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Apple’s just-announced M2 MacBook Pro and M2 MacBook Air may be the only Macs to feature the base M2 chip, with some sources saying the company is already preparing for next spring’s M3 lineup.
While Apple’s Mac mini could still get the M2 treatment, there have been suggestions that it will move straight to an M2 Pro instead, consolidating the lineup and finally allowing Apple to phase out the Intel version. It remains to be seen whether an entry-level M2 model will accompany that, but reports are pretty mixed on Apple’s plans for the diminutive Mac.
There’s a good chance we won’t see an update to Apple’s 24-inch iMac this year. By all reports, last year’s M1-powered iMac is still selling well, so the company may not have a huge incentive to replace it. Still, that would be somewhat ironic considering the recent release of the M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro — a relatively weak upgrade to its 2020 M1 predecessor.
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Last week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman revealed that Apple already has its M3 Macs in development, including “a new iMac code-named J433.” This means it’s likely Apple has decided to skip an M2 iMac for this year and take it straight to the M3 next year.
Apple’s new in-house Mac chips have led some to believe that the company would simply refresh every system year-over-year, but that was probably an unrealistic assumption. Certainly, there’s no reason to think Apple would change its Mac release cycle simply because it’s now producing its own chips. It’s going to release new products when it makes the most sense to do so — not merely because it wants to put each generation of Apple Silicon into every Mac.
If anything, this gives Apple more control over its product roadmap. When the company was relying on Intel chips, it was at the mercy of Intel’s release cycle. With its in-house chips, Apple decides when it makes the most sense to release new Macs with each of its M-series chips.
The Future of the iMac
In his Power On newsletter, Gurman recently hinted at another reason Apple may be holding off on the next-generation 24-inch iMac: It’s still working on a more powerful “iMac Pro.”
Even though the most recent spate of rumors of a higher-end iMac turned out to be false — sources were likely mistaking the Apple Studio Display for an iMac — that doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t working on one. It’s just farther off than we expected.
Following the launch of the Mac Studio and Apple Studio Display, Apple discontinued the 27-inch iMac, claiming it was gone for good. Apple’s exact phrase was “the 27-inch iMac has reached end of life.”
However, the specificity of that statement leaves lots of wiggle room for Apple to announce a different large-screen iMac. “The 27-inch iMac” doesn’t rule out a 30-inch iMac, or even a 27-inch “iMac Pro,” and multiple reports have suggested that Apple is working on something for 2023, possibly to be released alongside a new Apple Silicon Mac Pro.
Gurman has added weight to this on the iMac side, suggesting that this would be a desktop counterpart to Apple’s higher-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro lineup. Since it’s not expected until sometime next year, it would feature an M3 Pro/Max configuration and address users looking for an all-in-one Mac who “want more screen real estate.”
I also still believe that Apple is working on a larger-screened iMac aimed at the professional market. I’d imagine this will use a variation of the M3 chip, likely an M3 Pro and M3 Max. That would match the chips inside of the MacBook Pro. I don’t think the combination of a Mac Studio or Mac mini plus an Apple Studio Display cuts it for many pro users who want more screen real estate.Mark Gurman
One thing that seems certain is that Apple’s M-series chip timeline is far more aggressive than many had expected. While many expected the M2 chip to be announced at last month’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple surprised us by having new MacBooks ready to go. It’s fair to say that we’ll see a repeat of that with next year’s M3, so the big question is which products will get the M2 Pro/Max/Ultra between now and then.
[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.]