If you’ve been putting off buying a new MacBook Pro due to FOMO or indecision, this fall may have the answers you’ve been looking for. Just not right now. Apple’s big event last week unveiled the iPhone 13, the Apple Watch 7, the iPad Mini 6, and an updated entry-level iPad. However, no new MacBooks were shown.
It’s highly likely that the company will launch its MacBook Pros or other new Macs in an October follow-up event, as it has in the past. Gurman also stated in his most recent Power On newsletter that he expects new MacBook Pro models to be released by the end of this year. And, according to reliable rumor-mongering, there may be some significant changes, such as a new higher-powered version of Apple’s M1 processor in all models, a new 14-inch MacBook Pro, new mini LED-based screens similar to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the return of much-missed connectors, and the removal of the unpopular Touch Bar.
This is a foregone conclusion. Apple’s M1 CPU has made its way into the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, 24-inch iMac, Mac Mini, and iPads, but we have yet to see any of Apple’s homegrown silicon in systems for power users. Multiple sources agree that a new version of the CPU will be released – with some claiming that it is already in production – for the larger MacBook (currently with a 16-inch screen) and possibly for upcoming new desktops.
There have also been rumors that the new chip will come in two flavors, both with 10 cores but with different integrated graphics core configurations: 16 or 32. The M1, on the other hand, has eight cores split evenly between performance and power saving, as well as either seven or eight graphics cores. Doubling or quadrupling the number of cores promises significantly improved performance, which, when combined with the tight integration with MacOS, may rival the performance of a discrete AMD GPU. It’s also unclear whether a discrete GPU will be available in the future.
It makes a lot of sense to have two variants.
The two variants could explain why guesses about the new CPU’s name, M1X or M2, haven’t tipped decisively one way or the other.
In terms of Intel offerings, we began hearing predictions in January that there would be no Intel versions of the MacBook Pros, and there have been no indications to the contrary to date. Because of chip shortages, you probably won’t be able to get one right away. There were reports earlier this month that the shortages would at the very least delay shipments until the end of October or early November. And those delays are in addition to the difficulties in producing mini LED-based screens, which may result in only a limited number of laptops being available in 2021.
A 14-inch replacement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, in addition to an upgraded model of a 16-inch MacBook Pro, could mean a 14-inch screen that fits into the chassis roughly the same size as the 13 – thanks to smaller screen bezels. This is consistent with the trend we’ve seen in Windows laptops, as well as the approach Apple took when switching from 15-inch to 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
Unfortunately, everyone anticipates a price increase for the 14-inch model over the 13-inch, beginning near the top of the latter’s price range. Given the higher cost of screen technology and current scarcity, I wouldn’t be surprised. It begs the question of whether Apple will continue to offer the M1-based MacBook Pro 13 as a lower-cost option.
A mini LED-backlit display appears to be another given, and a very welcome one: It would enable MacBook Pros to support HDR at higher brightness and with improved local dimming, which is essential for video editing or producing content for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and its mini LED-based screen. Hopefully, it will be accompanied by an update that will enable the MacBook Pro to play HDR content in 4K resolution.