactly the same footprint as the older MacBook Pro 15, but is integrated. A larger screen thanks to these slim edges.
As the well-known Leaker Dickson claims, the iMac could get the same treatment. Even if Apple keeps the main case the same, thinning out the frames would not require much effort and at the same time bring tangible benefits. For example, the 21.5-inch and 27-inch variants could be upgraded to 23-inch and 29-inch models without having to change the main body. Something like that could actually be in the works, as a recent China Times report claims Apple will launch a 23-inch iMac in the second half of 2020, which is a redesigned 21, 5-inch iMac could trade with thinner bezels.
A much more radical approach has been hinted at in a recently revealed Apple patent. It turned out that the company is considering at least one all-in-one iMac, which consists of a single curved material plate. We'd love to see the iMac's design finally upgraded, and an overhaul like this would be an eye catcher. However, we haven't heard much more about this concept, so we think it needs to be filed for later rather than an upcoming design revision. However, there is nothing wrong with being hopeful.
A mini LED display and face recognition
Displays have always been one of Apple's strengths, and the iMac is no different. All current iMacs (with the exception of the 1080p remainder of the litter) offer 4K or even 5K panels with excellent color accuracy and razor-sharp resolutions.
We expect Apple to keep these resolution options on the next batch of iMacs (although we hope the 1080p version will be permanently deleted). Resolution is an area where Apple has little pressure to improve its game.
A noticeable improvement could take the form of a mini LED display. This could include 10,000 LEDs or more, resulting in a display that features HDR performance, contrast, and color rendering. However, this technology is expected to cost an arm and a leg, which could make it unreachable for the iMac. However, the iMac Pro could come up, as we'll discuss a little later.
Another thing we hope to see isn't about the screen itself, but the technology embedded in it: Face ID. While various MacBook models have a Touch ID that you can use to quickly log in and authenticate purchases, the iMac lacks any form of secure authentication.
However, there is hope in the form of a patent that Apple originally filed in September 2019. It includes a “biometric authentication module” built into the display of various Mac models, including an iMac. You can log in to your iMac simply by sitting at your desk and looking at your screen. This offers a much more seamless experience than entering a password or even using Touch ID.
We were even more excited about Face ID when Apple announced that the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) would begin on June 22nd. The event poster featured three 3D Memoji characters with Macs. Memoji are only made possible with the advanced technology included in the iPhone's camera module, and Face ID uses this module. Could this have been an indication that Face ID is coming to Macs and will be announced on WWDC?
Dickson's tweet could provide another clue. He claims the next iMac will come with the T2 security chip. On iPhone and iPad, face ID information is stored in the secure enclave, far from prying eyes. In contrast to these devices, the iMac does not currently have a dedicated security chip. However, this can change if Dickson is correct. This provides an ideal way to store facial ID data. This is not a guarantee, as all other Macs from Apple are equipped with the T2 security chip, but none work with Face ID. We keep our fingers crossed.
Performance: Intel or AMD?
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
In terms of performance, Apple's current iMacs range from 7th generation Intel dual-core chips on the 21.5-inch iMac to 9th generation on the 5K model. This includes the eight-core Core i9-9900K, a powerful chip for content creation and video editing.
As of now, this is the fastest Intel desktop chip Apple can use. Comet Lake's 10th generation desktop processors are expected to hit the market in 2020, but will continue to use the old 14nm process. Apple will likely wait for an update to these Comet Lake desktop chips to be available.
With all the delays from Intel bringing 10 nm to the desktop, this could be an opportunity for Apple to switch to one of the available alternatives, be it AMD or Apple's own A-series ARM chips.
There are indications that Apple will switch to AMD processors. MacOS code has been discovered that contains references to various AMD processors, including "Renoir", the code name for the new Ryzen 4000 series of chips. Apple may simply test these processors and may not bring them to devices like the iMac, but there are many reasons why such a switch would be fantastic for performance.
Several intriguing graphics chips were mentioned in the same MacOS leak, including AMD's Navi 21. We think this is a more likely candidate for future iMacs than AMD's CPUs, mainly because Apple already equips the iMac with AMD GPUs. Navi 21 is said to be a large, powerful component that is twice as fast as AMD's 5700 XT graphics card. For this reason, there is a possibility that Apple will reserve them for the iMac Pro and not for the regular iMac (more on this later). In Sonny Dickson's latest tweet, AMD Navi GPUs were explicitly mentioned as a feature in the upcoming iMac.
There is another option: ARM processors made by Apple. There have been rumors that Apple will announce at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2020 that it will switch to these chips. We believe that this applies first to the MacBook Air and later to the iMac. We therefore believe it is unlikely that the next iMac will be delivered with ARM processors.
We want to see everything else
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
What else could we see in the next iMac? Well, an important item on our wish list is that Apple is finally improving the entry-level model. As mentioned earlier, the current base model is hopelessly out of date – the spinning hard drive is painfully slow, the screen resolution and pixel density are low, and there is no discrete graphics card. Offering an iMac without an SSD is particularly outrageous. Frankly, this model has no place in Apple's 2020 series.
Apple still has to offer an affordable iMac, but we hope it at least offers people a better option. Keeping a member of the current range (with 8th generation processors and a Retina 4K display) at a lower price while the rest of the range is being updated would be perfectly fine for us.
Given the positive response from the MacBook Pro 16, Apple could finally bring the optimized Magic keyboard to the iMac. The new keyboard of the MacBook Pro 16 was actually based on iMac's own keyboard and was then slightly adjusted to bring it up to date. Given this legacy, we believe there is a very good chance that the new Magic Keyboard will be integrated into the next iMac.
What about the iMac Pro?
The iMac Pro, Apple's pimped version of the regular iMac, has not been updated since its release in 2017. Things are moving fast in the computer world, and even this high-end device, which was very impressive when it was launched, is a little long in the tooth these days. However, Kuo expects Apple to update it in the fourth quarter of 2020
Updating the specifications to make them more competitive today is an absolute necessity. New processors, better graphics cards and faster memory are at the top of the list and should enable the computer to improve its performance in a timely manner.
We also hope that Apple focuses on the device's display. If you offer the iMac Pro something similar to the Pro Display XDR of the Mac Pro with its 6K resolution and incredible color rendering, this is a very tempting option for professionals who like the performance of the Mac Pro but an all-in-one – Prefer computers.
There could be another display upgrade in the form of the mini LED technology mentioned above. According to renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple plans to transfer this to a number of devices in late 2020 or mid-2021, starting with the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro. However, the China Times believes that Apple's mini LED production has been pushed back and that mass production won't start until 2021.
This suggests that we may have to wait a little longer for the iMac Pro to arrive, but we'll likely learn more details later in 2020, so this could change. There are currently other monitors with mini LED displays, including the Lenovo ThinkVision Creator Extreme. Therefore, an iMac Pro with this type of display is not excluded in 2020.