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iMac Pro is NOT Dead… Yet!

I was talking to Jony Ive. Briefly. Years ago. Not a flex. In the hand’s-on area following a big event where Apple had just released a bushel of new products, and the person next to me mentioned how they all looked really good. Really great. And Jony got this… deeply pensive look on his eye and he said… did they? He didn’t know. He wouldn’t know, couldn’t know, until customers got their hands on them… and showed Apple what the products really were. It was… Hold that thought!

Apple just launched a brand new machine with a 27-inch IPS P3 5K display, but instead of wrapping it around an M1 or M1 Pro running macOS Monterey… instead… instead… they wrapped it around an A13 running iOS 15. A bit. And paired it with the new Studio Mac. The first new Mac in almost a decade. Hold that thought too.

At that same exact time, Apple killed the 27-inch Intel iMac. But not like last year when they killed the 21.5-inch iMac after replacing it with a sleek new M1 model. No. This one they didn’t replace at all. They killed it… just to watch it die. Hold that thou— no, that’s three… Juggle those thoughts just one more minute.

Because reports on whether or not Apple is ever going to replace the bigger… Pro’er iMac have been… all over the place for the last couple of weeks, from… it’s coming soon to… it’s coming later… to it’s not coming at all, ever. RIP. DED.

With some saying the 27-inch being discontinued and the Mac Pro being deliberately singled out as the only Mac still waiting on Apple silicon proves it’s dead, while others say killing he Intel box is how they drive people to the Mac Studio — for now — and that the iMac has already moved to Apple silicon, so we’re not waiting on that, we’re only waiting on more of that.

But what if they’re all wrong. Or rather, none of them are. What if it’s not really that complicated. And the various products and reports we’re seeing aren’t actually in conflict. It just… it just comes down to understanding Apple as a culture, not a company. If it’s… yeah… what they do that defines them.

So, here’s what we know we know: In June of 2020, Tim Cook announced the transition to Apple silicon. In November, M1. In April of 2021, the all-new 24-inch M1 iMac. In November of of 2021, the death of the last, lowest end 21.5-inch Intel iMac. In March of 2022, the all-new Mac Studio and Studio Display, with only the Mac Pro remaining on the to-update list. And the very same day, the death of all of the 27-inch Intel iMacs.

Now, Apple doesn’t usually kill off existing product lines when new versions are on deck. They are… almost shameless about keeping a Mac mini or Mac Pro on the market long, long after the expiration date if something like a 2018 or 2019 rebirth is in the works.

By contrast, when Apple does kill off an existing product line, it’s usually because they want to get out of that business entirely, like Xserve, or the AirPort routers, or because they want to quickly, cleanly move people towards a replacement product, like HomePod to HomePod mini, and now — maybe — 27-inch iMac to Mac Studio with 27-inch Studio Display. Hit subscribe to see my reviews.

Now, here’s what we think we know:

In October of last year, Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants reported on a 27-inch MiniLED display coming from Apple in the first quarter of 2022. Now… basically. But he quickly revised that to a 27-inch MiniLED iMac for the same time frame. Now-ish. By January of this year, though, he revised the timeline to June, when Apple typically holds their World Wide Developer Conference, WWDC. But then, following Apple’s March 8 event and the launch of Mac Studio and the Studio Display, he revised it yet again, this time back to a 27-inch MiniLED display… and not a 27-inch iMac.

So let’s add Ross to the Dead Pool list for a minute. Not that Deadpool. 9to5 Mac too, because Filipe Espósito, who did a lot of the early coverage on the Mac Studio and Studio Display, has since reported that Apple has no plans for a new, high-end iMac any time in the near future. Meaning, no 27-inch model, and no M1 Pro or Max model.

2 nothing. Until Mark Gurman of team Bloomberg hits the court. He’s been reporting on an updated 27-inch or larger Apple silicon iMac for over a year now, initially alongside what quickly became the 24-inch M1 model, but more recently, on Twitter, as an iMac Pro counterpart to last fall’s MacBook Pros. And he’s still holding to hope. He’s still expecting an iMac Pro, but not for this year — in other words, it isn’t shipping soon. But can’t believe anyone isn’t expecting it.

That’s one for the life pool… And make it two, because supply-chain exfiltrator extraordinaire, Kuo Ming-Chi, who’s suddenly begun tweeting like they just launched the platform, is now predicting a new iMac Pro for 2023.

2-2. Shrodingers iMac.

But culture, not company. Why, not what.

So, maybe Apple starts planning the Mac’s transition from Intel to custom silicon. All the ultra-low power models up first. MacBook Air, Pro, Mac mini, then iMac. The small iMac. All with M1. Done. Shipped. Then wave 2. The big kid MacBook Pros first. With M1 Pro and M1 Max. But also the higher end Mac mini and iMac. All with M1 Pro and M1 Max. Get ‘em prototyped up and everything.

But then… they stop. They just stop. Because… their customers want them, but it’s also the only thing they can want because it’s the only thing they know. It’s that old Ford line about never making the car because all their customers ever wanted was faster horses. It’s literally faster horses.

So, they start to think — what’s the actual product mix between Mac mini and pro, between iMac and iMac Pro. How much of that is already covered by the M1 Mac mini and M1 iMac… how much is still left for a Mac mini and iMac Pro… and how much could be filled by a Mac mini and iMac Pro that were… kinda one and the same? Not an all-in-none or an all-in-one, but a new, modular system where you could choose between two levels of compute cores, and two levels of Apple Displays… or just get your own display.

Modular, not like Apple used the term before to describe the 2019, non-trashcan Mac Pro. They’d have to change that messaging to expandable or something. Because that’s going to be it’s main differentiator now. Expandability. But these are the trashcan… at least as the trashcan was meant to be. Trashcan — trash box! — the space gray. And what if they put M1 Pro and M1 Max into the boxes — No, scratch that — M1 Max and M1 Ultra. And launch them alongside that new 27-inch consumer display they’d been working on for a while. And if anyone wanted more, there was the Pro Display XDR they’d announced a couple and half years ago. Or the next generation version they were planning to launch sometime in the next year.

That way, they weren’t offering essentially the same systems, in parts and in whole. And when, rarely, new display tech came out, you wouldn’t have to upgrade your Mac just to get it, and when, far more frequently, new Apple silicon was ready, you wouldn’t have to swap out the display either.

And what about the Mac mini Pro and iMac Pro already in the pipeline? What about them. They’re prototyped. They’re not going anywhere. They can abide. And Apple can test the market with Mac Studio and Studio Display, let customers get their hands on them, and see what they really are.

The M2 Mac mini and 24-inch M2 iMac are on the way. And they’ll have slightly better single core perf, if nowhere nearly the massively multiple cores… So if customers show Apple they love the Mac Studio and Studio Display, and demand for a Mac mini Pro and iMac Pro plummet, then fine. This is the new normal, as far as lineups go. Rest in two new pieces, iMac.

But if there still ends up being a Mac mini Pro or iMac Pro-sized hole in the market, or both, then also fine. They’re prototyped. They can just as easily be moved into production. And then, let the best Macs win.

