The 2021 MacBook Pro could represent a major change for the Apple notebook lineup. We’re already starting to hear some rumors about Apple’s plans for 2021, and while many of you are waiting for the 2020 MacBook Pro, we want to help you decide if you should be waiting longer for the 2021 MacBook Pro instead.
A 2021 MacBook Pro release date is still over a year out, with a potential May to June timeline, but it could come as late as September or October. That is important to keep in mind as you look into waiting.
The upside to waiting, even this far out is that we know about two specific rumors that provide clues about what is coming so that you can pick up on something to actually wait for instead of just vague ideas about a new MacBook Pro.
With that in mind, it is a good idea to remember you will wait over a year for this new model, so you will definitely need to have a good plan and a good laptop already in play to make this work.
If you are looking for a new MacBook Pro right now, your options are to buy the newest 16-inch MacBook Pro, a slightly older 13-inch MacBook Pro, pick up a MacBook Pro alternative or hold out a little longer for the 2020 MacBook Pro which may bring a better keyboard to the 13-inch model.
2021 MacBook Pro Rumors
There are two 2021 MacBook Pro rumors that are worth factoring in when you wait for a new model. We also have a good feeling about a few other changes that could come with this model. It is still very early, so the rumors could change, but the sources are valid enough to consider.
Apple is reportedly switching to custom ARM chips that they will design. This means a switch from Intel to in-house and it would allow Apple to better control their timelines instead of relying on Intel to be ready. Ming-Chi Kou, a noted Apple analyst with a good track record says that Apple will deliver a Mac with a custom chip in the next 18 months. This could be the 2021 MacBook Pro, or Apple may opt for a different model to do the introduction, but given the need to transition apps and the other work involved it won’t be long after before this becomes a MacBook Pro update. If this is the case, we could learn more about it in June at WWDC.
The next rumor is that Apple is planning a mini-LED display for the MacBook Pro. Original research notes pointed to 2021, and in late December Kou moved this up into late 2020 with a focus on bringing the new display tech to the rest of the product lineup. A new report out in March points to a 14.1-inch MacBook Pro and a 16-inch MacBook Pro with mini-LED tech. We mention this as a reason to wait for the 2020 MacBook Pro, but with new tech and potential Coronavirus manufacturing disruptions, we’re also listing this as a reason to wait for the 2021 MacBook Pro. Another important distinction is that Apple could bring this first to a larger model and then roll it into the smaller model.
With a new processor and display technology, plus the age of the current design, we feel that Apple could use a 2021 MacBook Pro to launch a redesign. In 2020 we expect the 16-inch MacBook Pro keyboard to make it to the smaller model, and we might see a small change similar to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but if you want a full redesign we expect that you will need to wait for next year.
Wait for a New Apple Processor
One of the biggest reasons to wait for the 2021 MacBook Pro is for a new Apple processor. This custom ARM chip is part of Apple's plan to take control of the processors.
We could see more power, better battery life and other benefits from Apple designing the chips that power the MacBook Pro. It's still very early, so we aren't making bold proclamations here, but traditionally this switch could also free up some design elements with fanless designs for some models -- though not likely a MacBook Pro.
Kuo's report does not specifically mention the MacBook Pro, and there is a chance that the 2021 MacBook Air makes a better first step into the ARM architecture, but if you are an early adopter looking for the latest, this could be a reason for you to hold off.
Expect a transition period, during which the news would be public to a degree, so you may learn about this as early as WWDC 2020 in June according to Steve Troughton-Smith.
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