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Apple event recap: MacBook Pro 2021, AirPods 3, M1 Pro, M1X and all the big news

The Apple Unleashed event brings new MacBook Pros with serious power and new AirPods 3

Tim Cook standing in front of a virtual backdrop of a field, to illustrate Tom's Guide's Apple Event October Unleashed live blog
(Image: © Apple)

Apple announced a bunch of new products at the Apple Event, including two new MacBook Pro 2021 models and two new chips in the M1 Pro and M1 Max. The goal is to provide a quantum leap in performance for those on the fence about ditching Intel, and Apple is making a pretty strong case to do just that. 

If you want to see how the new MacBook Pros stack up, see our updated MacBook Pro vs Air guide with all the specs and info. 

Apple also announced the AirPods 3, which deliver a new design, longer battery life and enhanced sound quality for $179. And the company unveiled a new Apple Music Voice plan for $4.99 a month along with new HomePod mini colors. 

Here's everything announced at the Apple event:

MacBook Pro 2021 (14 inch) (from $1,999): While pricey, the new 14-inch MacBook promises serious power with your choice of a M1 Pro chip and M1 Max chip. The M1 Pro offers a major speed boost over the M1, especially in terms of graphics performance, while delivering long battery life.

Other highlights include a mini-LED display, MagSafe charging, HDMI and SD Card slot and a 1080p camera. Alas, there is a notch. 

MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch (from $2,499): The new 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 16.2-inch display so you get more room than the previous model. Like the MacBook Pro 14-inch, there's a 6-speaker sound system. You get up to 64GB of unified memory, which is a first for the Mac and up to 21 hours of battery life. 

AirPods 3 ($179): The regular AirPods haven't seen an update in two years, so we're glad to see Apple offer a new design with shorter stems and improved touch controls with a new sensor. You also get Spatial Audio support for music and longer battery life that's 6 hours with the earbuds and up to 30 hours with the case. 

Apple M1 Pro chip: The new M1 Pro chip has a 10-core CPU with 8 high-performance cores and 2 efficiency cores along with up to 32GB of unified memory. You get 70% faster CPU performance versus the M1. There's also a 16-core GPU (up from 8 cores before), which delivers up to 2x graphics performance. 

Apple M1 Max chip: The M1 Max is the super chip with up to 400 GB/s of memory bandwidth (vs 200 GB/s for M1 Pro). And you get up to 64GB of unified memory, double the M1Pro. There's a 10-core CPU but even more powerful graphics with a 32-core GPU. See our M1 Pro vs M1 Max comparison to learn more. 

HomePod mini ($99): Now comes in three bolder colors in yellow, orange and blue and release date is November. You still get 360-degree audio in a compact design. You just bring your iPhone to the HomePod mini to hand off the audio. 

Apple Music Voice Plan ($4.99 per month): The new Apple Music Voice Plan is designed exclusively for Siri and gives you access to 90 million songs, tens of thousands of playlists and hundreds of new mood and activity playlists for a reasonable price.

See all the highlights from the Apple event below. 

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MacBook Pro 2021

(Image credit: Intel)

Well this is interesting. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman (opens in new tab), the new MacBook Pro chips will be called 'M1 Pro' and 'M1 Max.' This could be instead of M1X. If we had to guess, the M1 Pro could be the base chip for the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and the M1 Max could be the chip for the 16-inch MacBook Pro. 

According to Gurman: "Both chip versions will have 10 CPU cores comprised of eight high-performance cores and two energy-efficient cores. The difference will be in graphics: One chip will have 16 graphics cores, and the other will have 32." 

According to an investor note from Wedbush's Dan Ives (via MacRumors (opens in new tab)), third-generation AirPods will likely be announced at the Apple Event. The third-generation AirPods have reportedly been manufactured and are ready to launch, according to Wedbush's supply chain checks.

AirPods 3 design leak

(Image credit: @LeaksApplePro)

An alleged MacBook Pro 2021 photo leak shows a possible display notch for the display. It's not clear why the new MacBook Pro would have a notch, but one rumor points to a sharper 1080p camera, which could take up more room. We have not seen any Face ID leaks for the new MacBook Pros but anything could happen. 

