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Is the MacBook Pro notch real?

Updated Oct 18th, 2021 7:39AM EDT
MacBook Notch
Image: Simon/Adobe

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Apple is a few hours away from its Mac-centric event of the fall. The company should unveil the brand new MacBook Pro models during its virtual press event on Monday. The laptops appeared in rumors all year long from various trusted sources. They all offered the same general story: the new MacBook Pros will deliver a significant redesign, bringing back MagSafe charging and multiple ports. All reports also say the 2021 MacBook Pro versions will come in 14-inch and 16-inch flavors, and both of them will feature mini-LED displays. A mind-blowing leak gave us the wildest MacBook Pro rumor late last week. The new laptops might have a notch like the iPhone at the top of the screen. It appears there’s more evidence to back the notch rumors.

As always, with leaks and rumors, there’s no way to verify any of this. Even trusted leakers are sometimes wrong. We just saw that happen during the iPhone 13 event last month. The Apple Watch Series 7 did not deliver the massive redesign that appeared in rumors. Also, the MacBook Pro notch rumor comes from sketchier sources.

Thankfully, Apple will clear the waters in a few hours by unveiling the 2021 MacBook Pro generation. But regardless of whether the new MacBook Pro delivers a notch or not, there seems to be more evidence suggesting Apple is looking at this MacBook design.

Apple’s MacBook Pro Event

Back in April, a ransomware group claimed that it had hacked Apple supplier Quanta Computer. Like most media outlets, we’ve ignored those leaks on account of how they were obtained. It appears that the schematics that reached the web included images showing a MacBook Pro display notch. MacRumors says that the stolen schematics seem to match a newly leaked image of what appears to be a MacBook Pro with a notch.

The report also says that the stolen schematic didn’t clearly suggest that the MacBook Pro features a notch at the top. The new leak indicates the MacBook Pro notch will feature a FaceTime camera, microphone, and ambient light sensor.

MacBook Pro notch might be real

Leaks aside, MacRumors uncovered a 2019 Apple patent titled Electronic Device Display With Extended Active Area.

The document describes innovations that would let Apple ad notch areas to displays belonging to all sorts of devices. The images Apple uses indicate the notch would suit iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, and iMac designs.

Even the language Apple uses in the document details a MacBook with a notch:

A laptop computer, comprising: a housing having a base and a lid that rotates relative to the base; a display supported by the lid, wherein the display has an active area containing pixels that displays images and has an inactive area that runs along at least one edge of the active area and wherein the active area has a recess and the inactive area has a protruding portion that extends into the recess; and a camera mounted in the protruding portion of the inactive area.

Apple also explains how the notch would look like:

The first and second extended regions may be located on opposing sides of a camera or other electrical component in a protruding portion or island-shaped portion of the inactive region. Icons or other information may be displayed on a black background in the extended regions, giving the display a continuous unbroken appearance.

MacBook Air with a notch

Companies elect to protect various innovations with patents, but they might never use those technologies in upcoming products. The same goes for the MacBook Pro notch tech. But if Apple does end up using the design, the MacBook Pro might not be the only macOS device to feature an iPhone-like notch at the top.

Last week’s report also mentioned the 2022 MacBook Air refresh. Apple should release a redesigned Air model next year. And the Air might have its own notch at the top. That’s according to leaks dating back to August.

Finally, the well-known Samsung insider Ice Universe posted the renders above that show a MacBook Pro with a notch next to a Galaxy Tab S8 with a notch. These are unreleased devices, so we’re looking at unofficial renders.

Apple’s MacBook Pro event starts streaming at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET on Monday.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.