So, earlier this week, I jotted down my thoughts on what we might expect from the next 16” MacBook Pro.
If you’ve read the recently-surfaced rumours about Apple’s MacBook lineup this year – go on, have a laugh.
No ‘Touch Bar-free’ version, I said. No return of MagSafe. No significant redesign.
As always, my thoughts were immediately followed by rumours which appear to boot all of my predictions into the “well, you wish you hadn’t said that” bin.
Such is the joy of covering Apple stuff, right? But this is why I love it. And the latest round of rumours are indeed fascinating.
Here’s my take on the MacRumors report.
Both 14” and 16” versions are on the way
At least I got one thing right; it’s increasingly likely the 16” MacBook Pro is going to receive an update this year.
So too, it seems, is the 13” MacBook Pro, which is reportedly going to be dealt a similar, minor jump in screen size as the now discontinued 15” MacBook Pro.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also suggests there is going to be a new “flat-edged design” similar to the iPhone 12 which ditches the current MacBook line’s curved corners. MacRumors goes as far as calling it “the most significant design update to the MacBook Pro in the last five years”.
But I’m still not sure. Even if the design refresh is indeed coming in 2021, I don’t think the net result will be all that different. Flat edges and the end of rounded corners isn’t particularly revolutionary – it’s just a small evolution of the current design. Will it appear strikingly different when placed next to the current generation? I have my doubts.
But that’s fine! It’s the same deal with smartphones; they’re slabs of rectangular glass and metal – you can’t do a whole lot with them other than make minor tweaks.
I just hope Apple doesn’t attempt to make these devices any thinner. It really isn’t needed, no matter how thermal efficient the M series chips are.
Bye-bye, Touch Bar
If Ming-Chi Kuo is to be believed (and he’s worth listening to), the next MacBook Pro will finally ditch the Touch Bar.
This is a hugely divisive topic. I come across people within the comments threads of my YouTube videos who love it and whom customise it to offer genuine benefits for their workload.
Personally, I find it nothing more than an annoyance. I use it, because it’s the only way to raise and lower the brightness and volume on my 16” MacBook Pro. That’s it. But having recently switched to the M1 MacBook Air for my daily laptop duties, I’ve realised just how needlessly over-engineered the Touch Bar is. Function keys work perfectly.
As u-turns go, this has clearly been a difficult one for Apple. They’ve put it off for as long as they can in an attempt to say “look, we think you need this” for as long as possible.
The truth? Most people don’t. If the Touch Bar goes, only a core group of enthusiasts will miss it.
Additional ports and MagSafe
Let’s deal with MagSafe first.
Hands up: I don’t really miss it. This occurred to me yesterday when I first read about the rumours. Sure, MagSafe was an ingenious and genuinely useful design, but I’ve not once cursed its non-existence since Apple opted for USB-C charging on its laptops. Indeed, the convenience of USB-C far outweighs the benefits of a tug-proof charging cable.
However, if MagSafe indeed returns in USB-C form later this year, that’ll make a great many people happy. And Apple knows it. It’s also an impressive u-turn; I like it when big companies admit they screwed up.
As for additional ports – this is the one rumour I can’t quite get my head around. Does it mean a return of an SD card slot (I really hope so)? A mini HDMI port maybe?
Beyond USB-C, I’m struggling to think what Apple would do here apart from simply adding more USB-C ports. Maybe someone can help me in the comments!
”No Intel chips included”
Well, there’s a surprise.
In fact, what did surprise me in this report is the lack of information relating to the M series chips that’ll be encased within these new MacBooks.
That interest me – and, I suspect, many others – far more than the design tweaks. What power are we likely to see unleashed by the new wave of MacBook Pros? My previous predictions remain for that – until I’m told otherwise.
Ming-Chi Kuo tells us to expect these new MacBooks in the third quarter of 2021. So, that’s at least one other thing I got right.
Hey-ho. You can’t win ‘em all.