When is 2016's new MacBook Pro coming out? I don't want to buy a MacBook just before the new model is launched.
We're fairly sure that the new updated MacBook Pro for 2016 will come out soon - most likely in autumn 2016. MacBook fans have been disappointed a couple of times recently - the MacBook Pro update was an obvious no-show when Apple updated the rest of its laptop range in Spring, and was again ignored at WWDC 2016 - but this only reinforces our sense that an update is overdue. Indeed, we suspect that we're having to wait longer for the new Pro because it's going to get a more major refresh than the MacBook and MacBook Air got back in March.
There are two sizes of MacBook Pro available right now: a 13in model, which was last updated in March 2015, and a 15in model, last updated in May 2015. (You can find out where to buy them here.) We had hoped for new MacBook Pro models on 21 March at Apple's spring event, but Apple didn't mention Macs at all, and the same goes for WWDC 2016 on 13 June. So when is the new MacBook Pro 2016 coming out? You'll find everything there is to know so far about new MacBook Pro 2016 models in this release date, specs and new features round-up.
Last updated, 22 July 2016, to discuss Intel's launch of its Kaby Lake processors - but MacBook Pro fans will have to wait a while yet - and on 18 July to discuss sales figures which suggest that Apple fans are putting off new laptop purchases until the new Pro comes out.
MacBook Pro 2016 UK release date rumours: When is the new MacBook Pro coming out?
Prior to the WWDC 2016 keynote we were confident that a new MacBook Pro would be announced, but for the second Apple keynote in a row, we were disappointed. Lots of great stuff was announced at WWDC 2016 on 13 June, including MacOS Sierra and a rather hefty iOS 10 update, but there were no hardware announcements at all, so no new MacBook Pro. What's going on, Apple?
We're really, really hoping that Apple is planning a separate MacBook Pro event or a quiet release as it has done with Macs in the past. That happened on 19 April this year, when Apple announced its new 12in MacBook 2016 with a simple press release, and the MacBook Air got a very slight update too. Which just leaves the Pro.
According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker report, Apple has just seen a noticeable drop in shipments of its Mac range, a dip that is likely to be related to the long wait for the Pro update. Apple shipped 4.4 million PCs worldwide in Q2 2016, compared to 4.8 million in Q2 2015 - a drop of 8.3 percent. Its shipments were down too, from 2.1 million to 1.9 million.
And that isn't just down to market forces: the other companies in the top five for US and worldwide PC shipments all posted better year-on-year comparisons, and indeed HP, Dell, Lenovo and Acer all saw double-digit growth in the US shipments. (Lenovo saw a small drop in worldwide shipments.)
Almost all of the rumours in the lead up to WWDC 2016 pointed to an imminent release for at least the 13in MacBook Pro, with the redesigned 15in MacBook Pro not launching until later on this year, possibly alongside the iPhone 7 in September or slightly later in October.
But it's a definite no for WWDC 2016 now, despite reports that Apple suppliers had begun providing the company with parts for an upcoming 13in MacBook update, according to a (paid) report from China's Commercial Times. Notebook hinge maker Jarllytec reportedly started shipping metal injection mold-made hinges to Apple back in May 2016, said to be destined for the 13in MacBook.
However, there was one rumour that we didn't quite want to believe from trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that suggested new MacBooks will be coming out in the fourth quarter of 2016, which runs from July to September for Apple. We should have known that Kuo would be right again!
Although with that being said, it seems that we may not be too far from a possible launch, as the most recent reports suggest that Apple is clensing its line up both in-store and online of the only non-retina MacBook Pro, which was originally launched back in 2012. While it's still readily available in some Apple Stores, AppleInsider notes that certain stores are no longer putting it out for shoppers to try in-store.
It makes sense though - the computer is three years old, and is the only non-retina screen in Apple's Mac lineup. (Apart from the MacBook Air, which we believe is also on its way out!) Apple has already put as much distance between consumers and the non-retina MacBook Pro by not mentioning it on the main product page and placing it at the bottom of Apple's MacBook Pro store page online.
Apple can't have three different kinds of MacBook Pro on the market - non-retina, retina and the upcoming model - as it may confuse consumers, which suggests that the company is thinning out the lineup to make space for the updated model due to launch in the coming months.
MacBook Pro 2016 UK price: How much will the new MacBook Pro cost?
Currently the cheapest Retina MacBook Pro costs £999. For the price you'll get a 13in 2.7Ghz OS X machine that has 128GB of storage.
