iMac M1 (yellow, 24-inch, 8-Core 3.2/8-Core GPU, 4 USB, 2021)

The M1 iMac was the first iMac to offer Apple’s M1 chip. It was introduced on April 20, 2021, at Apple’s Spring event that also introduced AirTags, AirTag accessories, the purple iPhone 12, and a new Apple TV 4K with a redesigned remote.

This higher-end version of the M1 iMac uses an 8-Core CPU with an 8-Core GPU. It also has 4 USB-C ports with 2 of 4 ports supporting Thunderbolt (USB 4). The Retina display is a 24-inch (23.5-inch) 4.5K LED (4480 x 2520 at 218 PPI). The display and computer measure just 11.5mm thick and is attached to an aluminum stand that pivots on a hinge. This model has 8GB RAM and a 2TB hard drive. Wireless connectivity includes Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0. A gigabit ethernet port is built into the power brick (not included in the lower-end iMac M1 models).

The built-in camera and microphones are greatly enhanced compared to all other previous Mac cameras with its “Best Camera, Mics, and Speakers Ever in a Mac.” It included a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a “studio-quality three-microphone array for clearer calls and voice recordings” and a “six-speaker sound system that produces a massive sound stage with strong, articulate bass and crystal-clear mids and highs.” The standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the lower-left corner of the display on the side.

This iMac shipped with a matching Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and a matching wireless Magic Mouse. A matching Magic Trackpad is also available and a wider Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad.

I consider the M1 iMac my longest-awaited Apple product. Before the M1, my last personal iMac was back in 2015 when I purchased the iMac 5K, 27-inch with an Intel Core i7 processor. Except for what I would consider modest speed enhancements, the iMac did not change much until the iMac Pro was released in 2017, but I never considered a $5,000+ iMac realistic for my own home use. So I waited.

When the M1 Mac chips were introduced in 2020 I knew it was only a matter of time before the M1 (or another Apple silicon chip) would appear in an iMac. The first M1 chips were put into the Mac mini, the MacBook Air, and the MacBook—all excellent computers, but the previous computer design was adopted instead of Apple offering a redesign. I almost immediately started testing the (original) M1 MacBook Air for use in the school district where I work and found its performance to not only live up to hype at the time, but exceed all expectations I had.

Meanwhile, I waited for an iMac announcement and finally got it on April 20, 2021. I ordered it the moment it was available and it arrived on June 3, 2021. 

My setup commenced immediately after arrival, and I started by moving my over-800GB Photos Library to the M1. The library consists of my entire Apple Collection and is not on iCloud. The Photos app began processing the library and I was able to begin photo editing. The difference in speed was striking. Even though the processing was happening in the background, absolutely no waiting, stuttering, or sluggishness was apparent during two hours of photo editing. My previous iMac paused for the beach ball every few minutes and Photos crashed every 30 minutes or so.

While performance is a non-issue, the design and color of the iMac has been unexpected.

When the iMac M1 models were introduced, I thought for a long time about my color selection. Since the “vibrant” color is only on the back and sides, I’d never see it. I’m no fan of pastels so I needed to make a selection among options I dislike least, rather than selecting what I like most. While silver was always an option, the collector in me didn’t want to waste the opportunity to own one of six new colors. And silver is boring. After a long deliberation, I went with yellow.

I selected yellow because it is a color that Apple had never offered an an iMac, and yellow is relatively rare in other Apple devices. Other yellow devices offered by Apple have included two iPod nano models (Generations 4 and 5), iPhone 5c, iPhone XR, and iPhone 11. Apple also offered the iPod touch (Generation 5) in yellow, but this shade of yellow is more lime green than yellow.

The shades of yellow shown on Apple’s website are to my eye, very far off from the actual color. Further, the iMac M1 uses three different shades of yellow. The “chin” of the device is a pale yellow; the back and sides is a rich yellow-orange; and the aluminum base is gold with hint of yellow. The aluminum parts of the mouse and keyboard use the exact same shade of gold as the iMac base. Other yellow parts include the magnetic power plug (an exact match of the back and sides color); the braided power cord (yellow braided with white); and the braided USB-C-to-Lightning charging cable (yellow braided with white matching the power cable). The plastic glides on the bottom of the mouse introduce a fourth shade of dark yellow. 

The packaging also includes several yellow accents. The photos of the iMac on the front, back, and sides of the box are all yellow, but they do not match the actual color of the iMac. To be fair, the box photos match the iMac far better than the web versions of the colors. The box contains an internal container with the accessories that is printed in yellow. The M1 iMacs each include two Apple-logo stickers, a matching light and dark version of the iMac colors (except silver which only contains one silver sticker). Finally, the three-panel “Getting Started” guide is printed in the color that matches the iMac. 

I’m not bothered by these color issues, but I do find them surprising. I am no fan of the gold base, mouse, and keyboard, of my yellow iMac—I ordered yellow, not gold—but as a collector I appreciate the design and many details.

Sources: Apple, EveryMac (iMac systems, iMac core i7, iMac M1)

iPhone SE (original, Space Gray, 2016)

The original iPhone SE (Special Edition) was released along with the larger iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Many users preferred the smaller size of this phone and its flat sides that used the same design as the iPhone 5s.

