Apple Unleashed: New MacBooks are expected—here's what business pros want

New MacBook Pro models are expected to be released. Here's what we're looking for out of next week's Apple event.

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Image: Apple

Apple hasn't made significant upgrades to its flagship MacBook Pro lineup in quite a while, aside from a bump from 15 to 16 inches a few years ago. But that's all about to change, if rumors are to be believed.

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The company is slated to hold a virtual event called "Unleashed" on Monday, Oct. 18, at 1 p.m. Eastern time, likely in a similar pre-recorded video format to other COVID-era events, filmed at Apple Park.

Widely expected to be announced are updated 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with a number of significant features likely to be of interest to business pros. The 14-inch version will likely replace the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, while the 16-inch version will replace the current 16-inch Pro. Here's what we're expecting and hoping for:

  • Faster Apple Silicon—Most importantly, the machines are expected to have a new, faster version of Apple's new ARM-based processors perhaps called the M1X. The M1 processors that are now available in machines like the new iMac, MacBook Air and the iPad Pro. They have been very well received, and this new chip should be even faster.

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  • Thinner bezels and displays—Apple has been tightening up the bezels around its displays in the iPhone and iPad for years, and it's expected that this trend will continue in the new MacBook Pros. By reducing the size of the bezels, Apple's designers may have been able to reduce the physical size of the computer slightly, while still keeping the visible screen size the same. Screen resolutions of 3024x1964 and 3456x2234 for the two machine sizes have been suggested in leaks. 

  • A new MagSafe magnetic power port may make its return, after years of using USB-C cables instead. MagSafe was used on prior MacBook models, allowing for easy detachment of power cables. This was particularly useful if someone tripped over a power cable, as it allowed the plug to simply detach rather than yanking a notebook onto the floor in a potentially calamitous fall.

  • The built-in HDMI port and SD Card reader are expected to return, which is welcome news for many pros who want quick access to photos or to plug their notebook into a projector or television. The current MacBook Pros feature only USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

  • The much-maligned OLED Touch Bar is expected to be unceremoniously tossed in favor of a standard row of Function keys.

  • Base models may have 16GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage.

In some ways, this is a wholesale rethink of the 2016-era reworking of the MacBook Pro, which got rid of HDMI, the SD Card reader, MagSafe and the function keys—changes that were not particularly well-received in the pro community. By going back to basics and giving folks what they want, Apple appears to be listening to its users, which is refreshing.

SEE: 10 essential MagSafe accessories for iPhone for 2021 (TechRepublic)

As for features that we hope to see, some rumors have suggested that Apple could outfit the machines with a 120hz "ProMotion" option, like can be found in the new iPhone 13 Pro. It would enable smoother scrolling and a variable refresh rate, the latter of which could help with battery life during less intense operations.

It might include a 1080p front-facing camera, similar to what's available in the new 24-inch iMac. In a work-from-home world, this would be a potentially huge upgrade for folks constantly on Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls.

It would be great if Apple would include an option for 5G connectivity in the new MacBooks, allowing for better on-the-go wireless connections like it offers in its iPad lineup. This seems like a long-shot as many users simply use the Personal Hotspot feature of their iPhones and iPads, but it would be a nice option for on-the-go power users.

Finally, I just hope for battery life that runs as long as possible. One of the main advantages of Apple Silicon is terrific battery life, as the chips are able to swap between high- and low-power processors depending on need.

We'll find out on Monday what's real and what was just a rumor, and orders for the new machines may begin as soon as that day. The event will be viewable on Apple's website and on its YouTube page.

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By Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson has written about Apple, transportation and technology for more than a decade and has contributed to dozens of major publications including WIRED, The Verge, MacRumors, Popular Mechanics, Bild and many more.