When will Apple release the new MacBook Pro for 2017? And what UK prices, tech specs and new features should we expect from the new MacBook Pro 2017?
New MacBook Pro models were released in October 2016, but we're already looking ahead to the next update of the MacBook Pro for 2017. In this article we round up and analyse all the rumours related to the new MacBook Pro 2017 - its release date, specs, design, likely pricing and new features.
If you're interested in the latest MacBook Pro update, we also discuss the announcements and launch details from October 2016, and you can read more here: New MacBook Pro 2016 review.
This article was updated on 24 February with details of the competing Dell Precision 5520 and comments about the screen of the MacBook Pro.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: UK release date
The current lineup of MacBook Pro models was introduced in October 2016. Apple doesn't tend to update its Macs more often than once a year, so it isn’t likely that Apple will update the range before October 2017, and when it does Apple may only refresh part of the range.
Competing pro laptops coming from Dell and HP will offer newer Kaby Lake Intel processors long before October 2017, including the Dell Precision 5520 which is available now. For business people looking for a stylish laptop this may not matter, but for creatives looking for a new Mac a move away from Apple may start to look attractive if Apple makes them wait too long.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had previously predicted an update to the entire range in 2017. In October 2016 he told clients that he expected Apple to launch updated MacBooks Pros in the second half of 2017 including support for 32GB of RAM, with the proviso that Intel would launch the required processors in time. However, at that time he referenced Cannonlake processors, in February 2017 he published a new note claiming that the new MacBook Pro models will feature Kaby Lake processors and that the 13in and 15in versions of the MacBook Pro will see an update towards the end of 2017, with mass production of these models beginning in the third quarter of 2017.
However, those hoping for a 32GB RAM update to the 15in MacBook Pro model in 2017 may be disappointed. The high-end MacBook Pro with 32GB RAM will not enter mass production until the fourth quarter of 2017 so it may not launch not expected until 2018. (Incidentally the Dell Precision 5520 does have a 32GB RAM configuration).
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: UK price
Shortly after Apple announced the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in October 2016, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a note to clients indicating that he expects Apple to drop prices in subsequent updates to the range. He observed that Apple tends to overprice new generations of Mac before gradually lowering prices in the following year.
The pricing for the 2016 13in and 15in new MacBook Pro models begins at £1,749/$1,799 for a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and starts at $2,399/£2,349 for the 15in model. The most expensive MacBook Pro now costs £2,699/$2,799.
The version of the MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar costs from $1,499/£1,449. This is the model most likely to see a price drop, potentially coinciding with an update to the 12in MacBook and the discontinuation of the MacBook Air.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Processor
When they launched in October 2016 the new range of MacBook Pro models ran on Intel’s Skylake processors, the processor microarchitecture that first launched in August 2015 as a successor to Broadwell.
This was a disappointment to some as the Skylake chips can only support up to 16GB of RAM (to offer a 32GB option Apple would need to use battery-hungry desktop-class RAM). Given that the MacBook Pro is pitched as a professional machine there have been calls for the next model to offer the option of 32GB RAM and naturally attention has turned to Intel’s roadmap for clues as to what processor might make this update feasible.
Back in October 2016 Apple analyst Kuo had suggested that the MacBook Pro could adopt Intel’s Cannonlake processors, or should that not appear in time, Intel’s Coffee Lake processors (although that would limit the models to 16GB RAM). However, it appears that the usually accurate analyst had his chips somewhat muddled, as there are apparently no plans to design MacBook Pro-class Cannonlake chips, and Coffee Lake is not scheduled until 2018. In a note published in January 2017 Kuo predicted that the new MacBook Pro line up would feature Kaby Lake chips.
Kaby Lake is the successor to Skylake. That line of processors debuted in the spring of 2016, but the processors suitable for future MacBook Pros (as suggested by beta code in macOS Sierra 10.12.4) weren’t announced until the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show.
