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Apple Wows with Mac Studio and Studio Display, Updates iPhone SE and iPad Air

At its March 8th Peek Performance event, Apple freshened its iPhone and iPad product lines with a new third-generation iPhone SE and fifth-generation iPad Air, along with new green hues for the iPhone 13 line. Then Apple focused on the big announcements of the day: the entirely new Mac Studio, powered by the insanely fast M1 Ultra chip and accompanied by the stunning 27-inch Studio Display.

Mac Studio with M1 Ultra and Studio Display Redefine the Mac Lineup

In 2020, Apple started to transition Macs away from Intel processors to Apple silicon, beginning with the M1 system-on-a-chip and a year later adding the even more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max to the family. The performance of those chips, particularly when measured against their low power requirements, was stellar. Apple has now unveiled the M1 Ultra, which bonds two M1 Max chips together for double the performance.

To hold the M1 Ultra—or a less expensive M1 Max—Apple introduced an entirely new Mac that looks like an inflated Mac mini. The Mac Studio has the same 7.7-inch (19.7 cm) square outline, but is more than twice as tall, clocking in at 3.7 inches (9.5 cm) high. Much of that vertical space is occupied by cooling fans, but Apple says the Mac Studio makes minimal noise.

The Mac Studio also expands the Mac mini’s price, with the M1 Max model starting at $1999 and the M1 Ultra model at $3999. You can kit a Mac Studio out with an impressive set of options:

  • Chip: For $1999, the M1 Max model offers 10 CPU cores, either 24 or 32 (add $200) GPU cores, and 16 Neural Engine cores. The $3999 M1 Ultra model doubles those numbers with 20 CPU cores, 48 or 64 ($1000) GPU cores, and 32 Neural Engine cores.
  • Memory: With the M1 Max, you can choose between 32 GB or 64 GB ($400) of unified memory. With an M1 Ultra, you can opt for either 64 GB or 128 GB ($800) of unified memory.
  • Storage: Internal SSD storage starts at 512 GB, with options of 1 TB ($200), 2 TB ($600), 4 TB ($1200), and 8 TB ($2400).

Because of Apple’s focus on creative professionals, the Mac Studio offers a solid set of ports. On the back, it has four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10-gigabit Ethernet port, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 is built in, as is Bluetooth 5.0. For ease of access, Apple finally put ports on the front, too. The M1 Max model features two USB-C ports, whereas the M1 Ultra model offers two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Both provide an SDXC card slot.

To address the Mac Studio’s lack of a screen, Apple introduced the $1599 Studio Display. It’s a 27-inch 5K Retina display with a native resolution of 5120-by-2800, P3 wide color, and True Tone technology. Nano-texture glass is a $300 option if you need less reflectivity. There are three stand options: a 30º tilt default, a VESA mount adapter, or a tilt- and height-adjustable stand for $400 more. Note that you can’t swap one for another later. The Studio Display offers one Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to a Mac—complete with 96-watt charging—and three USB-C ports for connecting peripherals.

What sets the Studio Display apart from other monitors is that it uses an A13 Bionic chip—the same brains in the iPhone 11—to power a 12-megapixel Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage (Apple’s technology for smoothly keeping you in the frame as you move around on a video call), a three-mic array with directional beamforming, and a high-fidelity six-speaker system. In short, this is the ultimate Mac videoconferencing setup. It even supports spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos, and you can use “Hey Siri” with it.

There’s one other fact you need to know before we put all this together: Apple said that the only remaining Mac to transition to Apple silicon is the Mac Pro, which means that it’s dropping the popular 27-inch iMac from the lineup. We’re sad since that iMac was a terrifically good deal, but if you’ve been waiting for an Apple silicon 27-inch iMac, the Studio Display suggests four alternative directions, depending on your needs. Remember that even the entry-level M1 chip outperforms the most recent Intel-based 27-inch iMac.

  • Minimize desktop cost: If keeping costs down while sticking with Apple-designed desktop gear is important to you, couple a Mac mini with the Studio Display.
  • Maximize desktop performance: Need the maximum performance on your desk? A Mac Studio driving one or more Studio Displays is the ultimate professional setup today.
  • Minimize portability cost: Those who need portability and desktop screen real estate can get both without breaking the bank by combining a MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Studio Display.
  • Maximize portability performance: For top-notch portability, performance, and productivity, a 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro is unbeatable when matched with one or even two Studio Displays.

Finally, don’t discount the 24-inch iMac. Although its screen is smaller than the 27-inch iMac’s, its Retina screen resolution isn’t far off, and it’s notably less expensive. If you mostly like the all-in-one nature of the 27-inch iMac and don’t need the performance of the Mac Studio or MacBook Pro, you won’t go wrong with a 24-inch iMac.