Because, remember, end of the day, Apple really, truly doesn’t care about cannabilizing their own products. They just don’t want anyone else to do it. So, if Mac Studio eats Mac mini Pro or iMac Pro out of existence. So be it. But if Mac mini Pro or iMac Pro fights back, and wins, or better yet, grows the market at Window’s expense, Apple wins. Like the House.

Which is why Shrodinger’s iMac Pro isn’t really alive or dead. Not yet. Not at all. That box simply hasn’t been opened yet. It’s in literal Apple product limbo waiting to see how well or poorly the Mac Studio and Studio Display sell, maybe the next round of M2 minis and iMacs as well, what we show Apple these new products really are, and how much those of us who still really, truly want a new Apple silicon iMac Pro, or at least still think we do — how much noise we make in the meantime. How much demand for it Apple can forecast.

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Apple Studio Display Review — But Why?!

Apple’s just launched a new $1600 Studio Display that’s pretty much exactly what a very specific, very fussy segment of the Mac market has been asking for… going on 6 years now: A Cinema Display. A Thunderbolt Display. Whatever you want to call it… Just take the 27-inch 5K iMac and… delete the Mac part, or the LG 5K UltraFine and delete the LG part… slap it in an Apple enclosure. Seriously. Anything… anything that isn’t 6K for 6K!

And Apple’s gone and done it. Finally. But at the same time, somehow upset a very loud, very vocal handful of tech-heads who not only never wanted it, but don’t understand why the people who do want it… do want it. So let me explain. No no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I’ve been using the pricier nanotexture version of the Studio Display on loan from Apple for almost a week now, but if you’ve used a recent 27-inch iMac or iMac Pro, 5K UltraFine, or even the 24-inch iMac, then the Studio Display is a slightly better version of those. And I’ll get to the slightly part in a hot take minute. And why does that really matter so much?

So, it’s 5K and not 4K, because at 218 ppi, that’s dense enough that, at a normal viewing distance, most people can’t really make out the individual pixels any more, and — and! — it’s also native 2x resolution. Which means all those pixels fall precisely on-grid. Because no matter how good Apple’s display scalers are, and they’re pretty damn good, pixel perfect designers… and anyone with especially snobby vision, really will notice display scaling and pixels falling off grid — they will look for it, they will find it, and they will have Liam Neason kill it.

4K at 27-inches would be scaled, and that’s… anathema to Apple’s fussiest customers, the ones who, if you tell them to just get 4K or… just get a gaming monitor, you might as well be telling them to just get a Windows PC.

Listen, the Mac nerd heart wants what the Mac nerd heart wants, and having to settle for 4K or a gaming monitor or the UltraFine lo these last many years is how you break that Mac nerd heart.

The Studio Display is also not just P3 wide gamut, but individually color calibrated at the factory to match all of Apple’s other P3 displays, and meticulously color managed through Apple’s entire imaging pipeline. So what you shoot on your iPhone or process on your iPad or MacBook will exactly match what you see on your Studio Display, and that’s why some pros insist on using Apple gear to begin with.

Now, while the pipeline is 10-bit internal, it’s still rendering out to a physically 8-bit panel, using spatial and temporal dithering to represent the full billion color range. Which is bummer, but I believe it’s how all Apple panels work, and most commercial panels too for that matter, because physical 10-bit panels are still kinda rare and kinda expensive, especially at scale.

Where the Studio Display is better than both the iMac and UltraFine is brightness. 600 nits versus 500 nits. Which isn’t a huge difference but is still a pretty welcome one.

It’s LCD with an LED backlight, so it’s not HDR, or high dynamic range. For that it’d need OLED like the iPhone or mini-LED like the latest iPad Pro or MacBook Pro. Those can be up to 1000 nits sustained sometimes, 1200 to 1500 peak even. So the Studio Display is still SDR, or standard dynamic range.

Well… Technically, EDR, or extended dynamic range, because LCD Lobby rhetoric aside, which, yes, is somehow a thing, Apple’s been doing a ton of work for a ton of years to provide as close to an HDR experience on SDR displays as possible. It’s why they use the HDR source for TV+ shows or the HDR tone map of Dolby Vision videos shot on iPhone. So, yeah, the blacks are still kinda dark gray and whites still only get so bright. Which is better than strict SDR but still nowhere near HDR.

Which is also a legit bummer. But it’s arguable how many people outside Dolby and Jonathan Morrison really are all-in on full HDR workflows at this point anyway. And, at 5K, that would add a fair chunk to the price tag. So, my guess is, Apple stuck with EDR for the Studio Display as a bridge and to keep the bill of materials down so it really could be the spiritual successor to the Thunderbolt Display, and we’ll get an updated mini-LED Pro Display XDR at the high end…some point in the not-so-distant future, and that’ll be for everyone who really is all in on HDR.

The Studio Display is also locked to 60Hz and doesn’t have the up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate Apple markets as ProMotion. The one that came to the iPad Pro in 2017 and the iPhone Pro and MacBook Pro in 2021.

Which, yeah, absolutely, 120 is better than 60. Hell, I’d take 480 in a heartbeat if I could get it. But in this case, it’s less about cost or segmentation and more about physics and implementation. Because… 5K is just a lot of pixels. Like a lot a lot. When Apple first took the iMac to 5K, they had to build their own custom timing controller, or t-con to do it, so the two streams they were stitching together wouldn’t occasionally tear right down the middle. But they could only do that internally, at least back then, so we gained 5K but lost Target Display Mode, which I think all of us still lament and would seriously love to have back to this day.

But even today, 5K still… just a lot of pixels, and the current DisplayPort 1.2 protocol supported by Thunderbolt4 just can’t handle 5K and 120Hz at the same time.

I’m hoping Apple can figure out a way to do, even if just internally, for a 5K ProMotion iMac one day. Not just for super smooth scrolling, but because 120 means divides evenly down to 60 for TV shows, and 48 for movies… both for viewing and editing 30 and 24 frames per second, the way nature and Hollywood intended. But it doesn’t sound like we’ll be getting that iMac any time soon. So, while I’m super curious what they’ll do with the next XDR Display, I’ll only be expecting 120Hz when and if we see it.

Also, like the 27-inch iMac, but unlike the LG UltraFine, Apple’s offering a Nano-texture option for the Studio Display. For an extra $300. It’s what I’ve been testing for the last week and while it’s inarguably better than traditional anti-glare coatings, which really gunk up the crispness and clarity, it’s still not as good as the non-nanotexture, normal option, and is way fussier to keep clean, so if you aren’t stuck in a studio or location where you can’t control the glare, stick with the normal option.

Taken all together, the Studio Display looks as good as any Standard Dynamic Range display can look. Basically 6-star Raid Boss LCD.

And all wrapped up in an all-aluminum Apple enclosure that’s halfway between the 24-inch iMac and 32-inch Pro Display XDR, even including smaller versions of the vent holes, because while it doesn’t need the massive thermal system of a reference monitor, it does need to pull the heat off that big back light.

