Apple Studio Display review: A mega display that’s not for everyone

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I’ve been really looking forward to seeing the Apple Studio Display again for a very long time. Although I must admit that a monitor that costs at least $1,599 (!) for the smallest model seems to indicate that this is a monitor best left to the professionals. Well, what can I say? After the review, I bought a Studio Display for myself and don’t want to share it with anyone else. I’ll reveal why the Apple Studio Display might even become one of my favorite devices in the NextPit review.

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Good

  • Top notch manufacturing
  • Bright screen with faithful color reproduction (a pleasure, honestly!)
  • The image is clearly visible from all angles
  • Great speakers, good microphone
  • A real treat for any MacBook or iPad user as it’s instantly compatible. It now perfectly replaces my old iMac

Wrong

  • Unfortunately, it only comes with a 60Hz refresh rate
  • The webcam should be able to do a lot more
  • Fixed power cable
  • The swivel arm for height adjustment is (too) expensive
  • Nothing appealing to PC users

Apple Studio Display: Pricing and Availability

Front side of the Apple Studio display

The Studio Display on a tidy desk. Unfortunately, the desktop doesn’t always look so good, but the Studio Display does. / © NextPit

The Studio Display is available in two different versions: One with normal glass but with very low reflective value. This basic version is available for $1,599. However, there is also a variant with nano-textured glass, which certainly costs a lot more for $300 more.

Apple also offers a tilt and height adjustable stand with this monitor. However, this (really, absolutely worthwhile) upgrade is very expensive at $400. I don’t quite understand the supplement at this point. However, I can reveal at this point, that didn’t stop me from buying the more expensive variant. And I don’t want to miss it either. But more on that later.

Apple Studio Display design and build quality

Apple just does it beautifully! The Studio Display is a real eye-catcher without being overbearing. The bracket is milled from a block of aluminum and everything is assembled ready to use upon arrival. I’ll explain below why this seems convenient, but it could also cause frustration later on.

The height-adjustable hinge is attached directly to the bracket. The monitor can be adjusted up and down by tilting it, as well as its height. Although all of this can be done with just one finger, the display always remains in the desired position. That’s to be expected when you shell out an extra $400, don’t you think? Still, the quality is simply outstanding.


What I liked :

  • Beautiful design.
  • First class and quality work.
  • No buttons anywhere – and that’s a good thing!

What I did not like :

  • The power cord is not detachable.
  • You have only one choice before purchase: the configuration of the stand cannot be modified afterwards.

Apple Studio Display Stand

The Studio Display stand is milled from a single block of aluminum. / © NextPit

At the top edge of the screen, Apple has integrated a 12-megapixel camera in the center, where it is practically invisible. There are vents for passive cooling on the top side of the Studio Display.

If you want to search for buttons on the Studio Display, you won’t find them. There is none – not one! I found it quite irritating at first, but now, after about three months with this fancy monitor, I’ve found it extremely handy. Everything here works via software and the included Thunderbolt 4 cable (which costs $129 by the way). When connected to the iPad or MacBook, the cable not only supplies the connected device with electricity, but also immediately transmits images and opens the door for you to control it.

Speaking of Thunderbolt, there are four USB-C ports on the back for connecting peripherals. There’s no HDMI or DisplayPort here, so be prepared to buy adapters if you have output devices that rely on those connections.

Apple Studio Display Anschlüsse

Ports on the Studio Display – all USB-C! / © NextPit

However, as we know, beauty is not everything – and perhaps even ephemeral here. This is because there are two points that really bother me:

For some reason, Apple permanently (!) installed the power cord in the monitor. Unplug the power cord to possibly transport the monitor more safely or replace a faulty cable? Certainly not! That’s exactly what I’ve always liked about the iMac. Of course, once you install the monitor, you don’t need to carry it around all the time. But it would still have been a sensible option.

