The next MacBook Pro: WWDC launch likely but mini-LED may be delayed
With the continuation of the Apple silicon rollout, the MacBook Pro could see some major changes soon. The company will likely take the opportunity of the new models based on Apple silicon to introduce new designs, features, and refinements. This article keeps track of the most creditable reports of the upcoming MacBook Pro, so turn to this page for the latest and greatest.
2021 MacBook Pro: The latest rumors
A recent report from DigiTimes, which has a spotty track record for rumors but is more accurate when it comes to shipping, says the mini-LED displays won’t be arriving until later in the year. The site reports that “volume production of the 14-inch MacBook Pro is likely to begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, and the 16-inch model will start in the first quarter of 2022.”
MacRumors reports that Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, who previously predicted the new iMac at Apple’s Spring Loaded event, reports that the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros will arrive at WWDC on June 7. Additionally, the site has spotted a new model identifier A2527 rated at 8,693 mAh/11.45V in a Chinese regulatory database, which matches up with what would be the next 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Jon Prosser is extremely confident the new MacBook Pro will launch at WWDC, writing on Twitter that he “can confirm macbook pro is coming” at the developer’s conference in June.
A couple of Twitter rumors have seemingly leaked small but significant details about the next MacBook Pro. iOS developer Dylandkt—who previously predicted the M1 in the iMac—claims the MacBook’s chip will be branded as the M1X and bring “more thunderbolt channels, more cpu cores, more gpu cores, and greater power draw.” As 9to5Mac has spotted, the same account also tweeted in January that the “upcoming MacBook Pro models may not feature a logo on the bottom bezel.” It’s unclear if that would be due to space or cleanliness, like the new iMac.
2021 MacBook Pro: Sizes, design and colors
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple will release a “redesigned” MacBook Pro this summer. It will be available in 14- and 16-inch models; Gurman did not state if the current 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro will undergo any design changes, though iOS developer Dylandkt tweeted in January that the “upcoming MacBook Pro models may not feature a logo on the bottom bezel.”
Analyst Ming Chi-Kuo said in a research note (via MacRumors) that the laptop will see a redesign in 2021. In an earlier note from May 2020 (via MacRumors), Kuo said that Apple is working on a 14-inch MacBook Pro—essentially, a transformation of the higher-end 13-inch models, similar to what happened when Apple released the 16-inch MacBook Pro to replace the 15-inch models. It’s unclear if the lower-end 13-inch MacBook Pro would remain in the lineup if a 14-inch version is revealed.
Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech reports that Apple will release a MacBook Air or a reintroduction of the MacBook in color offerings and a white bezel similar to those of the new 24-inch iMac. If Apple is using colors in its consumer-level products, it’s possible that Apple sticks with the space gray and silver options for the higher-end, which includes the MacBook Pro. And according to a tweet by previously accurate Dylandkt, the MacBook Pro branding might be removed.
2021 MacBook Pro: Mini LED displays
In March 2020, analyst Ming Chi-Kuo released a note reporting on Apple’s use of mini LEDs in new products, including the 2021 versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple already launched its first mini LED screen in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, so it’s clear Apple is already working on the tech.
However, a recent report from DigiTimes claims that “volume production of the 14-inch MacBook Pro is likely to begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, and the 16-inch model will start in the first quarter of 2022,” so it’s possible that Apple releases a mini LED option later in the year. It seems unlikely that Apple would launch a MacBook Pro that doesn’t ship for six months or more, so the first models might have the same retina LCD displays as the current MacBooks.
Mini-LED is a backlighting technology for displays, but several more LEDs are used than what is currently implemented. This results in better control of the backlight, better image contrast, and greater dynamic range. If Apple’s description of the iPad Pro is any indication, the new display will deliver “true-to-life detail with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio … (and) breathtaking 1000 nits of full‑screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness.”
2021 MacBook Pro: MagSafe and ports
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that the MacBook Pro that will be released this summer will have a MagSafe charger, an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and “more Thunderbolt ports” (the current 13-inch MacBook Pro has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports; the current Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports.)
Analyst Ming Chi-Kuo (via MacRumors) said in a research note that MagSafe will be on the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Introduced in Mac laptops in 2006, MagSafe was a magnetic power adapter connector that could easily disconnect from the laptop using non-axial force—tugs from angles other than straight away. Its implementation meant that if the laptop was plugged in and for whatever reason, the cable was tripped over or pulled, the connection would break and the laptop would be spared from flying off the work surface. MagSafe was a separate, dedicated plug for power, however, and disappeared when Apple switched to USB-C connectors in 2016. The USB-C connectors support battery charging but do not have a breakaway connector.
Apple has transitioned to Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports in its M1 Macs, and Apple will continue with this in upcoming models.
2021 MacBook Pro: End of the Touch Bar
The Touch Bar is a polarizing feature of the higher-end MacBook Pro models—those who dislike it are quite expressive about it, while people who like it don’t really say much (at least it seems that way). In a January 2021 note, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the OLED Touch Bar will be replaced by function keys. Apple introduced the Touch Bar in 2016 to replace the function keys with “a brilliant, Retina-quality Multi-Touch display,” but it has been a decisive feature.
2021 MacBook Pro: M-series processor and other specs
A Twitter rumor have seemingly leaked small but significant details about the next MacBook Pro. iOS developer Dylandkt—who previously predicted the M1 in the iMac—claims the MacBook’s chip will be branded as the M1X and bring “more thunderbolt channels, more cpu cores, more gpu cores, and greater power draw.”
The speculation for Apple silicon in the higher-end MacBook Pro models is that Apple will use this opportunity to reveal the next in line in the M-series. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple’s “redesigned” 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro will have Apple’s system on a chip that features a 10-core CPU (eight performance cores and two efficiency cores), 16 or 32 graphics core options, a maximum of 64GB of memory, and an “improved Neural Engine.”
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg reported that it’s possible that at the end of 2021, the 13-inch MacBook Pro will have a new System on a Chip that replaces the M1. The new SoC will be faster but have eight CPU cores (four performance cores, four efficiency cores) like the M1. The graphics cores will increase from eight to ten.
Apple has been rumored to be including 5G and Face ID support in its laptops, but Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that those features do not appear “to be coming soon.”
2021 MacBook Pro: Price and release
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple will release the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro with Apple silicon this summer. Jon Prosser and Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives both predicted a WWDC launch for the new notebooks. DigiTimes, which has a spotty track record for rumors but is more accurate when it comes to shipping, says that “volume production of the 14-inch MacBook Pro is likely to begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, and the 16-inch model will start in the first quarter of 2022.”
Prices have not been leaked but based on prior Apple silicon launches, the 16-inch model will likely still start at $2,399, with the 14-inch MacBook Pro possibly taking the place of the $1,799 13-inch MacBook Pro. It is not clear if the current 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro will remain in the lineup.
Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he’s worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, and TechTV.
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