The all-new 24-inch iMac is an upgrade that many people were waiting for a long time. The best part about the new Apple iMac is it isn't just limited to under the hood refreshes and for someone who almost forgot about the iMac line-up after seeing the new M1 based MacBook line-up in 2020. Well, this one should blow you away.
What does it bring? A new subtle design change, familiar M1 Apple silicone, new screen, and an appeal to users who want a solid machine for all things (not just work). The new iMac is important for Apple's evolving PC and laptop ecosystem as the company steadily shifts to its own custom chipset, M1.
The iMac launch in 2021 makes total sense for Apple, which has seen massive demand globally, including India. In May 2021, Apple recorded its biggest quarter for PC shipments (including desktop and laptops) in India and tied for the fifth position with Asus at 5.4 per cent market share. By July, the Cupertino-based company had captured a 7.4 per cent market share, which means the iMac will only help Apple fuel the growth.
After the MacBooks, the iPad and iMac are the latest to join the ever-growing list of devices powered by Apple's M1 chipset and can be considered as a major part of Apple's transition away from Intel SoCs.
At a starting price of Rs 119,900, the new iMac appeals to more users in India. In my review, I will try to answer whether the all-new 24-inch iMac is good enough to replace the more powerful 27-inch iMac, which's considered the top choice for creators and people who want absolutely the best across departments. So, let's get started.
Apple iMac 24-inch review: Design that can blend anywhere
The first noticeable thing about the iMac 2021 is its all-new design, which is a massive change from the dated aluminium we have seen on iMacs since 2007.
But, bringing colours to the mix isn't new for the iMac range after all, and if you're still wondering, please search the Internet for the iMac G3 from 1999. In 2021, however, the new iMac with seven different colour choices feels fresh. It is a big departure from the boring black-themed all-in-one sold by other companies or the old iMacs with aluminium all around. The new iMac comes in Green, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Purple, Blue, and if you're someone who doesn't like to flaunt a coloured desktop at your home or office, then there's Silver as well.
As always, Apple has added enough SKUs to the new iMac for users to choose from, and if you want to buy the basic one, then there are only four colours to choose from.
To break it down for you, the basic Rs 119,900 (starting price) comes in Blue, Green, Pink, and Silver. While the top tier is 256GB (Rs 139,900 starting price) and 512GB (Rs 159,900 starting price), SSD models come in Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange, and Purple colours. I got the Purple colour model for the review, which looks absolutely elegant.
What was truly striking for me was the weight. At less than 5 kilograms (or to keep it simple, I will use kilos), the new iMac is the most lightweight and portable desktop from the house of Apple. To compare, the 27-inch iMac weighs close to 9 kilos while the 21.5-inch model is around 5.5 kilos. This means that if you are confused about where the iMac suits best at your home or office, then you can shift it without any hassle, something that's not very common for desktops.
At 11.5mm, the 24-inch iMac is incredibly thin and can be placed anywhere to blend perfectly with the surroundings. Compared to some older iPhone models, like the iPhone 3GS, which measured 12.3mm thick, the iMac is thinner. We can credit the M1 for the iMac's slim and compact form factor as it integrates the processor, graphics, memory and more things onto a single chip. This practically helps Apple reduce the bulk, and that's what I see on the new iMac.
If there's anything I wish Apple changed on the new iMac, then it has to be the relatively thick bezels around the display. While I understand the bottom and top chins are important for the iMac. As the bottom chin houses all crucial components, the company could have reduced the bezel on top that houses the new 1080p FaceTime HD camera with an M1 image signal processor. In an era where bezels on phones, TVs, and even monitors are going extremely thin, the new 24-inch iMac looks slightly dated. Another thing that I wish Apple implemented with the new iMac stand was adjustable height. While you can tilt adjust the screen as per your preference, adjusting height ability could have been a great addition.
At first glance, I wasn't a big fan of the bezels on the new iMac, but I have to admit that after spending some time with the Purple colour model, I have started liking it. But, of course, that's mainly the case with most Apple devices, and they do sports designs that steadily grow on you with time. The chins, somewhat, also help the iMac blend into your home, and this was what Apple executives stressed during the product briefings as well. I also liked the fact that Apple has used a lighter shade of a specific colour on the front that syncs well with the white bezel colour, while the back panel has a deeper shade which is again a nice touch.
The new iMac comes with limited connectivity ports, and that means there's no way you can match the 24-inch model to last year's 27-inch model. There are two Thunderbolt ports, two USB-C ports. An all-new DisplayPort at the back, a 3.5mm audio jack on the side panel, and the gigabit ethernet port on the charging brick are neat additions by Apple. And, this also reduces the pain of buying an additional accessory for the iMac.
For the display, the company has come with a new power connector that attaches via magnets, and the best part is Apple ships a colour-matched wowen cable. The quality of the cable is solid, and you can expect it to last for years without any problems.
Depending on the variant, Apple ships the Magic Keyboard with or without the Touch ID. We got the 512GB storage model, which ships with the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, and it is extremely convenient and quick to get started wherever you left work.
Apple iMac 24-inch review: Stunning display
The new iMac sports a 23.5-inch 4.5K Retina display that offers a P3 wide colour gamut and a peak brightness of 500 nits. The screen resolution stands at 4480x2520 pixels and 218 pixels per inch pixel density. The display panel also comes with an anti-reflective coating that makes the display look gorgeous in all light conditions. There's also True Tone to automatically adjust the colour temperature depending on the ambient light around us.
Specs aside, the incredible display on the iMac is one good reason why you should buy the new model. It produces vibrant colours, texts look sharp, and it is bright. The best part is that the display fits almost all use-case scenarios - right for late-night movies, swiping through photos in your library, watching videos, editing photos or videos, gaming, or general office work.
The Retina display on the new iMac is a treat to use, and you won't find a display like this one. Yes, we did miss touch inputs on the iMac, but then macOS isn't designed for touch operations, and we may have to wait for a few more years for that. Wish Apple took note of how fluid it is to use touch inputs on a Windows 10 machine. But that definitely isn't a feature that I can't live with.
There's no Apple logo at the front bottom chin, which means when you're watching a video on the new iMac, there isn't any element that's reminding you constantly that this is an Apple device.
Apple iMac 24-inch review: Snappy M1 at its best
The all-new iMac comes with the company's M1 chip that packs an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores. There's also an 8-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine on board. The iMac comes with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage. I got a 512GB SSD model that ships with a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and an additional Trackpad that you can buy for Rs 5,000. Apple has enough customisation options that you can check both the online as well as the offline stores.
Considering this one packs the M1, we pretty much know everything about the performance. I have been using the MacBook Air with M1 for months now, and I kind of love it when it comes to core performance.
Right from multitasking to photo editing to video streaming, the iMac handles everything smoothly. While I got the 16GB RAM model, I believe the 8GB can handle basic tasks without any problems. If you're considering buying the iMac for multitasking, using Outlook, watching shows, and playing some light games, then the 8GB 24-inch iMac is more than enough. However, if you're someone who often works on apps like Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom or video editing apps, then a 16GB RAM version is what you can go for. Remember, there's no way to upgrade the iMac after purchase, so it's better to plan and buy the new iMac accordingly. Another good thing about the new iMac is it ships with SSDs, which technically perform better than the Fusion drive, which combines a hard drive and flash storage on the system.
In pure GPU performance, the new iMac isn't exactly a match for the 27-inch iMac, which means pro-users can continue to trust the expensive model for various tasks at hand, while users who want a work machine at home that can double up as an all-rounder for watching movies and so on, then the iMac is a great option.
Another thing that adds to the multimedia experience on the iMac is the six-speaker sound system that was good enough for most content I played on the machine. There's also spatial audio support when playing music or videos with Dolby Atmos. But, again, the audio experience on the iMac is nothing I have experienced before on a desktop.
But when talking on video calls, I also noticed that the mics on the iMac are decent. It packs a three-mic array that helps you come through loud and crisp. During the briefing with Apple, the company also touched upon beamforming tech, which allows the mics to ignore the background noise, and I could notice that during my FaceTime and Zoom calls. This means if you have a lot of work calls to attend to, then the iMac could be your best desktop companion.
