It has been almost three years since Apple refreshed the MacBook Pro lineup. While the addition of the OLED Touch Bar and larger touchpad have been nice touches, Windows laptops are now picking up slimmer bezels and other features which make the MacBook look a bitold in comparison.
On May 21, Apple unexpectedly dropped an update to its MacBook Pro lineup, including both the 13 and 15-inch models. Here’s what we know so far.
Price and release date
There had been many rumors about when we could expect the 2019 MacBook Pro, but that all changed on May 21. As Apple has been doing more and more lately, the company announced updates to its MacBook Pro lineup with a press release dropped on its website. The updates, which include new processors and a tweaked keyboard, are currently available to purchase.
Previous to this announcement, the most recent update to the MacBook Pro lineup was released in July 2018, and a launch happened right before that in June 2017. If the 2019 MacBook Pro had been getting a larger revamp, the company would have waited for WWDC in June or a fall event.
Note that there was a rumor that a redesigned MacBook Pro model was canceled for 2019 and pushed back to 2020 or 2021. The announcement of a spec update means we’ll have to wait until at least 2020 for the rumored redesign.
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,799 and the 15-inch model starts at $2,399. The non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro has still not received a spec update since 2017, making it seem like Apple is slowly phasing it out entirely to replace it with the MacBook Air.
The MacBook Lineup has taken the jump from Kaby Lake processors in 2017 to Coffee Lake processors in 2018, and, following the pattern, the updated 2019 MacBook feature Intel’s latest processors. The biggest jump is in the high-end configuration of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which now includes a 9th-gen Core i9 processor. Apple claims the inclusion of this eight-core processor make this the fastest MacBook ever made. This the first thin-and-light laptop to use this beefy chip and should bring serious power to this thin laptop, which is meant to appeal to creative professionals. Whether or not it’ll have the same thermal throttling issues in last year’s Core i9 implementation, we’ll have to wait and see. The base model is the six-core Core i7, which is also an update to 9th-gen silicon.
The 13-inch model update is less of a jump, but keeps the laptops up to date with the latest quad-core U-series processors. Apple didn’t mention what exact processor these are, but the current Whiskey Lake Processors, which were announced in August of 2018, would be a good guess until we know more.
The timing of the update, however, means the 2019 MacBook Pros won’t be using Intel’s upcoming Ice Lake processors. could show up in future MacBooks. The 10nm chips are expected debut in Dell machines this summer, though we don’t yet know how they’ll actually affect performance and design. Another wild shot could also be ARM processors, butApple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously indicated that Apple won’t be pushing those out until 2020. Intel is also expecting that change to happen in 2020, according to a recent report from Axios.
A complete redesign
The redesign we’d anticipated has officially been held off in replace of a spec update in 2019.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had reported in a research note that Apple seemed to be planning on two very different designs for the MacBook Pro.
The first design would be a Pro with a 16 to 16.5-inch display. This is a jump in size compared to today’s crop of MacBooks, and harkens back to the 2012 17-inch MacBook Pro model. Apparently, Apple thinks there is new found demand for larger Pro screens these days — this would also make it easier to differentiate the MacBook Pro from other MacBook offerings.
The second design, meanwhile, would be a much smaller 13-inch model for those who don’t care as much about screen room, but may be more interested in power. The report indicates that this smaller version could come with an option to add up to 32GB of RAM. This would turn the model into a memory powerhouse for managing more intensive software, ideal for designers in an active environment, and similar to other professions. Together, these two designs would enable Apple to clearly target two different types ofbuyers with clear, but separate, benefits.
Kuo also had a more specific rumor for these displays, too: He predicts that they will come with a new mini LED design for their panels. This mini LED backlight may be better suited for MacBook Pro screen sizes than something like OLED — and could also help to keep costs down. If Apple does go this route, then the first models to see this mini LED design would be the 2019 MacBook Pros.
In addition to a change in the display, the 2019 MacBook could have a different type ofkeyboard. A recent patent shows that Apple was considering a transformable glass keyboard for the MacBook. This would come as a massive improvement over the current generation Butterfly keyboard which has seen Apple hit with multiple lawsuits over its poor durability. The patent suggests a multi-layered system with a transformable piece of glass on the top layer and a touch-sensing layer beneath it. The first glass layer could also be altered, which allows the bottom of the laptop case to have room for a touchscreen.
This version of the MacBook Pro is quite likely still in development, but won’t be launched until 2020 or 2021.
Since MacBooks are powered by MacOS, features in the operating system can be tied to new hardware. New MacOS updates are typically announced at WWDC, with the most recent MacOS Mojave still following the pattern of being named locations in California. The new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros come with Mojave pre-installed, until the new version of the operating system is launched in the fall.
A patent from 2017 indicated that Apple could be considering adding hand and eye tracking to MacOS. It’s been available in Windows 10 for a while, and this would be a feature that could possiblymake its way over to new MacBooks. Additionally, it would be nice to see if Apple could add in support for FaceID to MacOS. We’ve seen this on the company’s latest iPads and iPhones, and considering that most Windows laptops already support facial recognition with Windows Hello, it is a glaring omission from the Mac.
Another new feature on the software side of the 2019 MacBook Pro could have been the ability to download and use iPad apps. A recent report from Bloomberg hinted that Apple will be combining iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps by the year 2021. The first wave of the change could involve allowing developers to port iPad apps over to the Mac with a new SDK coming in June of 2019 — timed perfectly for the summer release of a new MacBook. We may hear more about this at WWDC, but the 2019 MacBook Pro update doesn’t include any software features on their own.