Apple Planning USB-C iMac and Faster Notebooks in 2017, Mac Pro and Touch Bar Magic Keyboard in Question
Apple is preparing modest updates to its Mac lineup for next year, including new iMac models with USB-C ports and new AMD graphics chips, and “minor bumps” in processing power for 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro models, according to Bloomberg.
Mac fans shouldn’t hold their breath for radical new designs in 2017 though. Instead, the company is preparing modest updates: USB-C ports and a new Advanced Micro Devices Inc. graphics processor for the iMac, and minor bumps in processing power for the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. Cue the outrage.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo likewise said new iMacs will launch in the first half of 2017 in a research note shared earlier this year, while current iMac models have not been updated in 434 days per our Mac Buyer’s Guide, so updates to Apple’s consumer desktop lineup would be unsurprising. USB-C ports on new iMacs would likely double as Thunderbolt 3 ports akin to the new MacBook Pro.
Apple designers are also said to be exploring standalone keyboards with a Touch Bar and Touch ID for desktop computers. The report claims Apple will decide whether to release the keyboards depending upon how well the touchscreen strip and fingerprint scanner are received on new MacBook Pro models released a few months ago. Apple’s current Magic Keyboard was released in October 2015.
Meanwhile, some Apple engineers have reportedly raised the possibility of moving Mac Pro production back to Asia, as these people believe the supply chain workers have the “required skills” for “ambitious” products. Apple currently assembles the Mac Pro in Texas as its only “Made in USA” computer, but the professional-oriented desktop machine has not been updated in three years.
Three years on, the Mac Pro is ripe for an upgrade with its chips and connector ports lagging rival products. Because of the earlier challenges, some Apple engineers have raised the possibility of moving production back to Asia, where it’s cheaper and manufacturers have the required skills for ambitious products, according to a person familiar with those internal discussions.
President-elect Donald Trump recently said he will offer Apple incentives to bring manufacturing back to the United States, including a “very large tax cut” and reduced regulations. Apple CEO Tim Cook himself has said the majority of its products are made in China because the U.S. workforce has a smaller number of individuals with the “vocational kind of skills” needed.
Overall, the article suggests the Mac is “getting far less attention than it once did,” partly due to “a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware, and technical challenges.”
Apple, for its part, told employees it has “great desktops” in its roadmap. Cook said the desktop is “very strategic” to Apple because the performance desktops can provide is “really important” to a lot of people and “critical” for others. He says the current iMac is the best desktop Apple’s ever made and its 5K display is the best desktop display in the world. The fate of the Mac Pro and Mac mini is less clear.
Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, Retina MacBook
Tags: bloomberg.com, Magic Keyboard
Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Don’t Buy), Mac Pro (Don’t Buy), MacBook Pro (Buy Now), MacBook (Neutral)
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If you’ve been following the Mac lineup in recent years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple had largely given up on desktops. The current-generation iMac is over a year old, the Mac mini hasn’t been updated since 2014 and the Mac Pro hasn’t been touched since it was redesigned in 2013. Does the company care about people who need more power than a laptop? Yes, if you ask Tim Cook. In an internal forum post, the CEO explains that desktops remain “really important” and that there are “great desktops in our roadmap.”
The reasons why won’t shock you. Simply put, you can “pack a lot more performance” in a computer that isn’t constrained by portability — bigger displays, extra ports and just more raw power. Sometimes that difference is “critical” to users, Cook adds.
There weren’t signs that Apple was about to axe desktops, and to some extent it’s at the mercy of Intel. Remember, Intel’s 7th-generation Core processors won’t be available in desktop form until January at the earliest — Apple can’t really update the iMac’s processors until then. It doesn’t have as much justification for the Mac mini or Mac Pro, but customers might not be happy if it slapped older chips into those systems at this point.
