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 bit old in comparison.
But rumors have been afloat about what the 2019 MacBook Pro will be like. Here’s what we know so far.
Price and release date
Currently, there are not many rumors as to when you can expect the 2019 MacBook Pro, but we can go based off Apple’s previous launch records to come to a would-be launch date. The most recent update to the MacBook Pro lineup was released in July 2018, and a launch happened right before that in June 2017. But for a larger revamp like we’re expecting, WWDC in June or a fall event is more likely.
Note that there was a rumor that a new MacBook Pro model was canceled for 2019 and pushed back to 2020 or 2021. While this got a lot of attention, it turned out to be a mistake: Someone had mistranslated Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s report from Chinese and came out with the wrong idea. As far as we know the new MacBook Pro is still slated for 2019.
As for pricing, the current non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro lineup starts with a $1,300 13-inch model with seventh generation Intel Core i5 Processor, 8GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD. A 13-inch model with the Touch Bar and 8th-generation processors ups the price to $1,800. As for the 15-inch version, prices start at $2,400. We expect Apple to stick to this rough pricing structure with the next-generation models.
A complete redesign
It’s likely that Apple will revamp the MacBook lineup significantly: Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported in a research note that Apple seems 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 of buyers 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 of keyboard. 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.
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.
That said, 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.
Another new feature on the software side of the 2019 MacBook Pro could be 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.
The MacBook Lineup has taken the jump from Kaby Lake processors in 2017 to Coffee Lake processors in 2018, and, following the pattern, the next 2019 MacBook will again likely have Intel’s latest processors. The more obvious upgrade would be to the current Whiskey Lake Processors, which were announced in August of 2018 but are already powering some of the latest Windows laptops. The chipset would bring support for integrated Gigabit Wi-Fi, as well as subtle performance jumps when web-browsing.
Anandtech recently reported that new 9th-generation processors are incoming on laptops, in both the Core i7 and Core i9 variants. These would be successors to last year’s 8th-gen Core i9, which debuted in the 15-inch MacBook Pro last summer. At the top of the range would be the Core i9-9880H, which comes with eight cores and sixteen threads.
Intel’s upcoming Ice Lake processors could show up in future MacBooks, especially since they are expected to debut in Dell machines this summer. Another wild shot could also be ARM processors, but Apple 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.