It has now been more than a year since the MacBook Pro was updated, so we can't help but wonder when the new MacBook Pro release date is going to be. The iPhone 7 event on 7 September ended in disappointment for Mac fans, with announcements focused instead mobile with the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Watch 2 the stars of the evening, so when can we expect the MacBook Pro? Read on for all of the latest MacBook Pro release date rumours, as well as evidence about new MacBook Pro features.
Two sizes of MacBook Pro are available 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 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 and now the iPhone 7 event on 7 September. 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.
Recent updates: 15 September with a new Apple survey with new MacBook hints | 12 September to reflect an email sent by Tim Cook teasing the MacBook Pro's release date | 7 September to reflect the lack of an announcement during Apple's special event | 6 September to discuss Intel's Kaby Lake processors | 31 August, new references to the OLED 'Function Row' spotted | 9 August, to include power button Touch ID rumours |
New MacBook Pro 2016 release date rumours: When is the new MacBook Pro coming out?
We had been hoping for a new MacBook Pro during Apple's iPhone 7 event on 7 September, as it's been way over a year since the laptop was last updated and there are plenty of customers waiting for it. We didn't hold our breath though, and thankfully so as the event came and went with no sign of any Mac annoucnements. Instead, we're expecting the MacBook Pro to be announced in October, alongside an upcoming iPad. We had originally thought that the theory was backed up by the lack of a MacOS Sierra release date, but following the event we discovered that Apple has quietly announced that the new operating system is coming this month.
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.
Other Macs in Apple's line-up have already been updated this year. 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.
We'd still expect the new MacBook Pro to be announced in 2016, but you should expect a Q4 announcement and launch date. This will either be at a single event or even via a quiet update during the week like we saw in April 2016 for the latest MacBook.
Update 12 September 2016: While we've not had any confirmation that the 2016 MacBook Pro will have a Q4 2016 release date, a recent email sent by Tim Cook may have just done so. A MacRumours reader emailed the Apple CEO asking if it was "pulling away" from the Mac line and while we imagine Tim Cook recieves emails like this on a daily basis, he finally responded.
"I love the Mac and we are very committed to it," said Cook in the email to the Apple fan. "Stay tuned.". While this isn't explicit confirmation that the MacBook Pro is coming in Q4 2016, we should definitely expect it within the next couple of months.
New MacBook Pro 2016 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.
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.)
New MacBook Pro 2016 release date rumours: Specs and new features
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?
Now that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus officially lack the 3.5mm headphone jack, and it's logical to think that it might not be 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.
This rumour is backed up by a new Apple survey asking customers: "Do you ever use the headphone port on your MacBook pro with Retina display?" Other topics in these surveys have included battery life and SD card slot.
Read next: Best Lightning headphones
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.
Further code was spotted on 30 August that references a "Function Row," potentially a hint that the OLED panel is indeed on its way. Consomac discovered the code in Apple's Pages app, which reads "Customize Function Row" when referring to a menu option.
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.
In August, 9to5Mac heard from KGI Analysts, that the new MacBook Pro will also feature Touch ID support. The analysts are well known for providing accurate predictions and rumours. The firm hasn't provided any further details, but it is suggested that it will be incorporated within the power button, making it an easy way to authenticate and switch on your MacBook.
There is no evidence or patents suggesting that Apple is developing the feature, however we do see it as a great addition to a popular device.
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.
Now while it may not be as glamorous as an OLED touch bar or 4G connectivity, a patent application was recently granted which could introduce a new way to interact with your Macbook Pro - via the Apple Pencil. The patent was originally filed back in 2014 and while it mainly focuses on interaction with a touch screen display (or the iPad Pro to us), there are several images depicting its use with a trackpad and a Mac.
However, it doesn't stop at trackpad compatibility either - the patent goes on to describe how the Apple Pencil (or stylus as it's referred in the patent) could use a three- or six-axis sensor to act as a general input device like an 'air mouse', or even a joystick. The model of Apple Pencil depicted seems to be more advanced than the one currently available, having the ability to detect lateral movement in three dimensions as well as being able to detect and track rotational movement and orientation.
The patent reads: "Inertial sensor input may be gathered when operating the stylus in one or more inertial sensor input modes such as an air mouse mode, a rotational controller mode, a joystick mode, and/or other inertial sensor input modes."
While there's nothing that specifically links the patent to the MacBook Pro, we'd imagine that it'd be a great fit for the upcoming redesign, and may even coincide with the announcement of a brand new Apple Pencil.
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.
Further to the TechRadar report is a note in Digitimes reporting hinge makrer Jarllytec has reported major revenue increases. The company makes metal injection molding (MIM) hinges, and Digitimes puts down this rise in revenue to the MIM hinges expected to feature in this year's new MacBook Pro design.
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.
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.
However, there have recently been some reports to suggest that Intel Kaby Lake chips have actually arrived earlier than expected, and could well make their way into MacBook Pro models. It's a slim chance, but DigiTimes reports that laptop manufacturers now have Kaby Lake CPUs available to them.
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.