Cook’s statement still leaves a lot of uncertainty, though. Just which desktops still have a life left at Apple? And more importantly, will future revisions address criticisms? Mac Pro customers, for example, have complained both about neglect (a modern 5K iMac is more powerful in some respects) and a design that’s at once overkill and doesn’t go far enough. Pros don’t always want dual processors and dual graphics cards, but they sometimes want more expansion than the current Mac Pro can offer. Although Apple may still care about desktops, there’s a lingering concern it either treats them as a low priority or doesn’t understand what desktop buyers really want.
In a post to an employee message board obtained by TechCrunch, Apple CEO Tim Cook assured employees that the company is still committed to the Mac and that “great desktops” are coming. Apple’s desktop computers haven’t seen an upgrade in at least 433 days.
Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops,” Cook wrote. “If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.”
Cook says that the desktop is “very strategic” to Apple because the performance desktops can provide is “really important” to a lot of people and “critical” for some people. He says the current iMac is the best desktop Apple’s ever made and its 5K display is the best desktop display in the world.
In regards to its future roadmap and how Apple employees can help push the company forward, Cook says that “you can rarely see precisely where you want to go from the beginning.” Instead, Cook argues that “pulling strings” to see what’s coming next is one of Apple’s strengths, noting that the creation of Apple Watch led to the creation of ResearchKit, which lead to the creation of CareKit. Cook concludes the post by saying the company doesn’t do things for a return on investment, it explores new things because it’s exciting and might lead somewhere.
The lack of refreshed Mac hardware can be attributed to a combination of Apple waiting on chipmakers and suppliers to ship their new products and the Cupertino Company’s renewed focus on iPad.
Apple’s desktop Macs haven’t seen upgrades in over a year. The iMac’s last update was 433 days ago, the Mac Mini’s last update was 795 days ago and the Mac Pro’s last update was 1,097 days ago.
Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini
Tag: Tim Cook
Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Don’t Buy), Mac Pro (Don’t Buy), Mac Mini (Don’t Buy)
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When looking at the current state of the Mac lineup, the new MacBook Pro is the only model Apple has updated over the past seven-plus months. Even the latest MacBook Pro models required a 527-day wait, which was considerably longer than the average of 320 days between previous MacBook Pro refreshes.
A glance at our own MacRumors Buyer’s Guide shows the new MacBook Pro is the only Mac currently listed with a “Buy Now” status, as all other models beyond the 12-inch MacBook have not been refreshed for significant periods of time. The longest overdue is the Mac Pro, last updated 1,084 days ago.
• iMac — 420 days ago
• MacBook Air — 638 days ago
• Mac mini — 782 days ago
• Mac Pro — 1,084 days ago
The lack of updates can be at least partially attributed to Apple having to wait on chipmakers and suppliers such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia, each of which follow their own product roadmaps, although that cannot be the only reason given Skylake processors are now readily available for update-deprived Macs.
A lack of meaningful updates to several Macs this year impacted Apple’s bottom line, as Mac revenue has declined for four consecutive quarters year-over-year. The declines have worsened each quarter, starting with a 3% drop in Q4 2015 and progressing to a 17% drop in Q3 2016, according to Strategy Analytics.
Apple investors now await the company’s first quarter earnings results to see if the new MacBook Pro models will be able to reverse that trend.
Conversely, after several down quarters, the iPad has experienced a mostly upward trajectory over the past year, thanks largely in part to the iPad Pro’s higher average selling price. Apple’s tablet revenue is now stable on a year-over-year basis, after dipping as low as -21% one year ago.
Strategy Analytics senior analyst Eric Smith attributes the stabilizing effect to Apple’s renewed focus on iPads. He said Apple entered the 2-in-1 tablet market with the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard right in time to renew growth and capitalize on growing enterprise demand in the future.
Recognizing that Microsoft was changing the computing device market, Smith said Apple “pretty much forgot about Mac” in order to attack the 2-in-1 tablet segment with the release of iPad Pro models over the past year.
“Apple has been a master of cannibalizing its own business before other companies do so in a major way,” Smith told MacRumors. “Apple let iPad slide until it became clear that Microsoft was changing the computing device market. It refocused on iPad with the Pro series and pretty much forgot about Mac to attack the 2-in-1 segment.”
