On 4 May 2020 Apple updated the MacBook Pro for 2020 - adding 10th generation processors and more RAM to the superior models and increasing the storage in the entry-level options. However, the company may not be done with the MacBook Pro for 2020.
In this article we will look at Apple's plans for the 16in MacBook Pro, the entry-level MacBook Pro (which still sport 8th generation processors), and the rumoured 14in model said to be in the works at Apple.
Read on to find out if the new MacBook Pro have a bigger screen, whether the 2020 MacBook Pro will offer improved battery life, and when Apple will update the 16in MacBook Pro and the entry-level models - both of which offer older, 9th and 8th generation, processors than the May 2020 MacBook Pro's 10th generation Ice Lake processors.
Read all about the 2020 13in MacBook Pro update here.
Will Apple update the MacBook Pro again in 2020?
With the May 2020 update to the MacBook Pro every Apple laptop now has the new style keyboard that replaces the problematic butterfly-mechanism keyboard (which had been causing expensive faults since its introduction in 2016). Now that every MacBook Pro model has a reliable keyboard is Apple's work here done? We don't think so.
In May 2020 only the two mid-range MacBook Pro models were updated. The only change to the entry-level MacBook Pro, other than the new keyboard, was that the storage was doubled. The entry-level 13in MacBook Pro still has 8th generation processors, slower RAM and other components that look less than impressive next to the 2020 MacBook Air.
The 16in MacBook Pro wasn't updated at all. The 16in MacBook Pro still has 9th generation processors while the new 2020 13in models now have 10th generation processors.
This means that these four MacBook Pro models are ripe for a processor update.
But the 13in MacBook Pro models that were updated in May 2020 may still have some changes to come if rumours that Apple will be addressing the design to allow for larger 14in screens. More on that below.
So, with that in mind we think that we will see an update to the 16in MacBook Pro around the time of WWDC in June 2020.
We also think we will see an update to the entry-level 13in model before 2020 is finished. We estimate October, although with the unusual nature of pandemic-struck 2020 it's possible that there may be delays.
As for the rumoured 14in MacBook Pro, this could appear at the same time as the update to the entry level 13in model. So, we may see this in October as well - although MacRumors believes it won't appear until 2021, so prepare yourself for disappointment.
Another possibility: the entry-level MacBook Pro could be discontinued to make way for a new MacBook model that is rumoured to feature an Apple designed processor - marking a move away from Intel. This new MacBook is rumoured for 2021 - although we may hear more at June's WWDC (which will be held online this year).
When the 16in MacBook Pro launched in November 2019 (16in MacBook Pro reviewed here) it benefited from a bigger screen made possible by reduced bezels (you can see the difference in the image above: the old model is on the left). Following the arrival of that model there have been rumours that Apple might replace the current 13in MacBook Pro with a model with a bigger screen.
The thinking is that Apple could produce a 14in MacBook Pro by reducing the bezels around the display. It's worth noting that the 13in MacBook Pro actually measures 13.3in.
Prolific leaker Jon Prosser tweeted in early April suggesting that an update to the 13in MacBook Pro could arrive in May. At the time, He predicted that this May update would be to the 13in, but he added that the 14in could still be coming:
Note: it’s a refresh to the current 13”
So the bigger 14” display upgrade is a big possibility— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 4, 2020
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also suggested that Apple is working on a 14.1in MacBook Pro. In a March 2020 investor note he suggested that Apple will replace its 13in MacBook Pro with a 14.1in model with mini-LCD display.
It's possible the 14in MacBook Pro may never transpire. Apple's Phil Schiller, when asked about the likelihood of a larger display for the 13in MacBook Pro back in November 2019, told YouTube personality Jonathan Morrison: "I wouldn’t draw any extrapolation from [the 16in MacBook Pro] to anything else."
Despite what Schiller said, we do think it's possible that the 13in MacBook Pro will gain a bigger display like the 16in MacBook did at some point in 2020, but there could be even more in store for the new display. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Apple will add a Mini-LED display to the MacBook Pro (and various other products it makes, including the iPad Pro).
