Forget M3 — MacBook Pro M4 now in 'formal development' at Apple

MacBook Air 15-inch M3 next to MacBook Air 13-inch
(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro M3 is easily one of the best laptops you can buy right now, but that doesn’t mean Apple is sitting still. In fact, the company has already begun work on the follow-up that we could feasibly see before the end of the year.

During a Q&A session on the long-rumored Apple Car, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman dropped an interesting nugget of information regarding Apple silicon. According to Gurman, Apple has “just started formal development” of a new MacBook Pro that’ll arrive sporting the M4 chip. If the company is beginning development now, that means we could see the product announced towards the end of this year or early in 2025.

We’ve seen Apple’s timeline for announcing M-series chips shrink with each successive generation — the original M1 appeared in November 2020 with the M2 following in June 2022 at WWDC and the most recent M3 in October 2023. So while it seems likely the M4 will make its debut in the early part of next year, a late 2024 release is certainly possible.

We already know that Apple’s chipmaking partner TSMC expects to move to a 2nm process in 2025 and both Apple and Intel are at the front of the queue to receive them. But if Cupertino has already started work on the M4, it’s likely to remain on the 3nm process with the next true leap forward in chip architecture slated for the M5.

That’s not to say the M4 will be any kind of slouch. Details are non-existent right now, but if the reduced size in processor nodes for 2nm means a possible 30% jump in performance, then there’s still plenty of room for performance gains and power efficiency on the current build.

MacBook Air 15-inch M3 closed in hand

(Image credit: Future)

A report last month in the Taiwanese Economic Daily News claimed Apple’s M4 chips would feature “significantly” more cores as part of an upgraded Neural Engine with a focus on — you guessed it — AI and machine learning tasks. This also tracks with plans to ramp up the amount of generative AI used in iOS 18 for the iPhone 16. Most models of MacBook come with a 16-core Neural Engine (the Mac Studio and Mac Pro both feature a 32-core Neural Engine).

Since this is pretty much the first we’re hearing about the M4 chip, there’s very little to go on at this point. But things will almost certainly start to trickle out in the run up to WWDC 2024 in June so we’ll make sure to bring you all the latest tidbits as they come. In the meantime, we’ve been taking the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 out for a spin in our comprehensive review

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Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.