The rumored MacBook Pro notch

(Image credit: AnyTurtle99 / Weibo)

So what of the Mac mini M1X? Rumors suggest a new model could be shown off at today's Apple event, although it's far from certain. 

iDrop News (opens in new tab), for instance, claims insider information from a person involved in Apple's marketing that said the launch has been delayed in order to let the new MacBooks "shine." 

However, the same report claims supply chain insider information, which has production for a new Mac mini ramping up. We'll have to wait and see on this one.

New Mac mini just leaked — what you need to know

(Image credit: Jon Prosser & Ian Zelbo)

Concept art for an Apple TV stick

(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Shutterstock)

We're not expecting any Apple TV-related news at today's Apple event, but one Tom's Guide editor is hoping for a "one more thing" from Apple. Here's Henry Casey on why an Apple TV Stick would make him very happy.

A new rumor has claimed the next MacBook Air could also sport a display notch (opens in new tab), However, this one looks rather sketchy, with no images to back up such a claim or any sources referenced. 

The next-gen MacBook Pros are expected to have mini-LED displays, like the larger model iPad Pro 2021. This screen tech falls between LCD and OLED, offering better colors and contrast than the former but avoiding the risk of burn-in the latter can pose. 

Micro-LED vs Mini-LED

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We're expecting the new Mac machines to make use of the M1X chip, a boosted take on the Apple M1 chip. With more processor and graphics cores, the M1X is expected to deliver a big jump in performance over its predecessor. 

You might think the Apple M2 chip would be the next upgrade to expect, but that's supposedly reserved for the next MacBook Air and is tipped to be more efficient.

A half-opened MacBook Pro 2020 on a dark desk against a dark background. The screen shows a typical Apple desktop background

(Image credit: Apple)

One of the things that's not been cleared up in the various rumors we've seen is how the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro will be different. As it stands, they're tipped to have similar specs. 

The speculation points towards the 16-inch offering a more powerful M1X chip with more graphics cores, but we'd also expect better speakers and perhaps more ports. The 14-inch model, meanwhile, could replace the older 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Naturally, Apple has its own Twitter hashtag for the event: #AppleEvent. And taking a look at the chatter on Twitter, it's clear that excitement is building for today's showcase. It's also a quagmire of speculation and dodgy leaks. 

Check out the one below; it's about as solid as a chocolate teapot sitting on an active volcano, but is amusing to see nevertheless. Those images look like someone has tried to mix high-end Apple industrial design with a cheap Chromebook…

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Let's talk of specs and pricing: we'd expect the new MacBook Pros to come with some seriously high-end options: say up to 2TB of SSD storage space and up to 64GB of RAM. But we'd also expect them to be expensive. 

Our hope is that the entry-level models are well-equipped and reasonably well-priced, as that's an approach Apple has taken before with some MacBook Pro generations. 

As we've heard from previous reports, this Twitter user reckons Apple will kill the divisive Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros. We reckon they're onto something as the Touch Bar never really became an essential part of the MacBook Pro experience. 

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Apple Store down

(Image credit: Apple)

And right on cue the Apple Store is down (opens in new tab) as Apple replenishes for the new product launches. With the Apple event set for 1 p.m ET, we would expect it to be back online around 3 p.m. at the latest with new MacBook Pros, AirPods 3 and more. 

MacBook Pro 2021 notch render

(Image credit: MacRumors)

The MacBook Pro 2021 notch rumors are gaining steam ahead of the Apple Event, and MacRumors (opens in new tab) has a report detailing how Apple could make "the notch appear seamless against a black strip." Based on patents, the site says this area could also potentially allow for additional information to be displayed to users that would "free up menu bar space in the main 16:10 display."

This is not definite, but in the meantime MacRumors also worked up the render image you see above of how the MacBook notch could look. 

MacBook Pro 2021 notch

(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

Could the new MacBook Pro 2021 look like this? 9to5Mac (opens in new tab) is getting into the act with renders of the possible design, including a notch at the top of the display and narrower bezels. The design is more flat, too. What do you think?