Prices go up in increments with £1,199 and £1,399 for the more feature rich 13in variants. The 15in model comes in two variants, a 2.2GHz £1,599 version and a 2.5GHz £1,999 variant.
We expect the new 2016 MacBook Pro to be launched at similar, if not identical prices of the current models.
MacBook Pro 2016 specs & hardware: What new features will the new MacBook Pro have?
Now that we know when to expect the MacBook Pro to arrive, let's take a look at what new features we expect from the laptop. Are we looking at a launch like the 2015 12-inch MacBook, with an entirely new design and lots of new features, or a minor update like the 2016 MacBook Air?
Rumours regarding the iPhone 7's apparent removal of the headphone jack have been floating around the internet for months now, but if the speculation is true, it logically wouldn't be the only Apple product to lose the feature. If Apple is to move the public on from wired headphones, it would make sense to completely kill off the port from the rest of its range, including Macs, laptops and even iPads. And the MacBook Pro 2016 could be first on the list.
Read next: Best Lightning headphones
Celebrated Apple blogger John Gruber recently speculated that Apple may have intentionally delayed the announcement of the 2016 MacBook Pro in a move related to the iPhone 7's new audio setup.
Writing on his blog, he pondered: "Will MacBooks ship with a Lightning port in lieu of a headphone jack? If so, will they ship with headphones? (Probably not, I say. Cough up the extra $29 for a new pair of Apple EarPods.) Is this why we haven't seen new MacBook Pros yet - because they're waiting for the new iPhone so that both can go Lightning-for-audio at the same time? Perhaps."
While this is nothing more than speculation at this time, and below photo leaks appear to prove otherwise, we must admit that it would make sense for Apple to announce both products at the same time, and would explain why we haven't seen the new 2016 Macbook Pro thus far.
OLED touchbar rumours
Trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that we should expect a redesign for the MacBook Pro this year, with a thinner and lighter body, Touch ID, Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. Inside, we can expect to see faster Skylake processors powering the MacBook Pro and new graphics cards too. But most intriguingly, the analyst predicts there will be an OLED display touchbar just above the keyboard.
"While long overlooked, the MacBook line is the brightest spot for Apple's 2016 rollouts," Kuo said in a report sent out on 23 May that has got everyone excited.
He goes on to explain that the OLED display touch bar will replace the physical function keys with a set of customisable software keys that can be adapted to the needs and functions of individual apps. You'll be able to open an application with one tap of the OLED touchbar, and it will subsequently show a set of controls (and display relevant notifications) for the software.
It seems as if these rumours are true, as leaked photos of the upcoming MacBook Pro chassis were sent to Cult of Mac.
The photos showcase the body of the 2016 MacBook Pro complete with a space for the rumoured OLED panel to sit, just above the keyboard itself where the function keys would usually be housed. The placement of an OLED panel above the keyboard has forced Apple to relocate the position of the speakers that are traditionally at the back of the keyboard - as you can see in the photo above, there are now two speaker grilles either side of the keyboard instead.
The leaked photos also confirm that Apple will only feature USB-C ports on the 2016 variant, showcasing four USB-C ports along with a 3.5mm headphone jack (at least it still has a headphone jack, eh?).
Now, following the unveiling of macOS Sierra and the release of the beta, code has been discovered deep within the operating system that suggests we will indeed see a new Mac with an OLED bar this year. According to MacGeneeration, part of the code reads: "kHIDUsage_LED." That's expanded upon in various instances including "kHIDUsage_LED_DoNotDisturb," which could hint at a dedicated Do Not Disturb button on the MacBook Pro's OLED touchscreen.
Martin Hajeck has created a stunning concept series based on the OLED touch panel rumours. Take a look at some of the images below or click here to view more on his website.
Cellular 4G connectivity
On 24 May 2016, Patently Apple shared a patent filed by Apple, which showcases a MacBook with cellular capabilities.
With the decrease in 4G connectivity costs and SIM-only deals, it's very much possible that Apple want to bring a 4G-enabled MacBook Pro. The 4G MacBook Pro would most probably be an added hardware cost to buyers, meaning a similar price structure as the iPads.
In 2007, there were rumours around the MacBook having a 4G connection by use of an external antenna, but given Apple's sleek design, it was most likely scrapped. Given how technology has moved forward, it would be feasible to see Apple integrating a cellular connection through the MacBook's outer shell.