AndI really like the industrial design. It’s simple, elegant, sturdy, and obviously built to last. Basically, the complete opposite of the LG UltraFine. Of which, I’ve owned three, and had the WI-Fi interference issue on the first and display muck up issue on the second. Pretty much why everyone wanted those panels back with Apple to begin with.

The only thing I don’t like about it is the default stand option. It’s well engineered for what it does, obviously, but it only does one thing — tilt back and forth. Not up and down, not around.

Which, yeah, is exactly how all recent iMac or non-XDR Apple Displays have done it as well, but the UltraFine provides full functionality, and from the company that had the God Mode of adjustable stands way back in the day with the 2nd gen Pixar-style iMac, it’d be all shades of considerate to just give the people more here. Especially with so many of us stuck at home for so long, we can’t just plunder Dunder Mifflin office supplies to stack underneath anymore. No. Now have to use discarded Amazon boxes stuffed inside each other, like animals.

You can replace the basic stand with with a VESA mount at no extra cost, or a height-adjustable stand for an extra $400 at time of purchase. But you really have to do it at time of purchase, because you can’t swap them later… which… also seems weird from the company who made changing watch bands 8 times a day a thing.

Ports are the same as the Ultrafine 5K as well, and previous generation Apple displays. One Thunderbolt to connect to your Mac, and charge it if it’s a MacBook. Up to 96 watts. And 3 USB type C, to plug in and charge all your accessories and peripherals, up to 10 Gb/s.

Not gonna lie, I’d love more and faster ports, but that’d mean an extra controllers inside, which not even the Pro Display XDR has and Apple seems content to have those live on the new MacBook Pro and Mac Studio now anyway.

With that single, upstream Thunderbolt, you plug in, route it through the cable management circle on the back, connect your Mac, and… that’s it. Quick and oh so super clean. Bonus points too, because the included Thunderbolt cable is braided, as are the Lightning to USB-C cables Apple’s including with the new mouse, trackpad and keyboard. So much better built than the previous, embarrassingly janky plastic ones… They should just be the new normal for everything going forward.

But, yeah, pretty much everything everyone who just wanted a new Cinema Display, Thunderbolt Display, a 5K iMac without the Mac, the LG UltraFine in an enclosure that’s actually fine. With slightly better than the iMac’s brightness, and slightly worse than the UltraFine’s adjustable stand. All gift wrapped up in a bead blasted aluminum Apple box. Something simply no other vendor has been providing. A literal Commander Sinclair-sized hole in the market’s mind. Filled. Finally.

And Apple didn’t even stop there. They also added an A13 Bionic, the system on a chip from the iPhone 11. Which… depending on how you look at it, might seem just all shades of over powered, under utilized… or both?

Worst things first — the webcam. Which has been the subject of a brouhaha from reviewers who actually managed to file on time… unlike me. But hey, I was getting the Mac Studio review up. Make sure you watch it. And hit subscribe for more!

The camera hardware is the exact same 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle paired with the A13 image signal processor, or ISP, that’s in the current 9th-generation iPad. Same as what’s in the latest iPad Air and iPad Pro as well, albeit they have the M1 ISP, which is based on the A14, or one generation newer.

The reason for going ultra-wide is to support Center Stage, Apple’s name for the pan and scan, zoom in and out technology that uses the neural engines and machine learning to recognize and lock onto one or many faces in the frame, and keep them in the frame, even as they move around, or come in or out. And it’s great for FaceTime and WebEx and Zoom, for kitchens and living rooms, even office conferences if and when you have people back in offices to actually conference.

But it’s also a compromise, because megapixels… or pixel quantity, never really matters as much as pixel quality. And ultra wide cameras stuffed into ultra-thin enclosures never tend to be as good as even lower megapixel non-ultra wides. So, basically, it’s trading selfie integrity for video call capability, which is fine if you consider Center Stage worth the sacrifice, and… not so fine if you do not.

Now, normally, Apple counts on the ISP and computational photography and videography to make camera hardware do more than the optics themselves would normally allow. That’s how the iPad still gets pretty good selfies out of the exact same spec. But on the Studio Display, something seems to be going wonky or just plain wrong. Faces just look flat, and kinda mopey, and just not what you’d expect from a modern Apple camera. Even a Center Stage camera. It kind of reminds me of the issues with the iPhone XS selfie cam and its A14 smart HDR implementation. Apple says they’re working on a fix, either for macOS, the Studio Display firmware… both… so we’ll just have to wait and see. Again, it’s the exact same hardware as the 9th gen iPad, so there’s no reason for it to be any worse than that iPad.

The A13 is also being used as the sensor fusion hub for TrueTone, which dynamically changes the white balance based on ambient light temperature, so the display never looks too blue or too yellow. And as the always-on processor for Siri voice activation for Macs that don’t do it natively, like the Mac mini, Studio, or Pro. Also, noise canceling for what Apple calls studio-quality mics. Basically the equivalent of a USB podcast mic, if you’re in a pinch or just don’t use one enough to have a dedicated mic available.

And, computational sound processing for spatial audio, which creates a virtual 3D sound stage, up to and including handling full-on Dolby Atmos streams. Like what you hear with AirPods Pro, AirPods Mac, or any recent MacBook Pro or iMac. Combined with a 6-speaker system, using four force-canceling woofers, similar to what the MacBook Pro uses to make sure your desk doesn’t rock along with your music, and it’s legit terrific. One of the best Apple speaker systems yet, and that’s saying something.

Alas, Apple hasn’t surfaced any A13-powered HomePod-type functionality that would let you pair two Studio Displays as a stereo speaker systems for an ever wider sound stage. So, if you have two of them, you have to select which one you want to use for A/V. Also, any form of built-in AirPlay or Sidecar running on the A13 via HomeOS or anything else. So if it isn’t connected to another Mac, you can’t just stream to it wirelessly, you have to plug in the cable. Which, yes, hardlines are bestlines… But if you’re on your MacBook and just don’t want to bother with a cord at the moment…

Like Spatial Audio, Center Stage.. Universal Control, these are the kinds of uniquely differentiated features that gets Apple into — or back into — markets. The integration from silicon to software that gets that single yes for every thousand nos. Which, frankly, is also how Apple gets to charge what they do for people who truly believe the value is worth way more than the cost.

Which is $1600 for the base model here. $300 more than the LG UltraFine, and gets you the better brightness, materials, build quality, speakers, mics, and the A13 Bionic. Plus a way sturdier, if way less capable, stand. Also, $200 less than the last 27-inch iMac, which had the same stand, but included an Intel chipset, storage, way more RAM and ports, and a chin!

Though… I can’t help wondering if… instead of an A13, Apple had thrown an M1 into this exact same, and priced it starting at $400 more, $2000 minus a buck even, would anyone have so much as blinked? Probably not, even though we’d have been right back where we started, demanding a stand-alone display. At any price. Under $6K.

