Apple's Studio Display doesn't shine in the light of competition

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2023
Apple's Studio Display is finally facing direct competition, and it doesn't shine as brightly under the glare of competitors.

Apple Studio Display
Apple Studio Display


Samsung and Dell both announced 5K and 6K resolution computer monitors, respectively, at CES this year, pointing towards increased Mac monitor competition.

Samsung's 27-inch ViewFinity S9 monitor doesn't even try to mask its attempt to mimic the Studio Display. On the other hand, no one will be confused between the 6K Dell UltraSharp 32 and Apple's Pro Display XDR.

While any monitor with the correct connection port can be used with a Mac, most people will crave retina-level pixels per inch density. Generally, that means that larger monitors need to support higher resolutions.

Until Apple re-joined the market with its own monitors the go-to choice was the LG UltraFine 5K display. It contains the right resolution for retina on a Mac, but owners haven't loved its often poor reliability and wobbly stand.

The Studio Display didn't get off to a fabulous start itself, but it seems to have found its footing after some software updates.

As the pool expands slightly, beyond the LG UltraFine 5K, let's look at whether the Studio Display should be people's default choice.

ViewFinity S9 vs Studio Display

Not only does the Samsung ViewFinity S9 monitor look like the Studio Display, but it also sticks closely to its specs.

The ViewFinity S9 has a 5K 27-inch screen with a resolution of 5,120 x 2,880, matching Apple's 27-inch monitor and coming in with the same 218 PPI for a compelling retina viewing experience.

ViewFinity S9 at CES
ViewFinity S9 at CES


The ViewFinity S9 also has a P3 wide color gamut, USB-C, and Thunderbolt 4 connections. In other words, this monitor covers all the basics that the Studio Display provides.

Arguably, the ViewFinity S9's Color Calibration Engine, that can be tuned with Samsung's Smart Calibration app, and the 4K SlimFit camera goes above and beyond Apple's feature set.

ViewFinity S9 Smart Calibration app
ViewFinity S9 Smart Calibration app


Plus, the S9 monitor offers HDMI connectivity and embedded Smart TV software, so it can be used with more versatility if it's ever not connected to a computer.

The benefits of a Studio Display

We've yet to hear the ViewFinity S9's integrated speakers, microphone quality, or see the front-facing camera quality. We also haven't kicked the tires on how it functions in-home with daily use.

The lack of a price tag also makes assessing the monitor more difficult. All we actually know so far is that Samsung will be offering Mac users another option to pick between.

Apple's Studio Display does support Spatial Audio from the six built-in speakers. It features a microphone array that we think performs quite well. It can also do Center Stage camera panning from the wide-angle camera and listen for "Hey Siri" commands.

Those are the sort of intangibles that degrade if you were to connect the Studio Display to a Windows machine.

While those are niceties that do give the Studio Display at least something to hang its $1,599 starting price on, we don't think they justify the monitor being the default choice when cheaper comparable options are available.

We believe there is nothing that makes the Studio Display stand out from the competition. Its minimal design remains compelling but only slightly in comparison to a similar aesthetic.

Studio Display tilting stand
Studio Display tilting stand


The tilt- and height-adjustable stand would be a differentiator if it weren't a $400 additional cost that brought the total price to $2,000.

These things still apply even when the Studio Display goes on sale. The cost to feature balance still isn't great.

More Mac displays to come

There's a solid argument to be made that Apple Silicon chips are behind the rebirth of monitors for Macs.

Dell UltraSharp 32 6K Monitor
Dell UltraSharp 32 6K Monitor


We don't just mean Apple making monitors for its own computers, either. It seems the popularity and impressive performance of Apple Silicon chips make Macs intriguing enough that third-party manufacturers want to take advantage of increasing demand.

The demise of the 27-inch iMac and iMac Pro has made way for powerful M2-based Mac mini computers. Apple has introduced the Mac Studio, and according to the company, the Mac Pro is still on the way.

MacBooks shouldn't be discounted from driving monitor sales, but even without those devices, Mac desktop computers are thriving. The M2 Pro and Max chips now support up to 8K resolution too.

Of course, plenty of monitors are available, but they don't cater to the Mac market. For example, Samsung debuted its Smart Monitor M8 in early 2022, but with a 4K screen at 32 inches, it didn't hit the sweet spot of pixels per inch for retina with macOS.

The problem at the moment, here in January 2023, is that Apple's Studio Display isn't the gold standard when any decent competition is present. It's merely ultra-fine.

Choose it if you want it and have to have that Apple logo. But, don't feel bad about waiting just a few more months for other options to come to market.



The Studio Display is available from Apple for $1,599, but it can be found on sale on Amazon for $1,299 for a limited time.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    You can not have a legitimate comparison when we have absolutely no idea as to the price point of the S9. They're so close on specs, it will absolutely be the price as the main factor here. And why have such an article when you haven't even been able to review the monitor.
    If the S9 comes in for under $1000, it will be a formidable choice, at least until Apple updates their display lineup. Lets revisit this when we know a price and can actually review the thing.
    wookie01hmurchisondewmeStrangeDaysentropysn2itivguyaderutterwilliamlondonwatto_cobradanox
  • Reply 2 of 51
    snookiesnookie Posts: 139member
    JP234 said:
    It's a great display. But you can find better at the $1,599 price. This is probably aimed at the professional/prosumer market, who need to calibrate displays/scanners/printers to precise specs. It can be done on 3rd party monitors, but is easier with Apple displays. Ideal scenario would be an all Apple-made turnkey workstation, where everything is already calibrated to CMYK and Pantone metrics. Sure would have made this retired printing business owner's workflow easier!

    But then, if I was going to dream of unicorns and rainbows…
    Show me another 5K monitor with the quality and build of the Studio Display, I'll wait...because there isn't one...
    hmurchisonrob53macxpressStrangeDaysn2itivguyaderutterwilliamlondonlewchenkowatto_cobradanox
  • Reply 3 of 51
    Where can I go purchase these competing monitors? [Narrator: You can't].
    wookie01hmurchisonStrangeDayswatto_cobradanoxroundaboutnowUNLK_A6escargot
  • Reply 4 of 51
    It doesn’t really matter since there are many Mac users who won’t use a display unless it is officially anointed by Apple.
    edited January 2023 neoncatwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 51
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,429member
    How some of us feel about comparisons lacking pricing information. 





    I HATE the pricing of the Apple Studio Display but I already know it integrates so well within the Apple ecosystem I've rarely heard many regrets after the costs have sunk. 
    entropyswatto_cobraroundaboutnowjony0
  • Reply 6 of 51
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,375moderator
    It doesn’t really matter since there are many Mac users who won’t use a display unless it is officially anointed by Apple.
    Not just for the brand name and build quality, it works better with the Mac and iPad.

    What would be nice to have is an option without the computing parts:

    https://www.ifixit.com/News/58242/studio-display-teardown-is-this-secretly-an-imac
    https://www.apple.com/studio-display/

    It has an A13 Bionic chip with 64GB storage for Spatial Audio, Siri and Center Stage. A basic model (Studio Display SE) without compute chip and camera at $999 with the tilt stand included would be a nice option. The basic model doesn't even need speakers, all those parts are usually on the connected device anyway.
    rob53dewmewatto_cobragatorguy
  • Reply 7 of 51
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,373member
    We've yet to hear the ViewFinity S9's integrated speakers, microphone quality, or see the front-facing camera quality. We also haven't kicked the tires on how it functions in-home with daily use. The lack of a price tag also makes assessing the monitor more difficult. All we actually know so far is that Samsung will be offering Mac users another option to pick between. 
    Without that important info, the article is rather worthless, and I say this as an AppleInsider article fan.  Would have been best to wait until a more detailed and meaningful comparison could be released.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobraOferroundaboutnowUNLK_A6
  • Reply 8 of 51
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    Apple's monitor prices are highway robbery.  There's no way I'd ever buy or recommend a client buy an Apple monitor these days.
    edited January 2023 neoncatwilliamlondonOfer
  • Reply 9 of 51
    Annoying Mac thing #23 -- Why do only 5K monitors work with Macs?  I mean, literally any 1080p, 2K, 3.5K, 4K or more works and looks great with Windows (using scaling).
    1080p on a Mac looks terrible.  Everything is too big, fonts are jagged and unsharp.  Why can't one scale on macOS?

    Is there some physical barrier that Apple cannot overcome, or do they just want to sell you an uber-expensive monitor to makes tons of profit?
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 51
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,261member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    Annoying Mac thing #23 -- Why do only 5K monitors work with Macs?  I mean, literally any 1080p, 2K, 3.5K, 4K or more works and looks great with Windows (using scaling).
    1080p on a Mac looks terrible.  Everything is too big, fonts are jagged and unsharp.  Why can't one scale on macOS?

    Is there some physical barrier that Apple cannot overcome, or do they just want to sell you an uber-expensive monitor to makes tons of profit?
    Nothing you're saying makes sense. 1080p resolution sucks on larger screens, even TV screens. The difficulty with 5K is the number of pixels that need to be addressed. Driving lower resolution displays is easy, higher resolution is difficult. Your comment about scaling in Windows means nothing. Mac users are used to sharp screens, Windows users are comfortable with 13" screens as their desktop. 
    StrangeDayswilliamlondonwatto_cobradanox
  • Reply 11 of 51
    We believe there is nothing that makes the Studio Display stand out from the competition. 

    This isn't my area, but doesn't the Studio Display run iOS? Then that means that it is far more likely to receive future updates that are relevant to the Apple ecosystem than are Samsung and LG monitors. Just my 2%. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 51
    Apple’s legendary sector-leading (hell, product-leading!) support is a tangible that is often disregarded in comparos. Deride it as paying more “for the logo” if you want, but the logo is stood behind by Apple in ways that other manufacturers of anything cannot come close to matching. I must click on the blue Support icon a hundred times a year when you count all the devices, new and old, in our family. 24/7 I get a live human being on the other end who is polite, knowledgeable, and speaks English. With AppleCare+ nearly everything is free, and when not, fairly priced. Many times I’ve had Apple take care of me even AFTER a device is past its extended warranty. I usually don’t bother to get service for other brands of anything knowing that I’ll end up wanting to throw my phone against the wall in frustration. If this be Apple tax, I’m a satisfied tax-payer. 
    StrangeDaysJanNLRudeBoyRudywatto_cobradanoxUNLK_A6
  • Reply 13 of 51
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,843member
    darkvader said:
    Apple's monitor prices are highway robbery.  There's no way I'd ever buy or recommend a client buy an Apple monitor these days.
    I'm glad I don't come to you for advice then...
    StrangeDayswilliamlondonRudeBoyRudywatto_cobradanoxroundaboutnowUNLK_A6escargotjony0
  • Reply 14 of 51
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,930member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    Annoying Mac thing #23 -- Why do only 5K monitors work with Macs?  I mean, literally any 1080p, 2K, 3.5K, 4K or more works and looks great with Windows (using scaling).
    1080p on a Mac looks terrible.  Everything is too big, fonts are jagged and unsharp.  Why can't one scale on macOS?

    Is there some physical barrier that Apple cannot overcome, or do they just want to sell you an uber-expensive monitor to makes tons of profit?
    Yeah no. Font smoothing on Windows has been historically atrocious. The last time I ran Windows in BootCamp even on a MBP some apps would scale and some wouldn’t and it generally looked like garbage. MS’ font smoothing features also looked like garbage on my prior PCs. Are you saying they’ve recently completely improved?
    williamlondonwatto_cobraOferUNLK_A6
  • Reply 15 of 51
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,930member
    macxpress said:
    darkvader said:
    Apple's monitor prices are highway robbery.  There's no way I'd ever buy or recommend a client buy an Apple monitor these days.
    I'm glad I don't come to you for advice then...
    Hilariously every thread is pepped with his cold takes on what he doesn’t like now about Apple. It would be easier if he just said what one thing he did like and call it day/decade. 
    macxpresswilliamlondonwatto_cobraroundaboutnowUNLK_A6escargot
  • Reply 16 of 51
    What if I buy a 27” 5k Intel iMac and use that as an external display for an M2 Mac mini? 
  • Reply 17 of 51
    What if I buy a 27” 5k Intel iMac and use that as an external display for an M2 Mac mini? 
    I’ve been told you can’t. Can’t use an iMac as a display for any Mac. 
    entropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 51
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,212member
    jdw said:
    We've yet to hear the ViewFinity S9's integrated speakers, microphone quality, or see the front-facing camera quality. We also haven't kicked the tires on how it functions in-home with daily use. The lack of a price tag also makes assessing the monitor more difficult. All we actually know so far is that Samsung will be offering Mac users another option to pick between. 
    Without that important info, the article is rather worthless, and I say this as an AppleInsider article fan.  Would have been best to wait until a more detailed and meaningful comparison could be released.
    I would usually agree, but if it helps someone delay purchasing an apple studio display until we see the S9 and Dell ultrasharp 6K price tags, that will be all to the good.

    ps: I have the dell ultrasharp U2723QE. It is a great 4K monitor with a big dock delivering a smorgasbord of port choice that also comes in a 32 inch version. I expect the ultrasharp 6K will be even more impressive, and work even better with macs.
    edited January 2023
  • Reply 19 of 51
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,367member
    You can not have a legitimate comparison when we have absolutely no idea as to the price point of the S9. They're so close on specs, it will absolutely be the price as the main factor here. And why have such an article when you haven't even been able to review the monitor.
    If the S9 comes in for under $1000, it will be a formidable choice, at least until Apple updates their display lineup. Let’s revisit this when we know a price and can actually review the thing
    If it’s less than $1k then the only reason somebody would choose the studio display is if they just didn’t know the S9 exists. 

    Even if the S9 has terrible speakers, a pair of HomePods mini is ‘just’ $200.


    williamlondonentropys
  • Reply 20 of 51
    wozwozwozwoz Posts: 263member

    Great review. There are a number of design issues with the current version of the Apple Studio Display:

    * it sits too high (and even the base is higher than the iMac base), which is a problem unless you are tall or work standing up.

    * the so-called height adjustable stand ONLY allows the height to go upwards - it does not offer any settings that result in the monitor sitting lower than the fixed version. 

    * the 60Hz refresh rate, 

    * no HRD

    * the hardwired rear cable

    * the hole in the stand that is visible from the front (because they set the monitor too high)

    * webcam quality problems

    * monitor technology is years old

    * only supports Thunderbolt 3 (when the accompanying Mac supports Thunderbolt 4)

    * cannot change from Landscape to Portrait with standard stand.


    baconstangwilliamlondon
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