It's no secret that Macs are expensive items - even if you are buying something of quality to last you a long time. So it's important to make sure you're buying the best Mac you can at the best time of the year to make sure you get the most out of it.
Below we take a look at each Mac and MacBook Apple currently sells and assess whether or not now is a good time to buy them. Sometimes it’s fine to buy a Mac mid-update cycle but often we can make educated guesses as to when the next one will launch, and therefore why you might want to wait and get more for your money - provided Apple keeps its prices the same.
When do new Macs and MacBooks come out?
It depends on the product and Apple’s mood that year but you’ll usually get a Mac update 12 to 24 months after the last, even if it’s just to the next generation of Intel processors. But it's not always the case and launch dates are rarely predictable.
We would say that the most likely times to see updates are: WWDC in June for professional Mac models (e.g. 27in iMac, 15in MacBook Pro, iMac Pro and Mac Pro) and October for consumer-focused Macs (e.g. MacBook Air and Mac mini), but as you will see when you read on, this is not a rule that Apple abides by particularly.
Let’s take a look at each Mac and MacBook on the market and assess if you should consider buying it now. Check the date at the top of the article to see when we last updated this information.
Note that the star ratings associated with each product are the original rating we gave it when it was first launched.
Apple MacBook Air (2019)
The MacBook Air was updated in July 2019, although the update wasn't a huge one. It got a price reduction and a new True Tone display, and the non-Retina model was removed from the line-up.
However, that update followed its previous update in October 2018 pretty closely, and that was the big one. We finally saw a redesign for the MacBook Air after years of waiting.
For most people it’s the MacBook to go for and won’t be updated in any meaningful way for a while.
Go for it. Now's the time to buy.
Apple 15in MacBook Pro (2019)
The 15in MacBook Pro was last updated in May 2019. However, in the UK this model saw a price hike in July 2019.
It's the most powerful (but also most expensive) of Apple's laptops.
However, an even bigger and even more powerful Mac laptop might be on the way.
Apple is said to be planning to launch a 16in MacBook Pro, and when it does it may discontinue the 15in models. Alternatively it may keep some 15in models on at a lower price.
Read about the 16in MacBook Pro here.
Apple 13in MacBook Pro (2019)
The 13in MacBook Pro was last updated in July 2019, when Apple finally updated the entry-level models that previously had no Touch Bar and ageing processors. Suffice to say, following the update, these new MacBook Pro models are recommended by us.
There are two other 13in MacBook Pro models, which were updated in May 2019 with a minor processor tweak from the previous 2018 generation. These are also recommended by us despite seeing a price increase in July 2019.
Now is a good time to buy any of the 13in MacBook Pro models as we don't expect them to be updated prior to the summer of 2020. However, there is change coming to the bigger MacBook Pro, as we will discuss next.
Apple 21.5in iMac (2019)
Part of Apple's range of 21.5in iMacs was updated in March 2019, almost two years after the last upgrade.
The entry-level 21.5in iMac was not updated in 2019 however - that model hasn't been touched by Apple since 2017 and lacks a Retina display. It's the cheapest iMac, but we would not advise buying it currently.
We gave the 2019 21.5in models a four-star review, impressed by the power improvements. Not much else has changed here, though. See our 21.5in iMac review.
The iMac remains a go-to choice Mac for many professionals and businesses, while also being an excellent home computer in its own right.
The (relative) affordability of the 21.5in iMac, paired with more than capable specs for most people, puts it at a slight advantage to the still-excellent 27in version (discussed next). However, as we mentioned above, we'd advise customers to avoid the entry-level 21.5in model as that hasn't been updated since 2017.
We don't expect any updates to the iMac now until 2020 so now is a good time to buy - just make sure it's the 2019 model you are purchasing.
It's possible that this autumn will bring a slight price bump to the iMac range to align with the US pricing, which makes now an even better time to buy.
27in iMac (2019)
The 27in iMac is popular with professional creatives as well as business users looking for a more powerful machine with a larger display.
The most recent update was in March 2019. We gave that 27in model a four star review, see our 27in iMac review.
We don't expect Apple to update to the 27in iMac again until 2020 so now is a good time to buy - just make sure it's the 2019 model you are purchasing.
Note: we predict that this autumn will bring a slight price bump to the iMac range in the UK to align with the US pricing, which makes now an even better time to buy.
Apple Mac mini (2018)
Apple finally updated the Mac mini in October 2018 a full four years after the last iteration. This was long overdue and while this 2018 mini is more expensive than before, it’s a whole lot better.
In our glowing review we praised the performance and comparable savings on a full desktop Mac.
It's now been almost a year since Apple updated the Mac mini so it is feasible that the company could issue another update soon. However, we aren't confident that Apple will update the Mac mini in 2019.
The iMac Pro went on sale in December 2017 and is an absolute beast. Never mind if it’s a good time to buy it, the first question you should be asking yourself is if you should be buying one at all.
With an astronomical starting price it’s only a Mac to consider if you professionally need to edit, process and render very large image and video files. These are machines that should bank a production studio, not a home office.
Apple made a few tweaks to the build-to-order iMac Pro options in March 2019, after updating the iMacs. There is now a 256GB RAM option and a new Radeon Pro Vega 64X graphics chip.
The March 2019 changes to the iMac range mean that the top-of-the-range 27in iMac is closer than ever to the iMac Pro in terms of specs while being significantly less expensive, read how the iMac and iMac Pro compare here.
If you need the power though, then you might want to hold off to see if Apple updates the internals again, or brings down the price. But it may not update the iMac Pro at all in 2019 given the already immense power of the current model and the fact that Apple is likely to be focusing its creative pro attention on the Mac Pro - more on that below.
Mac Pro (2019)
Speaking of which, don’t buy the current Mac Pro! Apple launched it in December 2013 and hasn’t touched it since.
A new Mac Pro is on the way though - Apple took the extreme measure (in 2017) of admitting to journalists that it messed up with the Mac Pro, and we are now expecting a new one in 2019. We're still waiting for a release date.
Apple told us what to expect from the new Mac Pro at WWDC 2019 in June, and with that information in mind we'd suggest that it's very unlikely that you'll want to buy one when they launch, unless you have very specific needs.
You can find out everything you need to know about the new Mac Pro here.
Apple 12in MacBook (2017)
In July 2019, Apple discontinued the 12in MacBook. If you really, really want to buy one, you may still find it available from some third-parties and in the Apple Refurbished Store, but you won't find it among Apple's current line-up.
However, we'd recommend buying the MacBook Air instead.