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The next big MacBook upgrade might be coming sooner than we thought

Published Nov 30th, 2020 6:50AM EST
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • Apple will reportedly launch a big MacBook upgrade next year, with manufacturing set to start in the second quarter.
  • A report from Asia says that the M1 MacBook Pro will get a mini-LED display, which would mark a first for the Mac line.
  • The first mini-LED iPad Pro should arrive in the first quarter of 2021, giving the world the first taste at Apple’s mini-LED screen tech.

Apple has just released its first M1-powered MacBooks, and the late 2020 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro certainly turned a lot of heads. Reviews praised the first Apple Silicon processors’ speed that started Mac’s transition away from Intel chips. The M1 Air and M1 Pro are nearly identical devices, offering the same high-end performance. The Pro does have a slight performance advantage over the Air, thanks to its active cooling. That extra fan allows the Pro to run at peak performance for a longer time. The battery life is the other major advantage, with the M1 Pro running for a couple of hours longer than the Air on a single charge.

If you haven’t jumped on the M1 bandwagon just yet, there might be a good reason to wait a little longer. Apple reportedly plans to launch upgraded M1 MacBooks in the first half of 2021, and they’ll offer users at least one exciting new feature.

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A report from Digitimes (via Digitimes) says that Apple is already preparing to launch devices featuring mini-LED displays.

Apple has been working on mini-LED tech for a few years, and it’s expected to use the new screen tech in all its devices in the not so distant future. The mini-LED screens will offer a few advantages over the current LCD LED screens, including the ability to turn on and off each mini-LED. This will lead to a better contrast ratio, better blacks, and better brightness.

The Digitimes report indicates that the first mini-LED iPad Pro will launch in the first quarter of 2021. Mass-production of the first mini-LED MacBook Pro will start in the second quarter. Taiwan-based suppliers are already working on mini-LED parts that could be used in these products. Quanta Computer and Foxconn will produce the M1 MacBook Pro with mini-LED screens, the report says.

The report doesn’t offer additional details about either the iPad Pro or MacBook Pro with mini-LED screens. But noted insider Ming-Chi Kuo said a few days ago that Apple plans to release more MacBooks with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021. He said the devices would feature a new design, without explaining what would change. Before that, the analyst said Apple would launch 14-inch and 16-inch MacBooks with Apple Silicon in 2021.

It’s not unreasonable to assume that mini-LED MacBooks would certainly benefit from a design refresh, especially on the 13.3-inch model. Apple could use this screen upgrade opportunity to transform the 13.3-inch version into the 14-inch laptop many fans have been craving ever since the 15-inch Pro got a 16-inch display. That’s all speculation, at this point.

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.