Following several years during which Apple was accused of neglecting its Mac lineup, the company has recently been on fire — it’s only half way through 2019 and we’ve already seen updates to its entire MacBook lineup, with the mid-range and high-end MacBook Pros getting a nice refresh in May, and then Apple surprising us this month by updating its entire Retina MacBook Air line-up less than a year after its prior release, and bringing the entry-level MacBook Pro into the Touch Bar family.
So at this point, we’d have every reason to believe that Apple’s MacBook lineup is locked in for a while. It’s certainly the simplest and clearest layout for the product family that Apple has had in a long time, and with the discontinuation of the 12-inch MacBook, every MacBook Apple is now selling is a brand new 2019 model, with nothing left hanging on from previous years.
However, according to supply chain reports, it looks like Apple is not even close to calling it a year in terms of its MacBooks. According to Economic Daily News, as reported by MacRumors, there’s another MacBook Pro coming in October.
An All-New MacBook Pro?
We’ve heard a lot of rumours circulating this year about a 16-inch MacBook Pro, which began with a report in February by the very reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who at the time said that Apple was working on an “all-new design” for a MacBook Pro that would include a 16- to 16.5-inch display.
Kuo’s original report, however, was fairly vague, and at the time it wasn’t clear if he might have been referring to a redesign of the whole MacBook Pro lineup for 2019, although that’s something that we now obviously know hasn’t happened. Kuo also predicted at the time that the 13-inch MacBook Pro would be getting a 32 GB configuration option, which has not materialized either.
Later on, Kuo appeared to revise his estimate, suggesting that the all-new design might not be coming until 2021, heralded by Apple’s switch to microLED display technology — something that the company has been working on for a while, but doesn’t quite have ready for prime time. Still, with subsequent rumours suggesting that the mysterious new 16-inch MacBook Pro was in fact still on track for release this year, it’s possible that Kuo’s reports were simply referring to when microLED technology could be coming, and there’s certainly nothing that would prevent Apple from releasing a 16-inch MacBook Pro with a standard LCD display.
Now, according to more recent supplier reports, it seems that this is exactly what Apple is planning. We’ve already heard that Apple is planning to include a 16-inch LCD display that it’s sourcing from LG, which will sport a resolution of 3072 x 1920. This would represent the largest screen size on a MacBook Pro since Apple discontinued its 17-inch models back in 2012, and would in fact be the highest resolution ever provided on a MacBook Pro display, since the current 15.4-inch models only offer resolutions of 2880 x 1800, and the earlier 17-inch models were discontinued before the era of the Retina Display, capping out at a mere 1920 x 1080 HD resolution.
It also looks like Apple plans to position this new 16-inch MacBook Pro as an ultra-premium laptop, with the report saying that it will bring “a new high price for Apple notebooks” with the baseline price expected to come in at around $3,000 USD (NT$90,000–100,000). By comparison, Apple’s 17-inch MacBook Pro once held the distinction of being the most expensive one in the lineup with a starting price of $2,500, and inflation hasn’t made a significant difference here — the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro of that era still came in at only $1,200.
Could these simply be more refreshes?
The fact that Apple’s supply chain still predicts that any new MacBook is coming seems to suggest that the company must still have something new and exciting up its sleeve. After all, Apple has already updated every other MacBook in its lineup, so there doesn’t seem to be much chance that these reports are simply referring to minor refreshes.
Still, it’s also not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Apple did once release two MacBook Pro models in a single year back in 2013, when a “Late 2013” lineup came out with some pretty significant spec bumps, so there’s a precedent. Notably, multiple supply chain sources are also still expecting a refresh of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air in October — a prediction that we’d previously assumed referred to this month’s refresh.
If true, the most likely model to get another refresh would be Apple’s MacBook Air, since this month’s update only added the True Tone display and improved the keyboard, so a processor bump for these models wouldn’t be out of the question, and would come in a year after the last major update.
There’s also the matter of Apple’s longstanding keyboard problems. So far, even Apple’s newest MacBooks still use the problem-plagued butterfly keyboards, and there are rumours that Apple finally has a much better redesign in the works that could be coming later this year. This could simply come in the form of the mythical 16-inch MacBook Pro redesign, but it’s also possible that Apple plans to refresh more of its lineup in order to fix its keyboard woes.
As MacRumors points out, supply chain rumours are also rarely able to nail down the “when” of a product launch with any accuracy, since they’re only based on components and schematics, and not necessarily production schedules. The “October” prediction might just be speculation based on when Apple normally holds its Mac events. So while at this point, it seems safe to say that a 16-inch MacBook Pro is truly in the works for sometime in the relatively near future, it remains to be seen whether we’ll see it launch later this year or sometime in early 2020.