Is Apple’s Studio Display the biggest iPhone of all time? Not only does the $1,600 monitor pack some of the same hardware as the iPhone 11, but it actually runs on a full version of iOS 15.4, just like an up-to-date iPhone. What is going on here?
At launch, we learned that the Studio Display uses an A13 Bionic chip to enable some of its AI processes, namely Center Stage. This feature, which debuted in the iPad, adjusts the monitor’s 12MP webcam to keep you in frame during video calls, even when you wander around.
Both the A13 Bionic chip and this particular 12MP camera module were previously featured in the iPhone 11. And as discovered by early reviewers, including Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, the Studio Display runs a firmware called “Version 15.4 (Build 19E241).” That’s the exact same build number you’ll see on an iPhone or iPad running the current version of iOS or iPadOS.
In other words, the Studio Display is technically an iPhone or iPad with a 27-inch screen. There’s a decent chance that you could jailbreak the Studio Display and force it to act like one of these mobile devices—although I’m not sure if that’s a great idea, as the Studio Display doesn’t have a touchscreen.
From a more practical standpoint, the Studio Display should receive regular updates and improvements from Apple. The company is already planning to patch a Studio Display “bug” that’s impacting webcam performance, per the request of early customers and reviewers. Future updates, or even new features, are not an impossibility.
I only wish that the Studio Display ran tvOS instead of iOS. That way, it could double as a standalone device like Samsung’s weird smart monitors. It’s not that crazy of an idea—the HomePod runs a version of tvOS!