If you were hoping to see a new 16in MacBook Pro soon be prepared for disappointment. Apple added a new graphics card option in June 2020, but it looks like there will be a longer wait until the standard components are updated inside the larger MacBook Pro model.
In November 2019 the largest MacBook Pro gained a new design with a larger screen, so you may be thinking that it's not been that long since it was last updated. However, the 16in MacBook Pro was the result of a redesign of the 15in model, but it kept some of the same components that the 15in MacBook Pro gained in June 2019. So the 16in MacBook Pro still offers 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processors (in 6- or 8-cores) like its predecessor. Read our review of the 2019 16in MacBook Pro here.
Release date for new 16in MacBook Pro
The recent addition of a new graphics card option suggests we won't be seeing a new 16in MacBook Pro model at WWDC, so when might we see it?
Based on previous years we could see something in the October time frame, which would mark almost a year since the model's introduction. However, we could have a longer wait.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has indicated that his sources suggest Apple is looking to adopt mini-LED screen panels for its Macs as they offer a rich wide colour gamut as well as high contrast ratios, high dynamic range, and more. Mini-LED should also result in thinner, more power-efficient panels that don't suffer from burn-in (which is an issue with OLED).
However, in May 2020 he suggested that the plans were being delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and therefore probably won't arrive until early 2021.
You might be thinking that with 10th generation processors coming to the MacBook Air and the mid-range 13in MacBook Pro it is time for the MacBook Pro to gain 10th-generation processors too. However, the 10th generation processors most suitable for the 16in MacBook Pro won't give a significant boost over the current processors.
Intel announced the 10th Generation Intel Core-H Series processors (AKA Comet Lake-H) in April 2020. These offer clock speeds over 5GHz (once Turbo Boost kicks in) and Intel is referring to it as the “world's fastest mobile processor”.
However, the fastest 10th-generation processor still has a base clock of 2.4GHz, the same as the build-to-order option currently offered with the 16in machine. With Turbo Boost they will top out at 5.3GHz rather than 5.0GHz (a 6 percent increase). The problem here is that you probably won't get to experience those high speeds if you tend to do work that utilises multiple cores because this is the maximum for a single core.
As our colleague at Macworld US said here: "If Apple's next MacBook Pro update only replaces the current 9th generation processors with these Comet Lake-H chips, there's nothing to get excited about".
So what is worth waiting for? Intel's 11th generation processors will be known as Tiger Lake should be arriving in mid-2020.
Alternatively Apple could hold out and - as rumoured - create its own processor to be used in the MacBook Pro. While we think Apple is intending to make the switch from Intel to ARM, we think it will be some time before the Apple-made processors are ready for the more high-end Macs.
When the 16in MacBook Pro arrived it might have maintained the same processors as the earlier model, but it gained new graphics: the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 or the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 (and the Intel UHD Graphics 630 which provides a dual-graphics setup). The discontinued 15in MacBook Pro had shipped with AMD Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB of GDDR5 or AMD Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 (and the Intel UHD Graphics 630 as before.)
In June 2020 apple added a new build-to-order graphics option: the AMD Radeon Pro 5600M with 8GB of HBM2 memory. If you choose this option, rather than the standard graphic at point of sale it will cost you an additional £800/$700.
So, what graphics might we get in the new 16in MacBook Pro? If Apple uses 11th Generation Tiger Lake CPUs with the 16in MacBook Pro then we can expect to see Xe Graphics as that offering will come with the CPU. This is Intel's attempt at developing discrete graphics processing units like those offered by AMD. It seems unlikely that Apple would forge the AMD graphics usually offered as a discrete graphics option with this Mac though, so we expect to see the next generation offering from AMD ship with the new 16in MacBook Pro.
Prior to the launch of the 16in MacBook Pro we were calling for more storage space. However, Apple has already doubled the storage inside the MacBook Pro with a choice of 512GB or 1TB storage - an improvement on the 15in model, which offered 256GB or 512GB as standard.
The 2019 16in MacBook Pro can already be equipped with 64GB RAM, sure it's a £720/$800 build-to-order option, but it's an option. The standard machine ships with 16GB.
However, its 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory while the mid-range 13in MacBook Pro ships with 16GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X. The LPDDR4X being more power efficient. This doesn't necessarily mean it's better though - it also has a reduced bandwidth: LPDDR4 has dual 16-bit channels (or 32-bit total bus) while DDR4 offers 64-bit channels. So pro users are most likely better off with the DDR4 option.
Camera and FaceID
We'd love to see a better FaceTime camera on the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro still offers a shockingly poor 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.
We'd also like to see the TrueDepth camera appear on the MacBook range, enabling FaceID.
WiFi 6 (802.11ax) as a WiFi standard is still in its infancy, but it is starting to arrive. Unfortunately it hasn't yet appeared on any Mac laptop or desktop though.
The new 10th get processors support Wi-Fi 6 but Apple still lists only 802.11ac Wi‑Fi wireless networking as an option in the tech specs for the 13in model that features the new 10th generation chips.
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.