Apple’s Flagship 16-Inch MacBook Pro Will Spell the End of the 15-Inch Model

16 Inch Macbook Pro Credit: Viktor Kádár
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We’ve been hearing rumours of a mysterious new 16-inch MacBook Pro since February, although it’s been less clear as to exactly what Apple has in store for this new flagship MacBook and when we may actually see it arrive — some have suggested a late 2019 release, while other reports pegged it as a major redesign that’s in the works for 2021.

Now a new report from IHS Markit, via Forbes, not only reiterates that the 16-inch premium MacBook is coming very soon, but sheds a bit more light on exactly where it’s going to fit into Apple’s lineup.

IHS Markit analyst Jeff Lin, who already went on the record in June predicting a September release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, is now back with a few more salient details, including a production timeline and some specs on the device. According to Lin, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is expected to begin production next month, which could push the release timeline off a bit from his original September prediction, and Apple is expected to begin cranking out 39,000 units per month.

16-inch is the New 15-inch

More significantly, however, Lin says that the new 16-inch MacBook Pro will be a replacement for Apple’s current 15-inch MacBook Pro, spelling the end of the line for the 15.4-inch screen size. According to Lin, Apple plans to end production for the 15 inch MacBook Pro in November, shifting it over to the new 16-inch models instead.

If true, this would be a bit surprising considering that Apple just refreshed its entire MacBook Pro lineup over the past three months, with some pretty healthy upgrades to the 15-inch MacBook Pros. The top of the line models gained an insanely powerful Intel ninth-generation octo-core CPU based on the bleeding edge Coffee Lake HR architecture, and in fact the Intel i9-9980HK CPU found in that model is the pinnacle of Intel’s ninth-gen mobile chips, and it was quite an engineering feat for Apple to squeeze it into the MacBook Pro’s classic slim form factor.

Still, it wouldn’t be entirely unprecedented for Apple to do such a thing, especially if it’s to make room for a significant redesign — something that hasn’t happened in a while. Although Apple doesn’t typically release major MacBook updates so close together, it did happen back in 2013 with the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and for a far less exceptional update than a new 16-inch MacBook Pro would represent.

An Expensive Powerhouse

By all reports, however, this new 16-inch MacBook Pro is going to pick up the baton from the just-refreshed 15-inch and run with it even further, likely taking the first big step toward more significant upgrades to come.

According to Lin, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is going to also use the latest Intel Coffee Lake HR chips — the same ones found on the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro — but may in fact start using the 8-core chips as a baseline configuration. This would certainly explain other recent rumours that this could be the most expensive MacBook that Apple has ever released, with prices starting at $3,000. While some believed that would put it into the same class as Apple’s long-retired 17-inch MacBook Pro, which previously held that pricing distinction, the fact that it’s replacing the 15-inch model suggests that it’s going to be the new normal for Apple’s high-end MacBooks, rather than a higher tier.

Everything Else We Know

Lin also previously reported that the new MacBook Pro will feature an LG-made LCD display with a resolution of 3072 x 1920, and the same 227 ppi pixel density of Apple’s other recent MacBooks. This would make it the highest-resolution screen that Apple has ever put on a MacBook, since the larger 17-inch MacBook Pro was discontinued before Apple’s switch to Retina Displays.

It also seems likely that Apple isn’t planning to increase the footprint of the new MacBook Pro, but will instead shrink the bezel to get a larger screen into a similar device, with supply chain reports suggesting the company is working on an “ultra-narrow bezel” that could result in an almost edge-to-edge display akin to Apple’s iPhone X series devices.

Apple is also expected to ditch the problematic butterfly keyboard in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, in favour of a return to the old “scissor-switch” style with a much-improved new design. The new keyboards will likely eventually come to all of Apple’s MacBooks, as the butterfly keyboards have turned out to be a big thorn in the company’s side, but it does seem reasonable that a redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro would be an ideal place to debut the new design.

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