Apple’s new MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 could bring the biggest changes in years to a laptop that could really use a makeover. And now we’ve heard there’s a special
planned for 10 AM PT Monday, October 18th, where we believe new 2021 MacBooks will be unveiled.
We’re expecting to see a new design built around flatter edges, slimmer display bezels, more ports and the new M1X chip. Plus, we could see the return of MagSafe charging and the end of the Touch Bar.
We’ve already heaped praise on the current MacBook Pro M1, but there’s still room for improvement. So a next-gen MacBook Pro is a tantalizing prospect and one that could see Apple hit back at the stellar Dell XPS 13 to win a spot on our best laptop list.
With that in mind, here’s what we know so far and what we want from the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021.
MacBook Pro 2021 14-inch news (updated October 13)
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 rumored release date
It’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll see the new MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 release date soon. And a 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 should be along for the ride.
A separate report from Digitimes says that the MacBook Pro 2021 release date could be pushed back due to the global chip shortage. The publication says to expect the laptop to ship in the fourth quarter.
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 M1X chip
Since the first ARM-based Apple Silicon processor was named the Apple M1 chip, it’s expected Apple will call the next version of this chip the M1X. The rumored Apple M2 chip is now looking set for a next-gen MacBook Air, tipped for a 2022 reveal, with the chip focused on efficiency rather than raw power.
How will these chips differ from the M1? According to Bloomberg’s Gurman, the M1X chip is expected to be “a more graphics-intense and professional-focused M1 chip” that has allegedly been developed “in two variations: both with 10 CPU cores (eight high-performance and two high-efficiency) and either 16 or 32 graphics cores.”
Another report says Apple is planning a 20-core Apple Silicon processor for its 2021 Macs. That’s a significant upgrade from its current 8-core (4 high-performance, 4 high-efficiency) chips.
The 20-core model would have up to 16 high-performance cores, though Apple is reportedly testing versions with only 8 or 12 high-performance cores enabled. The decision to disable cores would depend on any issues discovered during production.
Another leak has claimed that Apple has booked production of a new M2 chip, set for use in its next-gen MacBooks. It’s slated to use a 4-nanometer process node, which in turn promises a bigger boost in performance but not at the cost of power efficiency. That chip could be the aforementioned 20-core version or something completely different.
The next MacBooks could also get a boost in the software department, as one report points to a possible new high power mode in the latest build of macOS 12 Monterey. This would deliver more performance when you need it even while unplugged.
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 display
Yes, this model appears to possibly mark the end of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, as the reports from Kuo and Gurman only mention 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros for 2021.
It’s unclear if Apple will change the chassis of the smaller MacBook Pro to accommodate this larger display, or trim the bezels down for more screen space. Gurman reports the latter is the plan for the MacBook Air 2021.
The latest tip has the MacBook Pro 2021 slated to get a 120Hz refresh rate mini-LED display, which would be a dramatic departure from the 60Hz LCD panel the Retinal displays found on the current MacBook Pros.
The switch from LCD to mini-LED panels promise to give next-gen MacBook Pro brighter and higher contrast displays, providing these leaks and rumors are legitimate. And a 120Hz refresh rate would make scrolling through web pages and apps, as well as working in production software feel much smoother than before.
In a deep dive into the latest macOS Monterey beta, two new display resolutions were found. As these have never been seen before, we can posit that they are for the MacBook Pro 2021 14-inch and the MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch. The resolutions listed were “3456 x 2234 Retina” and “3024 x 1964 Retina,” and though we don’t know which resolution corresponds to which rumored next-gen MacBook Pro, both translate to approximately a 250 pixel per inch density, making the screens sharper than those on previous MacBook Pros.
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 price
This all depends on whether or not the $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 released last year sticks around. If so, the 14-inch MacBook Pro would likely start at around $200 to $300 higher. But if the current 13-inch MacBook Pro disappears, we’d expect Apple to keep the $1,299 entry-level price.
Apple’s kept the same pricing for its entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro at around $1,299 for a few years now, which was a price drop from the previous $1,799 mark. However, Tipster Luke Miani has predicted that Apple will offer an M1X-equipped 14-inch MacBook Pro at a starting price of $1,799.
