Will we get a new MacBook Pro in 2020? And what form is Apple’s next pro laptop likely to take, in terms of design, features and specifications?
In part that depends on which specific model you’re talking about.
In this article we round up all the latest leaks and rumours about the next MacBook Pro, whether you’re talking about the larger 16in models (which we expect to be updated before the end of 2020) or the smaller 13in models (which probably won’t be updated until 2021, but should be the first Pros to get Apple Silicon processors).
13in vs 16in models
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple has already updated the MacBook Pro once in 2020: back in May Apple added 10th-gen processors and extra RAM to two of the 13in models. However, the entry-level (1.4GHz) MacBook Pro only got a bit more storage and an updated keyboard, meaning it’s still ripe for an update.
However, our sense is that the larger 16in MacBook Pro is the one most likely to see an update before the end of 2020. We look at this specific model, which is targeted at very demanding creative professionals, in a separate guide: MacBook Pro 16in 2020 release date.
If you’re looking for an updated 13in model, it’s likely that you’ll have to wait until 2021. But when it does arrive, it should have the new Apple Silicon processors.
Will Apple update the 13in MacBook Pro again in 2020?
Following the MacBook Pro’s May 2020 update, every Apple laptop now has the new-style keyboard that replaced the problematic butterfly model (which had been causing expensive faults since its introduction in 2016). Now that every MacBook Pro model has a reliable keyboard, is Apple’s work here done? We don’t think so.
In May 2020 only the two mid-range MacBook Pro models were updated. The only change to the entry-level MacBook Pro, other than the new keyboard, was that storage was doubled. The entry-level 13in MacBook Pro still has 8th-gen processors, slower RAM and other components that look less than impressive next to the 2020 MacBook Air.
This means that these two 13in MacBook Pro models are ripe for a processor update and it might just be that they are the first ARM Macs.
Release date: When will the new MacBook Pro come out?
A seemingly accidental reference in new Boot Camp documentation points to the imminent arrival of a 16in MacBook Pro for 2020. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Apple’s next and final event for this year will take place on 17 November, so we’d expect to hear about the new 16in then.
The only complication is that the Boot Camp reference leads us to believe the new 16in model will be Intel-based, whereas leaker Jon Prosser has said the 17 November event will be all about ARM (Apple Silicon) Macs. Perhaps the 16in Pro will be mentioned alongside ARM Macs, or perhaps it will be quietly launched in a press release before or after the event.
The first Pro with Apple Silicon will be a smaller 13in model. Per Apple’s own guidance, ARM Macs will appear before the end of 2020 – but will the 13in MacBook Pro be among the first wave? It’s starting to look less likely. We’d say that 2021 is more likely.
New MacBook Pro price
A tweeted leak claims that the new Silicon 13in MacBook Pro will start at the lower price of $1,099 (it’s currently $1,299). More information here: Silicon MacBook could launch on 27 October and cost $800.
Here’s what you currently get inside the entry-level MacBook Pro:
- 1.4GHz quad-core i5 8th-generation (TB 3.9GHz), Iris Plus Graphics 645, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM, two Thunderbolt ports: £1,299/$1,299 (256GB), £1,499,$1,499 (512GB)
Since the entry-level 13in MacBook Pro still uses 8th-gen Intel processors it is ripe for an update. It’s also a great option for Apple’s first Silicon processor, being designed for average users.
It’s difficult to say exactly what an Apple processor will bring to the MacBook Pro. The only Mac running on an Apple processor right now is the developer Mac mini, which is actually just using an iPad Pro chip, but has already popped up in impressive benchmarks. We have examined what Apple Silicon could bring and how it will compare to Intel here: Apple Silicon vs Intel. You can also read more about Apple’s processor plans.
The entry-level 13in MacBook Air currently offers slow 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory – even the cheaper MacBook Air offers better 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory, which is faster. We expect Apple to bring the entry-level 13in models into line with this at some point soon.
The 2.0GHz 13in MacBook Pro on sale now already offers 16GB RAM as standard.
The current entry-level MacBook Pro offers Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, which are integrated with the Intel processor. Apple’s has revealed that it will integrate its own GPU on to the new Apple Silicon processor and suggested that we can expect “higher-performance GPUs” inside these new Macs.
In a developer document Apple said the integrated GPU in Apple processors “is optimised for high-performance graphics tasks”.
Apple is expecting the move to Apple Silicon to open the door to more powerful games on the Mac.
Right now the 13in model has a 58.2W battery in the entry-level 1.4GHz models and a 58W battery in the 2.4GHz models. Both offer 10 hours of use.
It’s possible that Apple Silicon will make it possible for Apple to achieve more battery life from the smaller models: the MacBook Air, for example, offers 12 hours of battery life with a 49.9W battery, so it must be possible.
There are rumours that Apple will introduce a mini-LED 14in display on a MacBook Pro at some point in the near future, however we think this will be reserved for the mid-range MacBook Pro models.
For the entry-level MacBook Pro we anticipate that the screen will remain at 13in.
However, there is one thing we’d love to see on the MacBook Pro: a touch screen. We discuss why it is time for Apple start offering Macs with touch screens here: Why Apple needs a touchscreen Mac. One major reason why we need touch on the Mac: the Apple Silicon transition will make it possible to use iOS apps on the Mac.
Face ID and webcam
We’d love to see a better FaceTime camera on the MacBook. The MacBook Pro still offers a 720p camera. As a comparison the FaceTime camera (aka Selfie camera) on the iPhone 11 range offers 1080p HD video recording and a 12MP camera. Apple really needs to up its game with this camera, something that has become very apparent in this age of video conferencing.
The iPhone 11 camera is TrueDepth, so it also offers FaceID – something we’d like to see appear on the MacBook range. In fact, it looks like we might get Face ID on the Mac – the Big Sur beta contains code that hints that the TrueDepth camera is coming to the Mac.
Another thing that the iPhone 11 range offers is 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6. As yet this hasn’t appeared on any Mac laptop or desktop. This is something that we’d like to see but it seems unlikely that the smaller MacBook Pro model would get it before the 16in model.
On the next page we look at the May 2020 update to the MacBook Pro