Best Mac for iOS programming

Hi all,

Here’s another “Which Mac should I buy question.” A buddy of mine is switching jobs and has to return his Intel Mac to his company. Thus, he needs to buy a new Mac. He is a power user (years ago, he worked for NeXT). He would like to do some iOS programming. M3 Mac Book Pro? Is the M2 Air good enough?

I’m rocking my M1 Air; it works fine for my podcasting and light video editing.

Thanks for your thoughts!

It will depend on the size of the projects they’re working on and their budget. An Air or Mac Mini will do the job, but a MacBook Pro with the M3 pro, or the M3 Max will be so much faster, as would the Mac Studio

The Air or Mini would likely be more than sufficient. I get the impression this is more hobby side than full professional so if budget is a concern, stick with the Air. It will do most everything, just maybe a bit slower. Even then, the differences could be very modest if the project is new/small.

For context, I am a developer though all backend server stuff. I’ve never done Obj C or Swift but the stuff I do is typically way more memory intensive than what you’d deal with under iOS. An Air would be perfectly fine assuming I spec up the RAM enough. I got the Pro (M1 Pro) because I wanted more ram and the better screen.

I can not attest by experience but … I can imagine at some point wishing to have a second monitor attached to show the mock-up of the iOS screen while working on the code base in the main screen. The Air lines may not perform as well in such a case. Coming off the Intel mac base, your buddy will find that any M chip will be a significant step up in performance. Why M3 MBP vs M2 Air? Why not go with a stronger performing M2 MBP?


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If he’s serious about doing this development, M3 Max unless he wants to buy a refurb. If he’s dabbling, just about anything would work, but he sounds like someone who’d prefer the faster processors in general.

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Re: a second monitor for the laptop.

I’ve just bought the LG Gram View+ from Amazon in the Black Friday sale. ( LG Electronics 16MR70, 16-inch +view Portable Monitor gram).

It’s a 16" 2560*1600 portable monitor which runs from the USBC port, and doesn’t need an external power source.

Retail price is £300 according to LG. I got it for £169 on Friday, but it’s £199 today… I’m really impressed with it for my purposes (I want an A4 portrait monitor for my Mac Studio and its fully rotatable).

It gets very good reviews, so perhaps it’s an option for those who don’t want to be tied to a desk for the extra space?

I’m an iOS developer, currently working on a company provided MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019) with a custom configuration (2.3 Ghz 8-Core Intel Core i9 CPU, 32 GB of RAM, 1 TB SSD), but considering buying a personal MacBook (for the first time).

I have no experience yet with Apple Silicon (except for the M1 Mac mini’s that we use as build slaves), so eager to learn more from replies in this thread.

I have done hobby development in Xcode for a number of years. My current machine is the base level M1 MacBook Pro. In other words, except for having a fan which reduces throttling, it is the wimpiest Apple Silicon Mac ever produced and it’s completely fine with Xcode.

The real struggle would be if they had no external screen. Xcode doesn’t play nice on a small screen.

How much RAM does your Mac have?

16 GB. Xcode is probably one of the scenarios where 8 GB is inadvisable, though despite all the hand wringing over the “lowest model” 8 GB recently, I have no evidence to say it won’t work, nor how well if it does.