According to information from the always well-informed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and other rumors, Apple will introduce new high-end 14" and 16" MacBook Pros later this year - the mass production is supposed to start in the third quarter in time for the market launch. But what are the innovations of the new models?
The first big improvement is the display technology - Apple will probably use mini-LED displays in its MacBook Pro series for the first time. Apple had already used these in the latest generation of its 12.9" iPad Pros, which were introduced in April. The mini-LED technology brings numerous advantages, as the backlighting by thousands of small LEDs achieves a better contrast ratio than normal LCDs and also - similar to OLED displays - true black can be displayed.
However, these new mini-LED displays will probably lead to delays in the production of the MacBook Pros, which were actually expected in June, as they are difficult to get in sufficient quantities due to the worldwide chip shortage. Apple is said to have even invested directly in manufacturers in order not to jeopardize the introduction of the new MacBook Pros with too many production delays.
In addition, the new models are supposed to use an improved version of the M1 chip currently used in MacBooks, the M1X. We had already reported at the end of last year about the rumor that a 16-inch MacBook Pro would appear in 2021 with an upgraded M1 chip called M1X, which will reportedly have 10 cores, which would be a slight improvement over the current M1 with 8 cores. In addition, the M1X is said to have more GPU cores as well as more Thunderbolt channels and support for external monitors.
The introduction of the next generation of the M1 chip, the much faster M2, manufactured in 4 nanometer technology, has been postponed until early next year, according to the latest rumors, when it is expected to be launched as the heart of the new and (similar to the 24" iMacs) colorful Macbook Air models. That&s also why it&s suspected that the M2, while a significant technological upgrade over the M1/M1X, will still have little more (rather maybe even slightly less) power, as it&s said to offer only 8-CPU (faster) cores in addition to 9-10 GPU cores.
If these rumors are true, the likely reason for such a meager performance update is that Apple would put the price/performance hierarchy of its model lines in jeopardy if a MacBook Air equipped with a new M2 offered more power than the new 16-inch MacBook Pro top model.
For this reason, new MacBook Pro models must also feature an improved M1X version of the M1 chip, as this is the only way Apple can differentiate its offering from models equipped with the in-house developed ARM M1 chip (i.e. currently the MacBook Pro 13", MacBook Air 13", Mac mini, iPad Pro and 24" iMac) in terms of performance (and thus also price).
Up to now, all models basically use the same chip with 4 large and 4 small CPU cores as well as 7 or 8 GPU cores and 8 or 16 GB of RAM and therefore only differ slightly in their performance by the maximum coolable power in each case, i.e. depending on whether the system is cooled actively or passively.
However, potential MacBook Pro buyers might get into doubt and wait for the presentation of the new MacBook Airs Air 2022 at the beginning of next year, which would then have a fundamentally improved core with the M2 SoC instead of an only slightly improved M1X. Apart from that, the large 16-inch screen of the soon to be released MacBook Pros remains a good argument for buying them instead of a MacBook Air with only a 13-inch display for professional work.
According to another rumor, the integrated webcam will be upgraded from 720p to a 1080p model, like the 24" iMac introduced in April. Furthermore, the new MacBook Pros are supposed to have an SD card reader, three (instead of two as in the 13" MacBook Pro M1) Thunderbolt USB-C ports, an updated MagSafe port and an HDMI port. The TouchBar is also said to be discontinued, and the design has changed slightly so that the new MacBook Pros now feature flat edges.