Sunday Rumor Sunday

With Apple’s spring event just around the corner, there’s a lot going on in the rumor world:

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that he expects to see a more powerful Mac mini this week, alongside a new “more affordable” 27-inch external display.

Mark Gurman reported today that the display in question has been ready for months. This display seems to be much more mainstream display than the Pro Display XDR, and will lack mini-LED to keep the cost “down” to around $2,500.

That may not be the only display in the works at Apple, though. Filipe Espósito at 9to5Mac reported on Friday that Apple is working on a replacement for the Pro Display XDR. According to Espósito, this is dubbed the “Apple Studio Display,”1 and clocks in at an even-nicer-than-the-XDR 7k resolution.

Back to Ming-Chi Kuo for a moment, though. He also says that the Mac Pro and iMac Pro are now coming in 2023. This is beyond the end of the “2 year transition” Apple announced for Apple silicon, but COVID-19 continues to wreck havoc on supply chains and working conditions around the world.

At 9to5Mac, Espósito also commented on future Mac hardware:

Based on information seen by 9to5Mac, the new Mac Studio is primarily based on the Mac mini, but with much more powerful hardware. Apple has two versions of Mac Studio under development. One features the M1 Max chip (the same as the 2021 MacBook Pro) and the other a variant of the Apple Silicon chip that is even more powerful than the current M1 Max.

I think it may be safe to assume something “more powerful than the current M1 Max” would end up in 2023’s iMac Pro or Mac Pro, but basing machine like this on the Mac mini is interesting.

At first, I thought this seemed like a bit of a miss, but then I remembered that Gurman and others have reported that a “half-sized” Mac Pro is in the works. Could the “Mac Studio” be this machine, slated to slot between the Mac mini and a larger Mac Pro that is more akin to what we have today?

Even with the half-sized Mac Pro smoke, all of this feels a bit weird to me. Would Apple launch a fourth desktop model, joining the Mac mini, iMac and Mac Pro?2 That seems like dividing a pretty small pie into an unnecessary number of pieces, but as a desktop Mac user, it is certainly exciting to consider.

I struggle with the “Studio” name a bit here. I think it would be fun to see it return to the display lineup, but would Apple brand this new mid-range headless Mac3 with name of its new high-end display? If I had to guess, whatever this more-than-a-Mac-mini-but-not-a-Mac-Pro-either machine is, it won’t have Studio in the name.

But no one really knows, and that’s what makes all of this so much fun.

  1. A name that comes with quite a history. 
  2. Or a fifth if the iMac Pro rises from the dead… 
  3. Oh no.