Studio Display review roundup: Apple's new monitor gets mixed feedback

Studio Display review roundup: Is Apple’s new monitor worth it? Depends who you ask.

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Apple Mac Studio
Studio Display isn't blowing everyone away.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of Apple’s new Studio Display are in, and just as expected, reviewers have some terrific things to say about it. Its impressive 27-inch panel and top design make it one of the finest monitors you can pair with a Mac.

But is it worth its price tag? That depends who you ask. While some reviewers love Studio Display, others say its shortcomings stick out like a sore thumb. Here’s the review roundup.

Apple Studio Display review roundup

If you’ve purchased almost any Apple product in the past, you’ll be familiar with the strategy Cupertino has taken with Studio Display. It’s more expensive than other monitors, but it’s beautifully designed and attempts to nail key features.

It seems, however, that it doesn’t always get that right. Its display is good, but not outstanding and missing some things, reviewers say. And while its speakers and microphones impress, its webcam is in need of improvement.

Studio Display doesn’t disappoint in quality

“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,” said The Verge. “If you have ever looked at a 27-inch 5K iMac display, you know exactly what this thing looks like.”

“The screen is bright (at times too bright on full brightness), crisp, vibrant, and as good as anything on the company’s MacBook and iMac ranges,” said Pocket-lint. “There are cheaper monitors out there, but this monitor oozes Apple, which for many will be more than enough to click the ‘buy now’ button.”

“Apple did a good job of calibrating this panel so that the white balance and colors appear accurate out of the box. It’s just really pleasant to look at,” said Gizmodo. “Sharp details and vivid colors looked phenomenal. Viewing angles are excellent and, in my opinion, Apple chose the goldilocks size for a work/play monitor by opting for a 27-inch display.”

“The Studio Display is a great monitor, one that delivers a lot of the value of Apple’s $5,000 Pro Display XDR in a much more affordable package,” said Tom’s Guide. “This is easily one of the best monitors for MacBook Pro owners seeking an external display.”

Things to note

While Studio Display nails picture quality, then, reviewers are keen to point out that it is missing some key features many users may want. Firstly, it’s a standard IPS LCD panel, not a mini-LED like that in MacBook Pro or iPad Pro.

Pro Display XDR uses LCD, too, but the difference is Apple’s high-end monitor still offers HDR, or Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR), as Cupertino calls it. Studio Display doesn’t — you only get standard dynamic range (SDR).

Studio Display also misses out on ProMotion — the feature that allows some Apple displays to deliver a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. This won’t bother most users, but those working with video or playing games might want it.

Good speakers and mics

When it comes to Studio Display’s six-speaker audio system and built-in microphones, there are some complaints from a few reviewers. But most seem pleasantly surprised. After all, monitors don’t usually excel in these areas.

“The mic and speakers sound great. Really, really great,” said The Verge. “The only reason you might need something better is if you’re regularly recording podcasts or streaming to an audience. The speakers are loud and deep.”

“With a six-speaker system, the Apple crushed every other monitor’s built-in speakers in my side-by-side test,” said The Wall Street Journal. “Music, movies and even phone calls sounded fuller.”

“The speakers are definitely a step up over the ones that used to ship in the 27-inch iMac,” said Ars Technica. “Voices and instruments are clear at all volume levels, and stereo separation is surprisingly good … If you’ve been happy with iMac speakers in the past or you’re using a basic 2.1-channel set of desktop speakers, the ones in the Studio should easily be good enough for you.”

“The Studio Display has six speakers (four force-canceling woofers, and two high-performance tweeters) that sound better than any display I’ve used,” said Macworld. “When you’re sitting in front of it, the speakers do an excellent job of immersing you in clean, powerful sound. They work great with video calls, music, and movies, but if you prefer a heavier bass like me, you may want to turn to a third-party external subwoofer.”

What happened to the webcam?

Reviewers are divided over Studio Display’s 12-megapixel webcam. While some deem it perfectly adequate for a built-in camera, others say it’s terrible.

“My assessment of the 1080p webcam is less glowing,” said Ars Technica. “Exposure and white balance both look solid, but the video is generally softer and noisier than decent external 1080p webcams.”

“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,” said The Verge. “Actually, it looks awful in good light and downright miserable in low light.”

“Apple’s camera consistently produced grainy and washed-out images,” said The Wall Street Journal. “There was so much missing detail in some of the shots that it reminded me of the camera on my old BlackBerry.”

“The 12MP ultrawide camera built into the top bezel of the Studio Display is excellent, and I was quite happy with the quality of both the images and video it captured of me during the review process,” said Tom’s Guide.

“It is, without a doubt, the best built-in Mac webcam experience you’ll ever have,” said Six Colors.

Apple has told The Verge and others that it plans to issue a firmware update that will improve Studio Display’s camera performance

Studio Display: The verdict

All in all, many reviewers recommend the Studio Display for those looking for a great 5K monitor that doesn’t break the bank. However, some note that there are more affordable alternatives that come close in picture quality.

“Are there cheaper monitors? Sure. Are there bigger monitors? Yep. But the Studio Display is a perfect fit with modern Macs,” said Six Colors. “If you’ve got a Mac and want a good external display for it, there’s finally an obvious answer. Welcome home, Apple Studio Display. Never leave again.”

“In the end, the Studio Display will satisfy Apple enthusiasts and professionals who want a sharp, colorful monitor with top-notch build quality,” said Gizmodo.

“But if you’re a Mac user, this Display is made for you. I think it’s well worth the $1,499 asking price, though I dearly wish Apple wouldn’t charge $400 extra for the convenience of being able to adjust it up or down a few inches,” said Tom’s Guide.

“It’s rare that an Apple product is such a miss, but the Studio Display in its current state is a confounding miss,” concluded The Verge. “As it stands, you’re getting a less-than-state-of-the-art display and a bad webcam.”

“If you don’t care about speaker quality or an attractive aluminum design, but you’re obsessed with the 5K picture, save the $300 and get the 5K LG,” said The Wall Street Journal.