You'd be forgiven for thinking that Apple has already updated the MacBook Pro for 2020: back in May Apple added 10th generation processors and more RAM to two of the 13in models (more information about them below). However, it only increased the storage and updated the keyboard in the entry-level MacBook Pro, meaning the 1.4GHz models are still ripe for an update.
In this article we will look at what might be in store for the cheaper MacBook Pro models that are rumoured to be the first Apple Macs to ship with Apple's new Apple Silicon processors.
Will Apple update the 13in MacBook Pro again in 2020?
Since the May 2020 update to the MacBook Pro it is now the case that 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.
This means that these two 13in MacBook Pro models are ripe for a processor update and it might just be that they are the first Macs to gain new Apple Silicon processors!
Silicon MacBook Pro release date
We think that the smaller MacBook Pro will be the first Mac to gain Apple's new Silicon processor and as per Apple's own guidance, it looks likely that it will appear before the end of 2020.
In terms of when the new Silicon MacBook Pro will launch in 2020, we estimate that it will arrive in October, although with the unusual nature of pandemic-struck 2020 it's possible that there may be delays.
A twitter user has predicted the 27 October as the launch date for the new Mac. @ihacktu (aka iHacktu Pro) tweeted details of a possible keynote at which, the tweet claimed, Apple would present the iPad Pro and the first ARM Macs. The 24 July tweet has now been deleted (of course).
Silicon MacBook Pro price
That same tweeter also claimed that the new Silicon 13in MacBook Pro will start at the lower price of $1,099 (it's currently $1,299). The new MacBook Pro will apparently be accompaned by a new Silicon MacBook, which will cost just $800. More information here: Silicon MacBook could launch on 27 October and cost $800.
Silicon MacBook Pro specs
Here's what you currently get inside the entry-level 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
Since the entry-level 13in MacBook Pro still uses 8th generation Intel processors it is ripe for an update. It's also a great option for Apple's first Silicon processor, being designed for average users.
It's difficult to say exactly what an Apple processor will bring to the MacBook Pro. The only Mac running on an Apple processor right now is the developer Mac mini, which is actually just using an iPad Pro chip, but has already popped up in impressive benchmarks. We have examined what Apple Silicon could bring and how it will compare to Intel here: Apple Silicon vs Intel. You can also read more about Apple's processor plans here.
The entry level 13in MacBook Air currently offers slow 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory - even the cheaper MacBook Air offers better 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.
The 2.0GHz 13in MacBook Pro on sale now already offers 16GB RAM as standard.
The current entry-level MacBook Pro offers Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645, which are integrated with the Intel processor. Apple's has revealed that it will integrate its own GPU onto the new Apple Silicon processor and suggested that we can expect "higher performance GPUs" inside these new Macs.
In a developer document Apple said: "The integrated GPU in Apple processors is optimized for high performance graphics tasks".
Apple is expecting the move to Apple Silicon to open the door to more powerful games on the Mac.
Right now 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 Silicon will make it possible for Apple to achieve more battery life from the smaller models: The MacBook Air, for example, offers 12 hours battery life with a 49.9W battery, so it must be possible.
There are rumours that Apple will introduce a mini-LED 14in display on a MacBook Pro at some point in the near future, however we think this will be reserved for the mid-range MacBook Pro models.
For the entry-level MacBook Pro we anticipate that the screen will remain at 13in.
However, there is one thing we'd love to see on the MacBook Pro: a touch screen. We discuss why it is time for Apple start offering Macs with touch screens here: Why Apple needs a touch screen Mac. One major reason why we need touch on the Mac: the Apple Silicon transition will make it possible to use iOS apps on the Mac.
Face ID 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. In fact, it looks like we might get Face ID on the Mac - the Big Sur beta contains code that hints that the TrueDepth camera is coming to the Mac.
Another thing that the iPhone 11 range offers is 802.11ax Wi-Fi 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 smaller MacBook Pro model would get it before the 16in model.
On the next page we look at the May 2020 update to the MacBook Pro