Forget ancient whispers of Atlantis or hushed speculation on Kate Middleton’s latest haircut, there’s a hot new rumor in town: Apple will launch a brand-new, high-powered 16-inch MacBook Pro imminently.
What will it look like? How fast will it be? And most importantly, how deep a hole will it burn in your wallet? All questions born on the tongues of tech gossips the world over.
We’ve rounded up the rumors to take away the guesswork, giving you all the info you need right here. Make sure you check back regularly, as we’ll be updating this page as more rumors and leaks come to light.
Price and release date
In recent weeks we’ve received a few juicy bits of gossip regarding the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s purported launch date. The first was a report from analysts IHS Markit, which pinned the date on September. This makes sense, as Apple hosts a major event every September, and Macs often make an appearance alongside the yearly iPhone update.
The second indication of the launch date was a report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, which suggested the new laptop could be in our hands this October. We don’t think you should be too fussed about the discrepancy with IHS Markit’s report — Apple often hosts events in both September and October, so the 16-inch MacBook Pro could launch at either one. What’s important is that both sets of analysts believe the new laptop is imminent.
There was another tidbit pointing towards an imminent release date earlier in 2019. That came in June, when Apple registered seven new laptops with the Eurasian Economic Commission (ECC). We put our thinking caps on and surmised that these devices were likely to be updates to the MacBook Air and a brand-new 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Apple only ever registers new devices with the ECC when it is about to release them so as not to let the cat out the bag. Consider the following: In August 2018, Apple registered four new Apple Watch models; a month later, it unveiled the Series 4 Watch. Similarly, in January 2019 it registered seven iPad models; in March, it released the new iPad mini and iPad Air. All that points towards a launch date some time in Fall 2019.
But what about the price? Well, unsurprisingly the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is likely to be expensive. Apple has only just updated its 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models; if it came out with a brand new 16-inch model so soon afterwards, it would tick a whole lot of people off who just shelled out on a model released earlier this year.
With that in mind, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will have to be positioned as something special, something altogether different from this year’s updated models. And if that’s the case, it’ll likely come with a load of bells and whistles that push the price up into ultra-premium territory.
A new keyboard
One of the biggest complaints and points of controversy about the current crop of MacBook Pros is the keyboard. The butterfly-switch keyboard has been present in every MacBook since 2016, but recent reports say that’s finally going to change. The new design is being referred to as a “scissor-switch” mechanism, a more common low-profile keyboard technology. According to the report, Apple’s switches use a “glass fiber” material to support the keys.
This new keyboard technology was initially reported to start appearing in MacBooks starting in 2020, but now it looks like it will be coming to the upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro as well. This change in keyboards would mark a serious correction to the mistakes made in the previous generation from a technological standpoint, though we don’t expect the look or feel of the keyboard to change all that much. Given the amount of trouble Apple has had with the keyboard thus far, it feels like the right time to start from scratch.
The main solid information we have on this new MacBook Pro is on its display, with well-connected analyst Ming Chi-Kuo predicting Apple will launch an “all-new” MacBook Pro with a display ranging between 16 and 16.5 inches in size. That would make it Apple’s largest MacBook display since the company stopped selling its 17-inch model.
The latest display rumor comes from analysts HIS Markit. They claimed to have obtained further details on this display, stating it’ll be a TFT-LCD panel made by LG Display.
If that’s true, it dampens hopes of Apple fitting its 16-inch MacBook Pro with an OLED display, which would feel like a given if Apple’s rumored laptop is its attempt to go all-out.
But then, Apple has never been one to rush in head-first with relatively new technology. Apple’s mantra is to be best, not to be first. If it doesn’t feel it can equip the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an OLED display that would absolutely blow you away this year, then it won’t do it until it’s totally ready.
We would expect the design of the 16-inch MacBook Pro to be fairly similar to its current MacBook Pro, with one major difference: The screen bezels.
The word on the street is that this laptop will have even thinner bezels than current Mac laptops, giving you more screen real estate without Apple having to expand the device’s physical footprint by a huge amount.
Don’t expect too much to change elsewhere, though. The tech press has been almost silent on other design changes, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks and months.
One thing we’re guessing won’t change is the keyboard. Since making its debut in 2016, the Butterfly keyboard that Apple puts in its MacBooks has undergone a fresh revision every year in an attempt to make it quieter and, supposedly, to reduce its failure rate (although this last point has never been officially confirmed by Apple). According to a teardown by iFixit, 2019 was no different, with the Butterfly keyboard getting a new under-key membrane and mechanism material. If Apple has updated its keyboard once this year, there’s no way it’ll do it again just a few months later.
We suspect Apple introduced the Butterfly keyboard to make the MacBook Pro even thinner on the one hand, and to free up internal space due to its more space-efficient mechanism on the other. That’s the same reason Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack in its iPhones — in such tightly designed devices, internal space is at a premium.
With that in mind, we can’t see Apple backtracking on the Butterfly keyboard in its 16-inch MacBook Pro and replacing it with a new design that brings back the larger key travel that some people have been clamoring for. The only way Apple would give its 16-inch device a new keyboard is if it has an all-new low-travel design, and as we previously outlined, that seems impossible this year.
With the rumor mill’s attention focused mainly on the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s display, very little has been written about its potential performance. Still, if it really is going to be Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop, then its performance will have to be truly impressive.
Interestingly, Intel is set to release its 10th-generation Ice Lake processors this year, and we can quite easily see them making their way into a new high-end MacBook Pro. The chips are said to be based on Intel’s 10nm Sunny Cove architecture, which will make them much more energy efficient — a must for any that laptop combines thinness and power like a MacBook Pro. However, of now only Y-series and U-series processors are available, meaning the higher clock speeds and core counts would be left to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. That seems like an unlikely option.
Elsewhere, there’s a possibility the 16-inch MacBook Pro will sport AMD’s new Navi graphics chips. We reported back in January that eagle-eyed sleuths had spotted references to Navi in beta code for MacOS Mojave 14.2. If Apple is making its operating system compatible with AMD’s upcoming chips, their inclusion in at least one Mac device is a sure thing.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro would be the perfect home for these graphics cards. It’d be an all-new AMD graphics chip inside an all-new MacBook.
Navi is based on a 7nm architecture and is aimed at the mid-range market, so could end up being either the default graphics card or first upgrade option in the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple usually works with AMD to get custom graphics chips into its MacBooks, so we would expect the same with Navi.