Apple may launch a new MacBook Pro at WWDC 2021, but should consumers be buying the new MacOS laptop?
With ApplesWWDC 2021 happening next week, theres been a growing anticipation that Apple will deliver two new MacBook Pro machines for developers. But those developers could be facing an awkward problem. Do they buy this weeks new MacBook Pro, or do they wait? because the significant update to the large MacBook family may not be happening until October.
The details are tucked away in the latest Digitimes report on the availability of the mini-LED equipped MacBooks. Sami Fathi reports:
“According to the report, the smaller 14-inch MacBook Pro will enter “volume production” in the fourth quarter of this year, while the larger 16-inch model is aimed at the first quarter of next year. However, despite mass production for the laptops starting later in the year and next year, DigiTimes still reports that Apple will announce them in the second half of 2021.”
FILE – In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, file photo, a guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook … [+] computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, Calif. Higher-end models of Apples MacBook Pro now come with a narrow touch screen above the regular keyboard for quick access to common settings and tasks. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
As for the talk about Apple announcing new MacBook Pro laptops at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference Reading the runes of Cook is never a precise art, its notable that the late 2021 Macs are all expected to come with the mini-LED technology in the screen; this offers more vibrant colours, deeper blacks, and more efficient power usage.
There would be nothing to stop Apple offering new MacBook Pros at WWDC built around the older existing designs, while preparing the way for a significant update one year after the launch of the Apple Silicon laptops.
In fact, this feels much more like the Apple way. With the x86 based Macs, Apple was always reliant on Intels production and developmental timescales. That stood in opposition to the tick-tock rhythm of its own Axx processors for the iPhone and iPad, which were in step with the update and release cycle of the smartphone and tablet.
Now that Apple has the Mxx series of chips under its own control, I fully expect Apple to move to an annual cycle. If thats the case (and assuming Taniyama-Shimura) then the first significant update to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro family will come in late October early November this year, twelve months after the M1 machines disrupted the laptop market. These will be the machines that ship with the mini-LED screens, and potentially the new chassis design.
So what would that leave for this weeks WWDC announcement? Assuming that there is an announcement (those runes again), there are two obvious gaps in the MacBook portfolio, and one piece of information that has yet to be announced.
In the case of the former, the current 16-inch MacBook Pro is only available as an x86 Intel model. Over the last few years Apple has created two pools of MacBook Pro machines, a lower more affordable set, and a more powerful but more expensive set. The latter is the talk of an uprated M1 processor presumptively called the M1X and featuring more cores for increased power and capability.
Apple is a traditionally conservative company, and taking an intermediate step to an M1X chip for the higher specced MacBooks would be in keeping with that. After all apart from the addition of the M1 chip, last years Apple Silicon powered MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini machines were identical in design to the previous models.
With talk of supply issues on the mini-LED MacBook Pro machines pushing significant availability of the laptops into early 2022, the allure of faster Apple Silicon MacBooks for developers, an intermediate step to the M1X, and the imminent WWDC 2021 creates an attractive proposition for Apple.
Assuming you want to go for a new MacBook Pro right now. If theres a new design, mini-LED technology, and the second-generation M2 processor going to be announced at the end of the year, maybe you might want to think about waiting.
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