But if you really do want a more capable Apple display, and you want it now, that’s what the Pro Display XDR costs. With stand. I mean, unless you choose to rest it artisonally against the hipster-brick wall in your loft. If you’re willing to wait, we might get a mini-LED version at some point in the future, even if that point is another year or so out. But that’s what, personally, I’m going to be doing. If you don’t care about the enclosure, you can get the less than fantastic plastic of the LG UltraFine when it comes back into stock, presumably some time in Q2 2022. Or any one of those 4K gaming monitors everyone who doesn’t get Apple displays is super happy to tell everyone to get. But if you’ve been asking for — nay, demanding! — a return of the Cinema Display, the Thunderbolt Display, the LG UltraFine without the LG, the iMac without the Mac, whatever, then go get the Studio Display, now, now, now. Because Apple just gave your fussy Mac nerd heart just exactly what you’ve been demanding!

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Mac Studio Review — RIP iMac Pro!

I’ll spare you the unbox pron and the benchmark LARP… I mean a bit… and get right down to it. The M1 Ultra is pretty much the ultimate expression of Apple’s scalable silicon architecture, and delivers on that promise… almost linearly. And I’ll get to why “almost linearly” in an Intel TJMAX hot minute. Right after I pull a Linus and thank today’s sponsor, the CuriosityStream and Nebula bundle, which you should jump on faster than M1 Ultra because I’ve got a whole new, exclusive Studio Tour series already going up!

So, basically, if there’s anything you couldn’t do on an M1 Max MacBook Pro, if there was any limitations you were facing or walls you were hitting, you can break right through them, most of them, with the M1 Ultra in the Mac Studio. Those limitations, those walls, like… the Kool Aid man.

Because, where M1 Max had the exact same CPU and Neural Engines as the M1 Pro, albeit it with double the potential GPU, media encoders, RAM, and memory bandwidth, M1 Ultra doubles everything. Every core, every feature, everything down to the transistors. To a ridiculous degree. I mean, we now have two secure enclaves, which I can only guess is like having two Klingon hearts, and two iPhone 12-class image signal processors… in a box with no camera. But that’s the only quasi dark matter compromise in what’s otherwise a blindingly bright solution to making an already massively monolithic die, literally twice the size.

Because that’s what M1 Ultra is — two M1 Max dies joined together with a silicon interposer running 10,000 connections at 2.5TB per second, basically an OG server farm worth of glue, for double the CPU, or 4 icestorm efficiency cores running at 2GHz, and 16 firestorm performance cores running at 3.2GHz, spread across those two dies in two clusters each… giving you something we never could with Intel Xeon in previous pro-level Macs — massive multicore parallelism without sacrificing single core performance. Along with the ability to maintain that single core clock in one cluster even if another has to down clock some to fire all the cores. I’d say it’s like having a carpool lane on the highway, but because Apple’s performance controllers are so good at dispatching between the various cores to begin with, and 800 GB/s of memory bandwidth is something we only ever see on high end GPU, not CPU, so there’s such low latency, even across dies, that it’s virtually indistinguishable at the software level… traffic is so highly optimized it ends up being more like having a slipstream… alongside a hive fleet. So, if you had any workloads that were purely or mostly CPU constrained, even on M1 Max, you’re realistically throwing twice as many cores at them now.

Also twice the 4th generation Apple Neural engines, or ANE. There were 16 cores in A14, and 16 in every M1 through Max. But with double Max dies comes double ANE. Also, double the AMX accelerators on the CPU, and double the ML controllers for tying those together with the GPU for the CoreML framework, and making it all… double everything, basically. Just not in the same way as GPU… which I’ll get to in a second. Because, my understanding at least, is that these two ANE blocks are still treated as two separate ANE target by the system, not as a single, abstracted ANE target. Which means, single ML workloads will get dispatched to a single 16-core ANE block, resulting in the same serial performance as M1 Max. But, multiple ML workloads will get dispatched to both 16-core ANE blocks in parallel, resulting in… potentially up to twice the throughput, depending on the exact workloads. Especially in easing bottlenecks Whether that’s training ML models or doing AI image or video enhancement.

And, of course, twice the G13 GPU cores, up to 64 of them now, 32 on each die, but thanks to Apple’s metal frameworks and the ridiculous amounts of bandwidth involved, the two blocks ARE presented as a single GPU to the system. Whether that really matters to you in the real world, and how much you can take advantage of it, will depend a lot on software and workloads you’re running. What I mean is, where up to 128GB of RAM isn’t out of the ordinary at all for a Mac CPU, especially not when the iMac Pro maxed out at 256 GB and the current Xeon Mac Pro at 1.5 terabytes, having 128 GB of RAM available to the GPU is, I think, unprecedented. Like, 3D models and environments at a size and with polygon counts and effects that you can load up and manipulate in real time in a way that just isn’t possible in any other desktop box

The only major harsh in this mellow being, of course, that NVIDIA has CUDA cores, and ray-tracing, and other features embraced by high-end gaming studios, and similar if not the same for AMD, along with DirectX, and Vulkan, and Steam is making Proton work on the SteamDeck. Apple is kinda stuck in build Metal and they will… oh god, they will come, won’t they? We made snacks, why aren’t they coming? Even big games that get ported over to the iPhone and iPad — allow me to point you to any recent Dave2D video! — just aren’t often making it over to the Mac, even as check-the-box-to-let-the-iOS-app-run-on-Mac ports!

And since time might not be enough to fix that, if Apple really considers it important, they may have to flex their combined market share and, more importantly, money, to Kaiser Soze-single-act-of-will-it to happen.

Then there are the double media engines, many of which were already doubled from M1 Pro to M1 Max, so are… double double’d in M1 Ultra. Like your typical Tim Hortons order. Sorry, Canadian humor. So sorry. But that means twice the decode and encode accelerators for H.264, HEVC, and critical to higher-end video work, ProRes. Up to 18 simultaneous streams of 8K ProRes, to put Apple’s number on it. So, for example, if you were making Fullest House for Netflix and you wanted to show a 6 x 3 grid of Uncle Jessie and the grand-niece hijinx scenes from the pilot you could edit and play it all back in real time. Which is… a real time saver.

And I know a lot of you audio techs and developers and game designers get super salty when every video you watch focuses almost completely on… video. But, one, that’s not surprising from people who’s literal job is to make videos. Two, Apple is clearly focusing on video workloads with things like the dedicated media engines. And three, video production is one of the very few things that actually lights up a ton of silicon. With those media engines handling encode/decode, GPU handling effects and accelerating presentation, and CPU sometimes acting like a parent for metadata management, but also pitching in with the gnarlier camera codecs not accelerated by the media engines. It’s… a perfect storm of pain for a modern compute system, and one that Apple is actually turning into more than a bit of pleasure with their custom silicon.

You also get double the I/O controllers, three USB and three thunderbolt. That gives you four Thunderbolt 4 controllers, 10 Gb/s ethernet, 2 USB-A, and HMDI 2.0 on the back. No MagSafe like the iMac, alas, because no external power brick, like the iMac, which MagSafe would require. On the front you get two USB-C or two Thunderbolt ports, and an SDXC card reader.

