Here’s Why Apple Put A Powerful iPhone Chip In Its New Studio Display

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Apple’s $1,599 Studio Display will be available March 18, and there’s a lot more to the company’s new external monitor than just the 27-inch, 5K panel. First, Apple stuffed six speakers into the thing. And if the 16-inch MacBook Pro and 24-inch iMac have anything to offer, the Studio Display will probably sound much better than most competing displays. But you may already have speakers hooked up to your desk and are amazed at the integrated audio system. There’s also a 12-megapixel webcam that Apple says should produce video call quality comparable to that of an iPad. In other words, it has the potential to make you look even more beautiful than the 1080p webcam on recent Macs.

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To get the most out of the Studio Display’s hardware, Apple uses an A13 Bionic chip as the brain for some of these features. That’s the same SoC that powered the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, second-generation iPhone SE, and ninth-generation iPad. A CPU capable of 1 trillion operations per second and containing two powerful cores may sound like overkill for a monitor; Apple uses much more modest chips for products like the HomePod mini, and even the second-generation Apple TV 4K has an older A12 Bionic. But it turns out that the A13 Bionic helps the Studio Display in several ways.

In summarizing the benefits of the A13 Bionic for the Studio Display, Apple says it “enables innovative features such as Center Stage, Spatial Audio and “Hey Siri”.

Center Stage is the camera trick that automatically adjusts and shifts the frame to keep you (or several people) in the picture while video chatting. The A13 Bionic too optimizes the image signal processing of the 12MP webcam† As for audio, the Apple chip handles the processing of Dolby Atmos content to create “a refined, three-dimensional sound image.”

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I’ve always been pretty skeptical of companies trying to hype spatial audio on laptops — and now on external displays as well. I think the speakers on my 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro can create impressive separation when listening to music. They sound really great for laptop speakers, but I’ve never felt enveloped in ‘three-dimensional’ sound. Yet that is one of the tasks of the A13 Bionic.

Finally, the A13 Bionic allows the Studio Display to support hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands. This may seem redundant if your Mac notebook or iMac already has this feature, but it brings the same convenience to Apple desktops that didn’t before, such as the Mac Pro, Mac mini, and now the Mac Studio.

Those are the reasons why Apple has thrown a powerful chip into the Studio Display. The A13 Bionic makes the most of the screen’s camera and speakers, while allowing your Mac to focus on more important tasks.

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