What Is Happening with the 16" MacBook Pro?

We’ve seen so many leaks, rumors and even actual proof found in Beta versions of macOS, that clearly showed that Apple is working on a brand new generation of MacBook Pro’s. 

We were expecting to see a new MacBook Pro by the end of October, but that hasn’t happened so here’s an update on everything we know so far and what is really the status of the this 16” MacBook Pro!

It is now November which means that Apple has not had any event in October this year like most of us were expecting, or at least were hoping. 

Apple has two big events every single year. We have WWDC in June, which is Apple’s software event where they announce the new versions of iOS, macOS & tvOS, then in September we have the big hardware focused event, where Apple introduces the brand new iPhones, the new Apple Watch and sometimes a few more things as well.

However, the Macs and the iPads never really had a place in any event. WWDC was always too full with software and the September event was always too full with the iPhones. So because of that, Apple sometimes has two more events in the year. A March event where they release new entry level iPads, and an October event where they release new Macs and iPad Pros.

However, when it comes to Mac events it’s a bit more complicated, as Apple need to wait for Intel to release new processors before they can update their machines. 

Now the MacBook Pro and Air are by far the most popular Macs that Apple has ever made and because, unlike the iPhones which get updated every 2-3 years, Macs don’t really get updated that often there is always a lot of hype around a new generation.

The current generation of MacBook Pros came out in 2016, the previous gen came out in 2012 and the one before that came out in 2008. So it seems like every 4 years, Apple releases a brand new design. So a new design to this generation isn’t expected until 2020.

But as you may know, Ming-Chi-Kuo, Bloomberg, DigiTimes Taiwan, and pretty much every well known source has said that Apple will be releasing a new 16” MacBook Pro in 2019, which was supposed to be launching by the end of October. But all this was quite weird. Why would Apple release the new generation of MacBook Pro’s a year earlier than usual, and why didn’t they have any event to announce it?

Especially considering the amount of issues that this generation has had, ranging from severe keyboard issues, thermal throttling issues, creaking noise issues, faulty speaker issues and much more, if a you were going to bring out a new generation that solved those problems you’d make a big deal out of it wouldn’t you?

I’ve made multiple videos with my own issues with this generation of MacBook Pros, and how Apple’s customer support is just straight up garbage when it comes to dealing with expensive devices such as this. Full video on how Apple still hasn’t fixed my broken $5000 MacBook Pro here

Overtime Apple has attempted to fix the keyboard issues with small upgrades to the keys (Source: iFixit)

Overtime Apple has attempted to fix the keyboard issues with small upgrades to the keys (Source: iFixit)

In short, this generation needs to be replaced as soon as. Apple tried “fixing” the keyboard with every new model that they’ve launched since 2016, with small improvements in the key-cap mechanism but they just couldn’t, just because the butterfly key-switch mechanism was faulty from the very start. Apparently this new generation is said to come with a brand new mechanism, the scissor mechanism, which funnily enough was the one that previous generations of MacBook Pros had. This will give us more key travel than before, since at the moment you can barely even feel the keys moving. So a fixed keyboard is the first change.

We’ll also be getting a larger display, a 16-16.4” panel from the 15.4” one that we have on the current model, whilst also getting slimmer bezels. 

The body will also be getting thicker in order to improve cooling but that’s mostly it, in terms of the main changes.

So that doesn’t seem like a lot. We’ve actually made our own concept, in which we increased the size of the touchbar to make it even more usable and extend it to the very top of the frame, as before, this area was unused and it just didn’t look good at all. However, it seems like the changes would be even smaller than we expected.

French Website, MacGeneration found an icon of the 16” MacBook Pro in the latest macOS Catalina 10.15.1 Beta that even has a file name that says 16” in silver & space grey. However, it looks pretty much identical to the current model. But this is as official as it gets until the unveil. 

The MacBook Pro 15” (Left) compared to the leaked 16” icon (Right) (Source: MacGeneration)

The MacBook Pro 15” (Left) compared to the leaked 16” icon (Right) (Source: MacGeneration)

Unfortunately, unless you put them side by side you cannot really tell the difference. By putting them side by side you can see that the entire machine is indeed larger and the bezels are slightly thinner, but the differences are so small that I just cannot call this a new generation of MacBook Pros.

Even though the bezels are thinner, they’re still thicker than on something like a Dell XPS 13” 2-in-1 or many of the more modern laptops released in 2019. We still have the big chin with the MacBook Pro branding on the bottom which I don’t really like, it’s way too fat and it takes up way too much unnecessary space. I always preferred the previous look of the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro’s that had no branding at all on the display.

Now, there are a few other changes that we get, aside from the slightly thinner bezels and the larger display. For example, if you look at the top left section of the touchbar on the 16” MacBook Pro icon, you can see that there seems to be a space in between the touchbar and a button on the left. Now, we’ve even had a second image that was discovered by developer Guilherme Rambo in macOS 10.15.1 beta again, that shows the full official image of the right hand side of the new 16” MacBook Pro. And there’s probably one thing that you’ve noticed right away, and that is how the touchID sensor is separated from the touchbar now. 

The 16” (Bottom) appears to leave some space between the touchbar and a button on the left (Source: MacGeneration)

The 16” (Bottom) appears to leave some space between the touchbar and a button on the left (Source: MacGeneration)

This means that the button on the left is most likely the escape key which will also now be separated from the touchbar as well. That was one of the main complaints that developers had, I had it as well, since escape is a key that I do hit very often in certain apps and not having a physical key for that, can be extremely frustrating. 

