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Although it’s not exactly a big secret that Apple is planning to hold a spring event, it’s always a bit of a mystery as to exactly what will get announced, and when. Now, a new supply chain report is mixing things up a bit, with hints that Apple could be ready to announce a new M2-powered MacBook Pro as soon as next month.
According to a report from DigiTimes, workers in Apple’s Chinese supply chain didn’t get much of a holiday this year for the Lunar New Year. Instead, industry sources say that all the factories kept running at full tilt to crank out new MacBook Pro units expected to launch in early March.
If true — and that’s still a bit of a stretch — this would mean that Apple’s rumored March 8 event might be about more than just the 5G iPhone SE and the iPad Air 5.
Although Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman managed to pin down the date of Apple’s event last week, he didn’t offer much insight on what we could expect from it beyond a next-generation iPhone SE model with 5G capabilities. Gurman did suggest that Apple has “at least one new Mac” to show off this spring, but the consensus has been on a new 27-inch iMac or higher-end Mac mini, both of which have yet to get the Apple Silicon treatment at all.
In fact, in the very same edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman acknowledged that a new entry-level MacBook Pro is coming, but added that “I don’t think it’s imminent by any means.”
Gurman also shared that while the new MacBook Pro would gain Apple’s next-gen M2 chip, and likely feature the design of its higher-end siblings, it likely won’t get other premium features like ProMotion or mini-LED displays, or the same kind of storage and memory capacities. For all intents and purposes, it sounds as if we can expect the most affordable MacBook Pro to remain more in MacBook Air territory.
However, this also means it’s not outside the realm of possibility for Apple to have a new MacBook Pro ready to go. The 14-inch design has already been finalized from the lineup released last fall, so the only real question is whether Apple has the M2 chip ready, and of course, if a spring release fits into its plans.
This last part is what makes us particularly skeptical, however. Even if Apple was already sitting on a massive stockpile of new M2 silicon, that doesn’t mean the timing is right. When Apple unveiled its first M1 chip, the MacBook Air was arguably the headline of that event, with the MacBook Pro and lower-end Mac mini rounding out the cast of new Macs.
From a marketing standpoint, that made a lot of sense. Apple was putting its best entry-level MacBooks forward in the form of the MacBook Air, while not putting too much light on the fact that the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini were the second-tier models of products that were otherwise still running on Intel.
That landscape has changed since, of course, with the higher-end MacBook Pro models having already adopted the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Still, bumping the lower-end MacBook Pro to an M2 chip right would put it in an even stranger place in relation to the rest of the MacBook family.
Until now, we’ve basically assumed that Apple would follow suit later this year with the introduction of a completely redesigned MacBook Air that packs in the M2 chip being the keynote for a fall Mac event.
Of course, it’s also conceivably possible that the new MacBook Air is in the cards for next month too, but that would be an even bigger surprise. Rumors last year did suggest a spring 2022 launch for the new MacBook Air, but more recent reports have suggested that’s been pushed back to the fall, if for no other reason than the fact that Apple is still struggling with supply chain issues.
So, until we hear further confirmation, it’s probably a good idea to take this one with a healthy dose of salt. Publications like DigiTimes and their supply chain sources can often be very accurate about the details of what Apple is working on, but they also tend to miss the forest for the trees, since it’s hard for them to see the bigger picture.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]