Apple’s desktops are due for an update, with the 2019 iMacs receiving only CPU upgrades, optional Radeon Pro Vega graphics, and other minor tweaks. We take a look at the current rumours that give us a clue of what we could expect when the new iMacs are unveiled this year.

When will the new iMacs be released?

Due to the disruptive nature of the Covid-19 coronavirus, many of the assumed dates for new arrivals have now become far more uncertain. That being said, there’s actually no set pattern for when Apple introduces new models, as over the past few years iMacs have been announced in March (2019), June (2017), October (2015), May (2015), and October (2014). So, unlike the iPhone which generally arrives in September each year, Apple releases its desktop computers whenever they are ready rather than in a set slot. 

Early this year, there were solid rumours that the iMac range would be updated in March 2020, but obviously this may well have been affected by the unforeseen circumstances with the pandemic. This has also caused Apple to change its annual WWDC presentation into an online only event, but it’s possible that the new iMacs may be announced at this event.

For more details, read When is WWDC 2020 and what will Apple launch?

What iMacs will be included in the new lineup and how much will they cost?

It’s very likely that Apple will replace its current range with like-for-like upgrades in 2020. Price is hard to predict, as turmoil in the stock markets and global economies could have an impact on the cost of production and components. The best we can hope for seems to be Apple holding its prices rather than increasing them once more.

At the moment the current iMac range includes the following models;

  • iMac 21.5in 2.3GHz Dual-Core 7th generation Intel Core i5 - £1049/$1099
  • iMac 21.5in 4K, 3.6GHz Quad-Core 8th generation Intel Core i3 - £1249/$1299
  • iMac 21.5in 4K, 3GHz 6-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 - £1449/$1499
  • iMac 27in 5K, 3GHz 6-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 - £1749/$1799
  • iMac 27in 5K, 3.1GHz 6-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 - £1949/$1999
  • iMac 27in 5K, 3.7GHz 6-Core 9th generation Intel Core i5 - £2249/$2299

Each of these can also be enhanced with extra storage or more powerful processors through Apple's build-to-order options on its store.

Will Apple give the iMac a new design in 2020?

The current design of the iMac is practically unchanged since it was introduced back in 2012. While this has served the range well, it does feel like the time has come to add some new aesthetics and possibly some better heat dissipation to the desktops.

iMac 2020 rumours

One interesting clue discovered recently is a patent application from Apple which shows a desktop computer made almost entirely of a curved piece of glass that houses not only the display and components but the keyboard as well. How likely this is to be the next design is unclear, but it does suggest that Apple is considering a major redesign for the iMac and is exploring some unorthodox options.

iMac 2020 rumours: New design

Perhaps more likely is a refinement of the current design, with the obvious places being the display and viewing angles. At the moment the standard iMac comes in either 21.5in or 27in display variants. Both of these have rather large bezels around the edges which seem out of kilter with more modern offerings. By removing these Apple could increase the display sizes without needing to adjust too much of the overall construction. 

The famously large ‘chin’ on the iMac that sits under the display could also be minimised to expand the size of the display, although this would have to be offset by a change in the stand. The reasons for this are that iMacs can suffer somewhat from ergonomics that make them less than ideal in terms of how they affect the posture of users. We’ve often seen them placed on platforms to elevate the display to eye-level, which is better for preventing repetitive strain injuries and neck pain.

The gorgeous Pro Display XDR that Apple introduced to accompany the new Mac Pro has a very clever hinge that can be angled to reach the optimum viewing angle for users. Of course, we wouldn’t expect the same level of construction for the humble iMac (that stand alone costs the best part of £1000/$1000), but if Apple is rediscovering the joys of angle-poise stands then we could see a return to the principles that made the iMac G4 such a classic design.

iMac 2020 rumours

Will the new iMac include Face ID?

Touch ID has been included in various MacBooks in recent years, making it easy to unlock the devices and pay for things online just by tapping the fingerprint sensor. This is less likely on an iMac as the keyboard isn’t built-into the device. The extra space afforded by desktop computers though does make it far more likely that Face ID could be used for security.

We’ve already seen Microsoft use similar technology with Windows Hello on the SurfacePro 7 and other PCs, so there’s no reason to think that Apple wouldn’t also put this feature in the new iMacs.

What new specifications will the 2020 iMacs include?

When the iMac range was updated in 2019, Apple installed 8th and 9th generation Intel Coffee Lake processors across the lineup, with the 21.5in models getting the former (except for the base model which remains on 7th generation) and the 27in iMacs offering a choice of either.

It would then make sense for the 2020 models to come equipped with Intel 10th generation Ice Lake or Comet Lake processors. Both were released in 2019 and would prove a small improvement for the iMac range that traditionally uses processors designed for laptops.

There are some rumours though that suggest Apple could take a different route and start using its own processors just as it does with iPhones and iPads. These ARM-based chips would be in keeping with Apple’s long-held approach of controlling as much of the design and construction of its devices as possible.

These rumours were repeated by KGI Securities' analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, but it looks more likely that the technology would be ready by 2021 than this summer.

iMac 2020 rumours

Storage is due a revamp as well, with either SSDs or flash storage replacing the ancient hard drives that still make up the majority of options on the iMac range. Not only would this speed up performance but free up a lot of space within the iMac itself which could be used to improve airflow and thus cooling which again would benefit the way the device functions.

We’d also expect the inclusion of the latest iterations of Radeon discrete graphics cards, and with some of the 2019 models getting upgrades from 2400MHz RAM to faster 2666MHz versions it’s possible that this could be expand to cover all iMacs in 2020.

Finally, there is the possibility that Apple continues its war on ports and moves entirely to USB-C as it has done with the MacBook range and iPad Pros. While we’d be very surprised to see the Ethernet and headphone ports disappear, we can’t rule it out as Apple has been merciless in the past with moving users to the newer technologies. Hopefully, sense will prevail in this area when the new models finally arrive later this year.

To see what we’re expecting with Apple’s laptop range, read MacBook Pro 2020 rumours.