Apple’s move was rather effective, as iPad market share has stabilized at 22% over the past two years after declining for the previous four years. But it would seem it took a change in stance to get there as, in the past, Apple essentially dismissed the idea of releasing a tablet-notebook hybrid.
During a 2012 earnings call, when asked to comment on why the MacBook Air and iPad would not eventually converge, Apple CEO Tim Cook argued that combining the products would result in compromises. “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator but those won’t be pleasing to the user,” he said.
By contrast, earlier this year Apple released a TV ad called “What’s a Computer?” that positions the iPad Pro as a computer. “Imagine what your computer could do if your computer was an iPad Pro,” the tagline concludes.
Likewise, Cook said the iPad Pro is a notebook or desktop computer replacement for many people. “They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones,” he added. “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?”
In the post-PC era, it is perhaps unsurprising that Apple’s attention has shifted more towards the iPhone—and by extension, the iPad. But many faithful customers are hoping Apple will eventually turn its sights back to the Mac, following what some critics believe was a disappointing MacBook Pro update amid an aging lineup of Macs.
Rumors suggest Apple will launch new iMacs in the first six months of 2017, and at least one model is said to include an option for new AMD graphics chips. The roadmap for other Macs remains less clear.
Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, iPad Pro
Tag: Strategy Analytics
Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Don’t Buy), Mac Pro (Don’t Buy), Mac Mini (Don’t Buy), MacBook Pro (Buy Now), 12.9″ iPad Pro (Caution)
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Apple has internally announced it will issue a refund to customers who previously paid for an iMac display hinge replacement or repair, according to a recently updated service document obtained by MacRumors. These repairs could often cost upwards of $100, according to reports from affected users.
Apple’s service document acknowledges some 27-inch iMacs shipped between December 2012 and July 2014 may be affected by an issue with the display hinge, resulting in the screen no longer adjusting and continuously tilting forward. The issue appears to be limited to late 2012 and late 2013 models in particular.
The issue has been frequently reported by dozens of users on the Apple Support Communities, MacRumors discussion forums, and elsewhere on the web, with a number of iMac owners describing a similar experience in which the hinge makes an audible popping or cracking sound and then stops working.
Apple Support Communities user Mr Mo-Fo:
I was just sitting watching TV when there was a loud crack and my iMac screen suddenly tilted down – now the screen will not stay where it is tilted/positioned. I was not using the iMac at the time and it was not doing anything it just broke on its own. The Mac was only bought in February and has not been moved or tilted once it was in place.
MacRumors user Plazm:
My one month old 27″ iMac (about a month old) at work seems to have developed a loose hinge so that the screen always tilts at its most downward. It still tilts up and down, but will always return to that position by itself.
Apple has since extended its related iMac hinge repair program to cover late 2012 and late 2013 iMacs for up to five years from the date of their original purchase, compared to an original three-year period. Apple will replace the hinge mechanism on affected iMacs at no charge, regardless of warranty coverage.
Unlike some of Apple’s other Exchange and Repair Extension Programs listed on its website, the details of this program have not been made publicly available. Apple has instead sent internal communication to Apple Authorized Service Providers with information about repairs and refunds.
Apple recommends affected customers contact the company by phone or web to initiate the refund process. Customers who still have a broken hinge can book an appointment with the Genius Bar at an Apple Store or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to determine if their iMac is eligible for the repair program.
Related Roundup: iMac
Tag: repair program
Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Don’t Buy)
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Following its “Hello Again” Mac event last week, Apple quietly dropped the prices on higher-capacity storage upgrades across its Mac lineup. 512GB and 1TB SSD build-to-order upgrade options for the MacBook Air, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini, and 2015 MacBook Pro are now priced up to $200 less, bring the costs in line with upgrade options on the new MacBook Pro models.
Prior to the event, 512GB storage upgrade options were priced at $300-$400 for most entry-level machines, while a 1TB upgrade was priced at $800 to $900. With the price drop, upgrading to 512GB of storage costs an extra $200-$300, while upgrading to 1TB costs $600-$700.
