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APPLE Pro Display XDR monitor review


Pre-testing the Apple Pro Display XDR Display
Published on February 10, 2020   |   Updated on February 11, 2020


Note! I'm waiting for my test copy so I can write my full test... For the moment, these are my first impressions or careful observations on two copies in the Apple Store.


At the beginning of 2020, Apple is releasing its new high-end display with features clearly aimed at video editors. Apple clearly wants to position it as a reference screen for video editors. Its finish is obviously superlative but what about the quality of its panel? Is it also designed for photographers? In a nutshell, what can you expect if you invest $7,000 the best monitor in the world for everyone or a reference monitor for video editing?

When Apple brings out a new display, it naturally has a great deal to offer in terms of finish and perceived quality. It's obviously beautiful. Having this screen on your desktop won't go unnoticed... especially by your customers! Now, who is it for? In view of the technical characteristics, clearly to video editors: its 32-inch panel with thin edges displays the DCI-P3 gamut (between Adobe RGB and sRGB), record peak brightness (1600 cd/m2 and 1000 cd/m2 in "normal" mode) to such an extent that it will be necessary to buy the latest i1Display Pro PLUS sensor to calibrate it at maximum brightness, HDR 10, HLG or Dolby Vision. However, this much brightness is completely useless for photographers who print their prints at home! On the other hand, to watch your favorite series after image processing it will be perfect. Remains to be seen what this magnificent display with its shiny or nano-textured panel "as they say" is as excellent for these different uses as the case is beautiful?



In a few words...


Apple Pro Display


For the moment, I haven't done my full test but I have already made up my mind on some important criteria in store: this monitor is not free of defects so it may be very - too - expensive... - Read my conclusion  




Introduction of the Apple Pro Display XDR

Here are to start with some illustrations of this absolutely magnificent display... but with real price tags for its design, perhaps at the expense of ergonomics, real versatility (photo and video) and finally even for its primary target, video editors...

Apple Pro Display XDR and the Mac Pro   Tilted Apple Pro Display XDR
Apple PRo DIsplay XDR Rear monitor   Apple Pro Display XDR Connections
  Technical specifications
  Apple Pro Display XDR Average price: $4,999.00 to $6,998.00
Panel size
32 inches 16:9 - 6016 x 3384 - 218 ppi
Panel technology
IPS miniLeds on 576 zones - Glossy or nano-textured panel
  Uniformity check No
  Color space 100% DCI-P3, 100% Rec 709
  Brightness 1000 cd/m2 (Max 1600 cd/m2)
  Contrast 1 000 000 : 1
  Compatibility HDR10 Yes + HLG + Dolby Vision
Look Up Table
10 bits
  Response time ?
Screen size
Panel : 71,8 x 41,2 x 2,7 cm / 28.3 x 16.2 x 1.1 inches
  Edge thickness 10 mm
  Calibration software No
  Connections TB 3.0 + USB-C
  VESA compatibility Yes (specific to Apple)
  Hood No
  Warranty 1 year - Apple USA

In the box...

The monitor is sold with :

  • The power cord... of course!
  • A ThunderBolt 3.0 cable
  • Watch out! No stand - You have to choose it as an option.

Note on the contents!  Attention, this Apple display is sold without stand. You have to choose either the stand (called Stand at $999.00 or the VESA wall mount adapter at $199.00).

Apple Stand for the Apple Pro Display XDR and VESA

Size and perceived quality

The display has a 32" panel and is 71.87 cm/ 28.29 inches wide (the panel is 70 cm/ 27.55 inches wide). It is therefore a rather bulky monitor that does not especially favour a multi-screen work environment, but is it useful with such a screen size? Having said that, placing two XDRs next to each other is not inconceivable as the edges are really thin.

APPLE Pro Display XDR + Stand

As for the perceived quality, it is simply perfect. The best finish I've seen in my tests so far...

The Apple Pro Display XDR screen and its new generation panel

There's a lot to be said about this panel...

1 - Definition/resolution - This is a 6016 x 3384 pixels IPS panel, so 6K. It's unique early 2020. Its resolution is 218 ppi. It is obviously a perfect display or just like !

Apple Pro Display XDR panel definition

2 - Panel technology - The backlighting is an oxide based TFT, in other words a mini-LED (?!) based and not an OLED panel. There are 576 blocks of mini-Les. This represents areas of 32 x 18 pixels which will not help, a priori, to reduce blooming in HDR video (the halo around the light sources as shown in the picture below compared to a very high-end monitor ... much more expensive) as confirmed by Juan Salvo in his test:

© Juan Salvo

3 - The panel, its anti-glare treatment and the anti-reflection treatment of the glass - This display can be purchased in two panel finishes :

  • A glossy glass ($4,999.00),
  • A nano-textured glass ($5,999.00) avoiding reflections as much as possible and requiring a specific cloth, sold with the display, to clean it.

