New Apple iMac and iPad Pros now use the M1 chip

It didn’t take long for Apple to put its M1 chip into its other products. During its product event on April 20, Apple’s M1 system-on-chip (SoC) made its way into the new iMac and iPad Pro.

The new iMac strikes a clear deviation from Apple’s previous design. It now sports a flat, squared-off look rather than the bulbous dome of the previous generation. Apple says the new design reduces the iMac’s volume by 50 per cent, allowing it to fit in more places. It also comes in seven colors.

Apple iMac 2021 profile shot and colors
All the new colors of the new Apple iMac. Source: Apple

Part of what enabled the design is Apple’s M1 chip. The M1 chip’s higher power efficiency lowered the cooling requirement, shrinking the space the cooler occupies. Although there are two fans, they’re far smaller than the previous generation and are practically inaudible in most workloads.

The iMac’s new M1 chip is identical to the one used for the MacBook Pro laptops. It carries an eight-core CPU and either a seven or eight-core GPU. And because it’s based on the same architecture as the processors in iPhones, the iMac can run iOS apps. Designed as a mainstream computer, the iMac comes with 8GB RAM and up to 512GB of storage.

As per Apple tradition, the new iMac comes with a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display. Apple says the display supports the DCI-P3 colour gamut and 500 nits of brightness. It also features the True Tone adaptive colour technology to automatically adjust the colour based on lighting conditions and an anti-reflective coating.

To keep the chassis thin, Apple decided on an external power supply. The power supply is also where the Ethernet port hooks up to the rest of the system. The plus side is that the power brick looks to be about the same size as a MacBook’s and comes with a magnetic connector.

Apple's new magnetic power connector for the iMac
The iMac’s power connector attaches magnetically. Source: Apple

Remote work has placed a heavier emphasis on the quality of integrated webcams and internal microphones. For the new iMac, Apple added a new 1080p webcam with a new sensor, as well as a “studio-grade” triple mic array. The webcam also uses the M1 chip’s image signal processor to calibrate aspects like colour and white balancing.

The base configuration iMac starts at CA$1,599. Stepping up to the CA$1,849 midtier configuration comes with more ports, and the CA$2,099 high-end configuration has 512GB storage.

Aside from a slightly downgraded GPU, the base iMac lacks an Ethernet port and has two fewer USB 3 ports compared to the two higher-end models. It’s unclear whether this is a technology limit or a whimsical omission by Apple to artificially segment its products.

The Apple Magic Keyboard's fingerprint sensor usecase
The Magic Keyboard now comes with an optional Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Source: Apple

There’s a CA$250 price difference between the base tier iMac and the next model up. Considering that the mid-tier configuration has more USB ports, an Ethernet port, and a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID fingerprint sensor, it’s the better buy for users with more accessories who don’t want an external dock cluttering up their desks.

The Apple iMac is available for preorder now on the Apple store and will ship in the second half of May.

Apple also announced the iPad Pro in parallel with the iMac. In addition to using the M1 chip, the new iPad Pro also comes with a hugely updated display, a new camera array, Thunderbolt, and 5G.

Although Apple stuffed the M1 chip inside the iPad Pro, adding laptop level performance into both its 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros, the most notable improvement is the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s Liquid Retina XDR display.

The new display uses mini-LEDs backlights that support 2,500 local dimming zones, meaning that parts of the backlight can be turned off for sections of images that are totally black.

Apple also claims that the iPad Pro’s Liquid Retina XDR display supports the same 1,000 nit brightness and 1,600 nit peak brightness as the Pro Display XDR, Apple’s professional editing monitor. By boosting the quality of the display, Apple is hoping the iPad Pro can find its way into more hands of creators who frequently edit, draw, and review HDR content on the fly.

The iPad Pro sitting on its Magic Keyboard stand and the Apple Pencil
The new iPad Pro is as thin as ever. Source: Apple

While it isn’t as eye-popping, the 11-inch iPad Pro still comes with Apple’s venerable Liquid Retina display.

The iPad Pro has more memory and storage than the desktop iMac, coming with 16GB of memory and up to 2TB of storage. Additionally, the distinction between it and the MacBook Air is starting to blur, at least performance-wise. But with a touchscreen, Apple Pencil support and a tablet form factor its use case is clearly different.

Other improvements include quad speakers, face ID, Thunderbolt 4 to support faster transfer rates and higher resolution monitors, 5G support and a new 12MP ultra-wide camera.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at CA$999 while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at CA$1,399. Pre-order is available now and the product will ship in the second half of May.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT World Canada. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

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