Apple Studio Display Review Roundup: Flagship Monitor with Its Flaws

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 17 Mar 2022

Apple Studio Display

Retail availability of the Apple Studio Display is set to commence on March 18. Before this, several reputed media houses and YouTube creators have published their reviews of the standalone display. The new Apple Studio Display is a 27-inch monitor with 5K resolution and an A13 Bionic inside.

Apple’s Studio Display is available for a price of $1,599. It was unveiled at Apple’s Peek performance event on March 8 alongside the iPad Air 5, iPhone SE 3, and Mac Studio. The Studio Display features a FaceTime camera with Center Stage support powered by the A13 Bionic. It also has an array of six speakers with Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio support. The display has received mixed reviews, even though there is virtually no competition in the segment. LG’s UltraFine 5K seems to be the only rival. Here’s what reviewers think of the Studio Display.

Apple Studio Display Review Roundup

The Verge

Studio Display Verge

Writing for The Verge, Nilay Patel says the Studio Display and Mac Studio together replace Apple’s 27-inch iMac.

“So now Apple’s gone and discontinued the 27-inch iMac and essentially replaced it with the new Mac Studio and the new 27-inch Studio Display. If the Mac Studio represents the fulfillment of a 20-year-old Mac power user’s dream, the Studio Display should be the fulfillment of a similar dream that’s been around since 2014: just give us the iMac’s 27-inch 5K display.”

On the bright side, Patel notes that the new Studio Display has an excellent mic and speakers while the 5K panel continues to impress as well.

“Apple is generally terrific when it comes to displays across its devices, and the Studio Display is great at the basics: it’s clear, it’s sharp, it’s bright. If you have ever looked at a 27-inch 5K iMac display, you know exactly what this thing looks like. The Studio display is the same 27-inch size, the same 5120×2880 resolution, the same 218 pixels per inch, the same 60Hz refresh rate, and has the same single-zone LED backlight. The only real spec difference is that Apple says the Studio Display now has a “typical brightness” of 600 nits vs. 500 on the iMac, but in my actual typical use next to a 2015-vintage 27-inch iMac, that’s pretty hard to see.”

The Studio Display has several downsides, though. For one, the stands cannot be swapped out after your purchase.

“We have two Studio Display review units: the standard $1,599 model and the $1,899 model with Apple’s nanotexture matte glass. Both have the stock stand; adding a stand with height adjustment costs another $400 for some reason. You can opt for a VESA mount instead of the stock stand at no extra charge and pair it with whatever stand you want. But you can’t change from the stand to a VESA mount after the fact — you have to decide how you want this display mounted before you click the buy button.”

Some other disadvantages are that there is no support for ProMotion and HDR content. This is a disappointment because the older Pro Display XDR and several other Apple products offer these capabilities. In a product aimed at creators and professionals, this is a glaring omission.

“The Studio Display also only offers a 60Hz refresh rate, which is both bog-standard and also woefully behind Apple’s other top-tier products like the iPhone 13 Pro, iPad Pro, and MacBook Pro, all of which offer the ProMotion variable refresh rate system that can run as high as 120Hz for smooth scrolling and gaming and as low as 24Hz for movies. (The iPhone 13 Pro can even drop to as low as 10Hz to save battery life.) 60Hz is totally fine for most displays, but this thing costs $1,599. There are a lot of less expensive displays with variable refresh rate and HDR tech out there, and they’re supported by macOS out of the box.”

“The Studio Display is also notable for being an SDR display, with no HDR modes to speak of. Apple’s high-end iPhones, iPads, and Mac laptops all support HDR, but the Studio Display tops out at 600 nits, and Apple doesn’t offer an HDR mode in the software at all. Again, this comes back to the ancient backlight tech: true HDR requires local dimming, and the Studio Display doesn’t have it.”

However, if you’re buying a Studio Display for the camera and speakers, you’re in for a rude shock. They aren’t up to scratch.

“The bad part is that I have no idea what’s going on with this webcam. Apple has a long history of producing amazing images with 12-megapixel sensors and A-series chips, and for some reason, this thing just looks awful.”

“Actually, it looks awful in good light and downright miserable in low light. I’ve tried it connected to the Mac Studio and on my MacBook Pro running macOS 12.3, and on both machines, it produces a grainy, noisy image with virtually no detail. I tried it in FaceTime, in Zoom, in Photo Booth, in QuickTime — you name it, it’s the same sad image quality. Turning off the Center Stage feature that follows you around the room doesn’t help. Turning portrait mode on and off doesn’t help.”

Studio Display Webcam

Patel reached out to Apple with several screenshots of the camera’s atrocious performance. He was told that the team had “discovered an issue where the system is not behaving as expected.” In summary, Patel says the Studio display is an amalgamation of the iMac’s 5K panel, six speakers, three mics, and “one terrible camera.”


The Wall Street Journal

Studio Display WSJ

Writing for WSJ, Joanna Stern says the Studio Display is best paired with a Mac Studio to create the ideal home-office setup. However, one of her frist complaints was with the webcam. Several other reviews highlight this as well.

“Even with all those smarts, the Studio Display turns out not to be a very smart buy. The webcam consistently made me look like I was the star of a ’90s home video and the display quality was often indistinguishable from older, more affordable options.”

“You can understand why I anticipated that the Studio Display’s webcam would be the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). With a 12-megapixel camera and the A13 Bionic chip, it should be on par with the front-facing camera of an iPhone 11 Pro.”

“Yet Apple’s camera consistently produced grainy and washed-out images. There was so much missing detail in some of the shots that it reminded me of the camera on my old BlackBerry. On the plus side: No one could see my frizzy hair.”

Stern solicited the assistance of Daniel Silverman, a colorist for movies and commercials, to evaluate the quality of the Studio Display.

“So a professional is what I got. I recruited Daniel Silverman, a colorist who spends his days color-correcting movies and commercials, to help me evaluate the Apple and a range of other 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) and 5K (5120 x 2880 pixels) monitors from Dell, Samsung and LG. (Please don’t buy a 1080p monitor. They look like doo-doo now that all our laptops have higher screen resolutions.)”

“Daniel and I then evaluated each of them by looking at the same content on all the screens. Daniel’s top two picks? LG’s $1,300 27-inch UltraFine 5K monitor and LG’s $450 27-inch UltraFine 4K monitor.

“When we turned off True Tone, Apple’s automatic color-temperature adjustment feature, Daniel also approved of the Apple, and we agreed both are excellent. Analysts I spoke to believe the Apple panel is made by LG Display. LG declined to comment. An Apple spokeswoman said this is a new custom-designed panel.”

So, in summary, the journalist believes the Studio Display is overpriced, but a step in the right direction

“The point is, our monitors should do more for us. Hooray for Apple catching onto this. Boo on Apple for charging $1,599 for tech that doesn’t measure up to the marketing.”


If you have a bit of time on your hands, we suggest you take a look at these video reviews of the Apple Studio Display as well.

Do you plan to get a Studio Display? Have your thoughts changed after these mixed reviews? Tell us in the comments section below.