The arrival on the market of a screen like the StudioDisplay Apple is very good news for regular users of the company’s products, since until now, there was no monitor as a complement to the Mac mini that was economical.
Apple marketed the Thunderbolt Display model until June 2016, the date on which after five years of sale it decided to cancel its availability. Instead of announcing a new model to replace it at that very moment, Apple came to include LG Electronics models in its stores.
Thus, for just over three years, Apple’s “official” screen offering has been linked to LG Ultrafine models. LG screens were thin, although yes, with a typical design of any other common PC computer monitor.
Later, in 2019, Apple announced its screen Pro Display XDRan especially expensive stand-alone monitor sold as an accessory to work with the Mac Pro, starting at €5,499 excluding stand.
Obviously, very few users will be able to afford one of these drives when the price of the Mac mini is much lower. In this way, the launch of the Studio Display becomes a much more feasible alternative for the final consumer.
Design and features
The Studio Display offers quintessential Apple design, with a silver casing and aluminum stand. The 27-inch Retina 5G display itself is slim, measuring 30mm thick with a slim black bezel.
In general, the study screen is very ergonomic thanks to its adjustable tilt stand that raises the height of the screen to use it more comfortably on any desk. It stands out against the typical screen of a computer designed for Windows environments.
In fact, the Studio Display looks like a larger, chinless iMac. Before the launch of the screen, there were rumors that Apple was going to launch a new 27-inch iMac or iMac Pro, which ended up being this 27-inch monitor. It certainly seems that the rumors confused the Studio Display with an iMac.
Studio Display has an adjustable tilt stand from 5 degrees down to +25 degrees up. The screen doesn’t switch between landscape and portrait modes like it does on the Pro Display XDR.
You can also purchase a stand that provides about four inches of height adjustment, but it doesn’t come cheap. The price of the height and tilt adjustable base is an extra €460, raising the price of the Studio Display to €2,239.
Please note that the adjustable stand has an arm that acts as a counterweight and allows you to tilt the screen 30 degrees and adjust its height by 10.5 cm. Thanks to the sophisticated mechanism of the arm, it costs nothing to move the screen and it stays right where you leave it.
Apple also sells the Studio Display with a VESA adapter at no extra cost if you want to be able to mount it on a wall, use a monitor arm, or have a third-party mount of your choice.
MacRumors advises that the Studio Display stand can be changed after purchase, but requires service by an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider.
As an example, if you purchase the Studio Display with the standard tilt-adjustable stand and later decide you need the height and tilt-adjustable stand, you must schedule a service appointment and bring the display. The service is not mentioned in the report.
Screen and resolution
The Studio Display has a native resolution of 5120 × 2880 at 218 dpi. It offers 600 nits of brightness, P3 color gamut and True Tone support, and equally important are the display features that the Studio Display lacks.
And it is that it lacks HDR (high dynamic range), high refresh rate or ProMotion (the ability to adapt the refresh rate based on what is displayed). It also has a lower brightness and contrast ratio than the Pro Display XDR.
The unit received for testing has the standard semi-gloss glass and the glare is manageable in typical office lighting. If you have dazzling lights, Apple offers nano-textured glass, which is a similar surface to what was offered on the 27-inch iMac.
When I reviewed the 27-inch iMac in 2020, the unit was equipped with nano-textured glass, and glare from my office lights was virtually non-existent. I wrote at the time that it was “very satisfying,” so it’s probably worth the extra price if glare matters to you.
Apple displays have always produced very good image quality, and Studio Display continues that tradition. Colors are rich, contrast is good, and brightness is adequate for most tasks you might tackle throughout the day.
I encountered no dead pixels during my tests, and lighting was even across the screen.
Specifications and performance
Interestingly, the Studio Display has an A13 Bionic chip inside it, the same one used at the heart of the iPhone 11, second-gen iPhone SE, and ninth-gen iPad. Why would a screen need a processor? There are three good reasons.
The first is that it is center stage. Studio Display comes with a 12 MP ultra-wide camera, just like the one in the iPad, yes, giving the monitor a better camera than you’ll find on iMacs and MacBooks.
Just like iPads, Center Stage adjusts the camera so you’re always in the center of the frame. It’s a very useful feature that should have been on iMacs and MacBooks, and it works flawlessly on the Studio Display.
I found the camera’s image quality to be good, but reviews from other outlets have experienced degraded quality, and Apple told The Verge and The Wall Street Journal that an update will be issued to address camera quality.
(Update: Macworld columnist Jason Snell wrote about how he perceived the cameras’ image quality in the context of the Center Stage cameras in other Apple products like the iPad.
I did something similar, so we didn’t notice the image quality issues that others mentioned because they were making comparisons in a different context.)
Another reason to include the A13 chip is Siri. Studio Display features a three-mic array with directional beamforming, so you can ask Siri for help and she’ll hear it loud and clear.
Beamforming also comes into play during video calls and voice recordings, focusing on your voice and not background noise. During my tests, the display microphones never failed.
One last thing related to the A13 is spatial audio. Studio Display has six speakers (four canceling woofers and two high-output tweeters) that sound better than any display you’ve used before.
When you’re sitting in front of it, the speakers do an excellent job of immersing you in clean, powerful sound. They work great with video calls, music, and movies, but if you prefer heavier bass like I do, you might want to turn to an external subwoofer.
Those three features seem valuable enough to pack an A13 Bionic into, but we can’t help but think it’s possible the Studio Display could do even more.
My colleague Jason Cross at Macworld thinks the Studio Display would be great as a standalone Apple TV player and technically it could, except the display doesn’t have any built-in network connectivity.
Apple never usually comments on possible updates to its equipment, but there is no doubt that there are many interesting possibilities here.
Studio Display has four ports on the back. The Thunderbolt 3 port connects to your computer and can provide up to 96 watts of power, enough to fast-charge a 14-inch MacBook Pro.
The other three ports are USB C for connecting peripheral devices and charging them, as they also provide enough power to charge a smartphone or tablet.
There’s no question about the quality of the Studio Display: it’s an excellent all-around display that’s equally suited for personal use, as well as more professional, high-production environments.
But the question we started with remains: Is the Studio Display worth the price? A screen with the standard glass and adjustable tilt bracket or a VESA mount costs €1,779.
That’s already a lot, and when you add €460 for the tilt and height adjustable stand, or €250 for the model with nano-textured glass finishes, the final price of the monitor rises to €2,489.
Even considering the starting price of the Studio Display, it might still be too expensive for the average Mac user. Especially considering that the screen LG UltraFine is still available in amazon at a recommended price of €1,193.
You won’t be able to use Center Stage, its webcam isn’t as good, and the UltraFine display’s “speaker” can’t match Apple’s setup. But if you don’t need those things, the “display” part is very similar and has an adjustable height and tilt stand, saving you up to €600.
Unfortunately, beyond the LG UltraFine, you won’t find another 27-inch 5K display; You may be able to find a 4K display that has similar brightness, contrast, and other image quality characteristics to the Studio Display, but the resolution will be compromised.
Assessing whether the investment in the Studio Display is worth it depends on what you need and want. If you need a production display but don’t have the money for a Pro Display XDR, then Studio Display fits the bill.
If you’re a general user who makes occasional videos in iMovie and does some light photo editing or other creative work, you’ll enjoy Studio Display, but you’ll be able to save a few bucks with a non-Apple display.
If, on the other hand, you want the latest Apple design, there is no substitute. As it has happened to me during the tests, you would probably get something cheaper on the market, equally valid in terms of quality.
But again, Apple has managed to include tangible aspects such as Center Stage for video calls, a facet that you will miss if you do not have it within your reach from your monitor.