Hey friends – hope you’re well!
It’s already been 2 years since Apple launched its popular consumer monitor, the Studio Display, and there’s no denying it’s a really beautiful and capable display.
But with its big price tag and some considerable pitfalls, this is still a brilliant display for some and a not-so-great purchase for others.
Here’s my long-term review of the Apple Studio Display and let’s find out if it’s still worth the $1,599. I’ll compare it to my previous LG 5K Ultrawide display, see how it’s held up over the years, and if there are other displays you should consider if you’re in the market for one.
Things I Dislike
Here are some of the things I’ve disliked during my time with the Studio Display, starting with its price.
It still starts from $1,599 and that’s serious cash for a consumer-grade monitor. The one I have set me back $2,299 because it includes the optional nano-texture glass and tilt/height adjustable stand – I’ll dive deeper into these expensive extras in a bit.
It’s expensive – but relative to Apple’s other display, the Pro XDR, the Studio Display is considered “affordable”.
What I haven’t liked though is at this price point it’s hard to accept some crucial features are missing, which are available in other displays in this price range.
Features like: variable refresh rate, local dimming, 120Hz refresh rate, and even HDR are all missing from the panel. These features would take the panel from great to amazing and help ease the pain when our wallets take a beating.
You’d also think we’d get more connectivity options than just 4 ports at this price. It only has a Thunderbolt 3 Port and 3 USB-C ports. This means I can’t plug in other devices like a PC or gaming console and switch between them, it’s a major setback if you had planned to use this monitor between multiple devices for fast switching.
Then there is the integrated webcam, I love how discreet and seamless it is but to this day, it’s a subpar webcam. Apple attempted to improve the webcam through software updates back in April of 2022, a firmware release helped to improve contrast, colors, and the overall picture. It’s passable though you’re definitely not going to bring your best self forward in video meetings.
The smaller gripes I have with this monitor include the fact that there’s no power button: the only way to turn it off is to unplug it entirely or put it to sleep through the connected device and there’s a pretty poor response time of 20ms, which means I always have to expect visible motion blur with fast-moving content.
What Apple’s Studio Display does right though, is just about everything else.
The 5K IPS panel is simply stunning in sharpness, color accuracy, and viewing angles.
The 5K resolution is crispy and I find that the 27” size is a great sweet spot for this resolution. The sharpness and clarity make a big difference from reading articles to Apple Arcade and navigating macOS every day – it is a significant step up from 4K panels and even my 40” 5K Ultrawide monitor.
Where this monitor truly outperforms is with its color reproduction: it delivers colors that are not only visually appealing but also accurate enough for creative work like color grading.
Apple’s support page confirms that we do not need to calibrate the monitor, it’s good to go right out of the box with little to no inaccuracies to colors and white balance in the sRGB mode. Color temperature is practically spot on with the 6500 Kelvin target.
If you’re a fan of using tech right out of the box, this ticks that box. The only real benefit of calibrating the Studio Display is if you want to use the Apple Display P3 600 nits mode, which allows custom settings and brightness.
Speaking of brightness though, where the display falls short again is in dark rooms due to its low contrast and lack of local dimming.
Anti-Reflective Nanotexture Coating
The other big wow factor and something I love to this day is the anti-reflective nano-texture coating. It’s still an incredible coating two years on and puts practically all matte coatings and previous anti-glare techniques to shame.
I sit right next to large windows and spaces with lots of sunlight, and the magical nanotexture coating handles all that sunlight like an absolute boss. I tried pointing a direct light source at and around the Studio Display and it dissipated the glare nicely.
No matter which way I view or place the Studio Display, there are zero reflections and this is a complete game-changer for viewing comfort and readability. It looks exactly how you want a monitor to look in any lighting condition and is easy on the eyes.
I highly recommend the $300 upgrade, especially if you plan to use this display near bright light sources.
The viewing angles are incredibly wide too – 178 degrees wide. This is great for when I need to share my screen, let’s say showing a project on-screen with a co-worker for example – they’ll be able to see close to what I’m seeing. The vertical angle isn’t as wide but still more than fine considering you likely won’t be viewing from extremely high or low angles.
Tilt & Height Stand
The tilt and height adjustable stand I’ve added on too and honestly, I’m not sure I’d get it again just because I have a desk shelf, and combined with the sit-stand desk, I haven’t found the need to adjust the height at all.
I do adjust the tilt if I’m slouching down or standing up so I’d probably stick to the default tilt-adjustable stand and put the money towards the nano-texture glass option.
But otherwise, the stand is really nice and milled out of a full block of aluminum adding to its signature look.
Design + Ultrawide Comparison
And speaking of it, let’s take a moment to appreciate its design.
It’s aged really well over 2 years and still has a minimal beauty that remains unique to the Studio and Pro XDR displays.
Yes, it has thicker-than-average bezels and the panel itself is thick but honestly, it pulls it off well and the build quality is exceptional – it feels sturdy right out of the box.
Having used my 40” LG 5K Ultrawide monitor as my primary for years now, I was hesitant to completely switch over to a much smaller display and give up all the screen real estate.
But daily driving the Studio Display, I’ve adapted back to the 27” form factor and the pixel density at the smaller size gives it an even sharper look. I do miss being able to edit videos on an ultrawide but other than that – the design of the Studio Display has breathed fresh air into my desk setup and decluttered the space significantly.
A13 Chip with In-Built Speakers & Mic
Then there’s the literal iPhone chip built into this thing: the A13 Bionic chip. It sort of serves as the brain for its in-built features like the webcam, Hey Siri function, and center stage.
The chip helps Macs offload some of these features, relegating it to the Studio Display to allow the Mac to focus on more important tasks and this in itself helps justify the high price tag of the Studio Display.
The inclusion of the chip also gives the Studio Display the ability to receive software updates, but since its launch 2 years ago there haven’t been any substantial software improvements unfortunately.
The spatial audio speakers powered by the chip are really good though and have held up well over the 2 years. I don’t use them for audio work or watching movies, that’s when I’ll throw on my AirPods Max, but they’re great for just about everything else: system sounds, watching YouTube, or casual music listening.
They’re a big leap from the disappointing Mac Studio speakers. Still, the only thing is they’ve been overly punchy, bass-heavy and it’s not truly spatial – it’s still clearly downward firing speakers – but hey let’s remember: they’re just in-built speakers.
The in-built three-mic array is decently useable. That and the webcam are what I’ve used in video meetings if I haven’t set up my dedicated webcam.
Is It Worth It?
Two years on and is the Apple Studio Display still worth a buy?
Well it’s absolutely a first-class display, I think there’s no doubting that. It’s just likely not the best choice for those on a strict budget or if you’re looking for a display with more ports for versatile usage options.
If you take a look at some popular Mac displays like the LG UltraFine 5K Display or even Dell’s UltraSharp 4K 32, these are both high-quality displays in a similar design package, well-suited for creative work and provide excellent color accuracy all while saving you hundreds of dollars.
But, if you have the budget and you’ve found yourself pulled deep into the Apple ecosystem, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than Apple’s Studio Display.
It’s a monitor that performs exceptionally well, the anti-reflective nano-coating is so good and I still find myself admiring its beautiful, integrated design.
And if previous Apple displays of the past are anything to go by, the Studio Display should have a long, reliable life ahead of it.
In some ways, its $1,599 price tag is justified and in others, it’s not but as an overall package – I’m really happy with Studio Display and I’d say: if you have the budget and more specifically you have reason to buy the Studio Display, let’s say for work – it is a great buy.