Apple planning to bring 4K screen to 21.5-inch iMac in October

Screenshot 2015-09-03 13.09.42

Apple is indeed planning to release a new version of its 21.5-inch iMac with a 4K display this fall, according to reliable sources. The current plan is to announce the refreshed version of the smaller iMac by the end of October alongside OS X El Capitan and begin shipping the product by the beginning of November. As indicated by references inside of El Capitan, the new 21.5 inch iMac’s 4K display will come with a resolution of 4096 x 2304, which is up from the current model’s screen resolution of 1920 x 1080. Faster processors and improved color saturation can also be expected. The higher-resolution screen will likely raise the price of the new iMac, much like the 5K display raised the price of the 27-inch iMac last fall. Apple may keep around the current 1080P models, much like the lower-resolution 27-inch iMac is still available for sale.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. chrisl84 - 7 years ago

    But its totally dumb for the Apple TV to be able to do 4K right

    • RP - 7 years ago

      Yes it is.
      How many people have a 4K television today? How much broadcast television is available in 4K? How much media in general is available in 4K today? And while the trend in streaming dongles and devices is quickly growing, only a few devices support 4k.

      So it’s a good way to get a head start, but the full market potential for 4K is still at least a couple of years away,

      • This is bullshit and you know it. It’s not about what is available today (and yes, there’s a good amount of 4K stuff on Netflix already) – it’s about what will be available in the next 2 years. No one wants to buy a new Apple TV every year and 4k is the future regarding TVs – accept it or not.
        So yes, it would be wise to make the new ATV 4k capable. There is not a single reason to make it NOT so, there are only reasons against it.

      • RP - 7 years ago

        Yes 4 k is the future I agree 100% but for a mass market device trying to keep costs down and make it accessible to as many consumers as possible it has to make sense today. In a couple of years when 4K saturation has significantly grown and hardware has gotten better it will make far more sense for Apple and consumers to upgrade.

      • chrisl84 - 7 years ago

        Phones shoot 4K, people want to watch that on their TV….end of discusssion.

      • RP - 7 years ago

        But how many people have 4k TV’s today? It’s a niche market still.

      • Smigit - 7 years ago

        Other than the Macbook Air, basically the entire Mac range will have displays outputting above HD before the years end. It’d be logical for iTunes to begin getting content thats higher than 1080p, and in turn it makes sense for the Apple TV to display it. The TV market may be small, but for anyone buying a TV today UHD is a very realistic proposition and the prices have hit a reasonable level. The same argument about market saturation could have been made at the time MS and Sony chose to release consoles capable of HD back in 2005 when SD was still the norm. Sometimes it pays to look ahead, especially when it comes to living room hardware which people do not typically upgrade every 12 months.

        Regarding the cost argument, the Apple device is looking to be several times the cost of several competitors devices. Yes it will do more with it’s App marketplace…but if gaming is a focus for Apple that also means that the computing power of the chips being used should have no issues handling 4K content and that half the hardware will be in place whether they were targeting 4K or not. From there the requirements to support HD vs UHD probably aren’t all that massive anyway. At $149 I don’t think Apples primary focus is cost anyway.

        Other people will raise internet connections as a reason to not adopt UHD video. My own situation is that HD video burns through my quota too quick so we set Netflix to SD. Should my shitty internet connection mean Apple doesn’t even support 1080p content? Of course not. There’s still plenty of people with lines perfectly capable of receiving HD or UHD streams, so again why support them.

        There’s really no good reason right now for anyone here to not want UHD support. You don’t have to use it, but if circumstances should arise in the next 12 months that you can take advantage of it, surely it’s nice to know you have the option. I really doubt the cost will be extravagant, especially with Apple already including hardware capable of HD gaming anyway. And again, as for the limited content, news that the entire desktop lineup and most of the laptop lineup are now above HD resolutions surely has to start raising questions as to when iTunes will begin offering higher resolution content itself.

      • Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

        Many people already have 4K TVs and they are cheaper by the minut. Many Broadcasters are toying with 4K. Many media are availbale in 4K (on Netflix and YouTube). But that this not all. Most smartphones (an soon the iPhone) are shooting in 4K. Most DSLR are able to shoot in 4K. Where do you think these people will want to look at their work? On a 4K TV, that’s where. They wont buy a Retina iMac for that. They’ll have to find a work around and go with the competition. And if it was only to look at our pictures it would be just great. And what about games?
        Basicaly, it’s the same debate when 1080p HD was coming out. Nobody can see the difference, nobody has a 2K set, there is no media, it’s too expensive, blablabla… And Apple waited and waited an waited and waited before eventually giving us a 2K AppleTV. Saddly, I am very affraid that we will still have to wait for another 2 years at best before Apple presents a 4K enabled AppleTV. Why is Apple always lagging behind in this field, I don’t understand? Isn’t Apple supposed to be leading the way? 4K is here, bring us a 4K AppleTV! Now!

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      People are not using 4K and 5k displays with the full lizel count.

    • Daniel Gray - 7 years ago

      Yup, cuz 4K for TV viewing is snake oil, and 4K monitors are not. You don’t sit close enough to a TV to benefit from the higher resolution, but you do sit close enough to a computer display.

      • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

        Pure ignorance. No understanding of the numerous things higher resolution does, to viewing.

      • Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

        That’s the point. You’ll be able to sit closer to your TV with 4K and have it as large as a cinema screen. If you’re looking at your 32″ TV from accross the room, then you don’t need 4K, but you didn’t need 2K either.
        It’s simply jaw dropping. As soon as you’ve been in front of a 4K TV, you’ll want one, believe me. And you’ll want it as big as possible, and you’ll be looking at it from 2 meters / 6 feet away or so.
        And it will do great with 2K media also, as they almost always come with an excellent upscaler. Specialized press agrees on the fact that 2K content on 4K TV looks much better than on a regular 2K TV.

    • cleesmith2 - 7 years ago

      Why not offer two versions: Apple TV and Apple TV 4K?

  2. golfersal - 7 years ago

    Can Apple figure out how to do a new monitor since mine is now close to ten years old and needs replacement.

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      Yes. these new skylake chips. Question is do they wait until all Mac’s have the chips before they release a new display.

  3. mikhailt - 7 years ago

    The usable default resolution will be 2048 x 1152 and PPI is ~218. Not bad.

    Hopefully, next year, they’ll release Cinema Displays with TB3 support at the same time with Skylake/Cannonlake refresh of rMBPs.

  4. Patrick (@PatrickPoech) - 7 years ago

    They should also give us a 4k Thunderbold display. Still waiting for an update.

  5. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    I agree with you Mark except the other 21″ iMac’s will get new chipsets. It’s been since September 2013 since they have been updated, minus the education model.

  6. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    I can finally spend the money that’s been burning a hole in my pocket.(not before I order a bb-8 sphero on Amazon tonight)
    I wish the top level 4K and 5K 21″ and 27″ models had i7 instead of i5 chips.

  7. Lars Pallesen - 7 years ago

    Yes! That sounds like my next iMac!

  8. Andrew Crakes - 7 years ago

    Did your reliable sources indicate whether they would be refreshing the 27 inch iMac, too? (Skylake, Thunderbolt 3, etc.)

  9. I hope Apple releases updated 27 inch iMacs in 8K, like the rumours from months ago suspected. Hopefully, with the Cinema Displays becoming obsolete next week they’ll be replaced with something that has at minimum a 4K resolution – up to 8k, or ideal two lines with both.

    • Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

      It’s not the 27″ Thunderbold Cinema Display that becomes obsolete next week. It’s the old generation 30″ Cinema Display.
      I believe it’s currently impossible for any iMac, Mac Mini or MacBook Pro to drive a 5K Retina Display at a decent refreshing rate. Maybe only the MacPro. Then again, for the Mac Pro, there are plenty of 4K and even 5K monitors available that makes it irrelevant for Apple to present it’s own one. Yet, it wouldn’t hurt…

  10. joesiegler - 7 years ago

    There any word on updated 27″ iMacs? I’m wanting to buy one now, but am in a torturous area where I am in fear of a new model like a week after I would buy.

  11. 4k video file sizes are enormous. For us they are working out more than 4 times the size of Full HD. It is 4 times the resolution, plus you want to watch it on bigger screens, which means pushing the bit rate even higher. We need improved video compression and/or faster Internet speeds for reliable, affordable 4k streaming. Apple are wise not to jump the gun, it will be interesting to see how 4k works out for roku in a few months- might give them a good boost. Amazon have got their first, but their ecosystem seems rather limited.