Both the Mac Studio and Studio Display are available to order now, with shipments starting on March 18th, although demand is already pushing some ship dates into April. Note that the Mac Studio doesn’t include any input devices, but Apple also introduced a new silver-and-black Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad ($199), Magic Mouse ($99), and Magic Trackpad ($149) designed to complement the Studio Display.

Third-generation iPhone SE Gains A15 Bionic and Better Camera

Not everyone wants—or at least wants to pay for—the latest and greatest. For those looking for a small iPhone at a reasonable price, the new third-generation iPhone SE is still a bargain. Prices start at $429 thanks to its 4.7-inch screen in an iPhone 8 design and Touch ID-enabled Home button. That’s $30 more than the previous generation, but you get the same A15 Bionic chip that’s in the iPhone 13 line and Apple’s promise that iOS will support it for years to come. The new iPhone SE also gains 5G support for faster cellular Internet connectivity, though it doesn’t support the fastest millimeter-wave flavor of 5G.

The A15 Bionic’s processing power enhances the 12-megapixel camera, providing computational photography capabilities like Smart HDR 4, Photographic Styles, Deep Fusion, and Portrait mode. The A15 Bionic’s image signal processor also improves video quality, particularly in low-light situations. Despite the increased performance, Apple says the new iPhone SE features better battery life than the second-generation iPhone SE and all previous 4.7-inch iPhone models. (Generally speaking, the bigger the iPhone, the better the battery life, thanks to additional room inside.)

You can order the new iPhone SE, which comes in midnight (black), starlight (white), and PRODUCT(RED), starting at 8 AM Eastern on March 11th, with delivery starting on March 18th. The 64 GB model costs $429, 128 GB costs $479, and 256 GB is $579.

Fifth-generation iPad Air Moves to M1 and 5G

For many people, the $599 iPad Air is the sweet spot of the iPad line, fitting nicely between the $329 iPad and the $799 11-inch iPad Pro. However, the fourth-generation iPad Air had fallen behind in a few ways, making its price less palatable.

The new fifth-generation iPad Air makes the price compelling again, thanks to the move to the same M1 chip used in the iPad Pro (and many Macs). It boasts up to 60% faster CPU performance than the previous model and twice the graphics performance. Even more noticeable in this age of videoconferencing is the addition of an Ultra Wide front-facing camera with Center Stage. Those who need speedy connectivity on the go will appreciate the new 5G support, though it doesn’t support the fastest millimeter-wave 5G. Apple also doubled the throughput for the iPad Air’s USB-C port, but it remains slower than the Thunderbolt port in the iPad Pro models.

Other key specs remain the same, including the size and industrial design, Touch ID in the top button, support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, rear-facing camera, and battery life.

As with the new iPhone SE, pre-orders for the new iPad Air open at 8 AM Eastern on March 11th, with delivery starting on March 18th. It comes in five new colors: space gray, pink, purple, blue, and starlight (white). $599 gets you 64 GB of storage, whereas 256 GB costs $749. Add another $150 for a cellular-capable model.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: At its March 8th Peek Performance event, Apple unveiled the impressive new Mac Studio—powered by the M1 Ultra chip—and Studio Display. The company also introduced an updated iPhone SE and iPad Air. Read on for details:

Apple Releases Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, new iPad Air, and Subscription Services

In its “Time Flies” special event on September 15th, Apple cleared the decks of some secondary releases to make room for the anticipated unveiling of the iPhone 12 in a few weeks. Secondary though these products may be compared to the iPhone, the new Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, fourth-generation iPad Air, and eighth-generation iPad are nothing to sneeze at.

Apple also announced a new subscription service, Apple Fitness+, and three discounted Apple One bundles of its subscription services.

Lastly, Apple said that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 would ship on September 16th, and they did indeed. We’ll have more about those releases soon, but we recommend that you wait at least a few weeks before updating devices you rely on. Although the betas have been pretty stable, nasty bugs may surface as millions of users start using the new operating systems.

Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

With the Apple Watch, Apple usually makes incremental enhancements that improve each successive generation, and the Apple Watch Series 6 is no exception. Most notably, it includes a Blood Oxygen sensor and app that report on the oxygen saturation of the wearer’s blood. Low readings can indicate problems with health and fitness, and research suggests that blood oxygen numbers may help identify COVID-19 or flu infections. Low blood oxygen levels could also encourage those who are infected to seek additional medical attention.