Also in this image we can also see the keyboard, but to me at least, it looks identical to the current gen, with no more key travel than what we have now. So that’s pretty disappointing to see.

Keep in mind that if this is a new generation then this is what we’ll get for the next 3-4 years. Which means a total of 6-8 years with what’s mostly the exact same design and what looks to be the same keyboard.

The touchbar is looking to be the same size as before, maybe even a bit shorter because of the introduction of the escape key. When you take into account that you have laptops such as the Asus ZenBook Duo that have two fully usable displays, or laptops that are 2-in-1 with pen support as well, and a 22 hour battery life and crazy specs and features like that, the MacBook Pro feel extremely old and already outdated, even before it’s out!

Unless of course, this is not a new generation of MacBook Pro’s!

Every new generation has seen some massive changes, in pretty much every single way. The 2012 Retina MacBook Pro was by far the biggest change ever, in a MacBook Pro. It had a high resolution Retina Display, something never before seen in a laptop, a full flash storage from the HDD of the previous generation, it had a design that was pretty much half the thickness of the previous model, and it was lighter, so it was years ahead of the previous generation.

The 2016 generation that we have now, was a much smaller upgrade. Aside from the DCI-P3 displays, slightly thinner bezels, space grey colour, the downgraded keyboard and touchID and touchbar, we didn’t really get much else. 

This is mostly because we’ve reached to a point where laptops have become as good as they can be and the only things that we can improve are the specs. Unless of course we have dual displays or innovative concepts such as that, which Apple doesn’t usually do first.

MacRumors posted a gif of the current 15” MacBook Pro and the 16” MacBook Pro leaked image and like I said, they’re pretty much identical, I will leave a link to it here so you can see what I am talking about. The touchbar appears to maybe be a bit taller, barely even noticeable and luckily the top portion of the case is now a bit slimmer. The keys do seem to have more space in between, than on the current 15” model, which is always a welcome change.

So judging by all these official images that were actually found in macOS 10.15.1 beta, the release of the 16” MacBook Pro seems to be imminent. 

Now, Ming-Chi-Kuo actually released a report this week, updating his research note on the 16” MacBook Pro. In it he said that Apple would only switch to a scissor switch keyboard, in Q2 or Q3 2020. Which means either June or September of next year. And he was also the one that initially talked about Apple working on a scissor keyboard switch for the new MacBook Pro 16” for this year. So if that gets delayed, there’s a very high chance that this MacBook Pro 16” will also get delayed, rather than shipping with the old style keyboard which would be another disaster. 

The headline from the article on MacRumors where Ming-Chi Kuo said it was likely that the new keyboard would be mid 2020 (Source: MacRumors)

The headline from the article on MacRumors where Ming-Chi Kuo said it was likely that the new keyboard would be mid 2020 (Source: MacRumors)

DigiTimes reported that Apple will begin receiving shipments of the 16” MacBook Pro. That’s another reason why I do see this being delayed is because of Intel and AMD.

Intel’s 10th generation processors have indeed launched, but these are only the Y and the U series. So the 7W and 15W ones that are aimed at the MacBook Air and the 13” MacBook Pro are here, but not the H series, which represents the 45W processors aimed at the 15” MacBook Pro’s. 

Those are only coming out next year, around May-June, just in time for a truly next generation of MacBooks Otherwise, if this 16” MacBook Pro gets released before then we would still be getting the exact same processor, the Intel 9980HK, that we already have in the May 2019 release. The same goes for the GPU. Aside from the Vega 20 that we got back in November 2018, which is already an outdated architecture, we haven’t had anything new from AMD since. Now, maybe Apple is working alongside AMD on a custom RDNA GPU, similar to what Sony and Microsoft are doing for the PS5 and Xbox 2, but don’t get your hopes too high. The chances of that happening are extremely slim. 

There are a few more leaks that I want to mention. We did a very detailed video on the 16” MacBook Pro back in July and that was when we had barely any leaks on it, and it that video I talked about a few interesting things that I’ve noticed.

A leaked power adapter from the suspected 16” MacBook Pro showing the 96W Charging (Source: Chongdiantou)

A leaked power adapter from the suspected 16” MacBook Pro showing the 96W Charging (Source: Chongdiantou)

For example, how the upcoming Apple Pro Display XDR supports up to 96W of power output, but the current gen 15” MacBook Pro’s, only support up to 87W. So my theory here was that the new 16” MacBook Pro would require either a 94W or a 96W power adapter. 94W was also an option since the new LG UltraFine 5K display supports up to 94W of power output via thunderbolt 3, rather than 96W. And it seems like there’s been a leaked power adapter, presumably for this 16” MacBook Pro that actually shows a 96W USB-C Power adapter. So it seems like my theory might have been correct here and we should be seeing a 16” MacBook Pro with a power requirement of 96W.

In case you’re wondering what we might need those extra 9W of power for, well it’s very likely for the display, which is not just going to be larger but there’s a very high change that Apple will also brand this display a Pro XDR display to match it up with their actual Mac Pro Pro XDR display and also the new Super Retina XDR naming that they’re now using in iPhones. So this display will very likely be brighter than the 500 nit panel that we currently have in the current generation of MacBook Pro’s. 

I’m just very disappointed that this new 16” MacBook Pro which is supposed to be a new generation of MacBook Pro’s, only seems to be a very slight week to the current gen, which we might have to stick with, for the next 4 years. There’s no FaceID, no larger TouchBar, no touchscreen, no flappable display, no OLED display and nothing really that would make this truly next gen.