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 announced and 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.
Updated, 17 January 2017, to discuss analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's predictions about 2017's Kaby Lake MacBook Pro models.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: UK release date
Shortly after the 2016 MacBook Pro models were announced in October 2016, the widely respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a report (Macrumors) suggesting that a 2017 update to the MacBook Pro line would bring a price cut and 32GB RAM option.
In January 2017 Kuo repeated his predictions in a more specific new report, this time forecasting that the 2017 update to the MacBook Pro would enter mass production early in the third quarter (in July, in other words).
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: Specs
What upgraded tech specs can we expect in the 2017 MacBook Pro?
Increasing the top-line RAM allocation to 32GB would make a lot of sense (many reviewers feel that capping the MacBook Pro at 16GB RAM limits its appeal among the pro users its name would suggest it is for), and Kuo did predict this upgrade back in October; but Macrumors understands that design restrictions would make this difficult.
"To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also requires a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries," states Apple's Phil Schiller. "Both factors would reduce battery life."
Kaby Lake processors
But there are other areas where Apple may choose to add a cheeky spec bump next spring. Most obvious is the processor family.
The 2016 MBP comes with sixth-generation Intel processors rather than this year's seventh-gen Kaby Lake chips, which are still rolling out. The chips weren't ready in time, which is fair enough, but it would be nice for those buying a 'Pro' MacBook to have the option of the very latest processors. When Apple returns to the Pro in 2017, we think Kaby Lake processors will be on the menu, as well as the option to buy 32GB of RAM. And this is an opinion backed up in Ming-Chi Kuo's January research note.
The timing of the MacBook Pro's launch in 2016 evidently made it difficult - most likely impossible - to include Kaby Lake processors, since it would appear that the specific Kaby Lake chips that would have been suitable hadn't been released yet. But that no longer appears a legitimate excuse, since Dell has announced its Precision 5520 laptop, which includes Kaby Lake chips and is directly comparable to the MacBook Pro. If Dell has got its hands on Kaby Lake - and the 5520 is due to launch in February 2017 - then there's no reason why Apple couldn't do the same.
New MacBook Pro 2017 release date, UK price and tech specs: 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!