The Apple Watch Series 6 also features a new S6 chip, a next-generation always-on altimeter, and an enhanced Always-On Retina display that is up to 2.5 times brighter than the Series 5 display outdoors when the user’s wrist is down, so it’s easier to view in bright sunlight.

Prices for the Apple Watch Series 6 start at $399 for a 40mm GPS-only aluminum model, with cellular capabilities adding $100. The larger 44mm model costs $30 more, and you can spend more on stainless steel (+$300) and titanium (+$400) cases and various watch bands. The aluminum model comes in silver, space gray, and gold, plus (PRODUCT)RED and a new blue color. The stainless steel model comes in graphite or gold, and the titanium case in natural and space black.

If $399 is too high of a starting point for you, consider Apple’s other new model, the Apple Watch SE. Based on the S5 chip used in last year’s Apple Watch Series 5, the Apple Watch SE includes some of the sensors in the Series 6, such as the always-on altimeter, and it supports fall detection, but it lacks the Series 6’s ECG and Blood Oxygen capabilities. Nor does it have the Always-On Retina display—its display goes black when the user’s wrist is down.

Those tradeoffs drop the Apple Watch SE’s starting price to $279 for a 40mm GPS-only model. A larger 44mm watch bumps the price up by $30, and cellular capabilities add another $100. You’re limited to aluminum cases in silver, gold, and space gray, but any of the Apple Watch bands will work with it. Is $279 still too expensive? The Apple Watch Series 3 remains available in a GPS-only model starting at $199.

The Apple Watch SE might be particularly attractive to families or those caring for seniors, thanks to Apple’s new Family Setup, which lets you manage cellular Apple Watches (Series 4 and later) for others from your iPhone instead of each person having to manage their Apple Watch from their own iPhone.

Apple also introduced two new bands: the Solo Loop and the Braided Solo Loop. Both have no buckles or clasps and come in nine available lengths—they expand to fit over your hand and contract to fit snugly on your wrist. The Solo Loop is made of soft silicone, and the Braided Solo Loop combines 16,000 polyester yarn filaments with ultrathin silicone threads—it costs an extra $50.

New iPad and iPad Air

On the iPad side of things, Apple’s first announcement was the simplest. The new eighth-generation iPad replaces the previous seventh-generation model and sports only a single change. Instead of the 4-core A10 Fusion processor in last year’s model, the new iPad relies on the 6-core A12 Bionic processor. It promises up to 40% faster CPU performance and twice the graphics performance of the seventh-generation iPad. Otherwise, it retains the 10.2-inch Retina display, capable cameras, and support for the first-generation Apple Pencil ($99) and Smart Keyboard ($159). Its price also remains the same, starting at $329, with education pricing for a broadly defined set of individuals at $309 and education pricing for institutions at $299.

More interesting is the new fourth-generation iPad Air. The third-generation iPad Air was essentially a stripped-down version of the older 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and the fourth-generation model continues that trend with the current 11-inch iPad Pro. The new iPad Air features the same squared-off design, full-screen display, and 12-megapixel rear camera, and it has an almost identical form factor. It’s compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil ($129) and both the Magic Keyboard ($299) and Smart Keyboard Folio ($179). Finally, it swaps the traditional Lightning port for the USB-C port also used by the iPad Pro.

However, the new iPad Air also features Apple’s newest chip—the A14 Bionic—and eliminates the need for a Home button by building a Touch ID sensor into the top button. That clever approach lets Apple reduce the size of the bezels around the screen while avoiding the cost of the TrueDepth camera necessary for Face ID and simultaneously making the iPad Air easier to use for those wearing masks.

The new iPad Air with 64 GB of storage starts at $599 for Wi-Fi–only models and $729 for cellular-capable models. Bumping the storage to 256 GB adds $150 to the price. It’s available in five colors: space gray, silver, rose gold, green, and sky blue.

Apple Fitness+ and Apple One Bundles

Finally, Apple unveiled its latest subscription service: Apple Fitness+. It’s a “workout experience” that combines metrics from an Apple Watch Series 3 or later with studio-style workouts that you view on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. World-class trainers present classes across a variety of disciplines, including cycling, treadmill, rowing, HIIT, strength, yoga, dance, core, and mindful cooldown. For novices, there’s an Absolute Beginner program.

When you start a workout on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, the correct workout type automatically starts on your Apple Watch. While you’re exercising, heart rate and workout times are shown on the screen. When Apple Fitness+ launches, sometime before the end of the year, it will cost $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, and you’ll be able to try it free for a month.