The second sticky point is what I’ve already touched on above. You must decide directly at the time of purchase which model you want to have in the end. What still makes sense for the nano-textured glass is something else when it comes to the height-adjustable stand. It is precisely because this additional option is so expensive that many buyers are likely to object to it and perhaps regret it after a while. By then, it’s already too late…

Viewing the Apple Studio screen

The Studio Display houses a 27-inch Retina display with a resolution of 5,120 x 2,880 pixels. When you first sit down in front of this screen, you think “wow”. Even today, several weeks later, I still often feel that way. The color reproduction, razor-sharp image, and screen brightness (Apple-specified at 600 nits) are truly a feast for the eyes. Although the Studio Display is (unfortunately) not an OLED screen, blacks are also good


What I liked :

  • Excellent color reproduction.
  • Bright and pleasant to look at.
  • The fonts are very easy to read.

What I do not like :


Apple Studio display screen

The image from the Apple Studio Display is razor sharp and offers excellent color reproduction. / © NextPit

Unfortunately, Apple included Studio Display HDR or ProMotion. Thus, the refresh rate is only 60Hz, instead of the adjustable 120Hz on ProMotion displays.

So if you consider that the Studio Display doesn’t necessarily get full marks in its actual core functionality, and therefore may escape scrutiny, why would you buy such an expensive device?

The following segment sheds light on this particular issue!

Special Features of the Apple Studio Display

What makes the Studio Display so special to me are the features and accessories included by Apple.

The speakers and microphone are particularly worth mentioning here. I can’t remember anything this good on other monitors.


What I liked :

  • Great sound from the mics.
  • Even better sound from the speakers.

What I did not like :

  • Center Stage does not always work correctly. Apple has promised a few improvements here, though.
  • The webcam is definitely the hardware’s Achilles’ heel.

Apple Studio Display Webcam

The Apple Studio Display webcam: barely visible in the frame, not so optimal in use. / © NextPit

Apple has installed three microphones, which provide excellent sound during video conferences and other video conferencing sessions via the computer. In the Control Center, these microphones can also be adjusted so that the voice is in the foreground during calls and background noise is suppressed. It works pretty well and delivers significantly better voice quality results.

The speakers are also absolutely brilliant: powerful, with decent bass and excellent surround sound. I’m no audio expert, but I don’t think you can do much better given the slim size.

The third special thing about the Studio Display is the software that’s installed on the monitor and, with the Apple Silicon A13 Bionic, makes it look like you’re running iOS. I read in an article somewhere that the Apple Studio looks like a big iPhone or iPad, but without the phone function. I don’t quite get that feeling. Nevertheless, thanks to iOS, the Studio Display has functions such as Center Stage (the webcam automatically follows the face or can independently enlarge the section of the image) or does not require scaling to enlarge the background- plan.

final verdict

Apple’s Studio Display really isn’t cheap at all, especially if you want some really fantastic add-ons like nano-textured glass and height-adjustable stand. And, no, Apple hasn’t dug deep into the box of technical innovations with the Studio Display either: no HDR, no ProMotion, just 60Hz.

Docking station with Apple Studio Display

The Studio Display really has what it takes to completely replace the iMac. / © NextPit

But still, the Studio Display is something I wouldn’t want to be without in my daily life. It completely replaced my 27 inch iMac and I connect the monitor to my MacBook or iPad.

The fact that I can also power my MacBook up to 96 watts via the Thunderbolt 4 cable, eliminating the annoying cable extension, is just a nice little touch that I’m always happy about.

But is a minimum price of $1,599 justified? Only you can answer this question. For die-hard Apple fans who barely skip a product, the question probably doesn’t arise anyway, as long as there’s enough balance left in the coffers. While it doesn’t have to be a 5K monitor, you can also look for significantly cheaper 4K monitors.

However, pricing actually starts at around $1,300 for a 5K resolution monitor. Apple’s Studio Display is more expensive than that, but keep in mind that the interaction between hardware and software, which Studio Display also offers, great sound from the speakers and microphone, and simplicity connecting my computer to it makes Studio Display a hard-to-spend workmate.

Apple Studio screen

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