Apple officially announced yesterday that its Thunderbolt Display is dead. The monitor was never updated to match the much thinner design of the current iMacs, it featured a MagSafe 1 connector and required a MagSafe 2 adapter, and its resolution was far inferior to Retina iMacs so it was no surprise to see it finally discontinued.
Apple typically replaces a discontinued product with a newer version, though, so yesterday’s move could be interpreted as a sign that the company is fully exiting the external display business. Not so fast, says one voice however…
Apple’s guidance certainly suggested the company wasn’t focused on selling a new external display anytime soon:
There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users,” said an Apple spokesperson.
Limited Thunderbolt Display stock is still available at its full $999 retail price at Apple Stores and online, but new inventory hasn’t arrived in months and new models aren’t being produced. Depleted stock was widely noticed a few weeks back just before WWDC 2016.
9to5Mac reported separately that Apple has been readying a replacement display with an integrated GPU that could drive Retina resolutions on Macs without sufficient GPUs, then we learned shortly after that no new hardware would be introduced at Apple’s developer conference.
Then yesterday Apple officially called it quits on the current Thunderbolt Display, but John Paczkowski of Buzzfeed News tweeted that Apple’s “next-gen display will indeed have integrated GPU” as previously reported.
So that’s the situation for now. You can still buy the existing (outdated) Thunderbolt Display where stock is available and Apple recommends third-party displays for Mac users going forward, but an updated external display with an integrated GPU is still likely in the cards for sometime in the future.
The difference may be that Apple markets the new monitor differently than its predecessor: Thunderbolt Display may not be the right name for a Retina display that uses USB-C and not the legacy Thunderbolt connector we have today.
From the sound of it, Thunderbolt Display’s $999 price point may be a bit optimistic for an external Retina display with an integrated GPU as well so it’s not exactly a situation where a new and improved product replaces an outdated version of it. What would you want to see in an external Retina display from Apple?