If you’ve found yourself subscribing to multiple Apple services and paying for additional iCloud storage, you may be able to save money with the new Apple One bundles:

  • Apple One Individual: For $14.95 per month, you get Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50 GB of iCloud storage, a savings of $6.01 per month.
  • Apple One Family: For $19.95 per month for up to six family members, you get Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200 GB of iCloud storage, a savings of $8.01 per month.
  • Apple One Premier: For $29.95 per month, you get everything: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2 TB of iCloud storage, all of which can be shared among six family members. That adds up to a savings of $24.95 per month.

Of course, these bundles are worthwhile only if you’re interested in all the included services, but for those who are already paying for a collection of Apple services, they provide a nice discount.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Looking for a new Apple Watch or iPad? The new Apple Watch Series 6 tracks blood oxygen saturation, and the Apple Watch SE cuts the price by 30%. The new iPad Air has great performance without the iPad Pro price, and the new iPad remains cheap at $329.

Apple Updates iPad Lineup with new iPad mini and iPad Air

iPad mini lovers, rejoice! If you’ve been holding onto an aging iPad mini because of its small size, you’ll be happy to learn that Apple has at long last released a new 7.9-inch iPad mini with modern-day technologies. Joining it in the lineup is a new 10.5-inch iPad Air that turns out to be a retooled iPad Pro for a lot less money.

iPad mini Gains A12 Bionic Chip and Apple Pencil Support

It has been hard to recommend the iPad mini 4—last updated in September 2015—for several years now because its hardware was increasingly long in the tooth, and Apple hadn’t seemed enthused about updating it.

That has all changed with the fifth-generation iPad mini, which boasts the same speedy A12 Bionic chip that powers today’s iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. It provides over three times the performance as the iPad mini 4’s A8 chip and graphics that are nine times faster. The other huge change is that the iPad mini now lets you use the $99 Apple Pencil for drawing, taking notes, and more. Note that the iPad mini supports only with the first-generation Apple Pencil, not the second-generation model that’s specific to last year’s iPad Pro models.

Other welcome, but less notable, changes include a screen that is 25% brighter, displays more colors, and supports Apple’s True Tone technology for matching the color temperature of the screen to the light in your surroundings. The Wi-Fi + Cellular model of the iPad mini also now supports faster gigabit-class LTE connections and the improved Bluetooth 5.0.

The basic specs of the rear-facing camera on the new iPad mini haven’t changed—it’s still an 8-megapixel camera—but it likely takes better photos and videos thanks to the A12 Bionic chip’s computational photography capabilities. Plus, the front-facing FaceTime HD camera can now capture 1080p video at 30 frames per second for better FaceTime calls.

You can order the iPad mini now in silver, space gray, and gold. For 64 GB of storage, a Wi-Fi–only model costs $399, whereas a 256 GB model is $549. Adding cellular connectivity bumps the prices to $529 and $679.

iPad Air Lowers the 10.5-inch iPad Pro Price with a Less-Capable Camera

Despite its name, the new 10.5-inch iPad Air has far more in common with the now-discontinued 10.5-inch iPad Pro from 2017 than it does with the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 from 2014.

Apple has clearly taken the iPad Pro and modernized it with the current A12 Bionic chip, gigabit-class LTE, eSIM, and Bluetooth 5.0. But to cut $150 from the iPad Pro’s $649 starting price, Apple replaced the iPad Pro’s rear-facing camera with a less-capable model and traded the quad speaker system for stereo speakers. That’s not to say that the iPad Air’s rear-facing camera is a problem—it’s the same 8-megapixel camera as in the iPad mini—it’s just not at the level of the 12-megapixel camera that was in the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Like the old iPad Pro, the iPad Air supports the first-generation Apple Pencil and the original $159 Smart Keyboard (again, not the Smart Keyboard Folio for the 2018 iPad Pro models).

As with the iPad mini, Apple offers only two tiers of storage, 64 GB for $499 and 256 GB for $649, and the cellular option increases the pricing to $629 and $779. The color choices are again silver, space gray, and gold.

Other iPads

Apple’s slate of iPads makes a lot of sense now, with this new fifth-generation iPad mini and third-generation iPad Air joining the sixth-generation iPad and the 11-inch iPad Pro and third-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

If you want small, get an iPad mini. If you want cheap, buy the iPad. If you’re looking for a bigger screen or Apple keyboard (the Smart Keyboard is excellent), go for the iPad Air. And if you have the budget, the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models are fabulous. Apple has a helpful online comparison tool, or feel free to ask us what we’d recommend for you.


Social Media: After more than three years, Apple has updated the beloved iPad mini with modern-day specs and Apple Pencil support, and the company also released an iPad Air that’s essentially a retooled iPad Pro. Learn more at: