All the Details on Apple’s New iMacs and iMac Accessories

Apple's new 21.5-inch 4K iMac and 27-inch 5K iMac


Apple announced updates to its entire family of iMac computers, releasing the first 21.5-inch iMac with a Retina 4K display and making the Retina 5K display the standard across its line of 27-inch iMacs. Apple says that the new Retina displays make photos and videos more true-to-life with “a wider color gamut and spectacular image quality.” Additionally, the updated iMacs also feature upgraded processors and graphics.

The company also introduced new accessories that complement the iMac lineup, including the brand-new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2. The Magic devices have switched from disposable AA batteries to rechargeable batteries, and the Magic Trackpad 2 supports Force Touch.

David Pierce reports for Wired that the “iMac is Apple’s most mature product,” but Apple is trying to help the iMac find its place in a world that’s dominated not by large desktop computers, but by the small ones we carry in our pockets every day. But the iMac is a desktop, and since desktops have big screens, the headlining feature of the new iMac lineup is its upgraded screens.

The 21.5-inch iMac’s 4K display features a resolution of 4096×2304, for a total of 9.4 million pixels, which is 4.5 times more than the standard 21.5-inch iMac display. The 27-inch iMac features a 5K display with “the world’s highest resolution all-in-one display,” with a total of 14.7 million pixels. Apple’s press release notes: “With a Retina display now on the 21.5-inch iMac and every 27-inch iMac, iMac with Retina display is more affordable than ever.”

21.5-inch iMac

Apple updated its smaller iMac with a faster processor, faster RAM, improved graphics, and a new 4K display. The new 4K display is a significant improvement over the 1080p display. Jacob Kastrenakes reports for The Verge that the new iMac’s screen looks “more vibrant than ever.” That’s because Apple is using new display technology that can show 25% more colors — mostly reds, greens, and yellows.

“With standard sRGB-based displays,” Apple explains, “many of the colors you see in real life never make it to your screen. The new Retina 5K and 4K displays feature a wider P3-based color gamut that provides a 25% larger color space, and with more available colors, images are more vivid, reveal even greater detail, and appear more lifelike than ever.” Kastrenakes reports that this new technology isn’t “the kind of thing that lets you look at the display once and see how much better it is — although, the 4K will do that on its own.” However, it will make the content that you’re consuming or creating more “mesmerizing.”

The 21.5-inch iMac hasn’t received a substantial upgrade in the past two years, so Apple upgraded the line to Intel’s Broadwell processors, which only made it out of Intel’s factories in June. The least-expensive iMac includes a 1.6GHz dual-core i5, while the 4K version starts with a 3.1GHz quad-core i5, which many users would want to upgrade. The higher-end iMac models include Iris Pro graphics, and RAM has been improved from 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 to 8GB of 1867GHz LPDDR3, which is upgradeable to 16GB. The update also adds Thunderbolt 2 and a larger storage option.

In the same way that Apple only brought a 5K display to its top-of-the-line 27-inch iMac last year, it’s only offering a 4K display on its most expensive 21.5-inch machine. It will start at $1,499, while 1080p models will still start at $1,099. The significant jump between the two illustrates that there’s a big difference in power between the two tiers.

27-inch iMac

Apple is also updating the specifications and display of its larger 27-inch iMac. Every model of the 27-inch iMac will ship with a 5K display, which means that Apple fans will be able to get a 5K display for $1,799, instead of the previous starting price of $1,999.

The 5K display is also getting the improved color reproduction enabled by Apple’s new display technology, which The Verge explains uses “red-green phosphor LEDs” to improve reproduction of reds and greens. Traditional LEDs have done a better job with blues, and the new LEDs are designed to even out how reds, greens, and blues are represented.

The ability to display additional colors will be helpful for users who edit photos and videos, since they may be working with cameras that capture more information than the average computer screen is capable of displaying. Kastrenakes notes that this means that if you switch to one of the new iMacs, you might not notice the improved color reproduction right away, though it’s immediately obvious that the new display looks “fantastic.”

The 27-inch iMac is also being upgraded to Intel’s new Skylake processors, and configurations begin at 3.2GHz quad-core i5 and top out at the 4.0GHz quad-core i7. An AMD Radeon R9 series processor handles graphics, and the system’s RAM starts at 8GB of 1867MHz DDR3 memory and can be configured to include up to 32GB. The iMac also includes a Thunderbolt 2 port.

iMac accessories

While the external hardware of the iMacs has stayed the same, Apple updated its keyboard, trackpad, and mouse with substantial design overhauls for the first two. All of the accessories are now rechargeable via a Lightning cable, which means that you won’t go through AA batteries to keep them running. The new rechargeable batteries are expected to last about one month per charge, and they’ll be able to gain about nine hours of power from being plugged in for just two minutes.

The new trackpad has a flat metal base and a white top that slopes downward from back to front. Its surface is now wider, and both supports Force Touch and can be clicked anywhere. The new trackpad nearly doubles the price tag of the old model, now costing $129. The mouse got the fewest changes, and looks almost identical to the old version. Apple is selling the new mouse for $79, $10 more than the old version.

The keyboard, on the other hand, looks significantly different, and now features a single slab of metal that will fit perfectly beside the trackpad if you purchase both of them. The keys are made slightly wider by reducing the gaps around them, but their placement remains the same. The keys are also shallower than they were on the old keyboard, which will require some adjustment from users who have the old version. The keyboard is available for $99, up $30 from the previous model.

All of the products have new names; the new Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad are called the Magic Mouse 2 and the Magic Trackpad 2. But there isn’t a Magic Keyboard 2, just a Magic Keyboard, because the previous model of the keyboard was called the Apple Wireless Keyboard. The keyboard and the mouse come with the iMac, and users can opt to purchase the new trackpad.

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