Is Apple Already Stockpiling the 16-inch MacBook Pro?

16 Inch Macbook Pro Concept Credit: Viktor Kadar
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With Apple’s AirPods Pro having made their debut earlier this week, this leaves the elusive 16-inch MacBook Pro as the next Apple product we’re likely to see, but while lots of signs point to it coming very soon, the actual release date remains shrouded in mystery.

Firstly there were the original rumours earlier this year about a new and more expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro that would feature a major redesign and wouldn’t be coming until 2021, but these seemed to be in conflict with reports that the 16-inch MacBook Pro was expected to arrive this fall. In hindsight, it seems likely that, as with Apple’s second-generation AirPods and new AirPods Pro, the rumours were conflating two different products.

With reports that Apple is planning to go with microLED displays for its higher-end MacBooks and iPads, it’s likely that the company is already planning ahead for a major new release of that technology, but at the same time it appears ready to pave the way with a subtler redesign that will replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro while also ditching Apple’s beleaguered butterfly keyboards and provide a larger 16-inch display in the same body size.

With images of the new MacBook Pro found in macOS Catalina, it seemed that the new MacBook Pro launch was imminent — even despite the lack of an October Apple event, there seemed to be no reason that Apple couldn’t slip it out in a press release, and last week we heard from the supply chain that it could be coming by the end this month, and that in fact Apple’s manufacturing partner has already begun shipping it in volume to Apple’s warehouses and stores.

Of course, today is October 31st, which means the rumours of a 16-inch MacBook Pro arriving this month have been greatly exaggerated, and a new report yesterday made us wonder if it had actually been pushed into 2020. However, it also seems that this latest report, which referred to a “MacBook” (not a “MacBook Pro”) using Apple’s new scissor-switch keyboard design could easily be referring to other models in Apple’s laptop lineup.

Already Shipping?

Meanwhile, DigiTimes has doubled-down on its earlier report that Apple has begun receiving volume shipments of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro in the current fourth quarter, although this has yet to be confirmed by any other supply chain reports. Even if true, however, it’s possible that Apple could just be trying to get stock into its warehouses prior to the new tariffs that are expected to begin on Dec. 15.

Although it seems strange that Apple would hold off on releasing the new MacBook Pro if it’s already been manufactured and arriving in its warehouses, it could also simply want to ensure that it has enough units stockpiled before it announces its availability in order to avoid a supply shortage.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that, unlike its new AirPods Pro, Apple’s MacBook Pros aren’t exactly the kind of products that are key to a holiday shopping season, so Apple doesn’t need to follow the same timeline for a 16-inch MacBook Pro announcement as it does for its more consumer-oriented products. The same would appear to be true for the Mac Pro, which is likely still coming by the end of this year, but could quietly be released sometime in November, combined with private briefings for the press, which is not only what Apple did back in 2017 for the iMac Pro, but also what it did even this week with the launch of the new AirPods Pro.

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