On the higher-end 13-inch MacBook Air, for example, the default 256GB SSD option can be upgraded to 512GB for $200, $100 less than it cost earlier this year.
New Mac Pro storage prices. Previous prices were $300 and $800.
Upgrading the entry-level 27-inch iMac to 512GB of flash storage previously cost $500, but the price has dropped to $400. Upgrading the mid-range iMac 27-inch iMac to 512GB or 1TB of storage used to cost $400 or $900, respectively, but prices are now at $300 for the 512GB upgrade and $700 for the 1TB flash storage upgrade. On the most expensive 27-inch iMac, upgrading to 1TB storage now costs $100 less.
On the high-end Mac mini, prices have dropped to $200 for the 512GB flash storage option and $600 for the 1TB flash storage option, and the same prices are available on both Mac Pro models, a savings of $100 for 512GB and $200 for 1TB.
For 2015 MacBook Pro models, the 15-inch MacBook Pro storage upgrade options are also priced at $200 for 512GB and $600 for 1TB, down from $300 and $800. Upgrade options for the 13-inch machine are new and are priced somewhat higher at $200 for 256GB, $400 for 512GB, and $800 for 1TB.
Much to the disappointment of many Mac users, the MacBook Pro was the only machine to see an update at Apple’s fall event. The iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini have not seen a refresh, and no new machines are expected before the end of the year.
While an iMac refresh is rumored for the first half of 2017, there’s no word on when the Mac Pro and the Mac mini, both of which have not been refreshed in several years, could receive updates. Apple is also expected to phase out the MacBook Air, replacing it with the MacBook and the MacBook Pro.
Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Don’t Buy), Mac Pro (Don’t Buy), Mac Mini (Don’t Buy), MacBook Air (Don’t Buy), Retina MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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As rumors suggested, Microsoft has unveiled a new all-in-one PC at its “Imagine What You’ll Do” event in New York City. The Surface Studio, as the device is called, is a gorgeous desktop that looks to rival Apple’s iMac. On stage, Surface Computing chief Panos Panay said the Studio is built for creators and professionals. For starters, it features a 28-inch, 12.5mm thin touchscreen that’s capable of pushing 13.5 million pixels — 63 percent more than a 4K display. Of course, Surface Studio is powered by Windows 10, and Panay says it’s designed to work seamlessly with the upcoming Creators Update.
One of the main highlights of Surface Studio is the quality of its PixelSense Display. It can switch between DCI-P3 color and RGB on the fly, something that’s going to appeal to graphic designers everywhere. Design-wise, Surface Studio is no iMac clone. There’s a “zero-gravity hinge” that lets you adjust the display down to a 20-degree angle, thanks to 80 custom-tuned springs which turns the display into a versatile piece.
The Surface Studio is available for pre-order today, starting at $3,000 for a configuration with a 6th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 1TB of internal storage, 8GB of RAM and a 2GB GPU. If that’s not enough, you can spend $500 extra for a model with a more powerful Core i7 CPU and 16GB RAM. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line Surface Studio is $4,200 and sports a Core i7 processor, a 2TB hybrid drive, 32GB RAM and a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce 980M graphics card. Per Microsoft’s site, the Surface Studio is scheduled to ship on December 15th.
It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft introduces smaller versions of the Studio later on, to compete with something such as the 21.5-inch iMac.
Naturally, Microsoft also revealed a companion wireless keyboard and mouse, in case you need more than that sleek touchscreen to get you through your tasks. Those of you who get a Surface Studio will get a Surface Pen included in the box, which isn’t surprising given that Microsoft is pegging this as a computer for creators. That’s the idea behind accessories like the Surface Dial, a wireless aluminum puck that lets you use gestures to manipulate functions on different Surface-compatible apps.
What’s more, gamers should know that, according to Major Nelson, Surface Studio has built-in support for the Xbox One Wireless controller protocol. That means you won’t need any dongles to connect your controller to the desktop. We’ll know more about the Surface Studio shortly, as we’ll be bringing you a hands-on from Microsoft’s big launch event in The Big Apple. Keep your eyes peeled.
