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Apple Studio Display camera update in the works to address quality complaints

Apple Studio Display with MacBook Pro (2019) connected and playing music via Spotify
(Image credit: Future)

Reviews of the Apple Studio Display have generally been positive. Our own Apple Studio Display review praised the monitor for its gorgeous 27-inch 5K screen, fantastic speaker setup and excellent webcam. However, we’re one of the few sites that gave the camera any sort of praise, as many reviewers thought that its image quality was subpar. To that end, Apple announced that it would soon release a software patch to correct this issue, as Input reported last week.

Editors' Note: The firmware is out, and we've posted the results of our Apple Studio Display image quality tests after installing the update.

In his review of the Apple Studio Display, Senior Editor Alex Wawro said he was happy with the quality of both the images and video he captured of himself with the 12MP ultrawide camera. It’s rare for him (and I, to be honest) to heap much praise on a webcam. But considering how the Studio Display effectively has the same camera as the recently-released Apple iPad Air, this sentiment didn’t come as a surprise.

The major criticism Alex levied against the camera was that Apple's Center Stage feature isn't nearly as useful on a monitor. Center Stage works great on portable devices like the iPad Pro since you can set up for wide shots or walk someone through a process (like cooking or building something). On the stationary Studio Display, Center Stage isn’t as useful unless you tend to walk around in front of your monitor. He also noticed some discrepancies in the image quality delivered by the Studio Display in different video chat apps (Google Meet vs FaceTime, for example) conducting some further testing to see how true that is.

Apple Studio Display showing Wheel of Time playing

(Image credit: Future)

However, other reviewers had much harsher criticism of the Studio Display’s built-in webcam. The Verge’s Nilay Patel said the webcam “looks awful in good light and downright miserable in low light.” The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern compared the Studio Display’s webcam to those found in the iPhone 11 Pro, 14-inch MacBook Pro and LG Ultrafine 5K and found it delivered “grainy and washed out images, even in good lighting.”

After the reviews were published, Apple contacted some reviewers to say that the company had “discovered an issue where the system is not behaving as expected” and that it would “make improvements” in a future software update. We contacted Apple to verify this and ask when users can expect it to arrive, but were given no details other than confirmation Apple is indeed working on an update. 

So while we don't know when to expect the patch for Apple's new monitor to drop, it will be interesting to see how the webcam’s quality changes after the patch has gone live. We'll be working on testing it out ourselves, so be sure to check back for the latest updates.

Tony Polanco
Tony Polanco

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.