Apple Studio Display vs Pro Display XDR: What’s The Difference?

Apple now has two monitors for its users to choose from: the Apple Studio Display and the Apple Pro Display XDR – but how are these monitors different? Let’s find out…

When it comes to top-tier displays from Apple, two names that inevitably spring to mind are the Apple Studio Display and the Pro Display XDR.

Each has its unique selling points, and choosing between them often boils down to your specific needs and budget. But there are quite a few things to keep in mind, most notably price (one is significantly more expensive than the other), and features (one lacks both a webcam, speakers, and microphone).

Let’s now dig into what makes both the Apple Studio Display and the Pro Display XDR tick.

In this comparison, we’ll cover all the specs, features, and screen tech, as well as who each monitor is designed for. By the close of this post, you’ll have a complete understanding of each of Apple’s monitors and whether or not one of them is suitable for your needs.

Let’s do this…

Apple Studio Display Overview

Apple Studio Display vs Pro Display XDR: What's The Difference?Pin

The Apple Studio Display is a 27-inch 5K display that brings retina-level clarity to your desk. With a resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels and support for a billion colors, it’s a visual treat. It’s powered by the A13 Bionic chip and boasts a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system, and a studio-quality three-mic array.

This Studio Display is designed for the everyman (although the everyman with deeper pockets than most). It is positioned as the ideal monitor for Apple’s Mac Studio and its line-up of MacBooks.

It packs in everything you’ll need from a modern monitor, including a 5K resolution display, brilliant Spatial Audio-powered speakers, Siri, and its own custom A13 chipset.

Apple also pumps out regularly software updates for the Apple Studio Display that improve its performance, add in new features, and generally make it a better, more useful monitor.

Apple Pro Display XDR Overview

On the other hand, the Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch 6K monitor geared towards professionals who require the absolute best in terms of resolution and color accuracy. With a stunning 6016 x 3384 pixel resolution and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, it takes visual fidelity to the next level.

The Pro Display XDR does not come with any speakers, webcam or built in microphones. Why this is the case, I have literally no idea – for a $5000 monitor, you’d expect to see all of these things present.

The Pro Display XDR supports extreme dynamic range (XDR), allowing for brighter highlights, darker blacks, and more vibrant colors. It also includes a range of reference modes tailored for different professional workflows, making it the go-to choice for creative professionals in fields like video editing, 3D animation, and color grading.

Apple Studio Display vs Pro Display XDR Specs Compared

FeatureApple Studio DisplayPro Display XDR
Screen Size27 inches32 inches
Resolution5K (5120 x 2880 pixels)6K (6016 x 3384 pixels)
ChipA13 BionicUndisclosed
Camera12MP Ultra-wideNone
Speaker SystemHigh-fidelity six-speaker sound systemNone
MicrophoneStudio-quality three-mic arrayNone
Dynamic RangeStandardExtreme (XDR)
Reference ModesN/AMultiple
Contrast RatioN/A1,000,000:1
Ports1 x Thunderbolt 3, 3 x USB-C1 x Thunderbolt 3, 3 x USB-C
StandAdjustableOptional (at an extra cost)
PriceMore affordableMore expensive

Who’s The Pro Display XDR Designed For?

The Pro Display XDR is designed for professional users. That is kind of its whole deal. It is not meant to be used by laymen. Rather, the Pro Display XDR is meant for professional users – editors (both film, image-based, and video) who create and edit content that is viewed by potentially millions of people.

With the Pro Display XDR, Apple is effectively courting people that run hugely successful YouTube channels, people that work in Hollywood and the film industry in general, and production execs at magazine and/or broadcast networks.

This is why it costs so much; the Pro Display XDR is NOT designed to be a widely used, commercial product. It is about as niche as a product can get and it is designed with a very specific demographic mind: high-end professional users with access to a corporate credit card.

For this express reason, Apple has outfitted it with some of the most advanced display tech and features possible – this is why it costs so much. You have a 6K resolution (6016 x 3384 pixels) and a large screen to work on (32 inches). Beyond this, you have additional extras like Extreme XDR and multiple reference modes.

What Are Reference Modes on Apple Pro Display XDR Display?

The Reference Modes on the Apple Pro Display XDR are preset calibration settings that adjust the color, brightness, and other display characteristics to match different content creation workflows.

Each mode tailors the performance of the display to a specific need, ensuring the most accurate and optimal viewing experience for that task.

Apple’s Pro Display XDR offers several different reference modes:

  • Apple Display (P3-1600 nits): This is the default reference mode, best used for general use in a wide variety of lighting conditions. It uses the P3 wide color gamut and runs at a high brightness level.
  • HDR Video (P3-ST 2084): This mode is designed for editing HDR video. It supports a peak brightness of 1600 nits and uses the P3 color space.
  • Digital Cinema (P3-DCI): This mode is intended for digital cinema work. It uses the DCI-P3 color space and runs at a lower brightness level, which is typically used in a dimly lit professional environment.
  • Design and Print (P3-D50): This mode is perfect for design and print tasks. It uses the P3 color space but is calibrated to a D50 white point, which is common in these fields.
  • Photography (P3-D65): This mode is tailored for common photography work, using the P3 color space calibrated to a D65 white point.
  • Internet and Web (sRGB): This mode uses the sRGB color space, which is the standard color space for web content and many computers.
  • Custom: In addition to these preset modes, there’s also a custom mode where you can manually adjust the settings to fit specific needs.