Click here to catch all the latest news from Microsoft’s big Surface event.
Over the past few years we’ve seen Microsoft take on the world of tablets with the Surface and, for those who prefer something more on the laptop side, the Surface Pro and Surface Book. But it hasn’t truly tackled desktops until today’s announcement of the all-in-one Surface Studio. As cool as features like the zero-gravity hinge might be, the Studio will be facing off against established lines like the iMac. We’ve assembled the specs of some of the leading 27-inch machines on the market and matched them up against the 28-inch Studio to see which is worthy of sitting on your desk.
Microsoft Surface Studio
HP Envy 27
Dell XPS 27
$2,999 / $3,499 / $4,199
$1,799 / $1,999 / $2,299
$1,300 / $1,500 / $1,700
$1,550 / $1,650 / $1,850 / $2,300
25.09 x 17.27 x 1.26 inches (63.73 x 43.89 x 3.22 cm)
25.6 x 20.3 x 8 inches (65 x 51.6 x 20.3 cm)
25.7 x 19.3 x 7.95 inches (65.28 x 49.02 x 20.19 cm)
26.14 x 19.32 x 9.44 inches (66.4 x 49.22 x 24 cm)
21.07 pounds (9.56 kg)
21 pounds (9.54 kg)
24.25 pounds (11 kg)
35.3 pounds (16 kg)
OS X Sierra
28-inch PixelSense touch
27-inch Retina 5K
27-inch LED touch or non-touch
27-inch IPS LED touch
4,500 x 3,000 (192 ppi)
5,120 x 2,880 (218 ppi)
2,560 x 1,440 (109 ppi)
2,560 x 1,440 (109 ppi)
Intel Core i5 / Core i7
Intel Core i5 (3.2 / 3.3 GHz)
Intel Core i5 (2.2 Ghz) / Core i7 (2.8 Ghz)
Intel Core i5 (3.4 GHz) / Intel Core i7 (4 GHz)
8 / 16 / 32GB
8 / 12 / 16GB
NVIDIA GTX 965M / 980M
AMD Radeon R9 M380 / M390 / M395
Integrated / GeForce GTX 950
Intel HD Graphics / NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
1 / 2TB hybrid drive
1TB HDD (7200 rpm) / 1TB Fusion Drive / 2TB Fusion Drive
1TB (5400 / 7200 rpm)
1TB (7200 rpm)
USB 3.0 (x3), Mini Displayport, SD card reader
USB 3.0 (x4), Thunderbolt 2 (x2), gigabit ethernet, SDXC card reader
USB 3.0 (x4), gigabit ethernet, 3-in-1 card reader
USB 3.0 (x6), HDMI, gigabit ethernet, 8-in-1 card reader
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
* Specs listed are standard configurations and don’t include upgrade options available at checkout. Width dimensions include the base.
Click here to catch all the latest news from Microsoft’s big Surface event.
Apple is sneaking in one more big product unveiling before 2016 comes to a close, and expectations for new Macs are running high. And how couldn’t they be? Aside from last year’s iMacs and the 12-inch MacBook, Cupertino’s computer lineup has gone largely untouched since 2015 — and there are numerous systems that have remained the same for even longer. But which Macs are going to get an upgrade on Oct. 27th? And is there a chance that other devices will get their moment in the sun? We’ve rounded up some of the more credible rumors to give you a sense of what’s likely in store.
Redesigned MacBook Pro
If there’s anything that could be considered a lock for the “Hello Again” event, it’s a refreshed MacBook Pro lineup. Apple hasn’t made any significant changes there since mid-2015, and some elements have stuck around for ages. The 15-inch models are still using the fourth-generation Core i7 chips they got back in 2014, for example, while the basic designs of both the 13- and 15-inch systems have remained largely the same since they were introduced in 2012. Even if you discount the rumors, it’s safe to say the MacBook Pro is long overdue for a makeover.
