If Apple’s macOS ran on the iPhone, how would it work?

Earlier this week, leaker Mauri QHD tweeted that Apple is working on prototypes with Apple Silicon-powered macOS running on the iPhone, which would allow a user to plug an iPhone into a dock or monitor, and have a full desktop experience.

Image: iPhone 12 render (image via svetapple.sk)
iPhone 12 render (image via svetapple.sk)

Jonny Evans for Apple Must:

While this is mere speculation and even if the company were to be testing this out it may simply be to test the processor potential, I had to spend a little time imagining how this might work.

The claim is that you’ll be able to dock your iPhone to a monitor to access a full desktop Mac environment.

I’d imagine this would also involve use of an external control device, such as a mouse. I see this as being deeply tied to your Apple ID and your iCloud Drive. These would generate Mac states that would appear when you connected your iPhone to a supported device…

With current generation iPad Pros now running the same chip as the one found inside Apple’s Developer Transition Kits, some might begin to ponder the idea that iPads will already be running macOS in Apple’s labs.

Why not run both?

MacDailyNews Take: Color Jonny skeptical as this isn’t a technical issue (after all, macOS runs on the Apple Developer Transition Kit which is basically an iPad in a Mac mini case), but it may be more of a business decision that prevents, for example, an iPad Pro from acting like an iPad (running iPadOS) when used as a tablet and magically transforming into a Mac (running macOS) when attached to a Magic Keyboard.


  1. If you look at the current Developer Test Kit that Apple is shipping, it has an A12Z SoC mated to 16GB RAM to run macOS. Unless the iPad or iPhone include significantly more RAM, I don’t see how Apple is going to pull this off.

    1. How about, as MDN has posited, a MacBook Pro which, when you remove the screen, becomes an iPad Pro? Would be nothing for Apple to put iPad components (SOC, RAM) into the screen of a MBP.

      1. “a MacBook Pro which, when you remove the screen, becomes an iPad Pro? ”

        I can definitely see this happening. But an iPhone or iPad running macOS, without enough RAM, is a tough one.

    2. Apple engineering and product teams are quite capable.

      (1) Yes, they can add RAM.
      (2) They can strip RAM requirements from macOS dramatically. When iPhone shipped, with a variant of MacOS X, it had only 128MB of RAM. Apple achieved this feat by aggressively swapping to FLASH, such that only one app, and only those libraries actually in use, were in RAM, only loading those localized resources that you actually need right now, and so on. Some of these low-RAM accommodations could be back-ported to macOS.
      (3) They can use external RAM in a dock. So if you want to hook your iPhone up to a 5K monitor, you just plug it into a new dock that contains plenty-o-RAM, a high-power GPU, and more USB-C ports.

  2. I am presuming if this comes about it would likely be a few years away and most like exclusive to top end ‘Pro Pro’ models or Pro models that can have the facility turned on at an extra cost in some way not unlike what MDN has visualised for pro iPads in recent years. Otherwise this is equally a test bed to evaluate not only what it can do for an existing phone but if it warrants something new, if closely related device altogether sometime in the future.

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