We’ve been hearing rumours for months that Apple is working on a new 16-inch MacBook Pro, and while many had hoped that it would herald a massive redesign, if images found in the latest betas of macOS Catalina are any indication, it seems that the actual results may be slightly underwhelming.
Although there had been speculatation we might not see the new MacBook until sometime next year, a report from DigiTimes, shared by MacRumors, reveals that it could be available by the end of October. In fact, according to the report, Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer has already begun volume shipments of the new MacBook Pro, which if true means they’re already on their way to Apple’s warehouses and stores.
The reports of a 16-inch MacBook Pro have been somewhat mixed, but most of the recent rumours have suggested a late 2019 release, which seems like it would be in line with a more modest refresh than a complete redesign. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Apple’s current “15-inch” MacBook Pro has a screen that actually measures 15.4 inches, with Apple simply rounding down to the nearest whole number. A full 16-inch screen wouldn’t require a significant change, and in fact with the way Apple rounds these numbers, it could even be a less significant increase — a 15.6 or 15.8 inch screen would still round up to 16 inches. By the same token, however, a 16.4-inch screen would also of course still qualify to be called a “16-inch MacBook Pro.”
Even an increase to above 16.0 inches would still be doable in a MacBook Pro of a similar design, with Apple simply decreasing the bezels around the edges of the screen, which corresponds to the images found in Catalina.
In fact, IHS Markit analyst Jeff Lin, who was one of the first to peg a fall release date for the new MacBook Pro, suggested that we’d see a screen resolution bump to 3072 x 1920, which may seem like a modest bump from the 2880 x 1800 screen of the current 15-inch MacBook Pro, but assuming the new device maintains the same Retina Display pixel density of the current 15-inch MacBook Pro — 220 ppi — this resolution would work out to a screen size of close to 16.5 inches.
One Small but Significant Improvement
Instead, Apple will be going with a new “scissor-switch” keyboard design, which is actually a return to the keyboard style used on its pre-2015 MacBooks, Apple will be implementing it an entirely new way, with glass-fibre reinforced keys. This will hopefully resolve the reliability problems that have plagued Apple’s MacBooks for the past few years, and help to restore consumer confidence in Apple’s MacBook lineup.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro will likely just be the leader of the pack here, however, with Apple expected to adopt the new keyboard design on its entire MacBook lineup starting next year.
The DigitTimes report suggests that the new MacBook Pro will also include Intel’s latest Coffee Lake Refresh CPUs, but could even include Ice Lake processors. The latter seems less likely, however, as Intel hasn’t yet announced the kind of Ice Lake chips that Apple would likely want to use in a higher-end MacBook Pro.
Is a Bigger Redesign on the Horizon?
Contrary to earlier rumours, the 16-inch MacBook Pro won’t be a new model in Apple’s lineup, but will rather be a replacement for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, and it’s certainly looking more and more like an iteration rather than a whole new design.
That said, there have still been reliable predictions of an all-new MacBook Pro design coming in 2021, and in fact it seems that these rumours may have been conflated with the more minor bump that we’re about to see. In short, it’s quite possible that Apple has been working on not one, but two 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
The 2021 model might simply build on what Apple is doing this year, but in the very least the company is expected to have its microLED technology and ARM-based Mac chips in play by then, and it seems very much Apple’s style to accompany such a major shift in technology with some fundamental design changes.