This beta code discovered in Sierra by Pike's Universum references the following Kaby Lake processors:
- The 13in MacBook Pro could gain the i7-7660U 2.5 GHz Kaby Lake chip;
- The 13in MacBook Pro with Touch bar could gain the Kaby Lake 3.1 GHz i5-7267U, 3.3 GHz i5-7287U, and 3.5 GHz i7-7567U processors;
- The 15in MacBook Pro could gain i7-7700HQ 2.8 GHz, i7-7820HQ 2.9 GHz, and i7-7920 3.1 GHz Kaby Lake processors.
These new Kaby Lake processors offer better power efficiency and more advanced on-board GPU capabilities, but the processor power doesn’t see a marked increase.
Dell's Precision 5520 laptop includes Kaby Lake chips and is directly comparable to the MacBook Pro.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has predicted that the 2017 MacBook Pro will feature an Apple-designed chip to handle simple tasks such as email and updates while the laptop is asleep, citing "people familiar with the matter".
"The chip, which went into development [in 2016], is similar to one already used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard's Touch Bar feature," Gurman writes. "The updated part, internally codenamed T310, would handle some of the computer's low-power mode functionality."
By building a dedicated low-power processor, Apple could reduce battery consumption for the 2017 MacBook Pro.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: RAM
As we mention above, a big disappointment with the 2016 MacBook Pro line up was the RAM limitations, with the models maxing out at 16GB RAM. Pro customers, such as video editors, were so disillusioned with the 2016 update that in November 2016 Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller spoke out in defence of Apple’s decision not to offer more RAM, saying that to offer more RAM would be detrimental to battery life because higher amounts of RAM would require a power-hungry memory controller unsuitable for use in portable machines.
Schiller said: "To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.”
The problem lies with the Intel Skylake CPUs used in Apple's MacBook Pro. These processors support up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 2133MHz. There are processors capable of addressing more than 16GB of memory, but these rely on less efficient DDR4 RAM and are usually deployed in desktops because they can be plugged into mains power. Understandably Apple does not wish to hinder the battery life of its laptops in this way.
Schiller has also indicated that using 32GB of RAM would require a different logic board design that would limit space for other components, including the battery. In an email https://macdaddy.io/macbook-pro-limited-16gb-ram/ to MacDaddy’s Ben Slaney, Schiller wrote: “To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.”
So, as you can see, the calls for a 32GB RAM version of the MacBook Pro are loud enough for Apple to make a statement regarding it, but this doesn’t mean that a RAM update is immanent. A Kaby Lake processor upgrade for the MacBook Pro will not increase in the RAM cap of 16GB because the Kaby Lake processor doesn’t support LPDDR4 RAM and Apple is not expected to engineer a new RAM controller that does any time soon.
An Intel processor capable of supporting LPDDR4 RAM isn't expected before 2018.
Kuo still has some hope however, he predicts that Apple will start to manufacture a 15in MacBook Pro with 32GB RAM in the fourth quarter. And he thinks that Apple will adopt desktop RAM due in order to do so.
Dell's Precision 5520 laptop is directly comparable to the MacBook Pro and has a 32GB RAM build-to-order configuration.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Graphics
The 13in MacBook Pro without Touch Bar currently offers Intel Iris Graphics 540 while the 13in model with Touch Bar offers Intel Iris Graphics 550.
The 15in model offers a duel graphics card set up, with the Radeon Pro 450, or a Radeon Pro 455, alongside the Intel HD Graphics 530. The Radeon Pro 400 series launched in October, so they were new graphics processors at the time the Macs launched. The Radeon RX 500 series is expected to launch this year and could be destined for the new MacBook Pro models.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Screen
The current model has an impressive 4K screen but this is still few pixels than some of the competition.
The 2016 MacBook Pro can output the full DCI P3 colour space used for films for digital cinema output, however, as our colleague on Digital Arts notes in his review: "It’s the Adobe RGB colour space that really matters as this is what’s used internally by tools from Photoshop to Illustrator to Premiere Pro – and again here the MBP is lacking. In our tests with a DataColor Spyder5Elite colorimeter, we found that the MacBook Pro’s screen can output 91 percent of the colours in the Adobe RGB."
In their tests Dell’s Precision 5510 and the Wacom MobileStudio Pro could output 91 percent of the colours in the Adobe RGB.
In the next version of the MacBook Pro we'd like to see an improvement here.
