Everyone thought Apple was going to update its MacBook Pro line at WWDC 2016, but it didn't.
Now the world is expecting refreshed models to come out this autumn instead, especially because the MacBook and MacBook Air were updated in March. Keep in mind there are two sizes of MacBook Pro: a 13-inch model that was last updated in March 2015, and a 15-inch model that was last updated in May 2015. So, nobody can imagine Apple going two full years without rolling out MacBook Pro models with all new specs.
Surely at new models are imminent? Rumours certainly suggest that's the case. What's more, the upcoming laptops won't simply have faster processors and thinner bodies, which we all pretty much expect. They are also heavily tipped to feature an OLED touch panel and a Touch ID sensor embedded in their keyboards. Here's everything we know so far on the new MacBooks.
Keep checking back, as we plan to regularly update this piece over time.
MacBook Pro (2016): Release date
According to Recode, Apple is planning an event for 27 October, when it will unveil a new MacBook Pro.
Bloomberg also previously claimed that Apple's autumn hardware event will showcase new MacBook Pro laptops, as well as a new iMac desktop, newMacBook Air, and new standalone 5K display. The last event Apple held in October was back in 2014, when the company revealed the iPad Air 2, the latest version of the iMac, and shared details on the OS X Yosemite operating system
Ming-Chi Kuo, a trusted analyst at KGI Securities, said Apple plans to introduce redesigned 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter of 2016, which begins in September.
MacBook Pro (2016): Price
We don't expect Apple's current pricing for the MacBook Pro line to change. The cheapest, 13-inch model now costs £999, while the 15-inch model comes in two variants: a 2.2GHz £1,599 version, and a 2.5GHz £1,999 variant.
MacBook Pro (2016): Design
'Thinner and lighter'
Both models are said to have a thinner and lighter form factors, and according to a report from China's Commercial Times, they'll feature the metal injection mold-made (MiM) hinges and the butterfly-mechanism keyboards that were introduced with the 12-inch MacBook. Alleged component photos for the upcoming 13-inch Retina Macbook Pro were leaked in late May, purportedly revealing the thinner body of the device.
According to Recode, the newMacBook Pro could be slimmer with a flatter keyboard featuring an OLED strip.
OLED touch panel
Kuo also said the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models will feature the "most significant upgrade ever undertaken by Apple", largely thanks to their new OLED display touch panel that replaces the row of physical function keys at the top of the keyboard. This panel might also be contextual, according to rumours, with virtual buttons that change based on apps currently in use, etc.
For example, when using iTunes, the bar could show media and volume controls, where as in a photo-editing program, it could show tool shortcuts or commands. In the leaked photos from May, we can see not only the thinner body of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but also the missing cutouts for the row of function keyboards, which suggests an OLED touch panel will replace physical keys.
A Bloomberg report, which cites several sources, also claims a touchscreen strip will be present. This touchscreen strip, which will replace the standard function keys, is reportedly dubbed the "Dynamic Function Row".
Touch ID sensor
Currently, the function key row houses a power button on the far-right, and in the upcoming MacBook Pro models, the Power button will likely maintain its position but will also incorporate a Touch ID sensor, allowing you to securely log-in with a simple finger press, according to Kuo.
Rumours have long claimed Apple will bring USB Type-C to the MacBook Pro line, and wouldn't you know it, the leaked component photos from May show four USB Type-C ports and one headphone jack on the sides of the device. Support for Thunderbolt 3 is expected to be included, too, Kuo has claimed, with the MagSafe gone. We can also see thin speaker grilles next to the keyboard in those leaked component photos.
MacBook Pro (2016): Specs
There's not much news on this spec at the moment, though we assume the new Macbook Pro models will sport displays with a 2304 x 1440-pixel resolution, the same resolution as the current 12-inch MacBook models. One rumour even claimed the 2016 models will be touchscreen.
The new MacBook Pro models will likely feature Skylake processors. These are the new, sixth generation chips by Intel, and they will bring significant performance improvements to the new MacBook Pro, resulting in a much faster machine with battery life gains to boot.
There's also a series of new mobile Xeon E3 chips that could potentially be used in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, but pricing constraints at the high end make the standard Core i7 Skylake chips more likely.
Bloomberg states that the new processors will be tuned to perform well for gaming, as well as other high performance uses.
Both AMD and Nvidia could introduce new mobile GPU products in 2016 - just in time for the 2016 MacBook Pro. AMD will have GPUs based on Global Foundries 14 nm FinFET processor node, while Nvidia's GPUs will based on 16 nm FinFET Plus processor node. Both should bring gains in graphics performance either way. They are set to launch later this year, however, so it's unclear if they'll be ready for the 2016 MacBook Pro.
MacBook Pro (2016): Patents
Apple Pencil trackpad
There's only so many ways you can use Apple Pencil in its current form. Luckily for us, Apple has plenty more grand ideas for the gadget. The company has been granted a patent that allows Apple Pencil to work with the Magic Trackpad, which means you could use the stylus to draw on a Mac. In other words, if this functionality comes to fruition, Wacom's days are numbered, as you'd no longer need tablet peripherals.
Apple applied for the patent in 2014. It describes other powerful features, too, including in-air gestures so that you can change between slides in Keynote or pages in Pages, for instance. You could even use Pencil as a joystick for games. Just keep in mind none of this may ever come to Apple Pencil, but it's still cool to see what the Cupertino company is considering behind the scenes.
Also, this isn't the only Apple Pencil patent we've seen granted recently. Another one detailed a stylus that uses swappable tips. These tips can be standard ones like a felt-tip pen, or they can be fancy ones such as a force-sensing bristle brush tip, motion-tracking camera, and a flashlight. Fingerprint recognition - similar to Touch ID - is further mentioned for authentication.
Patently Apple published a patent filed by Apple that shows a MacBook with cellular capabilities, suggesting Apple want to introduce a 4G-enabled MacBook Pro. A 4G MacBook Pro would most probably be an optional hardware cost with a similar pricing structure as the iPads.
MacBook Pro (2016): Concepts
Designer Martin Hajek made the mockup at the top and the one below of a Retina MacBook Pro with an OLED touch panel.
Want to know more?
Check out Apple's MacBook Pro hub for the latest news.