As expected, Apple did indeed release two new models of the MacBook Pro in May 2019. An updated 13-inch and 15-inch model are now available to buy: The outer design remains largely the same as previous MacBook Pro models, but Apple did add a couple of important improvement and upgraded many of the internal components so it could provide a more powerful computer. You can buy these models whenever you want, with the 13-inch starting at $ 1,800 and the 15-inch model starting at $ 2,400.
However, there are still some interesting rumors afloat about Apple adding even more models to the MacBook Pro family in the coming year, possibly providing a lower-cost option for professionals who may not have the budget for the current 2019 models. Let’s take a look at what Apple has changed so far, and what new changes to the MacBook Pro could be coming sooner than you’d think.
Mid-2019 update: New keyboard and processors
So, what did Apple change about the MacBook Pro for 2019? Well, the design went largely untouched, and rumors about an upgraded screen or more powerful battery didn’t pan out. However, Apple did include a major upgrade for its butterfly keyboard, which is now made with unspecified new materials. Previously MacBook Pro models had an unfortunate reputation for problematic keyboards that could be damaged a little too easily: Apple openly acknowledged these issues, and the new generation of butterfly keyboard is specifically meant to fix the problem.
On the inside, Apple has updated the processors available for both the 13-inch and 15-inch models now up to Intel’s 9th-gen chips. One of the most exciting additions is an eight-core Intel processor available exclusively on the 15-inch model. Apple says these new chips can provide twice the speed of a quad-core MacBook Pro, and in our testing, we found the upgrade notable despite some limitations due to the thermal design.
FCC approval for mysterious new 13-inch MacBook Pro
After the launch of the mid-2019 processor update, we didn’t expect to receive any additional updates to the MacBook Pro this year. But from the looks of it, Apple isn’t done just yet.
An unusual piece of information has appeared that may also mean that Apple is planning a further update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, possible also slated for 2019 (or perhaps a mid-2020 release date). In early July, documents appeared on the FCC website for an Apple computer model number A2159. The FCC quickly took down the documents, but rumors had already flared about just what device it was talking about: FCC document approval usually means that a new product is on its way, often within the year.
A2159 has appeared in other databases, which supports that this is a real project and not just a repeat or mistake. The FCC document also specifically mentioned that the model was a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Of course, Apple has just released a new 13-inch, but this appears to be an entirely different model that Apple is planning to release in addition to its two May 2019 laptops.
Why would Apple want a second 13-inch MacBook Pro? There are a couple of different options. One is that Apple wants to release a more elite version of the 13-inch for those who need it, offering up to 32GB of RAM for more demanding tasks and an updated processor. Another option is that this may be an update to the non-Touch Bar MacBook, a model sometimes known as the “MacBook Escape.” We’re not big fans of the MacBook Touch Bar, and neither are many others. It would make sense for Apple to go back and update the entry-level, 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2017, which currently only has a dual-core processor.
New 16-inch model on the way?
In addition to the larger display, this MacBook Pro is rumored to have an even more powerful processor, although it would lack an OLED screen and instead settle for a 3,072 x 1,920 LCD display. Not much else is known about this 16-inch model so far, but it would make sense for Apple to offer two MacBook Pro updates at the same time, especially if these will be announced together at a special event.
A redesigned keyboard
These two new MacBook Pros that could be coming later this Fall may have found their killer feature: A new keyboard. The troubling and controversial butterfly mechanism keyboard was first introduced in 2016. Since then, it’s been iterated on year after year, though the problems don’t seem to be going away. We assumed Apple would stick to its guns, but according to a new report from reputable leaker Ming-Chi Kuo, a new keyboard is on the way.
According to Kuo, Apple will be returning to its “scissor switch” keys, which is the technology used in MacBook Pros before the 2016 redesign. Kuo says the new design, which will use glass fiber-reinforced keys, will first appear in a MacBook Air later this year but could make it to MacBook Pros as early as 2020. Whether or not they make it into one of these new 2019 MacBook Pros still yet to be known.
MacOS Catalina is this year’s update to MacOS, and it includes a number of new features that all Mac users can enjoy. One of the most interesting is Sidecar. While MacBooks remain without touchscreens for the foreseeable future, the new Sidecar feature allows you to pair an iPad with your MacBook Pro and control your Mac or use your iPad as a second screen. Among other benefits, this means that people can use their Apple Pencil to draw or mark up documents on their Macs via the iPad. Other features include the introduction of three new mobile apps to replace iTunes and an updated Photos app.
Even though we’ve already seen and used MacOS Catalina, that doesn’t mean we couldn’t get some more features in a future MacBook Pro, such as one of the models mentioned above.
A patent from 2017 indicated that Apple could be considering adding hand and eye tracking to MacOS. It’s been available in Windows 10 for a while, and this would be a feature that could possibly make its way over to new MacBooks. Additionally, it would be nice to see if Apple could add in support for FaceID to MacOS. We’ve seen this on the company’s latest iPads and iPhones, and considering that most Windows laptops already support facial recognition with Windows Hello, it is a glaring omission from the Mac.