We expect the new Macbook Pro 2016 to have a 2304x1440 resolution, which will be the same resolution as the current 12in models. We don't expect to see a 4K/5K screen, but Apple could always surprise us, by upping those pixels per inch from 226 pixels per inch (ppi) to 400-500ppi.
One MacBook Pro rumour doing the rounds goes as far as to say that the 2016 models will have a touchscreen, and that it might even be detachable from the screen a lot like the Surface Book. We'd be very surprised if this rumour is true, but anything's possible.
We're not expecting the design of the MacBook Pro to change much, although the Ming-Chi Kuo report suggests otherwise. It's possible that a gold model will be launched, but Apple might reserve that for the 12in MacBook, which got new colour options in March.
TechRadar reports that the MacBook Pro will get a new hinge design, and claims this will be created by Amphenol, which makes the hinges on the Microsoft Surface Book, while Kuo suggests we'll see a thinner, lighter MacBook Pro with several new features including the Touch ID sensor and touch bar.
The macOS Sierra code does reference biometric inputs, so a Touch ID fingerprint sensor is possible, particularly after the introduction of Apple Pay for Mac.
We expect to see a return of the Butterfly key mechanism in the new MacBook Pro 2016. The new mechanism was used in the older MacBook 2015 keyboard and we therefore expect to see this flush, easy-to-type-on key switch used in the upcoming version.
There's a frankly bizarre rumour doing the rounds about the keyboard, too: that there won't be any physical keys at all. Instead, you'll just get a flat, 'zero-travel' touch-sensitive slate that gives force feedback to offer the illusion of physical movement - just like the Force Touch trackpad.
If that seems like madness, the Parent Herald clairifies that there will at least be 'micro-perforations' to guide the fingers to the correct part of the slate, and lights to show the key layout.
The site seems to have taken this idea from a patent, but Apple fans will be well aware that patents generally don't bear fruit for years after being filed, and often don't produce anything even then: some things just don't work out in R&D, and others were patented speculatively, or as red herrings to mislead rivals. Needless to say, we certainly don't expect a feature of this kind in 2016's MacBook Pro.
The new MacBook Pro models are likely to feature Skylake processors, the new, sixth generation chips by Intel. Right now, none of Apple's MacBooks offer Skylake so it's highly likely that Apple plans to address this soon. Skylake will bring significant performance gains to the new MacBook Pro, too, making it an even faster machine.
Competitors including HP, Dell and Microsoft have already moved to Skylake, so Apple is beginning to look like it's trailing behind.
Skylake could improve battery life, too, working with El Capitan to improve efficiency. The 13in Retina MacBook Pro already offers 10 hours of battery life and the 15in model offers 8 hours, but we'd like to see that improve to match the 12 and 9 hours offered by the MacBook Air.
The 15in models of the MacBook Pro currently offer quad-core i7 processors, which means they compare very favourably with the 27in iMacs. We hope that the 2016 model maintains these quad-core processors, but when the Mac mini was updated in October of 2014 it lost its quad-core processor options, which could spell the same fate for the MacBook Pro.
Update, 22 July 2016: Intel has started shipping its Kaby Lake processors. That's the generation of chips after Skylake, and offers support for Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 and DisplayPort 1.2. This is good news for PC users but less pleasing for the Mac crowd, because the Kaby Lake chips that would fit the MacBook Pro aren't expected to ship until very late 2016 or more likely early 2017. Read more on MacRumors.
Both AMD and nVidia are looking to introduce new GPU products in 2016 which some suggest could make their way to the 2016 MacBook Pro, along with other Mac products. AMD is planning to release GPUs based on Global Foundries 14 nm FinFET processor node, while nVidia is releasing something slightly different - GPUs based on the slightly larger 16 nm FinFET Plus processor node. Both the AMD and nVidia GPUs should bring significant gains in graphics performance, an area that needs some TLC - especially with regards to gaming on a Mac.
Both AMD and nVidia are set to launch the new GPUs later this year, possibly during the Summer, but it's unclear at this stage whether it'll be ready in time to be used with the 2016 MacBook Pro. For Mac gamers everywhere, we do hope so.
There are also an increasing number of rumours which suggest AMD set aside a GPU design for Apple, for its latest FinFet 14nm architecture graphics cards. It is also presumed the new GPU will be twice as fast as the current MacBook Pro, making it a worthy upgrade for most.