Another desirable addition to the screen would be touchscreen capabilities, something much of the competition also shares. While Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs said that he felt that touch screens were a bad idea (because they would make your arm ache) there is some value in being able to touch a screen rather than use a mouse or track pad when you are in cramped conditions, such as those in which our colleague on Digital Arts wrote his review.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Battery
With Apple pointing to battery life as the reason it won’t offer more RAM in the MacBook Pro you might be wondering whether there is room for improvements to battery life in the next model, or if battery life could (or should) suffer if Apple is to offer a truly pro-level machine.
The 2016 machine offers 10-hours of battery life, as did earlier models. There was some question about the accuracy of this claim earlier in 2017 when Consumer Reports tested the battery life and found that is was less. However, Consumer Reports battery life tests had been influenced by a bug in Safari’s developer mode that consumers wouldn’t be using.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Ports (including headphone jack)
When Apple launched the new MacBook Pro many of the familiar ports disappeared replaced by USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. The headphone jack remained despite being lost from the iPhone and iPad. Will it remain in the next version of the MacBook Pro? Possibly, although it seems likely that Apple will swap it for Lightning or another Thunderbolt 3 port in the future.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Touch Bar
When the Touch Bar first launched it was limited to Apple applications, however over the months it has gained functionality with many other apps including Spotify and Photoshop, and it now offers additional functionality for Microsoft Office features. You can expect more software to offer Touch Bar support in the future.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Colour
The MacBook Pro series currently comes in two colour finishes: silver and Space Grey, while the MacBook series is available in Gold and Rose Gold as well. It the MacBook Pro ever likely to adopt the gold colour? We think that Apple will continue to offer gold as an option on it’s consumer focused laptops, but it will keep the more business-like silver and grey for the professional machines.
2016 MacBook Pro launch details
So much for 2017's MacBook Pro update. But what happened to the MacBook Pro line in 2016?
Apple announced a long-awaited update to its MacBook Pro laptops at an event in San Francisco on 27 October. The laptops, both 13in and 15in, feature USB-C ports and a Retina display, multi-touch Touch Bar, a versatile strip display that replaces the escape, function keys and power keys of a regular qwerty keyboard. We'll look at all these in more detail in this article.
On 2 November, Phil Schiller (senior VP of marketing at Apple) was interviewed by The Independent and revealed the company's plans and reaction to the MacBook Pro's announcement. A key point raised in the interview is that Mac and iOS devices will always be separate from one another: the California-based company won't try to integrate the two. Schiller also talks about the removal of the SD card and why Apple chose to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack.
New MacBook Pro 2016 design
This is the first time a MacBook Pro will not include standard USB ports (that is to say, USB-A, the version we're all used to), with both models featuring four USB-C ports which also serve as Thunderbolt 3 ports. This means the MacBook Air is now the only current-generation Apple laptop with standard USB ports. (Apple does still sell a few MacBook models from the previous generation, though, including the 2015 MacBook Pro models which feature the older USB ports: here's the 2015 13-inch model, and here's the 15-inch one.)
There is, thankfully, a headphone jack on the new MacBook Pro. The set-up is largely the same as on the current 12in MacBook, which has one USB-C and one headphone jack as its only ports - the Pro just gets a few more of those USB-C ports (either 2 or 4, depending on which model you go for). The new MacBook Pro no longer features MagSafe charging or an SD card slot.
Much like the 12in MacBook, the MacBook Pro now has butterfly mechanism keys, allowing for less travel and a thinner chassis. Apple says these second-generation butterfly keys improve the typing experience from the 12in MacBook range.
The 13in model is 14.9mm thick, 17 percent thinner than the previous generation, and its volume is 23 percent less. It weighs 1.36kg.
The 15in model is 15.5mm thick and 20 percent less in volume than the last generation. It weighs only 1.81kg, which is very light for a 15in laptop. Apple has also added a larger Force Touch trackpad to this version.
The addition of the metal Apple logo on the casing means the iconic light-up Apple logo is no longer included on the MacBook Pro range. The 13in MacBook Air is now the last surviving MacBook to have a light-up logo, unless you count last year's MacBook Pro.