Though this is one of the few areas where I don’t think we’re seeing real linear scalability. From M1 Max to M1 Ultra, the two USB-C ports on the front of Mac Studio do benefit by becoming full-on Thunderbolt. So you can drive a display right up front if you want to. But the SDXC card reader on the front is still UHS-II and HDMI port on the back is still 2.0. No bump up to SDUC and UHS-II, never mind the kind of CFExpress cards I’m using these days, or to HDMI 2.1… which is an absolute joke of a mess of a standard at this point, but would allow for even more bandwidth for even higher resolutions and frame rates, among other amenities. It could just be that M1 planning was long enough ago that those standards lacked the popularity and maturity to be considered for Apple silicon round one, but it does legit suck for future proofing. Either way, if you want them, you gotta dongle up a type C port to get them, but as any working pro knows, standards evolve fast enough we never really get to live an adapter free life anyway.

Now, M1 itself was transformative. It focuses on performance through efficiency, meaning this no longer so little grown up from iPhone and iPad chip runs ludicrously cooler than Intel and AMD’s shrunk-down from enterprise server chips, meaning it gets profoundly better battery life in the same enclosures, and can enable enclosures that simply weren’t thermally possible before.

It has better performance than many chips that consume way, way more wattage, meaning it gets workloads done faster, saving you dozens of minutes out of every hour, every day. Like I hit render on a video, go to get a coffee, and it’s done so fast I think I forgot to hit render, and then forget to get my coffee… Which, win or loss, I honestly couldn’t tell you. No clue.

It’s as immediately responsive as an iPad, which sounds silly, until you use it, and you realize how many dozens of seconds of every minute you wasted waiting for Intel to stop beach balling when you were just dragging a effect a few frame one way or tother. Or, you know, down arrowing through files in QuickView, without having to wait an excruciating amount of seconds for every single image or video to render, like it did with Intel more-like SlowView. Everything is just instant, which is such a massive quality of life improvement, even 18 months in, it still makes me smile on the daily.

With M1 Pro and Max, it was also like basically getting a computer and rendering box two-in-one. Where, previously, you’d export a video and it would just grind the Intel CPU to a halt, making Thumbnail work tough, even just web browsing a hassle, now that’s all just handled by the media engines, including ProRes, leaving the CPU completely free for any all other non-media work. In that specific situation, it’s legit like having a second Mac. So, you can work in parallel in a way that just wasn’t realistic, as in, super frustrating, before.

And now, with M1 Ultra, you have all of that just doubled again. In a way that… kinda makes me wish Apple wouldn’t stress performance so much. Because it’s not really a performance story. Marketing aside, anyone, everyone, would tell you Apple silicon can be beat on performance if a competitor is just willing to spend the voltage. Just jack up power to win that benchmark LARP crown from the download, run-and-done crowd. Which everyone from Intel to Qualcomm are clearly more than willing to do. But it’s really an efficiency story. Not just how efficient Apple silicon is, or that it achieves its performance through that efficiency, but how efficient it allows us to be, how performant it lets us be through that efficiency as well. I as a person am not faster with Apple silicon, but the amount of parallelism, integration, off-core features, and overall design lets me get way more done than I ever otherwise could. It’s not a gas guzzling roadster, it’s hybrid SUV that lets you move so much more, so much better, and in a way that makes me even more curious what the multi-die scalability limits will really prove to be

And lest you think I’m treating the new Mac Studio as merely a bead blasted aluminum candy shell for M1 Max and Ultra, I kinda really dig the industrial design and whole concept.

It’s like, you’re Apple and this lightbulb goes off in your head. All Incandescent. Neon even. There are pros who want the most powerful Mac imaginable, but don’t care one iota about internal expansion slots. So, you make the Vader helmet meets trash can 2013 Mac Pro. But you overestimate the impact of OpenCL, and underestimate the saltiness of pros for whom Mac Pro doesn’t just mean power but also means modularity and expandability. So, you Craig-a-culpa the thermal corner, resurrect the cheese grater in the 2019 Mac Pro, and you give those salty prose the name and the Mac that really means something to them. But that lightbulb, it’s still there. Like an itch in the brain. And you’ve already shipped a higher-end Intel Mac mini. The original, the classic, all-in-none. And that lightbulb just goes full on floodlight. You don’t need a Mac Pro mini, you need a Mac mini Pro. Screw that, Max. Then you put it on, like Hulk serum, and make it full-on Ultra. And then you give it a 27-inch Studio Display, which I’ll have a whole video on, so don’t forget to hit that subscribe button, and you make it not only the spiritual successor to the 2013 Mac Pro, but to the 2017 iMac Pro as well.

Now, the M1 Max Mac Studio starts at $2000 and the M1 Ultra at $4000, and goes up from there, way up if you ultra the GPU, memory, and storage, like $8000 up. Which is kind of a really good value on the entry level, and only harshened at the top by how low yield rates really are for two bridged dies as monolithic as M1 Ultra, even with lower end, relatively speaking, binned options, and Apple’s top shelf, but also top priced ram and SSD upgrades. Still, there’s nothing else like the Mac Studio, so if you’re not waiting on the modular Mac Pro, or holding out some last vestige of hope for an iMac Pro, RIP, and neither need these capabilities to make way more money, or just want them because you already have way more money, then have it. Personally, I ordered an Ultra, and I haven’t bought a desktop Mac in maybe a decade.

Because I kinda love it. Like all caps love it. I love having M1 Max and M1 Ultra in an enclosure you couldn’t fit Alder Lake or Ampere in if it was twice the size and liquid nitrogen cooled. And that’s including the extra two pounds of copper, rather than aluminum, heat sync in the M1 Ultra. Because damn.

And I know I’ve been focusing on M1 Ultra here, because new and shiny, but I did a whole entire video on M1 Max when it debuted in the MacBook Pro, which I’ll link up below the like button, and if you’ve just been waiting for that chip in a desktop enclosure, than that’s pretty much what you’re getting, along with a ton more thermal envelop to let it run wild in.

And I love having it this size so I don’t have to stick it on the floor and can have all that I/O immediately within reach. And I love that it’s whisper quiet unless I’m lighting up basically all the compute engines. And I don’t care that it’s an appliance without any internally accessible PCIe expansion slots, because that’s what the Apple Silicon Mac Pro will provide, what it was always meant to provide, anyway. And I love that it’s not stuck inside a display, because at this point I’ve been beyond spoiled for mini-LED and HDR by the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro anyway, and now I can get that, when and if it comes next.

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M1 iPad Air Review — But Why?

Why an M1 in the iPad Air? Because, that’s the biggest difference between the previous A14 iPad Air and this new M1 iPad Air, and a lot of macOS on iPad advocates would argue M1 isn’t even being used to its full potential on the iPad Pro. Only one port. No hypervisor. No windowing, including and especially on external displays… And, settle down herds, I hear you, I feel you, topic for another video. But iPad Air (5th Generation)? That’s not even surfacing Thunderbolt, or providing the option for 16 GB of RAM. Or using that ridiculous up to 120Hz ProMotion adaptive refresh rate High Dynamic Range display engine. Just… What in Jobs’ name is Apple even doing with the iPad Air 5?

Well, I have some thoughts. I’ve been using the blue version on loan from Apple for the last few days, by which I mean so many The Batman sketches… so many… and I have some thoughts.

