Update: Shipment of the metal injection molded hinges has apparently commenced for the 13-inch MacBook Pro while the 15-inch model’s are set to arrive later in the year. Read on to find out more!
Apple’s MacBook Pro range hasn’t been updated for some time: the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina was refreshed in March 2015 and the 15-inch in May. New MacBook Pros are clearly imminent.
The biggest change is likely to be in the Pros’ processors, and while there are rumours of detachable touchscreens we’d take them with a hefty pinch of salt.
Let’s sift through the river of rumors to find nuggets of knowledge: what can we really expect from the 2016 MacBook Pro refresh?
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next generation of Apple’s professional notebook
- When is it out? Q4 2016, with a mention at WWDC in June, is most likely
- What will it cost? Likely £899 (around $1,264/AUS$1,670) upwards
MacBook Pro 2016 release date
We’d expect to see the new MacBook Pro 2016 at Apple’s annual developer event, WWDC, this June. However, many outlets are reporting that this year’s conference will focus primarily on introducing new software updates rather than hardware. So while the new MacBook Pro might catch a mention, it’s likely to take a backseat to iOS and OS X amendments.
According to one report by DigiTimes, Apple is gearing up to release new 13- and 15-inch MacBooks in the second half of 2016, specifically the last quarter. It reckons they will feature hinges produced using a mechanism called ‘metal injection molding’.
Said to be inspired by Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of devices, the hinges are apparently being manufactured by Ampenol, who makes hinges for Microsoft’s convertible tablet. These hinges have purportedly begun shipment for the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the 15-inch model’s hinges are set to arrive in the third quarter of the year, making the Q4 2016 release window argument even more convincing.
Reports suggest that the new slim MacBooks will feature a quadruplet of USB-C ports, two on each side. The 2016 MacBook Pros (and perhaps the next MacBook Airs) may even arrive in arrangement of new color variants, akin to its 12-inch sibling, including Gold, Space Gray and Rose Gold.
MacBook Pro 2016 price
The current MacBook Pro range starts at £899 ($1,099) for the 13-inch non-Retina model, rising to £999 ($1,119) for the entry-level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and topping out at £1,999 ($2,099) for the 2.5GHz 15-inch Retina.
The 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro, tucked away apologetically at the foot of Apple’s product page, surely can’t be long for this world; come the updates we’d expect it to vanish in favour of a Retina 13-inch model instead.
Apple tends to keep its pricing similar between generations, so an £899 entry-level Pro with Retina display is likely to be the baby of the range.
MacBook Pro 2016: what’s so special about Skylake?
The MacBook Pro is trailing PC rivals in the processor stakes: Dell and Microsoft have already moved to the sixth-generation Intel processors, but Apple is still on Broadwell and Haswell chips.
The move to Skylake processors should be more significant than the move to Broadwell, as the latter was more about battery life and energy efficiency than performance. Moving the MacBook Pro to Skylake should deliver massive speed improvements across the range as well as better battery life.
Skylake has some other tricks up its silicon sleeve including support for WiGig and WiDi short-range, high speed data transfer as well as wireless charging. Don’t expect those features to be enabled in this year’s notebooks, but they’re likely to turn up in future iterations.
MacBook Pro 2016: fitter, happier, more productive
Faster is a given, better battery is almost certain. What about design changes? The current MacBook Pro is fairly porky compared to Apple’s other notebooks, especially the minimalist USB-C MacBook.
That’s partly because it’s an older design and partly because the current MacBook Pro boasts lots of ports: twin Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3, an HDMI socket and an SDXC card slot.
Apple isn’t sentimental about removing supposedly must-have features it deems redundant – the MacBook Pro lost its SuperDrive years ago – so could those ports be for the bullet too in favour of one or two USB-C ports?
It’s certainly possible, especially since Intel has combined USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 to deliver USB, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, PCI Express and power in a single connection.
If the 2016 MacBook Pro doesn’t have at least one USB-C port we’ll eat an iPad – although it’ll be interesting to see how much Apple prizes thinness over existing connectivity.
USB-C has the bandwidth for daisy-chaining even the most demanding devices, and of course Apple is always happy to sell reassuringly expensive adapters when it bins a previously popular port.
MacBook Pro 2016: Touch ID and next-gen SSDs?
The Pros are all about performance, so will they get next-generation SSDs? It’s a nice thought, but while Intel’s blazingly quick Optane SSDs are destined for Macs, they aren’t likely to appear in any this side of 2017.
Another persistent rumour is TouchID fingerprint recognition, but that particular pundit also predicted TouchID in the recent Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad updates, which of course didn’t happen.
MacBook Pro 2016: Detachable keyboard and screen?
One of the most interesting MacBook Pro rumors is that it’s getting a touchscreen, and perhaps a detachable keyboard, too. We think that’s spectacularly unlikely, for several reasons.
Those reasons are: iPad Pro, iPad Pro, iPad Pro, iPad Pro and iPad Pro. Apple already has a device with a touchscreen and detachable keyboard, and it isn’t a MacBook. There’s another reason for our cynicism, and that’s OS X. OS X 10.11 El Capitan’s interface isn’t optimized for touch since the company likes to keep its operating systems fine-tuned for their respective audiences.
More likely to come true is the theory that Apple will implement, in some capacity, a touchscreen keyboard in its next MacBook Pro.
While a patent filed by Apple suggests an iPad-like interface in favor of a the physical keyboards we’ve all grown accustomed to, photographs recently acquired by Cult of Mac show something a little different; that is, a more conventional Magic Keyboard-esque qwerty layout featuring a touchscreen OLED display to replace the function keys.
This could make for an enticing compromise for those in pursuit of the classic MacBook Pro experience in addition to fans of the ever-flourishing 2-in-1.
Gabe Carey contributed to this article
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