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Apple’s M4 MacBooks are coming sooner than you think, with a big focus on AI

Published Apr 15th, 2024 6:50AM EDT
Apple MacBook Air 15-Inch
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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I get it. You might have purchased one of the M3 MacBook Air models that Apple launched in early March. The next-gen M4 chip upgrade isn’t even on your mind. Or you might have bought one of the M3 MacBook Pro variants that Apple launched a few months ago and won’t even need an upgrade for several years.

But if Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman information is accurate, and it usually is, Apple will start the rollout of its M4 Macs a lot sooner than we thought. Gurman claims that Apple wants to put the Macs on a one-year upgrade cycle for the chip, just like it does with the iPhone. Also, the M4’s big focus will be on-device AI.

Both of these claims make sense in the current context. It’s not surprising to hear that the first Macs running on the M3 chips could drop as soon as late 2024.

Gurman detailed the M4 Macs in his PowerOn newsletter over the weekend.

He said that Apple is nearing production of the M4 chips, which will come in three versions: “a base chip dubbed Donan; higher-end versions codenamed Brava that will replace the M3 Pro and M3 Max; and an M4 Ultra dubbed Hidra.” Interestingly, there’s no new M3 Ultra at the time of this writing. We might never get one, though Gurman says Apple had developed one.

The insider also says Apple will move all its Macs to the same M-series chip generation. This hasn’t necessarily happened before, as some Macs skipped some M-series chipsets.

That said, Apple will not launch all the M4 Macs at the same time. It’ll go for a staggered launch, which also makes sense, especially for the MacBook Air and Pro. These best-selling Macs are on different release schedules.

14-Inch M3 Max MacBook Pro Display
The 14-inch M3 Max MacBook Pro laptop. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

If everything works according to plan, the M4 MacBook Pro models will first hit stores in late 2024. The M4 MacBook Air versions will ship next spring. Here’s the entire M4 rollout plan for Apple’s entire Mac line, according to Gurman:

  • A low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M4, coming around the end of 2024.
  • A 24-inch iMac with the M4 is also expected around the end of the year.
  • New 14-inch and 16-inch high-end MacBook Pros with M4 Pro/Max chips, due between the end of 2024 and early 2025.
  • A Mac mini in both M4 and M4 Pro configurations, coming between the end of 2024 and early 2025.
  • New 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Airs, slated for around spring 2025.
  • A Mac Studio with a high-end M4 chip, coming around the middle of 2025.
  • A Mac Pro with an M4 Ultra chip, due in the second half of 2025.

As for the on-device AI features, Gurman doesn’t detail Apple’s plans. But he says that on-device AI will require a “hefty amount of processing power.” This teases a big performance upgrade for the M4 Macs, at least when it comes to the AI side of things.

Then again, Apple also focused on AI with the M3 chips without revealing the key piece of the puzzle: The Apple AI features coming to macOS later this year. WWDC 2024 is just around the corner, so we should learn more details about Apple’s AI plans for the iPhone and Mac soon.

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.