Prediction time: What to expect on this year's MacBook Pro

The next MacBook Pro should be a game-changer!

Two months ago, I offered a laundry list of features I hope to see on the 2021 MacBook Pro. With Apple's "Unleashed" event now just hours away, I'm updating that list based on the latest rumors, Rene's recent forecast, and yes, my gut instinct.

The 2021 MacBook Pro will undoubtedly fast become the best Mac of the year!

What to expect

Unless Cupertino pulls a last-minute Apple Watch Series 7 like switcharoo, the 2021 MacBook Pro models should come in two varieties. We're likely to see a second-generation 16-inch model and an all-new 14-inch unit. Both models should feature an M1X SoC that's probably built on the A14/M1 architecture, not the A15 architecture found on the iPhone 13 series. I'm not big on forecasting speeds and acceleration on unannounced products. Let's just assume these laptops will be beasts that will make last year's M1-based Macs look like turtles by comparison.

It's possible but less likely that Apple will also announce a new Mac mini on Monday. But, if it does, we've probably seen the last of the Intel-based Mac minis.

What about the M2? We'll probably see an SoC based on the A15 architecture arrive inside a new MacBook Air and iMac. Look for them to launch in the first part of 2022.

A flatter design

Most expect this year's MacBook Pros to look similar to the iPad Pro by introducing a flatter design. It's a look duplicated on both the iPad Air and recently introduced iPad mini 6. No doubt, the new look will cause many of us to drool immediately following the big reveal. And yet, what's happening on the side of the new laptops is what most folks will be talking about after the event.

For the first time in a generation, the MacBook Pro lineup will come with ports not just named USB-C. Instead, think HDMI, SD card, MagSafe, and more.

No Touch Bar

Unfortunately, what isn't coming back is the Touch Bar, a MacBook Pro feature Apple never nurtured and was a missed opportunity. No doubt, Tim Cook and company probably won't even mention the Touch Bar's dismissal on Monday. Some of us will lower our heads as a show of respect nonetheless.

What would be great

Until now, I've mentioned what's likely to happen with the new 2021 MacBook Pro lineup. From here, attention shifts to items on my wish list that might never come true. Hence the reason it's a wish list.

Two laptops, one design

I hope display size is the only thing that separates the 14-inch and 16-inch models. As I noted in August, some users don't want or need a larger display, and there's no reason to penalize those folks for going small (think the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max for camera features). This means both models should feature the same number of ports, colors options, and the same version of Apple silicon.

Speaking of colors

Apple continues to embrace the many colors of the rainbow for its products, including adding multiple hues to this year's 24-inch iMac and iPad mini. No doubt, the color genie will paint the next-gen MacBook Air will different colors when it arrives. However, I don't expect the same with this year's MacBook Pro, which will probably come in the same, tired silver and space gray. And yet, maybe Apple will surprise us and at least offer a 2021 MacBook Pro in black or, at the minimum, another space gray variant.

More storage

From there, I hope Apple pushes the maximum available storage on this year's MacBook Pro to at least 8TB. It's the maximum storage available on the current Intel-based 16-inch model, although the 13-inch M1 version is stuck at 4TB.

I don't know anyone who needs more than 8TB of internal storage on a laptop. And yet, it's probably time for Apple to at least offer more for those who want.

Bye-bye Intel

Finally, I'll end this with a word about Intel. After Monday, the Mac Pro might be the only Mac product available with Intel inside. I say good-riddance to Intel, but not so much because I dislike the brand. Instead, the sooner Apple transitions all of its new products to Mac, the better it will be for developers and users who have had to deal with the change. (This says nothing about the current Intel-based products that Apple plans on continuing to support for the next few years.)

As a reminder, the Apple "Unleashed" event kicks off on Monday, October 18, beginning at 10 a.m. PDT. You can view it live through the Apple website or Apple TV. Then, come back to iMore for event news and commentary.

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