New MacBook Pro 2016 new features
Features-wise, the new MacBook Pro has one flagship selling point to focus on. And that is...
The Touch Bar on the high-end MacBook Pro is the biggest change to the range. It's a customisable strip-screen that allows for slicker fingertip control in certain software. It supports multi-touch gestures, which is handy when photo editing or using DJ applications, to name a couple of examples.
Whether it's changing the volume of a song or swiping to edit a certain frame of a video in iMovie, the Touch Bar is a great way for developers to create new ways to interact with their applications and the MacBook Pro as a whole.
Quick Type functionality is built in, helping you to type quicker with predictive suggestions as on iPhone and iPad. (Mind you, because the predictive suggestions are well below your eye line, they've proved considerably less user-friendly than the equivalent on mobile. The ideal when typing is to look at the screen, not to have to look down constantly for auto-complete suggestions.)
The bar also houses a Touch ID sensor, making the MacBook Pro the third Apple product line after the iPhone and iPad to include the technology. For making secure payments, an Apple T1 chip inside the MacBook Pro ensures secure Touch ID payments in partnership with retailer websites. Read more about Apple Pay in our comprehensive guide: Complete guide to Apple Pay UK.
The Touch Bar is customisable, and you can click and drag preferred commands/functions into the bar, somewhat like the way you drag app icons into the dock on a Mac or iPhone.
For more on this, see our guide to the Touch Bar: How to use the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro | Touch Bar tips. And if you'd like to get some Touch Bar action on other Macs, have a read of our Apple keyboard with Touch Bar release date rumours and How to get Touch Bar on any Mac.
New MacBook Pro 2016 tech specs and performance
Apple says the displays of both new MacBook Pro models are 67 percent brighter, have 67 percent higher contrast ratio and display 25 percent more colour than the previous generation equivalents.
The 15in MacBook Pro comes with a sixth-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor - so no sign of the seventh-gen Kaby Lake chips, as was (perhaps rather optimistically) rumoured. A Radeon Pro graphics card sits inside for, hopefully, substantially improved gaming capabilities.
In comparison, the smaller 13in model will ship with either a Core i5 or i7 depending on your preference, with Intel Iris graphics and super-fast SSD storage.
The built-in speakers promise twice the dynamic range of audio in comparison to the last generation.
New MacBook Pro 2016 UK release date
All the new MacBook Pro 2016 models are available to order now.
The new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar will ship in the UK in 3-4 weeks, according to Apple's website, despite Apple quoting 2-3 weeks in its launch presentation. This was likely the US shipping times for early pre-orders.
The non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro will ship immediately. We expect Apple retail stores in the UK to have them in stock, but if you're keen to purchase, it may be worth calling your local store first to check stock levels.
New MacBook Pro 2016 UK prices
Both the 13in and 15in new MacBook Pro models are available to buy now. UK pricing begins at £1,749 for a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and starts at $2,399/£2,349 for the 15in model. The most expensive MacBook Pro now costs £2,699. They will ship in 2-3 weeks.
Apple also announced a version of the MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar that has traditional function keys and just 2 USB-C ports which is designed to replace the 13in MacBook Air in the line-up. This will cost from $1,499/£1,449, essentially meaning Apple values the Touch Bar and two USB-C ports at £300.
These prices are high, to state the obvious, and represent an increase on recent pricing of equivalent Apple products, possibly as a result of Brexit-related currency fluctuations. (For more on that, see Apple price rises UK.)
However! You may be able to find the machines at a lower price if you shop around (and make sure you stick to reputable suppliers). For our picks of the best prices on MacBook Pros, take a look at Best MacBook deals UK.
Macworld podcast: Apple's 27 Oct launch event
The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discuss Apple's 27 October launch event, including the new MacBook Pro, in episode 38, embedded below.
The UK Tech Weekly Podcast comes out every Friday. Follow the team on Twitter to get notifications of new episodes.
New MacBook Pro 2016 launch: Read the event live blog
We live-blogged the whole Apple event, and the MacBook Pro was the main attraction. Check it out below for all the details from the launch. And turn to the next page of this article for all our pre-event speculation and predictions - see how much we got right!