Apple MacBook Pro 2021: 14-inch and 16-inch specs, features, rumours and news

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(Pocket-lint) - Last year may have seen the landmark arrival of Apple Silicon on the MacBook Pro range, but we're expecting equally big things from Apple in 2021.

Since the M1 MacBook Pro models focused on upgraded, in-house internals, it's likely that a design refresh is on the cards this time around - especially since we were already treated to a colourful M1 iMac range back in March.

Early rumours indicate there will be both 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models to pick between in 2021, replacing the 13-inch device that was announced last November.

However, that might not represent the only change to the lineup, with an even lighter version of the MacBook Air also hinted.

There's plenty more MacBook Pro 2021 features, specs and rumours to dive into, though, with an official announcement expected later this year. So, let's break down what we know so far.

Release date

  • Now due late 2021
  • Some rumours say Q4

We were expecting the 14-inch MacBook Pro to debut in early 2020, but that model ended up being an update to the existing 13-inch. Apple surprised many by revealing an Apple M1-based MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini in late 2020. It also retained two Intel models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The 16-inch remains Intel-based at present. 

We're expecting an Apple Silicon version of the 16-inch during 2021 - most likely late in the year in October or November. This could coincide with a redesign for both models.

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Features, specs and design

  • All Apple Silicon or could Intel still be offered? 
  • Mini LED display

We'd expect any 13 or 14-inch Pro to be about the same size and thickness as the current 13-inch model, but with smaller bezels. There should be a larger battery, too, promising a full working day of battery life during everyday use, plus four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and a headphone jack.

We've heard rumours of numerous Apple products launching with Mini LED displays, so we'd expect the MacBook Pro to be in line for these whenever the new version launches. If the MacBook Pro gets these displays, we'd expect, as we say, far smaller bezels than currently offered.

It's possible that Apple will still offer Intel options for the new laptops, given what it has done so far with the 13-inch. We also believe there will most likely be an upgraded Apple Silicon chip, probably known as M2 or M1X.

There are some suggestions that more ports will return, as well. Specifically, there may be an SD card slot, which would be welcome. There may also be four, rather than two Thunderbolt ports on the smaller MacBook Pro.

Some suggestions have said this port-fest may also include HDMI, though we think that very unlikely. A lot of rumours have also suggested that Apple is getting ready to dump the Touch Bar, which has been a mixed bag at best - and this is one rumour that has now been corroborated by industry analysts' sources.

We may already know the battery details, after two filings from Apple supplier Sunwoda Electronic. For the smaller - and, likely, 14-inch model - the battery for model number A2519 was rated at 6,068 mAh and 11.47V, which is slightly higher than the 5,103 mAh rating of the current 13-inch MacBook Pro. 

It's also worth pointing out that any new Mac will also now feature the redesigned scissor-switch mechanism keyboard, dubbed the Magic Keyboard. It is an improvement, but it's not necessarily new tech, since it's based on the Magic Keyboards that have come with iMac for years.

MacBook Pro 2021 leaks and rumours: What's happened so far?

Here is everything we have heard so far about the new 14-inch MacBook Pro.

16 August 2021: Apple Watch Series 7 to bring Time to Run feature, M1X MacBook Pro coming soon

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman published his Power On newsletter detailing a couple of extra details about upcoming Apple devices, mentioning the M1X MacBook Pro and claiming it would arrive before the two-year anniversary of the previous 16-inch MacBook Pro.

23 July 2021: A MacBook Air with Mini LED screen is on the way

A new version of the MacBook Air is apparently on the way in 2022 with similar Mini LED technology to the newest 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This means that it's even more likely we'll see Mini LED come to the MacBook Pro during 2021. 

8 July 2021: MacBook Pro models to ditch Touch Bar, according to analysts

We had already heard rumours that Apple was considering dropping the Touch Bar from the 2021 MacBook Pro range, and insight from industry analysts and their sources back up the claims made in January.

As detailed in a report from DSCC, the firm notes how the Touch Bar is currently the third-largest user of OLED displays, with its sources indicating that Apple will "cancel the Touch Bar" in an upcoming MacBook Pro.

4 June 2021: MacBook Pro 14-inch battery details from Apple supplier found in filing database

As uncovered by MacRumors, filings made by Apple supplier Sunwoda Electronic perhaps give us our best hint yet that Apple is planning to release a model in the 14-inch range. 

While one filing alludes to a bigger model, the other is slightly larger than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro. If the filings are to be believed, this indicates that something with a slightly bigger battery profile could be on the horizon.

19 March 2021: Could the MacBook Pro come with a 16 core Apple M1X or M2 processor?

AppleLeaksPro states the 16-inch MacBook Pro will have a 16 core processor. That seems extreme to us, but we have been really surprised at what Apple managed to do with the M1, so it's possible. Alternatively, 16 cores could also refer to the graphics processor.

It's also suggested the MacBook Air will simply have its core count doubled from four cores in the current M1 to eight cores in the M1X or M2, whatever it ends up being called. We've heard before that it would get thinner and lighter.

