The M3 iMac is my favorite product of the year - but Apple could’ve tried a bit harder

Beijing, China - 26 May, 2021: Brand new 2021 colorful iMac’s in Apple Store. Customers are waiting in line to get new products from Apple.
Et nylig innvilget patent avslører Apples store planer om en futuristisk nyskapning av iMac. (Image credit: abolukbas via Shuttertsock)

Apple has been quite busy this year, with the launch of fresh M3 MacBook Pros, the iPhone 15, and a larger M2-based 15-inch MacBook Air - essentially, the standard slew of product refreshes and releases we expect from the company at this point.

However, this year we were treated to the revival of a popular product that, up until its fresh launch this year, felt wrongfully forgotten. The M3-powered version of the iconic iMac is a stunning device, and I wouldn’t want to discredit it in any way. I’m also very glad Apple kept the fruity color scheme in place.

My gripe here really is that Apple kept all the good things we love about the iMacs, slapped an M3 chip in there, and called it a day. Two years is a long time in the tech world, and that’s how long we’ve been waiting for a new updated version of these candy-colored computers. So, you would think that Apple would take that time between launches to add some actual innovation.

Can we at east get rid of the upside mouse?

Our review of the M3 iMac scored a respectable four out of five stars, with the main criticism being (you guessed it) the fact that the design remains exactly the same - including the peripherals.

No new colors were added to the lineup, which struck me as odd considering one of the main attractions of the iMac is the wide range of hues. Of course, the look of MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs can be pretty indistinguishable, and Apple products do look quite similar; to the point where you would be forgiven for mistaking one for another at first glance.

My disappointment mainly stems from the fact that iMac fans endured a pretty long wait for a sleek refresh but got… essentially the same product with upgraded internals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we now have an all-in-one computer with a very powerful M3 chip, but I am let down by the fact that the new supercharged chip is coming in essentially the same packaging. Not to mention, this would be a perfect opportunity for the company to address the incredibly annoying placement of the Magic Mouse’s charging port, which is still on the bottom of the mouse! Surely in this day and age, we can be free from ridiculously inconvenient charging port placements and have something that will allow me to use the mouse plugged in - you know, like basically every other wireless mouse out there.

Of course, if you look through our list of the best all-in-one computers, besides the HP Chromebase all-in-one, most of the computers do look relatively similar. However! They do all have something unique about the design that sets them apart, not just from all-in-ones from other brands but within their lineup as well.

If we’re going to wait just as long for the next iMac update, I can only hope the iMac gets even just a little bit of a redesign and a bit of pizzazz. How long can the novelty of a pink iMac last before it becomes boring and trite?

Step up or get left behind

Now, I am not saying I want Apple to reinvent the wheel here - the iMacs are great all-in-one devices with a recognizable design - but the world of PCs and their focus points has changed quite a bit since the first candy-colored iMac came out a few years ago.

Take the HP Envy Move. Designed with the last few years in mind, the all-in-one PC offers foldable ‘feet’ that tuck away when you pick it up by the magnetic handle to move around the house, and a portable wireless keyboard that tucks into the back pouch of the display.

I adore the HP Envy Move because it’s designed with the remote worker in mind. You can pick it up and work in any room and it’s perfect for multiple users. It has a distinctly modern look that sets it apart from previous HP AIOs. It doesn’t look like a completely new machine, but it does look new, and updated, and has new features that benefit contemporary users.

I would have loved to have seen the M3 iMac take the same approach, of adding to an already beloved design rather than remaining stagnant. New colors, improved peripherals (or accessories unique to the iMac), or a slight, experimental deviation from the standard Apple computer design would have been really exciting to see. The company has made a push this year to include gaming content and the ability to its devices, maybe even dipping into the world of gaming aesthetics like LED lighting of some kind with that classic Apple twist would have been appealing, even if it was an optional extra.

I do worry that if the next generation of Apple iMacs follows suit, they may be left behind as other brands push outside the box and take risks. The iMacs are fantastic computers; they sit at the top of our best-all-in-one for a bunch of very good reasons, and I would hate for that to change. These are computers I have drooled over for quite a few years now, but I fear my head could be turned in the near future.

Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).