The new iMac makes more sense for people already on the Apple ecosystem, which means they are either using an iPhone or an iPad. For example, I had absolutely fun jumping from my Safari on the iPhone 12 Pro to the iMac to read an article. Similarly, shuffling between different apps across the different Apple devices is also possible. Apple has also enabled to unlock the iMac with the Apple Watch, which means I could unlock the Mac even without touching the Touch ID, incredible flow. The smooth transition between devices is another reason why the iMac makes more sense for people already on the ecosystem devices.
Apple iMac 24-inch review: Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Trackpad
The iMac review cannot be considered complete until I talk about the accessories that come bundled with the desktop. While the Magic Keyboard option depends on what model you choose. I got one with Touch ID, and it is super convenient to use. The fingerprint reader on the iMac is quick, and I liked the top-right placement, which is easier to use on a daily basis. The presence of the Touch ID means you no longer have to type your password and that in itself is a massive upgrade.
However, I hope Apple now thinks of refreshing the design of the keyboard as it isn't very comfortable for extended typing hours, in my opinion. The shallow key travel means that the typing isn't very convenient, and the cramped design will require you to get used to it.
The new Magic Keyboard features some additional buttons for Spotlight, Dictation, Do Not Disturb and emoji. Since I use the MacBook Air, it was a familiar keyboard design with some added buttons for me.
The Magic Mouse comes bundled with the iMac as default, though you can spend Rs 5,000 to get the Magic Trackpad. In my opinion, spending extra bucks on the Magic Trackpad is a better purchase decision because the buttonless trackpad has excellent precision and is super convenient for editing photos as well. While the Magic Mouse hasn't been an ideal one that I (or many people) liked to use before, not many changes with the new iMac. The unorthodox design remains with the Lightning Port on the bottom panel. In my opinion, the Magic Trackpad is a far better option than the mouse for daily use so that you won't regret paying extra for it.
Apple has colour matched the accessories, including the charging cable, making the entire package look nice.
Apple iMac 24-inch review: Best (built-in) webcam we've seen on a computer
The all-new iMac ships with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera and is a big upgrade compared to the 720p FaceTime camera seen on the 21.5-inch iMac and MacBook Air. The M1 image signal processor also enhances the quality and makes it the best webcam I've ever used on an all-in-one. The clarity is something that you even beat some of the selfie cameras on Android devices. Even with low-light in the room, I experienced clarity on FaceTime video calls, which is impressive. The iMac webcam should be set as a benchmark for other desktop makers, and this I expect is just the start with M1 on board.
Apple iMac 24-inch review: Should you buy?
The all-new iMac is the perfect example of what an all-in-one (AIO) should be, and most importantly, it is available in different colours. This means that time is passe where AIOs were considered boring in terms of design with black or silver coloured machines placed on a desk at your home or office. Instead, it can be colourful and still blend with its surroundings.
Apple's understanding of the market and aggressive pricing should help the iMac appeal to people looking for an all-in-one machine for the office or home. For those, portability isn't a requirement, the post-pandemic world doesn't want them in an office so quickly or a portable set-up that can be moved from one place to another.
At a starting price of Rs 119,900, the iMac isn't very tough to recommend to users who are on the lookout for an all-in-one and do not want to spend time building their own PC. So, to answer whether you should buy or not, yes, you can buy the new iMac, which can be suitable right from basic tasks to multitasking, it can handle all. However, if you're a pro or power user and need the best graphics, then the 27-inch iMac should be your pick.
But in case you're looking for a secondary machine for your home apart from your regular laptop, then the Mac mini is a better pick as it is powered by the M1 chip. Moreover, it starts at Rs 64,900, which is almost half the price of the new 24-inch iMac. Users need to buy a monitor, keyboard, and a mouse and voila.
Overall, the iMac is a great all-rounder device that easily replaced my laptop during the work from the home stint.
Apple iMac 24-inch review
Colourful and striking design
Clarity on the webcam
Snappy M1 processor
Keyboard needs a refresh
Limited port selection
Cannot upgrade later