After almost a year of rumors, Apple finally unveiled the new MacBook Pro 2021 lineup we were all waiting for on Monday during its “Unleashed” virtual press conference. Just as expected, the new laptops feature a massive redesign that will generally please fans. Several of the ports that Apple yanked back in 2016 are back, including a new MagSafe charging port. The display also got a significant upgrade, as the new MacBook Pros come with mini-LED screens like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. And Apple just introduced the 14-inch model that will replace the 13.3-inch. Believe it or not, there’s a notch at the top of the screen like the one on Apple’s iPhones. It’s a design detail that first appeared in rumors just a few days ago, and people found it difficult to believe. Finally, the M-series System-on-Chip (SoC) that powers Apple’s computers has reached the second generation. That’s right, Apple’s powerful new M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs are finally official.
MacBook Pro 2021 redesign
The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 models are virtually identical aside from the sizes. We’re looking at large displays with almost edge-to-edge mini-LED displays. The thin bezels are why the notch sits at the top, housing a 1080p FaceTime camera. That’s the only screen found on the 2021 MacBook Pro generation. That’s to say, you won’t find a secondary Touch Bar display at the top of the keyboard. A regular row of function keys replaces the Touch Bar. A Touch ID fingerprint sensor is still present in the top-right corner.
The keyboard also sports a new design on the MacBook Pro 2021. The entire keyboard area is black, rather than just the keys.
The MacBook Pro 2021 chassis is flatter than before, but it’s also slightly thicker and heavier. We have the new MagSafe connector, two Thunderbolt USB-C ports, and the headphone jack on the left side. On the right, there’s an HDMI connector, SD card slot, and another USB-C port. MagSafe charging might be back, but all the Thunderbolt ports still support battery charging in addition to data transfer.
The new M1 Pro SoC is Apple’s significant hardware upgrade for the MacBook Pro 2021 line. If the M1 MacBook Pro scared Intel, the M1 Pro should make the chipmaker’s nightmare even worse. Apple upgraded the CPU and GPU considerably this year.
We’re looking at a 10-core CPU that features 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores. On the GPU side, we have a 16-core or 32-core GPU. The M1 SoC delivered an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and an 8-core GPU. Both MacBook Pro models will feature two fans inside, to handle the extra heat.
When it comes to RAM, the M1 MacBook Pro models maxed out at 16GB. But the 2021 models will support up to 32GB (M1 Pro) or 64GB (M1 Max). SSD storage sizes start at 512GB for both models.
The mini-LED screen is another massive upgrade for the redesigned MacBook Pro. We’re looking at the same technology that Apple used for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro screen. Thousands of mini-LEDs light up the panel, offering a better contrast ratio, higher brightness, and better blacks than previous models. The new laptops also deliver the same 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate tech as the iPhone 13 and iPad Pro.
The screen resolutions are 3024 x 1964 and 3456 x 2234 for the 14-inch and 16-inch models, respectively. That accounts for the “ears” that flank the notch at the top of the screen. Otherwise, the screen has a standard 16:10 aspect ratio.
Finally, battery life sits at up to 17 hours of video playback (14-inch) or 21 hours (16-inch). The laptops also support fast-charge, via the MagSafe 3 connector. That means you get up to 50% of battery capacity with just 30 minutes of charging.
MacBook Pro price and release date
Screen and battery sizes aside, the MacBook Pro 2021 models are nearly identical. The 14-inch and 16-inch laptops offer the same base configuration: M1 Pro SoC, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. You can configure memory, storage, and GPU on Apple’s site.
Pricing starts at $1,999 for the 14-inch model. The 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro will start at $2,499.
Apple will continue to sell the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro for another year.
Preorders open on Monday, with the new laptops shipping and hitting store shelves on October 26th.