New MacBook Pro models are expected to arrive later this year with some of the biggest improvements to the product line to date, including some surprising changes, so this is not the best time to buy a new MacBook Pro.
With major upgrades expected from key features such as chipset, monitor, touchline, charging, ports and design, customers looking at a new MacBook Pro can better wait for updated models to arrive later this year.
Most of the credible rumors surrounding the new MacBook Pros are taken from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, who has established a reputation for providing accurate insights into Apple’s plans. Based on their reports, the 2021 MacBook Pro series is currently expected:
- New 14-inch model instead of the current 13.3-inch model, made possible by reduced frames.
- New, flatter design, said to be “similar to iPhone 12.”
- More powerful next-generation Apple Silicon chips with up to 16 power cores and four efficiency cores instead of Intel processors.
- Potentially a custom Apple Silicon GPU with 16 or 32 cores.
- Updated thermal design for the 14-inch model, currently used by the existing 16-inch MacBook Pro, with a larger heat cord, extra heating pads and a 35 percent larger heat sink.
- “Brighter, higher contrast” display panels, with the option of a mini-LED option.
- Additional ports to reduce the need for dongles, including an SD card reader.
- MagSafe connector with faster charging speeds.
- No touch line, with physical function key row instead.
The 2021 MacBook Pros is expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, with the new 14-inch model replacing the current 13.3-inch model. It is likely that the 14-inch MacBook Pro will retain a very similar footprint as the 13.3-inch model by reducing the frames around the screen.
Both models are expected to receive a flat-edged design similar to the iPhone 12. While it is possible that the overall look may still be quite similar to today’s models as Gurman suggests, Kuo says that Apple will eliminate the slight curvature at the top and bottom, resulting in a slimmer, flatter look.
Following the launch of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which received a M1 chip in November last year, all 2021 MacBook Pro models are expected to have Apple Silicon chips, with Intel processors being phased out completely, to provide significantly better performance and efficiency.
The advanced MacBook Pro models most likely feature Apple Silicon chips that are more powerful than the M1, and Apple is expected to develop alternatives with as many as 16 power cores and four efficiency cores. Apple is also working on custom GPU technology with 16- and 32-core options, which can be used in the new MacBook Pros.
It is believed that the 14-inch MacBook Pro adopts the improved terms of the current 16-inch MacBook Pro model, with a larger heat cord, extra heating pads and a 35 percent larger heat sink. This is likely to increase the machine’s performance potential and allow it to run at cooler temperatures.
The MacBook Pro is expected to receive a “brighter, higher contrast” display panel. In addition, there have been suggestions that the updated machines will be the first Macs to have mini-LED screens, which marks a significant improvement in screen quality, with an improved wide color range, higher contrast and dynamic range, and truer blacks .
Apple is also expected to go back on several of its controversial design decisions that were first made with the 2016 MacBook Pro. For example, the 2021 models will reportedly have more ports to reduce the need for dongles. Previous models from 2012 to 2015 included a agMagSafe connector, Thunderbolt ports, USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headphone jack, before being reduced to just four USB-C ports and a headphone jack in 2016.
Although it is largely unclear which ports may come with the MacBook Pro in addition to the current range of USB-C ports, Gurman has said that the SD card reader will be among the restored features.
AgMagSafe charging is also expected to return to the MacBook Pro this year. AgMagSafe connectors were used for MacBook Pro models from 2006, allowing users to easily connect and disconnect the power cable with magnets, before eliminating the USB-C charging feature alone in 2016.
Both Kuo and Gurman expect the new MacBook Pro models to be equipped with a “MagSafe” charging socket, which is also expected to achieve faster charging speeds than via USB-C.
Finally, Apple wants to remove the touch bar and restore the physical function key. Apple introduced the TouchPad on the MacBook Pros 2016, providing a small OLED touchscreen strip along the top of the keyboard to offer customizable controls and various features per app, but the TouchPad never seemed to catch on with consumers.
Gurman has confirmed that Apple has tested versions of the MacBook Pro that do not have a touch line, and Kuo has gone a step further and said that the touch line will be removed completely on the 2021 MacBook Pro models, and will be replaced by the physical function keys.
What about the M1 MacBook Pro or Air?
Last November, Apple unveiled a 13-inch MacBook Pro with an enM1 Apple Silicon chip, so some customers may feel compelled to buy this fairly new MacBook Pro now. However, it is important to note that this model is a lower quality MacBook Pro, indicated by the fact that it only has two Thunderbolt ports. Apple still offers advanced MacBook Pros with four ports and Intel processors, and it is these more powerful computers that are expected to be updated this year.
The M1 MacBook Air is very similar to the M1 MacBook Pro in both features and performance, so it should be considered if you want to buy a machine right now.
Several sources have placed the new MacBook Pro launch frame in the second half of 2021, with Kuo zoning in the third quarter of 2021. This means we can see the updated MacBook Pros coming as soon as July.
MacBook Pro customers can therefore expect to have to wait just five to seven months for the new models. Given the scale of the update, which seems to drastically affect almost every aspect of the MacBook Pro, it seems worth the wait.
We have more about the current MacBook Pro models and the upcoming redesigned MacBook Pro models in our dedicated 13-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro kits.