The MacBook Pro is expected to receive a “brighter, higher-contrast” display panel. In addition, there have been suggestions that the updated machines will be the first Macs to feature mini-LED displays, marking a significant improvement in display quality, with an improved wide color gamut, higher contrast and dynamic range, and truer blacks.
Apple is also expected to backtrack on several of its controversial design decisions that were first made with the 2016 MacBook Pro. For example, the 2021 models will reportedly gain more ports to reduce the need for dongles. Prior models from 2012 to 2015 included a MagSafe connector, Thunderbolt ports, USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, before being reduced to just four USB-C ports and a headphone jack in 2016.
While it is mostly unclear what ports may be coming to the MacBook Pro in addition to its current selection of USB-C ports, Gurman has said that the SD card reader will be among the restored features.
MagSafe charging is also expected to return to the MacBook Pro this year. MagSafe connectors were used for MacBook Pro models from 2006, allowing users to easily connect and disconnect the power cable with magnets, before eliminating the feature for USB-C charging alone in 2016.
Both Kuo and Gurman expect the new MacBook Pro models to be equipped with a MagSafe connector for charging, which is also expected to achieve faster charging speeds than via USB-C.
Finally, Apple is looking to remove the Touch Bar and restore the physical function key row. Apple introduced the Touch Bar on the 2016 MacBook Pros, providing a small OLED touchscreen strip along the top of the keyboard to offer customizable controls and different functions on a per-app basis, but the Touch Bar never seemed to catch on with consumers.
Gurman has confirmed that Apple has tested versions of the MacBook Pro that do not have a Touch Bar, and Kuo has gone one step further, saying that the Touch Bar will be removed entirely on the 2021 MacBook Pro models, to be replaced by physical function keys.
What About the M1 MacBook Pro?
In November last year, Apple revealed a 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Apple Silicon chip, so some customers may feel compelled to buy this fairly new MacBook Pro now. However, it is important to note that this model is the lower-end MacBook Pro, indicated by the fact that it has only two Thunderbolt ports. Apple still offers high-end four-port MacBook Pros with Intel processors, and it is these more powerful machines that are expected to be updated this year.
This M1 MacBook Pro is exactly the same as the low-end Intel model from May 2020 other than its chip. Unless you are content with the M1 13-inch MacBook Pro, and do not care for any of the upgrades and improvements set to arrive this year, it will be rewarding to wait for the overhauled 2021 models.
Multiple sources have placed the new MacBook Pro’s launch timeframe in the second half of 2021, with Kuo zoning in on the third quarter of 2021. This means that we could see the updated MacBook Pros arrive as soon as July.
MacBook Pro customers can therefore expect to have to wait just five to seven months for the new models. Considering the scale of the update, which looks to drastically affect almost every aspect of the MacBook Pro, it certainly seems to be worth the wait.