A lot has happened in 2019 for the MacBook lineup. The 12-inch MacBook has been outright canceled, as was the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Pro received a spec bump (and price reduction), while the 15-inch MacBook Pro was beefed up with the inclusion of the eight-core, Intel Core i9 processor.
That’s all good stuff, but there’s still more. There are some interesting rumors afloat about Apple adding even more models to the MacBook Pro family in the coming months, including a 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.
No updates at Apple’s iPhone event
There had been talk that Apple may launch some new MacBook models at its iPhone event in September 2019, but that didn’t come to pass. While the company launched new iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches, the MacBook Pro was completely absent; in fact, Apple barely mentioned the Mac at all.
However, hope is not lost for new MacBook Pro models coming out in 2019. Apple often hosts a special Mac event in mid-to-late October, and we’d expect to see some updates here, not least the new 16-inch model (discussed below). Apple held a Mac event on October 30 in 2018, October 27 in 2016, and October 16 in 2014. Evidently it doesn’t hold these events every single year, but considering the sheer number of rumors of a new MacBook Pro launching in 2019, we’d expect an event this year.
It’s also worth considering that after Apple’s iPhone event this year, the MacOS Catalina page on its website was updated to say the operating system would launch in October (it previously mentioned a “Fall” launch date). That could be a further clue that Apple has a MacBook Pro event planned for October, where it could launch both new models and the new operating system together.
New 16-inch model on the way
It’s been three years since Apple last redesigned the MacBook Pro, and it’s been a turbulent few years. Between failing keyboards, performance issues, and even exploding batteries, the current MacBook Pro design has been divisive to say the least.
All the rumors in 2019 have been leading toward the launch of a completely redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro to launch sometime this Fall. Though nothing is for sure, many of the reports point to a redesigned keyboard, a higher resolution (3,072 x 1,920), thinner bezels, and Intel’s 9th-gen H-series processors.
Those specs would make it one of Apple’s most powerful laptops, and certainly its most forward thinking in terms of design. Rival laptops like Dell’s superb XPS 15 have been trouncing the MacBook Pro recently, and Apple needs to do something special to make up for lost time. The all-new 16-inch MacBook Pro could be the device to do that.
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.
The latest report from Kuo pulled back that claim, instead indicating that the forthcoming 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro will be the first to debut this new “scissor switch” keyboard before they eventually make it to the rest of the lineup of MacBooks in 2020.
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.
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.
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