10 March 2021: Two new Apple Silicon MacBooks coming second half of the year, claims report

Nikkei Asia says production on two new MacBooks is set to start in June. Note that's the beginning of production, so they may not be announced by that date. June is usually a key month for Apple though, because that's when it holds its WWDC developer conference.

23 February 2021: The MacBook Pro is getting an SD card slot once more

Serial Apple rumour specialist and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been at it again, this time suggesting that the upcoming MacBook Pro series will have an SD card reader and HDMI port, too.

15 January 2021: No more Touch Bar? 

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the new MacBooks will be "similar to the iPhone 12 with no curved edges but there is a slight curve to the lid, so that may go. To be honest, the current-gen Pro is similar to this anyway, so we're taking that with a pinch of salt. But what is more interesting is that these models will signify the end of the Touch Bar era, too, it seems with physical keys returning. 

8 January 2021: More Mini LED rumours

Late last year the Mini LED rumours were centred around new MacBook Pro models for 2021, and things have now moved on to focus on some of Apple's other big sellers, namely both the iPad Pro and Macbook Air. 

6 January 2021: Apple envisions a future MacBook that can wirelessly charge an iPhone

The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple two new patents for two-way wireless charging. The patents, first noticed by Patently Apple, include drawings that show Apple envisioned a MacBook capable of charging an iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

6 December 2020: Apple working on Mac CPUs that could outperform Intel in 2021

Arm-based Apple Silicon chipsets running 16 power cores and four efficiecy cores are claimed to be in development. They could make their way into new Mac models by the end of next year.

3 December 2020: Apple to release two mini LED MacBook Pros in 2021

Renowned industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo states that the Cupertino firm will introduce two Apple Silicon MacBook Pro models with mini LED displays next year, each coming with "new form factor" designs.

10 November 2020: Apple introduces the M1-based MacBook Pro

During a "One More Thing" virtual event, Apple announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro featuring its M1 Apple Silicon chip. In June, Apple revealed plans to begin using its own custom ‌processors in Macs, and now, it's announcing those Macs and promising industry-leading performance per watt. Apple said the M1 chip is the first in a family of Apple Silicon chips.

The 5-nanometer chip supports Thunderbolt and USB 4, has an eight-core CPU, and boasts the "world's fastest integrated graphics" with a 16-core Neural Engine that can process 11 trillion operations per second.

3 November 2020 - Apple might launch Arm-based MacBook Air and Pro laptops at next event

Apple will reportedly unveil new Arm Macs soon and is also making several more, according to a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

1 September 2020: A 12-inch Apple MacBook seems set to be the first Apple Silicon Mac

The first Apple Silicon Mac could be a 12-inch MacBook, a replacement for the super lightweight MacBook that existed between 2015-2019. We've thought that the first Apple Silicon Mac would be a thin-and-light laptop ever since Apple first announced that Macs would gradually transition away from Intel.

27 July 2020: It looks like Face ID will come to the Mac this year

After its 2017 debut on the iPhone X. Face ID was long-rumoured to come to the iPad which it did in 2018 but still hasn't made it to the Mac. However, according to discoveries by 9to5 Mac in the macOS Big Sur beta code, the new operating system is capable of Face ID unlock. 

9 July 2020: Apple Silicon Macs will continue to use Thunderbolt, so there will be an Intel element after all

Apple has committed to using Thunderbolt on its Apple Silicon Macs, even though it is pulling away from Intel technologies elsewhere.

22 June 2020: macOS Big Sur is here

Apple has revealed the newest macOS, taking the wraps off a new visual redesign for version 11.0 of the operating system. There's also a variety of new features that are coming to its laptops and desktops plus the new OS can run on Intel or ARM platforms. 

20 June 2020: Could the first ARM-based Macs really be MacBook Pros?

Apple is moving some of its Mac lineup to ARM-based Apple Silicon processors beginning this year. Some rumours are pointing to the new MacBook Pro being first among these, but we're not so sure - we think it'll be far more likely to be in the MacBook Air class. 

4 May 2020: New MacBook Pro 13-inch official

Apple has announced a refresh of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the latest-generation scissor keyboard and 10th generation Intel Core processors. Other enhancements include up to 16GB of faster 3,733MHz RAM as standard and double the storage. Standard storage ranges from 256GB to 1TB, but models can now have up to 4TB of storage.

11 March 2020: 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh set for the second quarter of 2020

Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities says that a new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with the new/old scissor-design keyboard will debut in late March with a launch set for the second quarter of 2020.  

11 March 2020: Six new devices with Apple Mini-LED displays in 2020 and 2021

According to the latest rumours Apple will debut six new products featuring Mini-LED display technology over the coming months. Among these will be the 14.1-inch MacBook Pro and an upgrade to the 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌.

13 January 2020: New MacBook Pro spotted in regulatory filings

Shortly before Christmas, Apple submitted some filings to the EC, and one of them is for an unreleased product with the model number A2289.

The company described it as a “portable personal computer” running macOS 10.15. Add it all up, and it's likely a new MacBook.

Writing by Dan Grabham. Editing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 25 June 2019.

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