Thankfully, it sounds like you’re going to get just that. Numerous scoops (supported by a case leak from Cult of Mac) suggest that the new Pros are coming this fall, and will center around an OLED touch strip above the keyboard that adapts to the context of whatever you’re doing. You’d get media playback controls if music is playing, or app-specific shortcuts for tasks like video editing or web browsing. Also, Apple might introduce a fingerprint-reading power button that streamlines your sign-ins and online purchases through Apple Pay.
Those same leaks also hint that the MacBook Pros’ ports will be a mixed bag. Instead of the usual variety of connections, you’d get USB-C ports (with Thunderbolt 3 for some high-speed peripherals), a headphone jack … and that’s about it. You might need adapters for video output, SD card readers and other hookups that might have had native connections before. It could be an inconvenience, at least in the short term when USB-C peripherals are rare, but it would give you a more flexible computer in the long run. You wouldn’t have to buy a 15-inch system (or a hub) just to get more than two USB ports or worry about where you plug in an external display.
What’s powering these laptops is a tougher call. Intel did just introduce its first seventh-generation Core (aka Kaby Lake) processors, but the current versions are lower-power chips designed for ultraportables, not mobile workhorses like the MacBook Pro. Unless Apple can score higher-power parts, you may have to “settle” for sixth-gen Core CPUs. You could get improved battery life, though, and there are hints you’ll be able to configure it with up to a 2TB solid-state drive.
The graphics on the 15-inch model would definitely get a boost too. Rumors have it sporting AMD Polaris-based video that would help with creative work and the occasional round of gaming. Just don’t expect a 4K display, because the tidbits we’ve seen suggest that you’ll get the same screen resolutions (2,560 x 1,440 and 2,880 x 1,800) that you have now.
Whatever mystery is left comes down to the pricing. Will these systems carry any kind of premium over their ancestors? And will the base models have enough horsepower and storage to keep you satisfied? Barring last-minute revelations, that may have to wait until event day.
A 13-inch MacBook … or is it a new MacBook Air?
It’s when you consider other possible Mac introductions that things get tricky. There have been conflicting reports as to how Apple will tweak its lower-cost laptops, and both sides can make a persuasive case.
One rumor from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman (who has a solid track record for Apple scoops) has Apple releasing an upgraded 13-inch MacBook Air with USB-C ports. It’s not certain what else would be improved. A higher-quality display, perhaps? The current batch of seventh-generation Core processors would work in a new Air, at least, so performance could easily take a step forward. And like it or not, Apple may have to keep the Air current simply because it’s the only MacBook you can buy at a sub-$1,000 price point. Don’t expect the 11-inch Air to survive, as it’s supposedly being cut (it feels a bit redundant now, thanks to the 12-inch MacBook).
However, a conflicting prediction from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (who also has a good record) has Apple passing over the Air in favor of something else: a 13-inch version of the MacBook first launched in 2015. Little is known about what that would entail besides a likely Retina display, but a larger frame could allow for a beefier processor (not just one of Intel’s lowest-power Core chips), as well as additional ports. More than one USB-C socket, please! The question is, where this would fit in the lineup? Unless the 12-inch version becomes more affordable, a 13-inch MacBook could be priced well into MacBook Pro territory.
We wouldn’t rule either portable out at this stage, but history would suggest that the second option is more likely. Once Apple introduces a new Mac design at the heart of its lineup, it rarely revisits the old hardware. This is the company that’s still selling a four-year-old MacBook Pro to optical drive diehards, remember. Combine that with the Air’s aging circa-2010 chassis and it’s easy to see why Apple would want to move on.
Wild cards: New iPads, more Macs
What else could appear on Oct. 27th? You might not want to get your hopes up for new desktops. When seventh-generation desktop Core processors aren’t due to appear until 2017, an iMac revamp seems unlikely. Ditto the Mac Pro, which would depend on new Xeon E5 models. A fabled 5K stand-alone display may have to wait until the new year as well, according to rumors. About the only Mac desktop that could qualify for a near-term upgrade is the Mac mini, and any update (we’re not expecting one) could easily be limited to a low-key press release.
