We got a new iMac, but where's the new 16-inch MacBook Pro?

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6 min read
fairly easy
Analysis: when will Apple launch a new 16-inch MacBook Pro?
If you've been paying even a sliver of attention to the technology world this week, you probably know that Apple just launched its colorful new iMac, powered by the M1 chip. However, one of Apple's best Macs has been waiting for an update for nearly two years now – the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Since it got the major redesign in 2019, the only update this laptop has seen was a minor GPU bump in 2020, but using the same Intel processor. And now that Apple has its own processors, it's unlikely that we're going to get a quick 11th-generation Intel CPU upgrade – Apple's going to want to shove its own silicon in there.

But with the Apple M1 launching relatively recently in November 2020, when can we reasonably expect a more powerful follow-up that can sustain the beefier workloads that the 16-inch MacBook Pro supports? Well, we think it might be WWDC 2021 in June 2021.

(Image credit: Future)

Isn't that a bit soon?

We get it. Apple launched its most recent processor back in November 2020, powering the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air (and it's in the iPad Pro and iMac now too), and it seems like it'd be too soon to launch a whole new processor. But when we're talking about mobile CPUs, we can look to AMD and Intel as an example of how generational launches usually go.

When a new CPU architecture is launched, like, let's say Tiger Lake, it's rare that Intel will drop the U-series chips for Ultrabooks and the H-series chips for gaming laptops and workstations at the same time. Instead, Team Blue will launch its low-power processors first, and then follow with its H-series chips a few months later. We think that's likely what Apple will do.

While Apple did shove the M1 into the iMac for some reason, we doubt it's going to put the same processor into the MacBook Pro 16-inch, which means that a higher-binned processor is going to be necessary.

And that wouldn't really be out of the blue for the way Apple does things anyway. For a while, Apple has been making its own…
Bill Thomas
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