MacBook Pro 16-inch: Everything you need to know

Is a 16-inch MacBook Pro ready to drop? Here's what we know so far

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Concept by Viktor Kadar

Forget ancient whispers of Atlantis or hushed speculation on Kate Middleton’s latest haircut, there’s a hot new rumor in town: Apple will launch a brand-new, high-powered 16-inch MacBook Pro imminently.

What will it look like? How fast will it be? And most importantly, how deep a hole will it burn in your wallet? All questions born on the tongues of tech gossips the world over.

We’ve rounded up the rumors to take away the guesswork, giving you all the info you need right here. Make sure you check back regularly, as we’ll be updating this page as more rumors and leaks come to light.

Price and release date

At its September 10 iPhone 11 launch event, rumors had speculated we might also see the launch of the new MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The event came and gone without a mention of the Mac.

That doesn’t mean, however, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is completely out of the loop. A report from analysts IHS Markit pinned the date on September, but others have suggested it might launch at an event in October.

This is affirmed by a IHS Markit report from August 2019 that stated the 16-inch MacBook Pro would actually enter production in September, with no actual launch date mentioned. The report further claimed that the 15-inch MacBook Pro would cease production in November 2019, with the 16-inch version set to replace it. With all that said, an October Mac event seems the most likely.

But what about the price? Well, unsurprisingly the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is likely to be expensive. Apple has only just updated its 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models; if it came out with a brand new 16-inch model so soon afterwards, it would tick a whole lot of people off who just shelled out on a model released earlier this year.

With that in mind, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will have to be positioned as something special, something altogether different from this year’s updated models. And if that’s the case, it’ll likely come with a load of bells and whistles that push the price up into ultra-premium territory.

A new keyboard

macbook pro sticky keys song keyboard

One of the biggest complaints and points of controversy about the current crop of MacBook Pros is the keyboard. The butterfly-switch keyboard has been present in every MacBook since 2016, but recent reports say that’s finally going to change. The new design is being referred to as a “scissor-switch” mechanism, a more common low-profile keyboard technology. According to the report, Apple’s switches use a “glass fiber” material to support the keys.

This new keyboard technology was initially reported to start appearing in MacBooks starting in 2020, but now it looks like it will be coming to the upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro as well. This change in keyboards would mark a serious correction to the mistakes made in the previous generation from a technological standpoint.

That doesn’t, though, mean it’ll look or feel all that different. Apple could keep the feel of it relatively similar, and not even mention the difference when it’s announced. Given the amount of trouble Apple has had with the keyboard thus far, we wouldn’t be surprised if the company would rather downplay the changes that will be made.

A larger, higher-resolution display

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Concept by Viktor Kadar

The most solid information we have on this new MacBook Pro is its display, with well-connected analyst Ming Chi-Kuo predicting Apple will launch an “all-new” MacBook Pro with a display ranging between 16 and 16.5 inches in size. That would make it Apple’s largest MacBook display since the company stopped selling its 17-inch model.

The latest display rumor comes from analysts IHS Markit. They claimed to have obtained further details on this display, stating it’ll be a TFT-LCD panel made by LG Display.

If that’s true, it dampens hopes of Apple fitting its 16-inch MacBook Pro with an OLED display, which would feel like a given if Apple’s rumored laptop is its attempt to go all-out.

But then, Apple has never been one to rush in head-first with relatively new technology. Apple’s mantra is to be best, not to be first. If it doesn’t feel it can equip the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an OLED display that would absolutely blow you away this year, then it won’t do it until it’s totally ready.

Goodbye bezels

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We don’t know much about the design of the 16-inch MacBook Pro outside of one major change: The screen bezels.

The word on the street is that this laptop will have even thinner bezels than current Mac laptops, giving you more screen real estate without Apple having to expand the device’s physical footprint by a huge amount. That rumor was recently bolstered when reputable reporters Mark Gurman and Debby Wu joined the fray, also alleging the 16-inch MacBook Pro will come with slimmed-down bezels to give you more screen space.

Don’t expect too much to change elsewhere, though. The tech press has been almost silent on other design changes, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks and months.

One thing we’re guessing won’t change is the keyboard. Since making its debut in 2016, the Butterfly keyboard that Apple puts in its MacBooks has undergone a fresh revision every year in an attempt to make it quieter and, supposedly, to reduce its failure rate (although this last point has never been officially confirmed by Apple). According to a teardown by iFixit, 2019 was no different, with the Butterfly keyboard getting a new under-key membrane and mechanism material. If Apple has updated its keyboard once this year, there’s no way it’ll do it again just a few months later.

We suspect Apple introduced the Butterfly keyboard to make the MacBook Pro even thinner on the one hand, and to free up internal space due to its more space-efficient mechanism on the other. That’s the same reason Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack in its iPhones — in such tightly designed devices, internal space is at a premium.

With that in mind, we can’t see Apple backtracking on the Butterfly keyboard in its 16-inch MacBook Pro and replacing it with a new design that brings back the larger key travel that some people have been clamoring for. The only way Apple would give its 16-inch device a new keyboard is if it has an all-new low-travel design, and as we previously outlined, that seems impossible this year.

9th-gen Intel processors are most likely

Navi GPU that's PCIe 4 ready

With the rumor mill’s attention focused mainly on the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s display, very little has been written about its potential performance. Still, if it really is going to be Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop, then its performance will have to be truly impressive.

A report from IHS Markit in August 2019 pinned the processors down as being the same 9th-gen Intel Coffee Lake-H Refresh chips as those Apple loaded into the MacBook Pro when it refreshed the line in May 2019. That seems plausible, especially if the 16-inch MacBook Pro comes out in 2019, as numerous reports have suggested. These chips range all the way up to the eight-core, Core i9, which is the most powerful mobile processor available.

Intel just launched its 10th-generation Ice Lake processors (and more conventional Comet Lake chips) this year, though they aren’t a great fit for larger laptops meant for higher productivity.

Elsewhere, there’s a possibility the 16-inch MacBook Pro will sport AMD’s new Navi graphics chips. Apple has always supported AMD graphics rather than Nvidia, and the MacBook Pros have often included the latest Radeon Pro graphics options. We reported back in January that eagle-eyed sleuths had spotted references to Navi in beta code for MacOS Mojave 14.2. If AMD has these 7nm mobile cards ready to go, the new MacBook Pro would be a great place to debut them.

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