First, we’re currently living in what could only be the darkest timeline. Aside from the Fringe one with no coffee, of course. But as twenty-first century decades go, it’s just the worst. It’s going on two years later and you still can’t just walk into a store and buy a PS5. Or a big Ampere card. Or an EV. Whatever. But Apple’s out here super-hero landing M1, inarguably one of the best chips in the business, in almost every flavor of Mac, iPad Pro, and now iPad Air as well. What’s next, Magic Mouse? And you can just order them, and they’ll ship in like 3-5 days.

Because that’s what Tim Cook’s Apple does. Logistical God Mode. They get in early, help crack the technology, pre-pay to the extent they’re basically funding it, and then just Pac Man-up all the bleeding edge node capacity they can. And it probably doesn’t hurt that M1, like the A14 it’s derived from, is on Taiwan Semiconductor’s OG 5 nanometer process. Not the ever-so-slightly newer N5P that’s fabbing A15 for the iPad mini. More on that in a minute.

So, sure, if Apple’s silicon team had infinite time, Johny Srouji could artisonally hand-craft bespoke chipsets for each and every Apple device, with transistors specifically forged for the exact capabilities they need and not a dark atom more. But they’re time is so very finite, so they use their scalable architecture approach to design single chips that can be used in as many devices as possible. Like the A15 in the iPhone 13 and iPad mini, which won’t use the image signal processor anywhere nearly to it’s 4K60 Dolby Vision ProRes 422 HQ capacity. But it’s still way, way, way, way-to-the-n, more efficient than making separate chips.

Same for M1 in the iPad Air. Apple wanted to provide more cores for the baseline iPad, something they’ve been doing since A5X on the iPad 3… or A8X on the iPad Air 2. And faster I/O, because as anyone who’s tried to pull those 4K60 Dolby Vision ProRes 422 HQ files off the iPhone 13 will tell you, the I/O on the A15 still suuuuuuucks. But M1 has two full-speed USB-C and Thunderbolt controllers.

But, I hear you commenting, if commenting could be heard! If M1 has all this potential, why isn’t Apple using it in the iPad Air? And to you I hit reply and say, because it’s potential. Surfacing it still costs money. More to the point, it costs us money.

It’s not enough to have am HDR ProMotion engine, you need to add the high-refresh rate mini-LED panel that displays it. Not enough to have a thunderbolt controller, you have to build out the actual thunderbolt port. Not enough to support up to 16 GB of memory, you have to add a SKU, a shop keeping unit, a model, that offers it. Not enough to have an image signal processor that can fuse across cameras, you have to add the wide angle and LiDAR cameras. Not enough to have neural engines with face matching algorithms, you have to include a TrueDepth camera for Face ID. And all of that adds to the sticker price until you get, say it with me, an iPad Pro.

Same reason, by the by, that the M1 iPad Pro has an HDR display but the M1 MacBook Air does not. Because there are some people who want to get Pro-level work done but just can’t afford to pay Pro-level prices. Or just prefer Touch ID. And Apple would rather give them… give you… give us… the power to do it, even if it means going without all the bells and whistles.

And let’s be honest, as is the iPad Air currently starts at $600 for 64 GB. An even $100 over the traditional baseline iPad sweet spot of $500. And $750 for 256 GB. With still no 128 GB goldilocks option in the middle, or 512 GB option for heavier users. All of which I’d love to the Air embrace.

But if the last decade of Apple product dev has shown us anything, it’s that Apple uses the high end to introduce and pay down all the whiz-bang new technologies, and then pushes those new technologies down to mainstream and, eventually, entry level products as well

It’s great for Apple, because they benefit from the economies of scale, it’s great for developers because their apps can work to their full potential on a far wider range of products, and it’s great for us, because we get tomorrow’s tech at today’s prices and that forces Apple and developers to keep on racing ahead of us with even newer and better tech for the day after. Virtuous cycle.

So, yeah, A15 wouldn’t have provided the faster USB-C speed boost the iPad Air is getting, and while single core performance would have been slightly faster and considerably more efficient, the iPad Air has a way bigger thermal envelop than the iPad mini, a way bigger battery, and I think for most people, especially anyone interesting in doing more on their iPads, slightly faster single cores still pale by compression to just having the more massive number of cores. Specifically, four performance cores instead of two, and 8 graphics cores instead of five.

Don’t get me wrong, A15 is a cold-hearted, graphical beast of a chipset, and I can’t wait to get it’s M2 equivalent into an iPad Pro. And there is a legit downside — with M1 being the same silicon generation as A14, this new iPad Air will still only get the same number of updates over its lifespan as the previous iPad Air. Where, presumably, the iPad mini on A15 will get one generation more. But otherwise, for anyone wanting to do or get into any kind of heavier workload, from multi-layers painting to video editing to audio processing, to higher end gaming, it’s pure win. Just throw all the cores at it win.

Why 5G but not high-band mmWave 5G? Well, Snarky Rene would just once again say mmWave has so far proven to be as relevant to consumers as WiMax. But I don’t want to lose my Canadian citizenship, so polite Rene will just sorry, so sorry that and say for most of the world, mmWave is irrelevant and even in the U.S., mid-band 5G, especially what they’re calling C-Band is far better for far more people, and it feels like 5G is already coalescing around that anyway. Which, yay. Honestly. 4G LTE was blissfully simple and uniform by comparison for consumers. 5G… is just embarrassing, with mmWave, high band, mid-band, low band, sub-6, new radio, frequency range 1, frequency range 2, c-band, and, of course, AT&T fake 5G. No one should have to deal with that. Even know all that. I kinda want to flashy thing it out of my brain right now. So… the simpler and more uniform it becomes, the better.

Design wise, the 2022 iPad Air is almost identical to the 2020 model, but with a fresh coat of spring paint. In addition to the new blue, there’s pink, purple, starlight, and… space gray. Yeah, Space Gray like the iPad Pro and Macs, not Midnight like the iPhones non-Pro and Apple Watches. Which is why we can’t have nicely coordinated things.

But, while Apple didn’t add an ultra wide to the iPad Air’s back camera system, they did mighty morph the front facing camera to a wide angle. But they did it to enable Center Stage, which is the fancy new neural-engine powered conferencing system that’s now run rampant across the whole iPad line up. It basically captures that wide angle and then pans and scans, and zooms in an out, to keep you front and center, and pick up and let go anyone else who happens to wonder in and out of frame. It’s been done before, but never with Apple’s of silicon to pixel level of integration and polish, and it works just kind of flawlessly.

But.. it’s still mounted vertically in an increasingly horizontal world. Omni-directional me all you want, but from iPadOS to Magic Keyboard, Apple’s clearly picked a preferred orientation and vertical ain’t it. Not like on a phone. Or TikTok. Because phone. Whatever. I get that Apple’s already given up the horizontal land grabs to the Pencil charging system and the keyboard smart connector, but I’d take the pencil on the top at this point if it meant having the camera on the side and I could stop giving basically everyone on FaceTime and Zoom just the wickedest of constant side-eye.

