Apple's 2021 MacBook Pro laptops: new M2 chip, and MagSafe is back

The next generation MacBook Pro lineup will include a 14-inch model.

By Bloomberg News, January 15 2021
Apple's 2021 MacBook Pro laptops: new M2 chip, and MagSafe is back

Apple is planning upgraded MacBook Pro laptops this year with much faster processors, updated displays and the return of its MagSafe magnetic charger, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.

The new laptops are planned to come in two screen sizes: a 14-inch model codenamed J314 and a 16-inch version internally dubbed J316.

Both will use next-generation versions of Apple’s in-house Mac processors, upgraded with more cores and enhanced graphics, the person said, asking not to be named as the products are not yet announced.

Make way for the M2

These devices will mark Apple’s first high-end laptops to move away from Intel components. The company updated its base 13-inch MacBook Pro with its own M1 chip in November, to broadly positive reviews.

Beyond the more powerful chips, Apple is also planning to step up the displays in its new MacBook Pros with brighter, higher-contrast panels, the person said.

The new Macs will look similar to the current versions, albeit with minor design changes. Apple is aiming to launch the new MacBook Pros around the middle of the year.

An Apple spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

MagSafe is back

A major change to the new computers will be how they charge. Over the past five years, Apple has relied on USB-C ports for both power and data transfer on its laptops, making them compatible with other manufacturers’ chargers.

But the company is now bringing back MagSafe, the magnetic power adapter that means any accidental yanking of the power cable would simply detach it from the laptop rather than pull down the entire computer.

It was a favorite feature of the company’s portable PC lineup that was first introduced in 2006 and most recently revived for its latest lineup of iPhones.

The return of MagSafe with the next MacBook Pros will also allow those laptops to charge at a faster rate, the person said. The connector will be similar to the elongated pill-shape design of the older MagSafe port.

Despite moving away from USB-C for charging, Apple will still include multiple USB-C ports on its future Macs.

In developing its next set of Mac laptops, Apple has also tested versions that remove the Touch Bar from its laptop keyboards.

The Touch Bar, introduced as part of the last MacBook Pro redesign in 2016, turns the keyboard’s top row from function keys into a touchscreen strip that can display a variety of information and a changing set of controls to adapt to apps and tasks.

Some professional users have said they found that control scheme less convenient than physical keys

Apple is also planning a redesigned MacBook Air, but that is not expected to be released until long after the next MacBook Pros.

New desktops on the way

In addition to the new laptops, Apple is planning a reboot for its iMac and Mac Pro desktop range and a cheaper external monitor.

The iMac redesign will be one of the biggest visual updates to any Apple product this year, according to people familiar with the company’s roadmap.

The new iMac models will slim down the thick black borders around the screen and do away with the sizable metal chin area in favor of a design similar to Apple’s Pro Display XDR monitor, with a flat back moving away from the curved rear of the current iMac.

Powered by next-generation versions of Apple’s Mac processors, the all-in-one systems will arrive in two versions – codenamed J456 and J457 – to replace the existing 21.5-inch and 27-inch models later this year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the products are not yet announced.

While much of the computer industry focuses on laptops, the iMac remains a key part of Apple’s portfolio.

The first iMac, launched in 1998, has been credited with helping Apple escape bankruptcy and steer a path to eventually becoming the world’s most valuable company. The all-in-one desktop line is also key for professionals and consumers seeking large screens at relatively affordable prices.

Return of the Cube

Apple is also working on a pair of new Mac Pro desktop computers, its priciest Mac machines that don’t come with a screen included, the people said.

One version is a direct update to the current Mac Pro and will continue to use the same design as the version launched in 2019. Apple has discussed continuing to use Intel processors for that model rather than moving to its own chips.

The second version, however, will use Apple’s own processors and be less than half the size of the current Mac Pro.

The design will feature a mostly aluminum exterior and could invoke nostalgia for the Power Mac G4 Cube, a short-lived smaller version of the Power Mac, an earlier iteration of the Mac Pro.

As part of its revived Mac desktop efforts, Apple has started early development of a lower-priced external monitor to sell alongside the Pro Display XDR. Apple’s current monitor debuted in 2019 and costs US$5,000 – before factoring in the US$1,000 stand.

The cheaper monitor would feature a screen geared more for consumer than professional use and wouldn’t have the brightness and contrast ratio of the top-tier offering. Apple last launched a consumer-grade monitor called the Thunderbolt Display in 2011 for $999 but discontinued it in 2016.

This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 68

Disappointing they’re going back to a proprietary charging cable. Means I’ll need a minimum of two cables - one for power, one for an external screen. Thunderbolt ports were a much better option.

Hopefully the USB-C ports will also allow charging just like they currently do. I'll be interested to see if the new AC charger is hard-wired like the old one or if it has a removable cable, and if so if it uses a USB-C port, so that the supplied MagSafe charger cable has a MagSafe plug at one end and USB-C plus at the other. That would make sense because you could then, if you needed to, grab a normal USB-C cable for charging.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2013

Total posts 4

I actually love the touch bar. I use it quite a lot with various programs. I've never understood the issue with it, as you can still turn it off and have function "keys" displayed. Still, can't wait for the M2 chip - I won't have to lug around a 16 inch computer just to get the processing power. 

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