Apple to Drop Thunderbolt Monitor: 4K or 5K Replacement Coming?

The company is ditching its Thunderbolt display as soon as the current stock sells out, according to reports. What will replace it?

Apple, Thunderbolt display, MacBook, Mac, monitors, Retina display

Apple is ending production of its own 27-inch Thunderbolt computer displays, and the product will be phased out as soon as its current inventory runs out, which will soon leave the company without a monitor in its product lineup.

The demise of the Thunderbolt external monitor, however, could mean that Apple is preparing to announce a new 4K or 5K Retina replacement model that would better match its high-end computer models that already feature 4K capabilities, according to a June 23 story by The Verge.

The Thunderbolt display, which retails for $999 and has been available from Apple since July 2011, is a thin-film transistor (TFT) active-matrix LCD display with 2560 by 1440p resolution.

An Apple spokesperson told The Verge that the company is "discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display," though it "will be available through, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last," the article reported. "There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users," the spokesman added.

Apple's dropping the Thunderbolt will likely stir up speculation in the marketplace about what new display or displays the company will announce to take its place.

In April, Apple announced a round of key improvements in some of its MacBook models, including the latest Intel Core M processors, faster graphics performance and flash storage, and as much as an additional hour of battery life. The updates, which also for the first time include a Rose Gold finish on a MacBook, were reported in an earlier eWEEK story.

The latest MacBooks now feature sixth-generation dual-core Intel Core M processors with up to 1.3GHz speeds and faster 1,866MHz memory, as well as new Intel HD Graphics 515 graphics processing units that deliver up to 25 percent faster graphics performance. Faster PCIe-based flash storage also added improved performance, while improvements in battery life now provide up to 10 hours of Web browsing and up to 11 hours of movie playback per charge. In addition, all 13-inch MacBook Air computers get an increased 8GB of memory standard from Apple.

The MacBook continues to feature an all-metal unibody case, a 12-inch Retina display, a full-size keyboard, a Force Touch trackpad and a USB-C port. The machine weighs 2 pounds and is 0.51 inches thick. It comes in gold, silver, Space Gray and the new Rose Gold. The MacBook also has built-in 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity on the go.

A MacBook that comes with a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage retails for $1,299, while a machine with a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m5 processor, 8GB of memory and 512GB of flash storage retails for $1,599.

In March, Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, the smaller iPhone SE, as well as a smaller iPad Pro machine. The iPhone SE has a 4-inch display, a 12-megapixel camera, an improved battery, Apple's latest 64-bit A9 processor and an M9 motion coprocessor. The new phone replaces the iPhone 5s, which debuted in September 2013. The iPhone SE is the first iPhone that can shoot and capture 4K video, according to an earlier eWEEK story. It is priced at $399.99 for a 16GB model or $499.99 for a 32GB version.

The new smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro includes a 64-bit A9 chip, wide-color Retina display, four-speaker audio, 4K video, a 12-megapixel iSight camera, Retina flash and iOS 9.3. It is priced at $729.99 for a 32GB tablet or $879.99 for a 128GB model.