So, is this new iPad Air for you? Well, if you’re new to iPad or haven’t upgraded in a few to five years, and you want more than the $329 iPad offers, but don’t need a bigger display, all the higher end tech, and just don’t want to pay that much for an iPad until you’re making that much more with the iPad, then the iPad Air might just be the perfect middle iPad for you.

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iPhone SE (5G) Review — Classic… With a Catch!

A few years ago I was waiting to go into an event, to see the new iPhone, hear Apple’s pitch, go hands-on, the whole thing. And… behind me, this person was blustering away about how they’re were going to absolutely trash it in their review, sight unseen, this iPhone, that hadn’t even been announced yet, that none of us had so much as touched yet. Whatever it turned out to be, what it absolutely wasn’t going to be was a worthy upgrade, they’d decided. And wouldn’t you know it, 2 weeks later, that’s exactly what they did — trash it in their review as an unworthy upgrade. Even though it ended up being the second best selling phone of that year. Not iPhone. Phone. Period. Whatever.

Point being, Apple and the whole entire market understood something many of us in the tech bubble forget so damn always. That it’s not about us. It’s not about getting a new phone in every 3 to 5 weeks and still somehow finding them all boring. It’s about getting a single new phone every 3 to 5 years and sometimes very much wanting it to be familiar.

And that seems to be Apple’s strategy for all their lowest priced, highest value products, from the MacBook Air, to the iPad nothing, to the iPhone SE. The device you know, maybe even love, just a new version, an updated version, that you can keep on loving for a few or many more years to come.

And that’s exactly what the new iPhone SE is. Classic design. Classic display. Classic Home button. For every one of you with an iPhone 6 or 6s, 7 or 8, who doesn’t care one whit about chonky bezels or high dynamic range or spending second one learning gesture navigation. Who finds the pulse width modulation of OLED annoying or uncomfortable, considers Touch ID a feature not a bug, and is 100% fine with a single camera system being more than enough to capture some memories, scan some docs, maybe even Tik some Toks.

So, does that mean you — or someone you care about — should buy the new iPhone SE, rather than say take a leap to an iPhone 13 or… maybe just a step to the iPhone 11? Well, I’ve been using the midnight version on loan from Apple for the last four days, and I’m here to tell you there are some pros and cons, and the answer is going to come down to how you personally feel about a few very specific things.

First off, there’s no new design. There is tougher, more shatter-resistant glass, and new midnight and starlight colors to go alongside product RED, but it’s all in the exact same shape as the previous SE and every iPhone going back to the 6. Now, It’s really hard to base patterns on only two data points, but there was four years between the 2016 SE, based on the iPhone 5s, and the 2020 SE, based on the iPhone 8. And if Apple had waiting four years again, maybe we would have gotten a 2024 SE based on the iPhone 12. Who knows? Maybe we still will? But, instead, Apple only waited two years this time, and kept the 2022 SE based on that same iPhone 8. And I’ll get into why in a minute. But, you know what? I’m actually kind of super happy they did.

Because, yes, it really does give everyone who still loves that classic Home button and Touch ID design an updated model to keep loving for at least a generation longer. But also because it gives anyone who would’ve paid full price for a 2020 iPhone SE this year, and gotten iOS updates for 3 or 4 more years, a new 2022 model, for the same price — almost, more on that in a minute as well! — but that’ll now get those updates for the full 5 or 6 years we’ve come to expect from Apple. And that’s… terrific. Fantastic. Shway. Because not everyone buys fresh bread every day, but any day you do buy bread you expect it, you deserve it to be fresh, not already racing the expiry date. And I feel the exact same way about electronics. If I ran God Mode over at Apple, I’d make sure every device got update every year a new chip was available for it, so that anyone buying a new device any year always gets a fresh device regardless of the year.

Because those updates really do add up. This SE is going to get two more years than the previous SE, five more years than the iPhone 8, seven more than the iPhone 6s or OG SE. More maybe?

And that’s part of the whole value prop of the iPhone SE to begin with. I mean, if you bought the original SE for $400 when it first came out with iOS 9 in 2016, you got updated to iOS 15 just last fall, in 2021. So, all other things being equal, this $430 iPhone SE with iOS 15 in 2022 should see you through… what… iOS 21 in 2027. At least. Especially with the extra gigabyte of RAM, which will let you keep more, and eventually more demanding apps, and browser tabs alive in memory for longer.

But, yeah, $430. That wasn’t a verbal typo. After holding the line last time at $400, this time Apple has raised it by $30. And my guess is that it’s for the same reason the regular iPhone went up by $30 18 months ago — 5G. Those Qualcomm modems don’t come cheap.

But the good news is, it’s a Qualcomm modem. So if you had an Intel modem in your previous iPhone, and you had issues in more remote or borderline areas, this alone could be a welcome improvement for you. But also, 5G. Especially, again, if you live in an area that just never had wide or fast enough 4G LTE for you. With older 3G networks being deprecated and newer 5G ones being built out, this might finally deliver on the promise of actual mobile broadband for a ton of people spread out between the bigger towns and cities. Which is also why I think Apple is doing this sort-of mid-cycle iPhone SE update to begin with. To get it on 5G.

Now, there are a couple caveats to consider. Unlike the iPhone 13, which has what’s called 4x4 multi-input, multi-output antennas, basically support for four data streams, the iPhone SE only has 2x2 antennas, or support for two data streams. Think of it like lanes of a highway. Speed limit is the same, but you can move more passengers at the same time… or packets in this case. Apple does a terrific job working, painstakingly, with carriers to ensure way better 5G than otherwise possible, so most people won’t even notice the difference, but if peak 5G is for some reason critically important to you, give the iPhone 13 some thought.

Also, in the U.S., the iPhone 13 supports both Frequency Range 1, which is the low and mid-bands, and Frequency Range 2, which is the high band, aka mmWave, but the iPhone SE only supports FR 1, the low and mid bands. And… I kinda don’t care about this… like at all. For years now, mmWave has struck me as WiMax 2.0. What’s WiMax? Exactly. Just not anything that would end up being at all relevant to consumers, especially as AT&T and Verizon have been catching up with mid-band. Which, granted, isn’t as fast, but also doesn’t get blocked by, you know… leaves, maybe rain. If you happen to live outside, on top of a mailbox, with perfect, uninterrupted line-of-site to a couple or few mmWave antennas and really want to download No Way Home in 3.2 nanoseconds, then, again, give the iPhone 13 some thought.

Same if you care desperately about the display, especially if you want to watch and create high-dynamic range, or HDR content, meaning pitch dark blacks, searing white highlights, and colors that punch you right in your eye cones. Or you just want a bigger-than-4.7-inch LCD screen. Which you may not if you’re coming from a regular sized iPhone 6s, 7, or 8. But if you’re coming from a 5.5-inch iPhone 6s, 7, or 8 Plus… the SE might seem comically… maybe adorably small. And, yeah, just beyond blazing fast on this A15 Bionic chipset.

