Apple Studio Display vs. Pro Display XDR: What To Buy?

Back in February, rumors said that we would see a cut-down version of the Pro Display XDR at Apple’s March event. Instead, the Cupertino firm announced its new Studio Display that serves the same audience at a much cheaper rate. 

The new Studio Display is basically one of the best monitors you can hook up to your MacBook machines without burning a serious hole in your wallet. Meanwhile, the Pro Display XDR really shows its “Pro” as it targets creative professionals who prioritize color matching and high-level performance when it comes to photo & video editing. 

There are some differences between the two that may change your  buying decision. With that in mind, we will put both monitors in a side-by-side comparison to see which one is right for you.

Pricing and Specs

Studio DisplayPro Display XDR
Starting Price$1,599$4,999
Screen size27 inches32 inches
Resolution5K (5,120 x 2,880 pixels)6K (6,016x 3,384)
Refresh rate60Hz60Hz
Brightness600 nits1000 nits
Ports3 USB-C, 1 Thunderbolt 33 USB-C, 1 Thunderbolt 3
Webcam12MP Ultra wide cameraNone
Speakers2 tweeters, 4 woofersNone

The Apple Studio Display now retails for $1,599 in the US, which is much cheaper than its $4,999 sibling, the Pro Display XDR.

Apple Studio Display

Of course, you can purchase some add-ons to fully optimize the Studio Display like nano-texture glass and a tilt- and height-adjustable stand. These upgrades raise the overall cost to $2,299, which is not cheap, but still is a fraction of the XDR’s $4,999 starting price. Both monitors have 3 USB-C ports and support Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for faster data transfer speed. 

In short, the Studio Display is really the winner when it comes to the starting cost. However, choosing between the two depends on your workflow and what you use the monitor for. 

HDR & Brightness

One of the main differences between the two lies in the display brightness and HDR support. The Studio Display is a 27-inch 5K-enabled monitor with a resolution of 5,120 x 2,880 pixels and supports the P3 wide color gamut, making it ideal for photo and video editing. 

The Pro Display XDR, on the other hand, sports a 32-inch Retina 6K panel that supports “Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR) for a much improved color and contrast, which is perfect for content editing.

The Studio Display does not support HDR, which is a little bit disappointing. However, that seems plausible given that it has a 600 nit screen brightness, which is not great for HDR. Meanwhile, the Pro Display XDR ‘s peak brightness reaches 1,600 nits. That’s perfect for your editing work.

In fact, both monitors offer amazing experience, whether you are watching movies, editing photos & videos, or crafting content. However, as we mentioned earlier, choosing which one is right depends on what you use the monitor for. If you are a professional creatives who are in the market for an Apple monitor with high-level brightness and better contrast, then the Pro Display is the better pick. 

Built-in Webcam & Speakers

If you are looking for a high-premium monitor for both editing and video calling, then the Studio Display is here for you. Apple’s latest monitor comes with a built-in webcam, microphone, and set of speakers, making it stand out when compared to the Pro Display XDR.

Studio DisplayPro Display XDR
Built-in webcam
Lens specs12 MP ultra wide, f/2.4 aperture, 122-degree view, supports 1080p
Center Stage
Speakers6-speaker system with Spatial Audio
MicStudio-quality 3-mic array

The 12 MP ultra wide camera on the front is perfect for video calls in Zoom, while the audio setup is great for enjoying some of your favorite tunes in Apple Music or Spotify. 

One of the best things when it comes to the Studio Display’s camera lies in the Center Stage feature, which is the same technology we have already seen on the iPad Pro M1 (2021). This camera feature will track you and keep you in frame, which allows you to go hands-free and multitask during a video call. 

The Pro Display XDR, on the other hand, is simply a monitor itself that targets professionals and nothing more. This means you are going to spend some extra cash on an external webcam, microphone, and set of speakers. 

Color Accuracy

The color accuracy really matters if you do some editing work. Basically, both monitors offer an amazing experience for both editing and content writing. 

Apple Pro Display XDRApple Studio Display
Maximum brightness SDR (nits)500600
Typical brightness SDR500600
Maximum brightness HDR (nits)1,600none
Typical brightness HDR 1,000none
Reference modessRGB, P3-D50 (Adobe RGB alternative), P3-500 nits (Apple display), P3-1600 (native), DCI-P3 (6300K, gamma 2.6), Display P3 (6500K, gamma 2.2), HDR (P3, ST 2084), HD/BT.709, PAL/SECAM, NTSCsRGB, P3-D50 (Adobe RGB alternative), P3-600 (Apple Display, native), DCI-P3 (6300K, gamma 2.6), Display P3 (6500K, gamma 2.2), HD/BT.709, PAL/SECAM, NTSC
HDR supportDolby Vision, HLG (macOS Only)none
Pro Display XDR vs Studio Display – Color Matching. Sources: CNET

However, the main difference lies in the XDR’s support for hardware calibration – a great capability that allows you to create custom profiles stored in hardware. This is something you currently cannot do with the Studio Display. 

The support for hardware calibration allows you to optimize color matching across multiple monitors hooked up to your MacBook, making the XDR a truly workstation-level machine.

If the lack of HDR does not concern you, then the Studio Display is great for editing work. It has almost the same reference modes as the XDR does.

In short, the Pro Display XDR comes out on top thanks to its support for high-level color accuracy, brightness, and HDR support. The 1,600-nit display is perfect for both professional and basic works. The Studio Display, with a lack of HDR support and lower level of brightness, makes itself more like a consumer display.

Final Thoughts

One of the main flaws of the Pro XDR is that it does not ship with a stand in the box. In fact, you can buy an optional Pro stand at $999, which is ridiculously expensive. However, the Pro Stand is undoubtedly a good investment for those who want to work in both portrait and landscape orientation. Meanwhile, the Studio Display comes with your choice of two stands and a VESA mount adapter. 

Both are great monitors you can buy right now. The Studio Display stands out thanks to its set of new features, such as Center Stage, Spatial Audio, and Apple’s A13 chip. It’s the better pick if you want a more affordable option from Apple with a built-in webcam and a set of speakers. 

The Pro Display XDR is more like a workstation monitor that supports HDR and hardware calibration and up to 1,600 nits for great editing experience. However, it’s a two year old monitor, with a predecessor with notable upgrades on the way. 

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