Now that Apple has updated the MacBook Air for 2020 attention has turned to the 13in MacBook Pro, the only Mac laptop still lumbered with the potentially faulty butterfly keyboard. When will Apple update the MacBook Pro and what can we expect?

Read on to find out if the new MacBook Pro have a bigger screen, whether the 2020 13in MacBook Pro will offer improved battery life, and when Apple will fix the keyboard issues that have plagued the Mac laptop lineup since 2016. We answer these questions and more below.

Release date

Now that the MacBook Air has gained a new keyboard (along with 10th generation quad-core processors and more storage) attention has turned to the MacBook Pro, which now looks less impressive in comparison with its 8th generation processors.

We think that a MacBook Pro update could be imminent in the wake of the MacBook Air update.

Hopefully we won't have long to wait: a new 13in MacBook Pro is set to arrive in the second quarter of 2020, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who said a new MacBook with a new scissor-switch keyboard could be coming in Q2 2020. That's assuming that he was referring to the 13in MacBook Pro and not just the Air. (Via this Chinese report.)

Kuo predictions MacBook Pro

When could the MacBook Pro update arrive? We had thought a June update was probable, in line with WWDC, but it might come sooner than that.

We could look for clues based on the release dates in 2019: The two 2.4GHz models were last updated in May 2019, so a May 2020 update is feasible. 

We might have a slightly longer wait for the entry level 13in MacBook Pro models to be updated as these were last updated in July 2019 (prior to that the models hadn't been updated since 2017). Then towards the end of the year the company replaced the 15in MacBook Pro with a new 16in MacBook Pro. This new 16in model featured slimmer bezels, meaning that a larger screen could be packed into a smililarly sized laptop. The other big difference to the 16in MacBook Pro was the keyboard. It's this re-designed keyboard that everyone is hoping will make its way into the rest of the MacBook Pro line up very soon.

Price

When Apple updated the MacBook Pro in 2019 it actually increased prices slightly in the UK, so we hope that there won't be any further pricing adjustments.

There are currently four 13in MacBook Pro models to choose from:

  • 1.4GHz Quad-core i5 (TB 3.9GHz), Iris Plus Graphics 645, two thunderbolt ports: 128GB, £1,299/$1,299; 256GB, £1,499/$1,499
  • 2.4GHz Quad-core i5 (TB 4.1GHz), Iris Plus Graphics 655, four thunderbolt ports: 256GB, £1,799/$1,799; 512GB, £1,999/$1,999

It’s unlikely that the prices will change, although what you get for your money might as we will discuss below.

Want to get a great deal on a MacBook Pro? Check out our round up of the best MacBook Pro deals here.

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Will there be a MacBook Pro redesign?

New and old MacBook Pro

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). Other changes included an improved keyboard. When the replacement for the current 13in MacBook Pro launches will it also boast a bigger screen and improved keyboard?

The latter looks likely, the former less so - as we discuss below, reports indicate that Apple will maintain the 13.3in display size on the smaller MacBook Pro.

One possibility is that Apple could still reduce the bezels around the display, resulting in a slightly smaller 13in MacBook Pro. The screen dimensions would remain the same but the laptop itself would be slightly smaller. This should be possible without reducing the size of the keyboard - the keyboard size is optimum for typing on, any smaller and the keys would be too cramped.

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.

Display

Hoping that the 13in MacBook Pro will gain a bigger display like the 16in MacBook did? Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Apple is working on a 14.1in MacBook Pro with a Mini-LED display.

While Kuo isn't committing on a launch date for the 14in MacBook Pro he had previously suggested that a 16in model with mini LED could launch in the fourth quarter of 2020, so that might indicate that the 14in MacBook Pro won't appear until later in the year.

However, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple Phil Schiller had previously indicated that nobody should assume that a 14in MacBook Pro will follow the 16in MacBook Pro. "I wouldn’t draw any extrapolation from [the 16in MacBook Pro] to anything else," he told YouTube personality Jonathan Morrison.

A DigiTimes report in November 2019 also stated that the display will stay at 13.3in.

Apple said it increased the 15in MacBook Pro screen by reducing the bezels after users called for a larger display. It appears that there are no calls for the 13in model to have a larger screen.

Interestingly when and if the 14in MacBook Pro launches it won't be the first 14in Mac laptop: between 2002 and 2005 Apple sold a 14in iBook.

Keyboard

16in MacBook Pro keyboard

One thing is for sure, the new 13in MacBook Pro when it arrives will feature the same scissor switch keyboard keyboard seen in the 16in MacBook Pro.

This new 'Magic Keyboard' is styled on the iMac’s Magic Keyboard. We found this a definite improvement on recent generations of MacBook Pro. It is comfortable to type on, with deeper travel on the keys.

The arrow keys are laid out differently on the new 16in MacBook’s keyboard and this is likely to follow through to the 13in model. They take on the 'inverted T' layout, rather than being in a block. It essentially means the left and right keys are slightly narrower. We assume that it is easier to use because locating the up key is easier when nothing is beside it. These kids of changes will certainly help anyone with limited sight.

MacBook Keyboard arrow keys

The other change on the 16in keyboard is the addition of a physical escape key, rather than the escape key being part of the Touch Bar. We assume that a separate key is easier to locate without having to look at the keyboard. We find the Touch Bar hard to use just because you have to look at it. The Touch ID sensor is also separate to the Touch Bar.

In October 2019 analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple will transition its entire notebook line-up to scissor switch keyboards in 2020.

New Features & Spec

A design overhaul is unlikely but there will be changes on the inside in terms of processor and potentially storage options. We look at the specs we expect to see inside the new MacBook Pro.

To recap, right now you'll find the following:

  • 1.4GHz Quad-core i5 (TB 3.9GHz), Iris Plus Graphics 645, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM, two thunderbolt ports: 128GB, £1,299, 256GB, £1,499 (BTO: 1.7GHz quad‑core i7; 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD, 16GB RAM)
  • 2.4GHz Quad-core i5 (TB 4.1GHz), Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM, four thunderbolt ports: 256GB, £1,799, 512GB, £1,999 (BTO: 2.8GHz quad‑core i7; 1TB, 2TB SSD, 16GB RAM)

Processor

The 16in MacBook Pro features the same processor as found in the previous 15in model. 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.

What does this mean for the processor in the 13in models? Here we are likely to see a new generation of processor. Will the 13in range move from 8th generation to the 9th generation processor range currently seen in the 16in MacBook Pro.

Or could we see the arrival of the 10th generation Intel processor - known as Ice Lake? A number of laptops are already using these. However, it would be unusual for the 13in to gain a newer processor generation before their bigger siblings though, so perhaps Apple will update the entire range in one go.

Storage

One thing we’d really like to see is an increase in the amount of storage on offer. We feel that the paltry 128GB in the base model is too little. We’d like to see 256GB and 512GB as standard at the entry level and a 512GB and 1TB option on the top of the range 13in MacBook Pro. Currently that is a £200 build-to-order option.
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?

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.

Battery

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 (the .

The iPhone 11 camera is TrueDepth, so it also offers FaceID - something we’d like to see appear on the MacBook range.

WiFi 6

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.

Will the 16in MacBook Pro be updated?

We think that with so much missing from the 16in MacBook Pro at launch in November 2019 - not least the lack of 10th generation processors and WIFi 6, it’s likely that any update to the 13in MacBook Pro will come alongside an update to the 16in model, which will likely leave a few customers who have already bought a 16in MacBook Pro a little peeved. Here's how the 15in and 16in MacBook Pro models compare.