However, that new display technology might not arrive until later in 2020: Kuo has previously suggested that a 16in model with mini LED could launch in the fourth quarter of 2020, so that might indicate that the MacBook Pro with mini-LCD won't appear until later in the year.
New Features & Spec
Whether or not there is a design overhaul it is likely that there will be changes on the inside in terms of processor and potentially storage options. Below we will look at the specs we expect to see inside the new MacBook Pro models.
There were some design changes in the inside of the 16in MacBook Pro that could translate to the new 13in models. There were changes to the internal thermal management - larger heat sink and changes to the fan design, rearranged logic board for better heat dispersal. Probably necessary in part to accommodate the larger 100W battery and the extra 12W power.
To recap, right now you'll find the following:
13in MacBook Pro
- 1.4GHz Quad-core i5 8th-generation (TB 3.9GHz), Iris Plus Graphics 645, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM, two Thunderbolt ports. 256GB - £1,299/$1,299, 512GB - £1,499,$1,499
- 2.0GHz Quad-Core i5 10th-generation (TB 3.8GHz), Intel Iris Plus Graphics, 16GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X RAM, four Thunderbolt ports. 512GB - £1,799/$1,799, 1TB Storage - £1,999/$1,999
16in MacBook Pro
- 2.6GHz Six-core i7 9th-generation (TB 4.8GHz), AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, four Thunderbolt ports: 512GB, £2,399
- 2.3GHz Eight-core i9 9th-generation (TB 4.5GHz), AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, four Thunderbolt ports: 1TB, £2,799
The 16in MacBook Pro features the same 9th-generation processor as found in the previous 15in model which launched earlier in 2019. Thanks to the improved heat management and the resolution of some issues that were hampering the processor in the 15in model, the 16in MacBook Pro has produced some better Geekbench results despite the processor being unchanged.
The 16in MacBook Pro is sure to soon get a processor update - especially now that the 13in MacBook Pro offers a 10th generation processor.
The new 13in MacBook Pro now offers 16GB RAM as standard on the two mid-range options. This leaves the entry level 13in MacBook Air with slower 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory. The trouble with this is that the MacBook Air offers 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory which is faster. We expect Apple to bring the entry-level 13in models into line with this at some point in 2020.
Speakers & Microphone
The 16in MacBook Pro has improved speakers with deeper bass and a noise-cancelling microphone. Will the 13in models gain the same update at some point?
Possibly we may see an improvement, although not on the same level. The improvements in the 16in may not be possible in the limited space of the 13in model: there are three speakers on each side of the 16in MacBook Pro (two of which are woofers). The 13in may simply be unable to accommodate this.
As for the microphone, the 13in model probably doesn’t need the three-mic “studio” array required by professional creative users.
The 16in MacBook Pro has a 100W battery (which is the biggest battery allowed in laptops before they would be banned from planes). This bigger battery means the 16in model now offers 11 hours of use.
The 13in model has a 58.2W battery in the entry-level 1.4GHz models and a 58W battery in the 2.4GHz models. Both offer 10 hours use.
It’s possible that Apple will look at a way to achieve more battery life from the 13in models: The MacBook Air, for example, offers 12 hours battery life with a 49.9W battery, so it must be possible.
FaceID and Webcam
We’d love to see a better FaceTime camera on the MacBook. The MacBook Pro still offers a 720p camera. As a comparison the FaceTime camera (aka Selfie camera) on the iPhone 11 range offers 1080p HD video recording and a 12MP camera. Apple really needs to up its game with this camera, something that has become very apparent in this age of video conferencing.
The iPhone 11 camera is TrueDepth, so it also offers FaceID - something we’d like to see appear on the MacBook range.
Another thing that the iPhone 11 range offers is 802.11ax WiFi 6. As yet this hasn’t appeared on any Mac laptop or desktop. This is something that we’d like to see but it seems unlikely that the 13in model would get it before the 16in model.