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Another analyst is corroborating recent rumours that Apple is planning to reveal at least one new MacBook Pro next week, as new regulatory filings also give us some extra insight into exactly what’s coming.
Although Apple seldom debuts new hardware products at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, it’s by no means unheard of, and this is especially true if there’s even the most tenuous association between the hardware and Apple’s developer community.
For example, WWDC 2019 saw the announcement of Apple’s long-awaited Mac Pro, alongside its ultra-premium Pro Display XDR professional reference monitor. Four years ago, however, WWDC 2017 was simply chock-full of hardware updates, as Apple refreshed the iMac, MacBook, and MacBook Pro, unveiled its powerful iMac Pro, a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and surprised everyone with the original HomePod.
So, a new MacBook Pro is definitely still on the table for next week, and now not only do we have Jon Prosser’s earlier sources to go on, but also a new Chinese regulatory database filing that shows an entry for the next-generation 16-inch MacBook Pro.
On top of that, analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush has told investors to expect Apple to release both redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models next week.
M2 MacBook Pro Specs and Features
In a research note shared by MacRumors, Ives states that Apple has a “few surprises” up its sleeve, including the two new MacBook Pro models. While he offers few additional details, Ives does add that he expects them to be powered by the current M1 Apple Silicon chip, although we suspect he’s mistaken in that part of his analysis.
So far, the M1 chip has been used in Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air, the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, and the colourful new 24-inch iMac. These devices represent the lowest end of Apple’s Mac lineup and show the limitations of Apple’s first-generation M1 chip.
For instance, none of these systems offer more than 16GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, or two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Even the higher-end 24-inch iMac, which features four physical USB-C style ports, only supports Thunderbolt 4 connections on two of them — the other two are only USB 3.1 Gen 2.
It’s widely assumed that this reflects the maximum memory, storage, and Thunderbolt channels that the M1 can handle. However, it’s extremely likely that Apple will want its higher-end systems to push beyond those numbers. This is the reason it’s still selling two Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro models featuring four Thunderbolt ports and higher RAM and SSD capacities.
What’s far more likely is that the new MacBook Pro models will pack in a much more powerful “M2” chip that we’ve been hearing about recently.
Although we don’t know whether it will actually be called the M2, as opposed to something like “M1X”, we do know that Apple is working on adding many more cores. Recent rumours suggest up to 10 CPU cores and configurations of either 16 or 32 GPU cores. It would also support four Thunderbolt channels, up to 64GB of RAM, and SSD sizes of up to 8TB.
In addition to a redesign, we’re also expecting the new MacBook Pro to see a return of the HDMI port and SD card slot, plus a new MagSafe connector to free up one of the Thunderbolt ports and deliver faster charging speeds.
How Apple will handle the tradeoff between an ultra-thin design and thicker ports remains an open question, however. For instance, in the case of the 24-inch iMac, Apple moved the Ethernet jack to the power brick to keep the new desktop computer down to its slender iPad Pro-like design.
While an SD card slot shouldn’t be a problem, the current MacBook Pro design doesn’t offer a lot of room for a traditional HDMI port, which has led some to believe that Apple may go with a mini-HDMI port. This seems unlikely, however, since the main point of including a standalone HDMI port would be to avoid the need for a dongle. The Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on current MacBook models can already drive a display with an inexpensive adapter, so adding an HDMI port seems pointless unless it will be compatible with the vast majority of HDMI cables already out there.
Either way, if these reports are true, it seems like we won’t need to wait too long to find out. Apple’s virtual WWDC will kick off on Monday with a keynote that’s already expected to reveal iOS 15, iPadOS 15, tvOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS 12. New hardware products may just be the icing on the cake.