If anything beyond MacBooks appears onstage, it’s more likely to be iPads. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is approaching the first anniversary of its ship date, and it’s looking long in the tooth compared to the 9.7-inch model. We’re skeptical of purported A10X benchmarks, but Macotakara (which is sometimes accurate, but not always) hears that a 12.9-inch refresh is in the cards with the 12-megapixel rear camera and TrueTone display of its smaller sibling. The site even talks about a 7.9-inch iPad Pro with many of the features from larger models. Let’s also not forget that the iPad Air 2 is marking its second birthday. It’s old enough that Apple may see fit to either replace it or give it the ax, although there haven’t been any rumors so far.
Image credits: Martin Hajek; AP Photo/Eric Risberg; AOL
Apple is planning to hold an event on Thursday, October 27, which will focus solely on giving the Mac lineup some much-needed attention. Many of Apple’s Macs have gone more than a year without an update, like the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, while others, like the Mac mini and the Mac Pro, have gone several years without a refresh.
This is Apple’s first Mac-only event in years and the biggest Mac announcement since the Retina MacBook debuted in early 2015.
The MacBook Pro received a major redesign in 2012, and four years later, it’s about to receive another complete overhaul. With a new body, radical new features, and revamped internals, the MacBook Pro is expected to be the headlining product of Apple’s October 27 event. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has even called the MacBook Pro “the most significant upgrade ever undertaken by Apple.”
The MacBook Pro will continue to be available in 13 and 15-inch size options, but it will feature a thinner and lighter form factor than the current MacBook Pro, bringing it more in line with the 12-inch MacBook.
The body of the machine will not be tapered like the MacBook Air or the Retina MacBook, but it is said to have shallower curves around the edges, a wider pressure-sensitive Force Touch trackpad, metal injection mold-made hinges, thin speaker grilles next to the keyboard, up to 2TB of storage space, and a flatter MacBook-style keyboard with more stable keys that use a butterfly mechanism and single LED backlighting.
At the top of the keyboard, the physical function keys will be replaced with an OLED touch panel (perhaps called the “Magic Toolbar”) with digital keys and buttons that are contextual, changing based on the application that’s in use. A Touch ID fingerprint sensor is expected to be built into the touch panel, giving users a way to more quickly unlock their Macs.
A small processor similar to the processor in the Apple Watch may be built into the panel, allowing it to run on a small amount of energy that won’t heavily impact battery life. It’s possible this will also include a secure enclave to protect Touch ID.
Rumors suggest the MacBook Pro will continue to be available in the same resolutions as current-generation models (2560 x 1600 for the 13-inch and 2880 x 1800 for the 15-inch), but better display quality and energy efficiency are expected.
Leaked images of the MacBook Pro casing sourced from a Chinese supplier suggest it will include just four USB-C ports and a headphone jack, doing away with the MagSafe port, USB-A ports, the HDMI port, and the SD card slot, so MacBook Pro buyers may need to invest in several adapters.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple or an Apple-approved third-party manufacturer will perhaps produce a USB-C MagSafe-like adapter with breakaway functionality to replace the MagSafe feature.
Inside, the MacBook Pro is expected to include Intel’s latest Skylake processors, and high-end 15-inch models are likely to feature AMD’s Polaris graphics chips, able to offer “console-class GPU performance” with a low-power mobile architecture.
Thunderbolt 3 and support for the 10Gb/s USB 3.1 Gen 2 specification are rumored for the machine, and drawing on improvements introduced with the MacBook, Apple is likely to use terraced battery technology for impressive MacBook-style battery life that outperforms existing MacBook Pro machines. Faster flash storage, an improved Retina display, and new color options for the body (Gold, Rose Gold, Silver, and Space Gray) are also strong possibilities.
For more detail on the next-generation MacBook Pro, make sure to check out our MacBook Pro roundup.
The 13-inch MacBook Air was updated with 8GB RAM earlier this year, and it looks like it’s set to get another minor refresh. Rumors suggest Apple is planning to add USB-C ports to the MacBook Air, bringing it in line with the upcoming MacBook Pro and the Retina MacBook.
