Last year, Apple released its first 13-inch MacBook Pro using its M1 chip. However, this is only a replacement for the basic configuration MacBook Pro model with 2 Thunderbolt, 8th generation Intel chip. And the high-end 4 Thunderbolt version with Intel Ice Lake chip has not yet had a successor.
Therefore, it is almost certain that this year Apple will have to release a new high-end MacBook Pro model to replace the old Intel MacBook Pro. At the same time, the MacBook Pro M1 model can also receive an upgrade in configuration, even design to synchronize with the high-end version. This upgrade is rumored to be the 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro.
14 inch MacBook Pro release date
Rumors about the 14-inch MacBook Pro have been around for quite some time. At one point, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo even suggested that the 14-inch MacBook Pro would be available by the end of 2020, but he later changed his forecast - suggesting that the plan Apple has been pushed back to 2021 because it wants to use mini-LED screens as well as the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the supply chain.
And as we all know, no 14-inch MacBook Pro will appear in 2020 or early 2021, and there is even less chance for this MacBook to appear at WWDC 2021 next June.
In March, a Nikkei report indicated that the MacBook launch had been pushed back to the fall of 2021 due to a global shortage of chips and components.
Frequently accurate analyst Ming Chi Kuo also shares that we won't see a new 14-inch MacBook Pro until the fall of 2021.
In the past, Apple usually launched new MacBooks at its spring event (March or April), at WWDC in June, and year-end event in October (or 11). So based on the above analysis, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is likely to launch around October at the earliest, a month after the iPhone 13 series announcement event. However, recently a source from DigiTimes has also reported that Apple may delay the launch of the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch mini LED screens until 2022, so we may not see a MacBook. New Pro this year.
14 inch MacBook Pro redesign
Both analyst Ming Chi Kuo and Bloomberg 'sMark Gurman point out that we can expect a completely new design for the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
According to the January 2021 report, we can expect significant design changes including: iPhone 12-like design with flat bezels; no Touch Bar; the return of the MagSafe charging port; and more ports - including an SD slot.
Kuo adds that the 14-inch laptop will use the same heat-pipe system as the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which will increase heat dissipation and allow for better performance.
Mini-LED was delayed due to production difficulties as well as issues related to the pandemic, but in May 2021 it was reported that TSMT supplier had overcome technical barriers and is currently ready to deliver mini LED for MacBook Pro in 2021.
Amid rumors that the new MacBook Pro will have a mini LED display, a report from DigiTimes (in March 2021) suggests that Apple will use an OLED display for the MacBook Pro later this year. Digitimes report indicates that Apple is considering mini LED, micro-LED and OLED technologies for use in MacBook and iPad lines. But with the current situation, mini LED is still the best candidate. OLED may have to wait until at least next year, and micro LED is not yet complete to equip small screen devices.
New Features & Spec
The basic 13-inch MacBook Pro has been equipped with an M1 chip, while the more advanced version (4 Thunderbolt) is still using the Intel Ice Lake chip. So it's almost certain that Apple will launch a new chip to power the 14-inch MacBook Pro, which will probably be the M1X or M2.
This chip is also expected to appear in an upgrade of the 16-inch MacBook Pro and an upgrade of the 27-inch iMac (probably a 32-inch iMac).
Apple M2 is expected to have at least 12 cores, including 8 high-performance cores and 4 energy-saving cores. Even Apple can provide up to 16 cores + 4 power-saving cores for a total of 20 cores. With the Apple M1 not requiring a fan to operate, it is possible to launch a 20-core chip with a new cooling system as mentioned above.
In terms of graphics capabilities, Apple is expected to redesign the GPU, and equip the M2 with at least 16 cores, maybe even up to 32 cores to be able to replace the Radeon Pro 5600M or Radeon Pro 5700 XT with the Radeon Pro 5600M or Radeon Pro 5700 XT. on the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the 27-inch iMac. And it would be interesting for Apple to bring such awesome graphics performance down to a 14-inch MacBook Pro.
In a developer document Apple said:
"The integrated GPU in Apple processors is optimized for high performance graphics tasks"
All Mac M1s are limited to 16GB of RAM. However, the 13-inch Intel MacBook Pro currently offers 16GB and 32GB options. That means the upcoming chip will almost certainly support at least 32GB, even more if Apple wants to include this chip in the iMac.
However, Apple states that Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) doesn't need to have a lot of RAM because all RAM can be accessed quickly from the CPU, GPU, and other components, so Apple can still offers options from 8GB for the upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro.
The 16in MacBook Pro has a 100W battery (which is the biggest battery allowed in laptops before they would be banned from planes). This bigger battery means the 16in model now offers 11 hours of use.
The 13in MacBook models with Intel processors currently offer 10 hours use.
It's possible that Apple Silicon will make it possible for Apple to achieve more battery life from the smaller models: The 2020 M1 MacBook Pro offers 20 hours battery life - so it looks promising.
No Touch Bar
According to a January 2021 investor note from Ming Chi Kuo, the OLED touch bar (Touch Bar) will be removed from the new MacBook Pro and physical function buttons will be restored.
In fact, very few people have liked Apple's Touch Bar since it was first released in 2016. Many users consider the Touch Bar to be rather useless and harder to use than the row of media function keys.
Speakers & Microphone
The 16in MacBook Pro has improved speakers with deeper bass and a noise-cancelling microphone. Will the 14in models gain the same update at some point?
Possibly we may see an improvement, although not on the same level. The improvements in the 16in may not be possible in the limited space of the smaller model: there are three speakers on each side of the 16in MacBook Pro (two of which are woofers). The smaller model may simply be unable to accommodate this: even if the screen is 14in the size of the Mac is unlikely to change significantly.
As for the microphone, the 13in model probably doesn't need the three-mic 'studio' array required by professional creative users.
Both Kuo and the Bloomberg report suggest that Apple will restore the MagSafe charging connector. Another Bloomberg report in January 2021 includes a piece of code indicating that the new MacBook Pro will offer an SD slot.
Another leak shows that the next MacBook Pro is fully equipped with ports including HDMI, Thunderbolt, SD card reader and MagSafe power port.
Face ID and Webcam
A lot of users expect Apple to include a better FaceTime camera on the MacBook. Currently the MacBook Pro still only stops at 720p cameras, Apple should upgrade them to 1080p on the next-generation MacBook Pro.
Apple may even add a Face ID sensor for quick, convenient unlocking like on an iPhone or iPad Pro.