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Apple tries to fix its most controversial product fail of 2022

When Apple announced the Studio Display alongside the Mac Studio last month, creatives were thrilled at the prospect of an official Apple display that didn't cost upwards of $5,000. But enthusiasm quickly diminished when the thing started to ship, thanks to some pretty ugly webcam issues.

Critics and users alike decried the terrible quality of the webcam, on a device that Apple had trumpeted a week before as the "best combination of camera and audio ever in a desktop display." Apple swiftly promised to put things right with a software update – but now it's here, are things really that much better? Let's just say you might still want to give the rest of our best 4K monitors a look.

Apple Studio display

The Studio Display hasn't got off to an auspicious start (Image credit: Apple/Future owns)

Available with today’s beta release of macOS Monterey 12.4, the firmware update for the Studio Display offers "refinements to the Studio Display camera tuning, including improved noise reduction, contrast, and framing." 

Early adopters claimed that the webcam is actually, well, dire – with one reviewer even comparing it to that of an "old Blackberry". "It looks awful in good light, and downright miserable in low light," says The Verge (opens in new tab), while The Wall Street Journal's (opens in new tab) Joanna Stern claimed it made her look "like the star of a ‘90s home video." Ouch. In our own Apple Studio Display review, we called the webcam quality underwhelming.

Studio Display in modern office

The Studio Display and Mac Studio in action  (Image credit: Future)

But while they' offer an improvement, it seems Apple's tweaks still aren't doing lots to justify the Studio Display's $1,599 price tag. MacRumors says "there are noticeable quality updates, but the difference is subtle. Colours are not as pale, there's improved contrast, and the overall look is a bit more vibrant. Depending on lighting, there isn't a huge difference in sharpness, but the changes seem to be an overall net improvement." 

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Meanwhile, Twitter users aren't hugely impressed with the update. "I don’t understand why this is so bad. It’s worst than the $329 iPad," one user tweets, while another adds, "I don’t understand how Apple’s Studio Display webcam is so bad, even with a software “fix.” Apple markets this webcam as a “sensational camera,” but it’s sensationally [poo emoji]."

Indeed, with the software update still underwhelming users, many are beginning to wonder if it's a fundamental hardware issue rather than something that can easily be fixed via a software update. And if that's the case then, yeah, this is going to remain a difficult piece of kit to recommend. Still, at least the Mac Studio itself is blowing users away.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).