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 specs
Expect more memory and storage. The Intel-based 13-inch MacBook Pro tops off at 4TB of storage and 32GB of RAM, and Apple is likely to match those numbers, as the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 would fill that spot in the lineup. But expect the next-gen MacBook to have higher entry-level specs; tipster Luke Miani believes Apple will ship the entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 with an M1X chip sporting a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, plus 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, though you’ll have the option to upgrade to a 32-core GPU and 32 GB of RAM.
Those specs were backed up by a recent leak supposedly showing a DVT (design validation test) unit that listed the MacBook Pro as having an M1X chip plus 512GB NVMe SSD and 16GB of unified RAM.
Also, expect a slightly higher-res screen, moving up from the 13-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel dimensions of the current entry-level MacBook Pro.
Another rumor claims that the 14-inch MacBook Pro will have a 1080p webcam, SD card reader, three Thunderbolt USB C ports, an updated MagSafe port, and an HDMI port.
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 design
So, here’s where things get really interesting — with the redesign that the MacBook Pro has needed.
We’re happy to get more speed and another inch of screen, but Kuo claims that “the new models cancel the curvy design of existing models’ top and bottom parts and adopt a flat-edged form factor design similar to the iPhone 12.” That design language originated with the iPhone 4, and it’s also seen in the iPad Pro and iPad Air.
Gurman’s reporting seems to disagree, as he writes “The new Macs will look similar to the current versions, albeit with minor design changes.”
We’ve also got great news for people who want more ports. Gurman notes that Apple will augment the USB-C ports in the MacBook Pro 2021 with the return of the magnetic MagSafe charging port. This cable, dropped when the 2016 MacBook Pro switched to USB-C for charging, snaps off when a bit of tension is applied, because it connects primarily because of magnets, not because of a port-head being deeply seated in the entry point. This change was echoed in Kuo’s recent report as well. Apple will keep USB-C ports in the MacBook Pro, but they may not draw power.
HDMI is reportedly coming back as well. So maybe it’s the end of the USB-C adapter era? We shall see.
However, one of the most notable rumors is the return of the SD card reader. Apple dropped it from MacBooks in 2016, opting to go for an all-USB-C port selection. That wasn’t ideal for photographers or video editors, and it looks like Apple might change that decision, by adding in a speedy UHS-II SD card reader.
Gurman specified that the SD memory card reader will return in the MacBook Pro. This is a win for pro photographers and USB-C hub haters alike. This is somewhat confirmed by Kuo, who said that the MacBook Pro 2021 will have “more types of I/O, and most users may not need to purchase additional dongles.”
Gurman and Kuo also reported that OLED Touch Bar display strip will finally get stripped out of the MacBook Pro. It appears Apple’s finally admitting this panel isn’t as widely used as the company would like.
A separate analyst report by Display Supply Chain Consultants backs up the claim that the Touch Bar could be on the way out. It says: “Touch Bars continue to be the #3 application with a 18% unit share and 1.2% revenue share in Q1’21”, the report says. “We expect Touch Bars to be exceeded by tablets when Apple starts the adoption of the 10.9” AMOLED iPad. Further, our sources suggest that Apple may cancel the Touch Bar in the future.”
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 touch screen
Sorry, but we’ve seen no rumors of a touch screen in the MacBook Pro 2021. And while some may want one, history shows that Apple isn’t interested.
In 2010, then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs called touch-screen laptops “ergonomically terrible,” and elaborating by saying “We’ve done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn’t work.”
And in 2020 when macOS Big Sur introduced a slightly redesigned macOS, with larger buttons, Apple stuck to its guns. Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering told an interviewer that “We had designed and evolved the look for macOS in a way that felt most comfortable and natural to us, not remotely considering something about touch.”
MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 outlook
There’s a lot information out there about the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021, although nothing is confirmed at this stage. But based on the rumors and leaks, the next-gen MacBook Pro looks promising and if it delivers on just a selection of the above rumours then we could be looking at a very impressive laptop.
And that’s needed, as Windows laptops have been going from strength to strength of late, meaning Apple’s MacBooks don’t look quite as desirable as they once were (if you ignore the M1 power Apple brought to the table). But a redesigned MacBook Pro with a new display size and custom silicon power could see Apple come back swinging in the fall.