Apple's next iMac said to get 27-inch screen, but the rumour doesn't add up

Insiders have apparently told us the size of the panel and that it won't be mini-LED… but not everything they've said makes sense

Apple iMac 2021 in red on grey background
(Image credit: Apple)

Ever since the release of the new 24-inch iMac (2021) with Apple M1 chip, we've been wondering what Apple would replace the Intel-powered 27-inch model with. Obviously, it'll have an Apple processor in, but what size, and will it have the mini-LED HDR display of the MacBook Pro (2021) 14-inch and 16-inch and the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021)?

Well, a report from Digitimes (opens in new tab) citing industry sources seems to clear up some of these questions, including the size: apparently, the new screen will the 27 inches. There had been speculation that it would increase to 30 or 32 inches, since the smaller iMac increased from 21.5 inches to 24 inches.

More disappointingly, though, the report also says that the new iMac 27-inch won't include a mini-LED HDR panel. The great thing about mini-LED is that it uses (as you might expect) tiny LED lights directly behind the pixel to light the screen, which means there can be high localised dimming for areas that need to be dark or black. That's what gives the MacBook Pros and iPad Pro such amazing HDR performance.

However, I'm not 100% convinced by this report, because it also contains this tidbit: "LED chips used in its display are up 30-40% from the previous models, giving it a higher brightness, said the sources."

I don't see why Apple would increase the brightness unless it's going with mini-LED. The latest 24-inch iMac actually uses effectively the exact same screen specs as the current 27-inch Intel model, but at a lower resolution because it's three inches smaller.

One of the best parts about the 24-inch iMac is its screen brightness and vibrancy. It has a wide P3 colour gamut and hits 500 nits of brightness, which is higher than basically any standalone monitor that isn't using (you guess it) mini-LED.

Why would Apple go beyond 500 nits for this new model, yet not go as far as matching what the MacBook Pros can do? Apple loves consistency and efficiency, and if the new 27-inch iMac isn't going to have a mini-LED display, it makes way more sense for it to use the same panel type as the 24-inch iMac.

The report also suggests that the new iMac will come in multiple colours, much like the 24-inch model – which will mean you get matching accessories and cables too.

I'd still expect the M1 Pro and probably M1 Max to be processor options in the 27-inch iMac, matching what's in the MacBook Pro. Those are desktop-class components, so seeing them in a desktop is only natural!

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.