But, since Apple still isn’t offering an SE Plus, if you want bigger, you have to give up your Home button an go with the full 6.1-inch screen LCD iPhone 11, or go better with the 5.4-inches of OLED on the iPhone 13 mini or 6.1-inches on the iPhone 13 non-mini. Like with 5G, Apple does a ton of stuff, including factory calibration and end-to-end color management to make their LCD displays the best they can be, and a lot of people, including a lot of pixel snobs, probably wouldn’t notice much if any difference without comparing them side-by-side, but if you do, and it matters to you, it’s one more thing to think about.

For the vast majority of you though, it all and always comes down to battery and camera. For battery, I’m using a fresh review unit and I’ve only had a few days to test it, but so far, so better. Apple claims the new A15 chipset, which isn’t just faster but also way more efficient, the new chemistry, the slightly higher battery capacity, and perpetual iOS updates all combine like Voltron to add an extra two hours of battery life over the previous, same sized models. That means not just the last iPhone SE but the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 as well. Four more than the iPhone 6s. In other words, whatever it is you typically do on your iPhone, you should be able to typically do it for a couple hours or more than before. That’s nowhere nearly as long as the current battery champ iPhone 13, of course, but it can make a real difference in getting you through those tougher days.

The camera systems, depending on what you’re upgrading from, might be more of a mixed bag. They’re similar if not the same optics as the previous SE, iPhone 8, even iPhone 7. Which I get. Apple is working on a $430 retail budget here… like… XP in a role playing game. And they’re not choosing to spend that XP on a new design or new optics, but on a new radio and chipset. Totally get it. Overall, I think it’s a way better choice than companies that do the reverse, a way better value. But it means the biggest difference will be for anyone coming from an iPhone 6s or original SE. Because, wider aperture, optical stabilization, 4K60 video and HD 240 slo-mo, plus 7 megapixels and 1080p on the selfie cam.

For anyone upgrading from an iPhone 7 or 8, it mostly comes down to the Image Signal Processor, or ISP in the A15 Bionic chipset. Basically, latest generation computational photography that lets the bits do far more than the atoms would otherwise be capable of. In other words, big chip to make up for small sensor and lens. And that means all of Apple’s latest, greatest algorithms to properly capture the full dynamic range, skin tones, movement, and textures of everything from bright outdoor shots to darker, indoor scenes. Also Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting to get that blurry, bokeh, big camera effect for head shots and the like. If you’re coming from the previous SE, you’re also getting Photographic Styles now, which let you burn in extra contrast, vibrance, or warmth, you know, for the Gram. FaceTime HD over 5G. And thanks to the new neural engine, one of my favorite features in years — the legit sci-fi level Live Text. Literally copying real world words right out of the camera or photos.

There’s no Night Mode, though, which debuted with the iPhone 11 in 2019 and is a real bummer to still be missing in 2022. Maybe the optics just don’t capture enough light for it, but it’s truly useful and I really miss not having it. Even more than I miss not having Dolby Vision video, at least on a phone that doesn’t even have a Dolby Vision display.

Also, if you’re coming from an iPhone Plus, you won’t be getting that second camera. You still get Portrait Mode, so it’s not a huge deal. And Apple switched from telephoto to ultra wide angle with the iPhone 11 anyway. But if you really want that telephoto, if you really want to be able to punch in like that, and I do, so I absolutely feel you, you’ll have to look at an iPhone Pro. But, if the camera really matters to you, if you can never go back in time and take better photos or videos of your family or adventures, you’re going to want to look at the iPhone 13 Pro, which is just best in class.

But also a whopping almost $600 more. $700 for the Pro Max. $400 even for the standard iPhone 13 and $300 for the mini. So, yeah, a lot more phone but for a lot more money. And that means you really have to think about what’s truly important to you. Some other phones in the iPhone SE price range have a lot of fancy features — and so many 2 megapixel macros… so many — but don’t have anywhere nearly the build quality, and certainly not the chipset power. So while some people will stress how well their discount silicon scrolls on day one, how well will it scroll on day 1500 and one? In the types of apps and updates we’ll all be using four years from now, if they even get updates four years from now, or two. One? Because price and value are very different things, especially when it comes to how long the hardware lasts, how many updates you get, what kind of accessibility features are available, privacy policies, security, what kind of accessories, how important having an Apple Store nearby is to you for support and free classes? How much is that $430 over 3 to 5 years, up front or with trade in or on installments, if you keep it the whole time, resell it… hand it down?

Full disclosure, it’s not the iPhone for me. I’m basically Nerd Prime. I carry an iPhone 13 Pro Max. But like I said at the beginning, it isn’t about me. The phone market is broad and deep. That’s literally why Apple offers a range of iPhones, so there’s something for everybody. Including people who just want to buy the same type of car or watch or, yes, phone, year after year. The same, only new. Only fresh. And I will admit, I’ve had an absolute blast using the SE this week. I’m just smiling all the time. Like a Porsche 911 lover who finally got a new Singer.

But, real talk, if you need a better display or camera system or any of that, maybe the extra few hundred bucks will be worth it to you for the iPhone 13, but if you don’t want to pay one dollar more, or you simply prefer, even love the comfort of that classic Home button design, than the iPhone SE delivers exactly what it’s meant to — a less expensive iPhone for you to keep on loving for many more years to come.

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NEW iPhone 13 & Pro — The PERFECT Greens!

Apple's got two new, green iPhones! Green iPhone 13 and Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro. They're otherwise identical to the original iPhones 13, just in all-new, all spring colors! So... how do they look and how do they compare!

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M1 Ultra vs Mac Studio — What Apple Didn’t Tell You!

Why A13 in Studio Display? Why M1 in iPad Air? Why is M1 Ultra 2lbs heavier? Where's Mac mini Pro? M2 MacBook Air? Studio Display and PC or Xbox? Studio Display vs 27-inch iMac or LG UltraFine 5K? Quad-Die M1 Ultra for Mac Pro? Stereo Pair Studio Displays? Target Display Mode? M1 Ultra Clock Speeds? M1 Mac mini still worth it? Those and all your Mac Studio, Studio Display, and M1 Ultra questions answered!

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M1 Ultra — How Apple DESTROYED Nvidia

Start with M1 Max and then… yeah double it. 4 ice storm efficiency cores. 16 firestorm performance cores. 32 neural engine cores. Which… why weren’t they called Brainstorm? Up to 64 G13 graphics cores. Dual H.264 and HEVC decode engines, quad encode and ProRes engines. 6 USB controllers. 6 Thunderbolt controllers. And up to 128 GB… 128 GB of unified memory at 800 GB/s. That’s M1 Ultra. Literally. And here's how it all works!

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NEW Mac Studio — RIP iMac Pro!

Apple's got an all-new Mac — the Mac Studio! With M1 Max and a dual-die M1 Ultra, plus a matching Studio Display, it looks like the future of iMac Pro... is no longer all-in-on! Here are my live reactions to Apple's March 8, 2022 keynote announcement!

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Surprise Pro Mac and Display Leaks!

Fresh hot new rumor reports from 9to5Mac say we have a surprise new Mac Studio and Apple Studio Display dynamic duo heading our way, the first to sit somewhere between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro, with M1 Max and Dual M1 Max chipsets, and the second to replace the Pro Display XDR with an even higher-resolution, 7K display and A13 chipset! Let's do this!