In a somewhat unexpected (but very welcome) move, Apple updated the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro in early July 2019. This update brought the Touch Bar and 8th-generation Intel processors to the base version, bringing it in line with Apple’s other MacBook Pro models. Better yet, this all happened without an increase in price — the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro still starts at $1,299, making it a really enticing option.
A couple of months prior, in May 2019, Apple updated the other 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. The outer design remains largely the same as previous MacBook Pro versions, but Apple did add a couple of important improvements and upgraded many of the internal components so it could provide a more powerful computer. You can buy these models whenever you want, with the updated 13-inch starting at $1,800 and the 15-inch model starting at $2,400.
However, there are still some interesting rumors afloat about Apple adding even more models to the MacBook Pro family in the coming year or two, including a completely redesigned 16-inch model that would replace the current 15-inch offerings. Let’s take a look at what Apple has changed so far, and what new changes to the MacBook Pro could be on the horizon.
13-inch model updated: All MacBook Pro models now have Touch Bar
After the launch of the mid-2019 processor update, we didn’t expect to receive any additional updates to the MacBook Pro this year. But Apple wasn’t finished there.
Apple’s two most affordable 13-inch MacBook Pro models were the subject of this upgrade. After they were omitted from May’s processor bumps, we got the feeling that Apple was leaving them as they were in order to keep the price down for entry-level buyers — which makes this latest development all the more surprising.
That’s because Apple has not only updated the processors on these models to the 8th-generation Intel chips found in its other MacBook Pros, but has also equipped them with the Touch Bar. That now means whichever MacBook Pro you go for, you’ll get Apple’s OLED control strip built right in.
Not only that, but Apple did all this without increasing the price of the refreshed models — they still start at $1,299 and $1,499 respectively. That makes them a very tempting prospect for anyone looking for a powerful MacBook Pro that won’t break the bank.
Mid-2019 update: New keyboard and processors
So, what did Apple change about the MacBook Pro in May 2019? Well, the design went largely untouched, and rumors about an upgraded screen or more powerful battery didn’t pan out. However, Apple did include a major upgrade for its butterfly keyboard, which is now made with unspecified new materials. Previously MacBook Pro models had an unfortunate reputation for problematic keyboards that could be damaged a little too easily: Apple openly acknowledged these issues, and the new generation of butterfly keyboard is specifically meant to fix the problem.
On the inside, Apple has updated the processors available for both the 13- and 15-inch models, with the 15-inch versions now getting Intel’s 9th-gen chips. One of the most exciting additions is an eight-core Intel processor available exclusively on the 15-inch model. Apple says these new chips can provide twice the speed of a quad-core MacBook Pro, and in our testing, we found the upgrade notable despite some limitations due to the thermal design.
New 16-inch model on the way?
In addition to the larger display, this MacBook Pro is rumored to have an even more powerful processor, although it would lack an OLED screen and instead settle for a 3072 x 1920 LCD display. Not much else is known about this 16-inch model so far, but it would make sense for Apple to offer two MacBook Pro updates at the same time, especially if these will be announced together at a special event.
A redesigned keyboard
These two new MacBook Pros that could be coming later this Fall may have found their killer feature: A new keyboard. The troubling and controversial butterfly mechanism keyboard was first introduced in 2016. Since then, it’s been iterated on year after year, though the problems don’t seem to be going away. We assumed Apple would stick to its guns, but according to a new report from reputable leaker Ming-Chi Kuo, a new keyboard is on the way.
According to Kuo, Apple will be returning to its “scissor switch” keys, which is the technology used in MacBook Pros before the 2016 redesign. Kuo says the new design, which will use glass fiber-reinforced keys, will first appear in a MacBook Air later this year but could make it to MacBook Pros as early as 2020. Whether or not they make it into one of these new 2019 MacBook Pros still yet to be known.
MacOS Catalina is this year’s update to MacOS, and it includes a number of new features that all Mac users can enjoy. One of the most interesting is Sidecar. While MacBooks remain without touchscreens for the foreseeable future, the new Sidecar feature allows you to pair an iPad with your MacBook Pro and control your Mac or use your iPad as a second screen. Among other benefits, this means that people can use their Apple Pencil to draw or mark up documents on their Macs via the iPad. Other features include the introduction of three new mobile apps to replace iTunes and an updated Photos app.
Even though we’ve already seen and used MacOS Catalina, that doesn’t mean we couldn’t get some more features in a future MacBook Pro, such as one of the models mentioned above.
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 possibly make 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.
- The fabled 16-inch MacBook Pro could launch this October
- MacBook Pro 16-inch: Everything you need to know
- Is your Mac compatible with MacOS Catalina? Here’s how you can find out
- An all-new, redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro could launch in September
- MacBook Pro 15 vs. MacBook Pro 13: Which should you buy?