Over the past two weeks, we’ve gotten very clear on what to expect from the 2021 MacBook Pro update: a small redesign, more ports, an end to the Touch Bar, and the return of MagSafe. Essentially, Apple is reversing changes made to the 2016 MacBook Pro. Then the update, which resulted in the Touch Bar and the disappearance of MagSafe, was controversial for several reasons. With the rapid move to Apple Silicon and rumors of updates to the entire Mac lineup, now is a good time not to buy a new MacBook, iMac, or another Apple computer. After all, in 2021-2022, it looks like there will be a new heyday of the Mac era.
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There are too many exciting changes coming from Apple to buy a Mac now.
What’s new in the 2021 MacBook Pro?
For those who haven’t followed the rumors, here’s what we expect from this year’s MacBook Pro update:
- Screen sizes 14 and 16 inches;
- Thinner screen bezels similar to iPad Pro and iPhone 12 bezels
- Return of MagSafe (not the iPhone 12 charger, but the original MagSafe);
- More ports, including the return of the SD card slot;
- Physical buttons instead of Touch Bar
- Apple Silicon inside (M1, M1X, or M2 chip).
Doesn’t it look like anything? 2015 MacBook Pro did not have a touchpad, but it did have an SD card slot (among many other ports) and a MagSafe cable for charging.
Evolution of Touchbar
It was a sensation, a screen in the keyboard!
Apple’s press release for the 2016 MacBook Pro was impressive. It began by saying the new MacBook Pro is “the thinnest and lightest MacBook Pro ever,” with the “revolutionary” addition of a touchpad and a “more responsive keyboard.”
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Apple has argued that the Touch Bar provides “controls right at the user’s fingertips,” an innovative new way to control the Mac.
Phil Schiller, then Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, was in awe of the touchpad:
With the revolutionary new Touch Bar, Touch ID fingerprint reader, the best Mac display, high performance, improved sound, blazingly fast storage and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, the new MacBook Pro is the best and most advanced laptop ever.
This is not to say that the 2016 MacBook Pro was complete without useful changes: the trackpad became larger, Touch ID is finally on the Mac, and the speakers are noticeably improved. The transition to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 was challenging at first but overall went well.
But it is believed that it was the mistakes made in the 2016 MacBook Pro that could interfere with other plans for the Mac.
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For example, Bloomberg writes that Apple wants to add support for cellular and Face ID to Mac. However, none of the features are expected to be featured on the iMac or MacBook Pro this year. eSIM and Face ID have been at the top of my Mac wishlist for years. iMac with Face ID? MacBook with LTE connectivity? You couldn’t imagine better.
Mac with Face ID has been asking for years.
Could these features appear as early as 2020 if Apple didn’t have to spend time undoing so many changes made to the 2016 MacBook Pro? We will never know for sure, but it is worth considering.
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Why is Apple going back to basics?
It’s interesting to know what exactly prompted Apple to change its vision of what the MacBook Pro should be like so dramatically. Maybe it’s all about a change of leadership? The MacBook Pro, introduced in 2016, was probably already in development for several years before. Apple has undergone major personnel changes since 2016. Jony Ive has announced plans to leave Apple. Phil Schiller recently moved into a semi-retired Apple Advisor position.
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Phil Schiller no longer oversees Mac development.
And these are only those permutations that we know about. There may have been additional changes to the Mac team that have not been officially announced.
Many people don’t think about how long it takes between when Apple starts developing a product and eventually hits the shelves. Apple promised a new Mac Pro and monitored in April 2017, and none of them were released until December 2019.
As a Mac fan since 2008, I’m excited to see Apple listening to user feedback and making changes to the MacBook Pro. It all started with the abandonment of the butterfly keyboard, and now the cancellation of the 2016 MacBook Pro is continuing this year. But don’t you think Apple is going in circles? Take, for example, the iPhone 5. After that, there was a massive redesign of the iPhone with rounded edges, and in the iPhone 12, Apple returned to the design of yesteryear with minor changes.
Should you buy a MacBook now?
If you need a Mac now, the M1 is a great option. But you better wait.
In fact, the purpose of this article is to express my confidence that the future of the Mac is brighter now than ever. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from buying a new MacBook or iMac, but you can see for yourself that this year Apple is aiming for major changes. Another question is how much these changes will cost users. So if you’re in dire need of a new Mac right now, go for it. If you have time to wait, wait.
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It is also important not to forget that Apple is making these changes as the platform architecture moves from Intel to Apple Silicon. This will increase battery life, improve performance, and more for each computer. Well, apart from the iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro, which are network-only.
Years from now, when we look back at Mac’s history, the 2016-2020 period is likely to be questioned for many reasons. Sure, there have been highlights like the modular Mac Pro and the beginning of the transition to Apple Silicon, but I expect 2021 to be the year the Mac hits again.