The original iPhone SE’s exterior differed from the iPhone 5s in its finishes, including four colors, and matte (instead of shiny) edges. Colors for the iPhone SE included Silver (white glass front and a silver aluminum sides and back with a white top and bottom detail); Space Gray (black glass front and a gunmetal gray aluminum sides and back with a black top and bottom detail); Gold (white glass front and a gold aluminum sides and back with a white top and bottom detail); and Rose Gold (white glass front and a pink-tinted gold aluminum sides and back with a white top and bottom detail).

The original iPhone SE used a 4-inch Retina display (1136×640 at 326 ppi). Its two cameras included a rear 12-megapixel iSight camera with a True Tone flash and a front 1.2-megapixel 720p FaceTime camera.

A Touch ID fingerprint sensor was embedded in the Home button of the iPhone SE. It used Apple’s A9 processor and was available with 16, 32, 64, or 128 GB storage. Wireless connections included 4G/LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC (Apple Pay). Wired connections included a headphone jack and a Lightning connector.

The iPhone SE would become the first iPhone name to be later reused (in April 2020) in a completely different design.

Source: EveryMac

iPhone 5s (space gray, 2013)

The iPhone 5s was released in 2013 as a successor to the iPhone 5. While previous “s” updates delivered only slight enhancements, the 5s had major upgrades internally and externally. The iPhone 5s included an A7 chip (Apple’s first 64-bit “system-on-a-chip”), Apple’s first fingerprint Touch ID, and greatly enhanced cameras with a flash system that used different color temperatures.

The iPhone 5s was offered in three metallic colors: silver (white glass front with a metallic sliver back), gold (white glass front with a metallic gold back), and space gray (black glass front with metallic gunmetal gray back). Its touch screen was a Retina display (1136 x 640). The back camera was an 8-megapixel iSight camera (1080p), and the front camera was a 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera (720p).

The A7 chip that powered the iPhone 5s ran at 1.3 GHz and storage was offered at 16, 32, or 64 GB. Wireless connections included 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 4G/LTE. Wired connections included the Lightning connector and a standard headphone jack.

This was the first iPhone to ship with iOS 7, the first iOS version designed under Jony Ive that removed the previous “skeuomorphic” design aesthetic that used true-life design elements such as faux textures, drop shadows, glossy surfaces, beveled edges, and other real-world visual cues (e.g., the Notes app icon resembled a legal pad with torn-off pages, the Newsstand app icon that resembled a book case). Instead, iOS 7 icons and interfaces were flat and featured a defined colorful palette.

Sources: Everymac, Wikipedia

iPad Air (Generation 2, Wi-Fi, space gray, 2014)

The iPad Air 2 was the first iPad to use Touch ID. It was announced at an October 2014 Apple event titled, “Change Is in the Air.” This iPad was available in three colors: gold (gold aluminum back with a white glass front), silver (silver aluminum back with a white glass front), and space gray (dark gray aluminum back with a black glass front).

The 9.7-inch touchscreen Retina Display was 2048×1536 (at 264 ppi) and featured an antireflective coating. Internally, it used a three-core 1.5 GHz A8X processor, 2 GB of RAM, and was available with 16, 32, 64, or 128 GB of storage.

Its rear 8-megapixel iSight camera recorded video at 1080p (30 fps), and its front 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera recoded video at 720p.

Sources: Everymac, Apple

iPhone 6s (16 GB, silver, 2015)

The iPhone 6s had a 4.7-inch “3D Touch” screen at 1334×750 (326 ppi, Retina HD). The iPhone 6s cameras were vastly improved over the iPhone 6 that preceded it: a rear 12-megapixel 4K iSight camera and a front 5-megapixel FaceTime camera in 720p (the iPhone 6 used a, 8-megapixel back camera and 1.2-megapixel front camera).

The iPhone 6s was available in four colors: silver (white glass front, silver back); gold (white glass front, gold back); space gray (black glass front, medium-gray back); and rose gold (white glass front, pink-tinted gold back). 

The iPhone 6s did not use a physical Home button, but used its Taptic engine to simulate the click. It also used a Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the Home button. 

Inside, the iPhone 6s used the Apple A9 processor with 2 GB of RAM and was available in 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, or 128 GB of flash storage. The iPhone 6s was the last iPhone to include a headphone jack (located on the bottom) and used  the Lightning port to connect to computer, dock, or power adapter.

This iPhone 6s example is an entry-level 16 GB model in silver with a white front. Unfortunately, this particular iPhone has a slight crack in the lower-left front screen glass (although it functions perfectly).

Source: EveryMac

iPhone 6 (64 GB, space gray, 2014)

This particular iPhone 6 model was used an AT&T network (and functioned throughout North America). All iPhone 6 models had a 4.7-inch multi-touch screen at 1334×750 (326 ppi, Retina HD display). It had two cameras: a rear 8 megapixel iSight camera (1080p) and a front 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera (720p).

The iPhone 6 was originally available in three color options: silver (white glass front and a silver aluminum back), gold (white glass front and a gold aluminum back), and space gray (black glass front and a medium-gray aluminum back). The iPhone used a unibody design with rounded sides (similar to the iPod touch Generation 5). The glass screen curved slightly at the edges. It also included a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

The iPhone 6 used a 1.4 GHz 64-bit Apple A8 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16, 32, 64, or 128 GB of storage. In addition to 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0/4.2, and LTE (4G), it included NFC for Apple Pay transactions. It had both a bottom-mounted headphone jack and a Lightning port.

Source: EveryMac.com