The glossy panel, as on the iPad and other iMac Retina, is indeed glossy even if the anti-reflection treatment of the glass is rather effective, especially in a dark room. It's great for displaying a web page or a video, but much less convenient for editing photos. Photographers will surely have to turn to the nano-texture panel which limits - a priori, without having seen it - the reflections. However, according to what I have seen on the Internet, the reflections are, with this treatment, indeed very diffuse. It therefore seems to be effective.


Nano-textured processing of the Apple Pro Display XDR display panel.
Nano-texture glass - Nano-textured processing of the Apple Pro Display XDR display panel.

That said, the panels - i.e. before the glass - can also receive a film called Anti-Glare which can be translated as anti-reflection as well, which sometimes gives a very slightly textured, slightly grainy look to the display, especially when displaying a blank page - randomly, Apple's site! -. This more or less opaque treatment or film is more or less granular or diffuse and therefore more or less visible. For several years I've been testing monitors, it was less and less so, and that's why I was very surprised to notice it on this "very high-end" monitor, especially if you're watching the same Apple site on an iMac Retina 5K in parallel in comparison. For those who, like me, are sensitive to this processing, it's a big weakness of the Apple Pro Display XDR.

4 - Brightness - One of the most important technical feature of this panel is of course its extreme brightness as it can go up to 1600 cd/m2 at peak! At its "normal" maximum lighting, the brightness of this panel is already 1000 cd/m2. This is huge because the maximum I measured on the Asus PA32UCX was 600 cd/m2 and I assure you that in a dark room it is already too bright. No wonder that the contrast is announced at 1,000,000:1, but the contrast also depends a lot on the depth of the blacks of the panel, which is not an OLED panel here. So I'm looking forward to testing it on this criterion as well.

5 - Homogeneity with its 576 mini-LEDs - I was surprised that this large panel is sensitive to our positioning. Indeed, if you place yourself just in the axis of the panel, in the center, then the angles will appear darker, as on a "vulgar" TN panel. This is quite surprising from Apple and an IPS panel. This is, again in my opinion, a big flaw of this very expensive panel. Having said that, I can't wait to put my sensor on this panel in order to confirm or not this visual impression because it is basically nothing to do with it. A panel can be viewed with the same brightness from any angle and not be uniform enough and vice versa. It depends on the technology of the panel on the one hand, and on the other hand... its quality!
Finally, note that the 576 miniLeds are used on this screen not to control its uniformity but to use the HDR technology. Indeed, the luminosity of an area can be increased punctually (up to 1600 nits or cd/m2) in order to reinforce the contrast but as we saw above (§ 2), these areas are still too large not to avoid the phenomenon of blooming.

5 - HDR compatibility - This panel is compatible with the latest HDR standards: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, but, as we saw above, its 576 miniLeds do not prevent, far from it, the blooming phenomenon.

6 - The gamuts - This panel "signs" its video orientation by its largest gamut, the DCI-P3 and not the Adobe RGB which is more suitable for photographers. This gamut is halfway between the very well known Adobe RGB (for photographers) and the universal sRGB.

10-bit color deth of apple Pro Display XDR


It is particularly simple because it includes ThunderBolt 3.0 and USB-C. It is of course perfect to send 4K streams, possibly in 10 bits and HDR, to this display.


Apple Pro Display XDR Display Connections

Display edge thicknesses

They measure only 10 mm so we are dealing with a display with sharply reduced edges! This favours multi-display, but do we necessarily need a 32-inch, 6K screen? (Read : my advice for choosing a photo monitor).


At Apple, the hardware is often very beautiful but it is often to the detriment of ergonomics. However, let's not be too difficult with Apple with this display, but I did notice this in the shop: it is possible, contrary to the iMac, to raise or lower the panel on 12 cm/4.72 inches but the display doesn't keep the same distance from the wall since it doesn't "stupidly" slide along the stand but pivots on an arm (so two axes - picture below). This could lead to a situation where the screen is at the right height but is a little too close. Not perfect for this situation, even if many of you may not suffer from it.

Apple Pro Display XDR Ergonomics

As for the screen adjustment buttons, they are non-existent! Everything will be done in Preferences > Monitors.



What is the Apple Pro Display XDR display worth after calibration with the i1Display Pro PLUS?