Aside from the addition of USB-C ports, it’s possible the MacBook Air could get a minor internal spec bump, adding Skylake processors and Thunderbolt 3 support, but it’s clear that Apple is in the process of phasing out the MacBook Air, so major changes are not expected. At this point, the MacBook Air has largely been replaced by the thinner, lighter MacBook.
Like the standard non-Retina MacBook Pro that’s been available for several years, Apple will likely keep the MacBook Air around as a low-cost option, but it’s unlikely to see big changes going forward. Japanese site Mac Otakara says that only the 13-inch MacBook Air will be sticking around, so it’s possible the 11-inch machine will be retired.
For more info on the upcoming changes that could be coming to the MacBook Air, make sure to check out our MacBook Air roundup.
The iMac line was last updated in October of 2015, and it’s due for a refresh, but a new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says iMacs aren’t ready to ship. He believes Apple could potentially announce the machines at the event and launch them during the first half of 2017, but this does not agree with previous rumors that have suggested iMacs could debut at the event.
For that reason, it’s unclear if the iMacs will be updated on October 27th. We aren’t expecting to see any exterior changes to the iMac, but internally, Skylake processor upgrades are likely for the 21.5-inch machine. As for the 27-inch iMac, it’s already using the most recent Skylake chips and since no Kaby Lake chips are available, it may not see a processor upgrade.
Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1, and the latest Polaris graphics cards from AMD in higher-end 27-inch machines are likely upgrades we may see in the 2016 or 2017 iMac. Graphics improvements will undoubtedly be the highlight of the iMac update, as AMD’s latest chips are expected to offer double the performance of the previous generation, measured on a per-watt basis.
For more detail on the iMac, make sure to check out our iMac roundup.
Apple retired the Thunderbolt Display in June, but its retirement doesn’t signal the end of Apple’s work on external displays.
Apple is rumored to be developing a 5K Retina display with an integrated GPU in partnership with LG, but there’s no word on when it might be released. Rumors haven’t suggested such a display is coming on Thursday, and Ming-Chi Kuo does not believe they’re ready for an imminent launch, but it does make some sense to release it alongside Macs equipped with Thunderbolt 3.
A 5K display would feature the same 5120 X 2880 resolution as the 27-inch Retina 5K iMac, and it could look similar, too. In the past, the Thunderbolt Display has shared the same screen as the iMac, but with an LG partnership thrown into the mix, the sourcing and the design of the display are less certain.
Because a 5K display requires so much bandwidth, even with an integrated GPU, it’s likely only newer machines will be able to drive it. Full plug-and-play support for 5K external displays will require the DisplayPort 1.3 or DisplayPort 1.4 standards, but none of Apple’s Macs or upcoming Macs support it, so that’s why Apple needs to use an integrated GPU.
For additional info on the 5K iMac and what to expect, make sure to check out our Thunderbolt Display roundup.
The Mac Pro hasn’t been updated since it received its radical cylinder-style redesign in 2013, so it is overdue for an update. Components for a refresh have been available for several years, but it is unclear if Apple will refresh the machine.
There have been no rumors suggesting an update is in the works, but if Apple is planning a refresh, it will likely be just a minor spec bump, introducing the latest Xeon chips, AMD graphics, and USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3 support.
More detail on the Mac Pro and chips might be included can be found in our Mac Pro roundup.
It’s been two years since the Mac mini was last refreshed, and it’s unclear if Apple plans to update it again or quietly retire it going forward. There have been no rumors of a refresh, but there was a two-year gap between the 2012 update and the 2014 update and it is long overdue for a spec bump.
The Mac mini uses the same processors as the MacBook Pro, and there are Skylake chips appropriate for a refresh available. Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C are other possible upgrades the Mac mini could see if Apple is planning to update the machine.
MacRumors will provide live coverage of Apple’s October 27 Mac event both here on MacRumors.com and through our MacRumorsLive Twitter account.
Related Roundups: iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Don’t Buy), MacBook Air (Don’t Buy), Retina MacBook Pro (Don’t Buy)
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