January 29, 2023
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If you’re thinking of buying an Apple laptop, wait. A new report points to Apple possibly refreshing its MacBook and MacBook Pro line in time for the kick-off of this year’s WWDC.

According to AppleInsider, inventory is low on both the Core i7 model of the MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro, with the first deliveries being June 4 or later. Apple’s conference kicks off on June 4 in San Jose.

There’s a lot of hope out there when it comes to Apple fixing the issues plaguing its MacBook Pro line.

Not only does the lack of a USB Type-A port mean many users are pushed to carry adapters everywhere, living a dongle-based lifestyle, but the butterfly-switch key design has led to many complaints, repairs and even a class-action lawsuit.

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But what do we actually expect? Are there any signs of important change on the horizon for Apple’s MacBook Pros? Here’s what we’re seeing:

8th Gen Intel CPUs: The obvious bet

While there are many things we’d like to see in the next Apple laptops, there’s only one that feels guaranteed: Intel’s 8th Generation processors. 

There are few roads that Apple could take with a Pro-branded machine. The obvious choice is to go with a standard quad-core Kaby Lake R Core i5 or Core i7. That’s already doubling the number of cores from last year’s chips, and the performance differences are noticeable.

The other big option is to go with Intel’s Kaby Lake G CPU. Those have integrated AMD Radeon Vega processors on board, which could give a bit of a graphics bump for pro users who want to use Photoshop or do some light movie editing or gaming. We’ve only seen this on the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and HP Spectre 15t, but there’s no reason that Apple couldn’t put them in a MacBook Pro.

Apple usually goes with AMD’s graphics over Nvidia’s (see their recent eGPU efforts), so Kaby Lake G makes some logical sense. Whether its for air flow or just to add more power, we’d expect that if Kaby Lake G shows up at all, it would only be in the 15-inch model.

The real dark horse is for Apple to run its MacBook Pros on 10nm chips. Intel has finally launched Cannon Lake, though there aren’t many laptops with the CPU yet. The benefit is that Cannon Lake can support more RAM at lower power than the existing MacBook Pro’s CPU (it’s why Apple likely didn’t opt for an option with 32GB of RAM). Apple would be surprisingly ahead of the curve, considering it usually runs a bit behind competitors when adopting chips (even Kaby Lake G is a tough bet), but it could also use it fix a key complaint.

A January report from a new report from DigiTimes suggests this processor upgrade will be the only update that the MacBook Pro gets this year, with no major changes on the horizon.

What about the keyboard?

The often-lamented butterfly switches in the keys of Apple’s MacBook Pros (and its other MacBooks) have been criticized as fragile, and many have complained of having to press multiple times to register key strokes. While many (myself included) hope Apple changes their key design soon, nothing’s for sure.

Instead, what we do know is that Apple’s experimenting with new designs. A patent published in March shows Apple looking towards a crumb-resistant keyboard, which could save MacBook Pro owners from blowing air at their space bar, trying to make it work again.

Design: It’s time for less bezel

As we noted in our best and worst brands report, Apple’s MacBook designs are starting to get stale. Notebooks like the Dell XPS 13 show that you can create a machine with little to no bezel around the display, giving you a big screen in a compact design. The trade-off is that the webcam looks up your nose, but we’ve seen other systems shrink the bezels while still keep the webcam in the right spot. 

A new rumor suggests we might be exclaiming “It’s alive!” when the new MacBook Pro is unveiled, as a newly publicized patent shows reference to a “Living Hinge.” The part would allow for the display part to be integrated into the rest of the laptop, so the entire machine is one piece of metal. We wouldn’t bet our money that this feature will arrive in any MacBooks announced this year, but it’s interesting to see what Apple’s investigating.

Release date: June or beyond?

The new MacBook Pros could come as early as June, as a surprise at WWDC, or — more likely — a fall update. College students, and those who own aging MacBooks, are hoping for the former and not the latter.

Additional reporting provided by Andrew E. Freedman.