Note! I have not yet tested this display with my favorite sensor. Stay tuned!



What about my subjective data: what does my eye see?

That said, I still have an opinion to give right now on the homogeneity of the panel and its anti-glare treatment since I observed two of them carefully in a Parisian Apple Store. Note that I was able to compare them with iMac Retina installed not far away and which serve as a reference for me...

1 - Uniformity in luminance - Very clearly, this glossy panel in my case, yet IPS - but there are many IPS technologies - is sensitive to the placement in front of it, a bit like a TN panel. If you place yourself perfectly in the axis of the panel in the centre, the corners get darker. This is really noticeable and much more than on the beautiful Eizo CG319X or the excellent Asus PA32UCX being tested on this site. I'm a bit disappointed because if it doesn't matter to edit a video it's more important to watch it, especially if you're watching it together.

2 - The anti-glare treatment not to be confused with the anti-reflection treatment of the glass. Secondly, I didn't like the anti-glare treatment of the panel that "marks" the pixels, even though they are tiny, giving them a slightly grainy appearance when you look at a blank page, even more so compared to the beautiful panel of the iMac Retina in an Apple Store!

As for the good points, you can't miss the incredible brightness of this panel for surfing the Internet or watching a video. It's flattering and immersive to say the least! Videographers will appreciate, photographers who like to make their prints much less... but it's up to them to calibrate this screen at 80 - 100 cd/m2! Finally, note that the tester Juan Salvo compared the blooming of this display with a reference monitor at $45000 and this is not flattering for the Apple display... which costs much less for the same reason.

This display is therefore too expensive compared to the beautiful Eizo CG319X for photographers and "not enough" expensive for video editors because the blooming problem is clearly not solved with 576 miniLeds. Those may want to take a look at the Asus PA32UCX's excellent price/performance


  Apple Pro Display XDR  
Color fidelity Not tested yet - /10
Panel uniformity 8/10
Resolution 10/10
Anti-reflection glass treat. 9,0/10
Anti-glare treatment 6,5/10
Ergonomics 8,0/10
Connections 10/10
Manufacturing quality 10/10
Quality / Price ratio 8,0/10
  I like it very much...  
  • While I haven't put my sensor on this panel yet, clearly I like the outstanding finish of this display!
  • The 32-inch size of the panel and...
  • Its thin edges (only 10 mm),
  • The superlative definition therefore a resolution that is just as superlative: 6K and 218 dpi!
  • The incredible brightness to watch HDR videos (if we forget the blooming)!
  • Two window finishes: glossy or satin (nano-texture),
  • Ideal gamut for video editors (REC 2020, REC 709, DCI-P3),
  I regret...  
  • The anti-glare (AG) treatment of the panel (I'm not talking about the glass) gives a very slightly textured, grainy look to the pixels on a white background,
  • The very marked blooming in HDR,
  • The ergonomics of the height adjustment system that also changes the distance to the observer,
  • The angle of view that darkens the corners as on a TN panel,
  • The P3-only gamut ideal for videographers but not for photographers,
  • No hood available,
  • And considering all these defects, the crazy price of its nano-textured version + stand: $6,998.00!!
  • The stand alone is worth $999.00 which is the price of a magnificent Eizo CS2730 !!!
  My overall rating...  
  7,5 / 10... pending completion of the test  
  My conclusion...  

Not easy to conclude because this display is very expensive and, according to me, is not perfect. So it all depends on your use and your budget: if you only do video editing, if you are more or less wealthy or if you are a photographer and are looking for great versatility.
First of all, if you're a video editor and you show your videos to your clients, there's no doubt that the class of this display will impress them... in addition to its incredible brightness. In this case, you could forget its - big - flaws (notably the blooming and anti-glare treatment of its panel which gives a grainy aspect to the white pages)... because compared to the prices of the reference monitors in this sector, this Apple Pro Display XDR is "not" expensive. That said, still for videographers, it could be interesting to look at the Asus PA32UCX with a much better quality/price ratio.
For photographers this time, I would advise you to turn more to the Eizo CG319X even if it is a little less well finished because as far as the display quality is concerned, no doubt that it is even better or even perfect, in addition to offering the Adobe RGB gamut!

Glossy Apple Pro Display XDR
  Nano-textured Apple Pro Display XDR  
Here is my complete review of the Apple PRO XDR monitor
Complete review of the Apple Pro Display XDR monitor
  1 - Introduction of the Apple PRO XDR monitor
2 - What is the Apple PRO XDR worth after calibration?
3 - My rating and conclusion

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