Apple has already confirmed that its next-generation MacBook Pros will use its own system-on-chips (SoCs). In addition to new SoCs, the new notebooks will receive a complete architectural overhaul both inside and outside, two reports claim. The revamp will reportedly include an all-new design, the return of a magnetic charger and a possible removal of Touch Bar.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with a good track record who covers Apple at TF International Securities, said in a new note to clients that Apple is working on two all-new MacBook Pro models. One has a screen that's "about" 14 inches and the other is 16 inches display, the analyst said, according to MacRumours.
Kuo said the new systems due to be launched in 2021 will feature a 'flat-edged form factor" with no curves on top and bottom. That would make it resemble an resemble iPhone 12 and Mac Mini.
The upcoming MacBook Pros are also returning to a magnetic charging connector similar to the MagSafe connector that Apple used from 2006 to 2016, according to Kuo as well as a report from Bloomberg citing two independent sources.
MagSafe was praised by many as it attached to a PC magnetically, which helped to prevent breaking laptops because of an accidental dragging of the power cable. The new iteration of MagSafe is also said to charge MacBook Pros faster. Meanwhile, it is unclear whether it will still be possible to dock and charge the new systems using a single Thunderbolt 3/4 cable.
When Apple switched to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C-only ports on MacBook Pros in 2016, it received a lot of criticism from professional users who had to buy additional docking stations in order to get their DisplayPort, HDMI, GbE and USB Type-A connectors back. Kuo said that the new systems will be "equipped with more types of I/O" that will be sufficient for "most users" but did not elaborate.
Another controversial technology introduced by Apple in 2016 was the Touch Bar. It replaced top row physical Function keys with an OLED touchscreen that dynamically changes its set of controls based on context and currently used software.
Bloomberg reported that Apple has tested versions of its upcoming 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros without the Touch Bar. This could mean that Apple was merely thinking about its removal or even considering offering MacBook Pros with and without it. By contrast, however, Kuo claimed that Apple has decided to get rid of its Touch Bar and return to physical keys.
The overhaul of MacBook Pro laptops could be a result of Jony Ive's departure from Apple in 2019. Ive was responsible for industrial design of Apple's devices from 1992 to 2019 and for the company's human interfaces from 2012 to 2019. Ive's minimalistic designs have earned many accolades, but the removal of ports and keys wasn't appreciated by all MacBook users.
The reports from Bloomberg and Kuo cite anonymous sources familiar with what Apple is currently testing. While typically such sources can be accurate, testing activities do not always represent final products. That said, such reports should be taken with a grain of salt.