Japanese blog Mac Otakara reported that the next update to the iMac line could arrive this month with several spec improvements across the board, and I have several good reasons why that’s likely the case.
Earlier this summer, we’ve been seeing several images of color-matching USB-C cables on X ahead of the iPhone 15 launch. Several users pointed out that those cables could be for the iPhone 15 lineup since the now-latest smartphones feature USB-C for charging, video/audio output, and data transfer. However, other people disagreed, that those claims turned out to be incorrect as all the iPhone 15 models Apple ship come with the standard USB-C cable in the box.
If you may have known, Apple has bundled color-matching Magic accessories (Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad) with a color-matching Lightning cable for each of the seven colors the 24-inch iMac offers – silver, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Now that the iPhone 15 models, AirPods Pro 2, and the Siri Remote have moved from Lightning to USB-C. It’s more plausible that those Magic Accessories will move to USB-C for charging as well.
Second, Mark Gurman previously expected the next iMac to feature the next-generation M3 chip; however, we won’t see any new Mac models with that chip until next year. Additionally, it has been about 18 months since Apple updated the iPad Air to have the M1 chip, and Apple usually updates the iPad Air/Pro on an 18-month cycle. Now that it’s nearing the end of its update cycle, it’s also likely that Apple will update the iPad Air to feature the M2 chip. This will also allow Apple to update the iMac with the M2 chip as well. If we go back to Apple’s April 2021 event, Apple announced both the iMac and iPad Pro with the M1 chip at the same time, so we could see history repeat itself for both of those devices as Apple wants to move all of its devices from the M1 series to the M2 series.
Third, MacRumors obtained an internal memo that Apple would start accepting trade-ins for its recent models, which usually indicates that a new Mac model could be just around the corner. Currently, every Mac in the lineup has been updated with an M2-series chip except for the iMac, so that makes the iMac the most likely candidate for an update.
Let’s talk about the specs that Mac Otakara expected for the next iMac. They’re expecting that computer to feature more Thunderbolt 4 ports, Wi-Fi 6E/Bluetooth 5.3 support, and most notably both M2 and M2 Pro chip options. This will be the first time we’ll see a Pro M-series chip on an iMac, and here’s a reason why an iMac would feature a more capable chip.
Back in November 2020, Apple introduced the first of its Macs with Apple Silicon. Along with those were the Mac mini with the M1 chip. One downside of that machine was that it had two Thunderbolt ports because the M1 chip had only one Thunderbolt controller to drive both of those ports. Apple kept the higher-end Intel-based model around since that machine had four Thunderbolt 4 ports with multiple controllers. The M1 Pro which featured two Thunderbolt controllers wouldn’t be introduced until October 2021. When Apple introduced the M2 chip back in June 2022, Apple didn’t update the Mac mini since the M1 Pro had been out for several months, and Apple wanted to wait until the next M2 Pro chip was ready so that the Mac mini would be updated to offer both the M2 and M2 Pro chip options at the same time earlier this year. Because the M2 Pro (and the M1 Pro before it) now featured two Thunderbolt controllers, the higher-end Mac mini with the M2 Pro chip was finally equipped with four Thunderbolt ports, and the Intel-based Mac mini was phased out of the lineup.
As you know, Apple currently has two variations for the 24-inch iMac – one with two USB-C ports and one with four USB-C ports. The one with two USB-C ports also supports Thunderbolt in both of those ports; however, on the four-port model, two of the USB-C ports are Thunderbolt-supported, but the other two are just USB-C ports that support USB 3 Gen 2 speeds (up to 10 Gbps). Because both of those models feature the M1 chip, as mentioned before, the M1 chip only has one Thunderbolt controller, so you actually will have two Thunderbolt ports if you go with either model. The addition of the M2 Pro chip will remedy this issue for the higher-end iMac model. Because the M2 Pro chip has two Thunderbolt ports, that will mean all four of the USB-C ports on the higher-end model will finally be Thunderbolt-enabled. This means the iMac will follow suit on what Apple offers for the Mac mini, so we’ll have an M2 model of both the Mac mini and the iMac that will feature two Thunderbolt ports and an M2 Pro model of both the Mac mini and the iMac that will feature four Thunderbolt ports. Additionally, the M2 Pro will offer several configuration options for the higher-end model, including more memory/storage as well as more CPU/GPU cores for more advanced computing/graphics needs.
The iMac last saw an update back in April 2021 when it moved to Apple Silicon for the first time, and it’s certainly overdue for an update as more iPad and Mac models move to the M2 series as several iMac configurations have been facing huge shipping delays. However, this update will certainly be worth the wait for those who still prefer the all-in-one design. Do you agree with my thoughts on the next iMac? Sound off in the comments below, or let us know on X at @Appleosophy.