Who’s The Apple Studio Display Designed For?

For most people, the Apple Studio Display is still painfully expensive. But unlike the Pro Display XDR, it is designed for use by the layman, meaning people like me and you that aren’t hotshot editors and/or work in the film business.

It runs a 5K resolution, it comes with both speakers (very impressive ones, as it happens, complete with Spatial Audio), and a webcam. It also has a built-in microphone too. Remember: the more expensive Pro Display XDR does not have ANY of these things – it’s literally a screen.

The Apple Studio Display is designed for use with Apple’s new Mac Studio, Mac mini, and its slew of MacBooks. I bought my Apple Studio Display back in 2022 when I updated from an ageing 2014 iMac 5K to the stupidly over-powered Mac Studio which cost me round about four grand in total, including the Apple Studio Display.

I’ve written about whether or not I regret buying the Apple Studio Display, so you can check that out if you want to find out whether or not I thought it was a worthy investment over some of the cheaper, but equally good Apple Studio Display alternatives now available on the market.

Of course, there are plenty of Apple Studio Display alternatives available, and plenty of them are cheaper. If you’re on the fence about dropping a considerable amount of money on the Studio Display, I’d advise you to look at these options before you commit to anything.

Is Apple Studio Display The Best Monitor For Mac Users?

Apple Studio DisplayPin

But the long and short of it is this: the Apple Studio Display is designed for Apple’s “general” Mac users. If you use a MacBook, Mac Studio, or a Mac mini, Apple would like you to buy its Apple Studio Display – this is entirely what it was designed for (even though its price will almost certainly put off 90% of users from picking one up).

Similarly, if your a professional user (I include myself in this niche) like a graphic designer, video editor, photographer, 3D animator, or an architect, the Apple Studio Display does offer plenty of utility at a fraction of the cost of the Pro Display XDR.

For most people, the Apple Studio Display is still painfully expensive. But unlike the Pro Display XDR, it is designed for use by the layman, meaning people like me and you that aren’t hotshot editors and/or work in the film business.

But is it worth buying one?

Based on my 12+ months of using the Apple Studio Display, here’s a quick overview of the Apple Studio Display’s main PROS and CONS:

Pros of Apple Studio Display

  1. Superb Resolution: The Apple Studio Display boasts a stunning 5K resolution, providing crisp and detailed images. This is an absolute must-have for professionals working on high-resolution projects.
  2. Outstanding Color Accuracy: The Apple Studio Display supports the P3 wide color gamut, which means it can display more colors and with greater accuracy than a standard sRGB monitor. This is critical for professionals such as photographers and video editors who need accurate color representation.
  3. Integrated Webcam and Audio: Unlike most monitors, the Apple Studio Display includes a high-quality webcam and a studio-quality three-microphone array. This is especially useful for professionals who conduct a lot of video calls or live streams.
  4. Seamless Integration with Macs: The Apple Studio Display has been designed to work seamlessly with Macs. This means that the monitor will automatically match the Mac’s settings, including brightness and color temperature. This makes the setup process incredibly simple and easy.
  5. Elegant Design: Like all Apple products, the Studio Display looks sleek and professional. Its thin bezel and minimalist design make it a stylish addition to any workspace.

Drawbacks of the Apple Studio Display

  1. Price: The biggest downside of the Apple Studio Display is undoubtedly its price. It’s considerably more expensive than many other monitors on the market, which might put it out of reach for professionals on a budget.
  2. Limited Flexibility: Unlike many professional monitors, the Apple Studio Display doesn’t offer much in the way of ergonomics. The stand offers tilt adjustment, but there’s no height adjustment, which could be a deal-breaker for some.
  3. Mac-centric: While the seamless integration with Macs is a plus for Apple users, it can be a drawback for those who use other operating systems. The Studio Display may not offer the same smooth experience for non-Mac users.
  4. Lack of Ports: The Apple Studio Display offers limited connectivity options, with just a few Thunderbolt and USB-C ports. This may necessitate the purchase of additional adapters or docking stations for those with multiple devices or older hardware.

Apple Studio Display

For the Mac mini, MacBook or Mac Studio, the Apple Studio Display is the perfect companion. It has a glorious 5K resolution, the design is flawless and, while it is very expensive, it will last you for a good many years without any issues. Is it perfect? No. But it is damn close for a 5K monitor…

  • Seamless integration with ALL M1/M2 Macs
  • 5K resolution
  • Runs A13 CPU
  • Impressive color-accuracy and color-gamut coverage results
  • Robust, impressively machined stand
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02/21/2024 01:20 am GMT
Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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