Mac Mini render

(Image credit: Jon Prosser)

While the new MacBook Pros will likely get most of the attention today, we also expect a new Mac mini with M1X power and possibly more ports. According to MacRumors (opens in new tab), the new Mac mini 2021 will feature the same chip as the MacBook Pro, support for up to 64GB of memory and four Thunderbolt ports. Plus, there could be MagSafe charging similar to the new IMac

Intel CEO Apple chips

(Image credit: Axios)

File this under wishful thinking. In an interview with Axios (opens in new tab) (via Marketwatch), Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hopes to win back Apple as Tim Cook announces a powerful new M1 chip. The plan for Intel: create "a better chip than they can do themselves. I would hope to win back this piece of their business, as well as many other pieces of business, over time.” However, Gelsinger notes that this effort could take years. 

Here's a bit of fun as we wait for the Apple event to begin. Feel free to play Unleashed Bingo. We also think the TouchBar is going away and expect full-size function keys on the new MacBook Pros, and there could be a notch. 

A 120Hz mini-LED display also seems like a safe bet, but an iPod revival is not happening...

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Tim Cook is in the house. We're just a couple of hours away from the Apple event. And Apple's CEO seems ready to go with his usual "Good morning" tweet ahead of the big MacBook Pro launch. 

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The new MacBook Pro might have a notch in the display, so why not enjoy it with a little pun while we wait for the Apple event to begin. For me, I really hope the MacBook Pro support Face ID, but the notch might just be to house a larger 1080p camera. 

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iMac keyboard

(Image credit: Apple)

According to MacRumors, full-size function keys are coming to the new MacBook Pros, which makes sense if the Touch Bar is going away. We also expect the Touch ID button to remain in the upper right corner, so the layout could look similar to the keyboard that comes with the new iMac (pictured above). 

Remember the iPod touch? One fan has mocked up a new iPod to celebrate its 20th anniversary. But we don't anticipate this being Apple's one more thing today. After all, if you want a cheap iPod touch, the best way to go about it now is to buy a used older iPhone. 

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One of the biggest rumors for the MacBook Pro 2021 at the Apple event is its mini-LED display. This would offer a brighter panel, better colors and more contrast and deliver HDR performance. In other words, it could be a boon for content consumption but especially content creation. 

MacBook Pro M1

(Image credit: Apple)

We've got just a little over an hour to go until the Apple Event begins, so I'm going to make my prediction. I think Apple will keep the older MacBook Pro M1 around at $1,299 and the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M1X chip will be a new premium tier. Previous rumors have pointed to a $1,799 price, which is feasible if quite high. 

MacBook Pro M1x

(Image credit: Future)

The new MacBook Pro M1X chip is tipped offer a lot more power with 10 CPU cores (eight high-performance and two high-efficiency) and either 16 or 32 graphics cores. But we're also hoping battery life remains strong.

In our MacBook Pro M1 battery tests (opens in new tab), the system lasted an epic 16.5 hours. So we're hoping the new MacBook Pros offer similar endurance. 

If you're looking for a cheat sheet, the below tweet provides a quick list of all the MacBook Pro 2021 rumors in one place for the Apple event. This includes 14- and 16-inch sizes, new M1X chips, 120Hz mini-LED displays, 1080p cameras, MagSafe charging and more ports.

The $1,799 rumored price is on the high side but certainly possible. The most interesting bit we haven't seen is the illuminated Touch ID sensor. 

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YouTube Austin Evans has chimed in with his thoughts on the Apple Event, and he's probably right. Today is likely about appealing to Pro users with serious power as opposed to the masses. But we're hoping the MacBook Pro 2021 isn't priced out of reach. 

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The preview music has started and we're just a few minutes away from the start of the Apple Event. Follow along on YouTube (above) or on Apple.com for the live stream. 

Apple event

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple event

(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple event is underway, and Apple is starting with a trippy music track put together using all sorts of iconic Apple sounds. Apple is starting with music, which should mean AirPods! But first up is updates to Apple Music.

Apple is rolling out new playlists that work with Siri. Think dinner party, workouts and more. There's also a new Apple Music voice plan. The plan costs $4.99 per month. So it's 1 person and is cheaper than the $9.99 individual plan. 

HomePod mini at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Apple is talking about ways the Apple HomePod mini can complement your home. You can get the speaker in yellow, orange and blue. You can use the HomePod mini to play music, create reminders and use the Intercom feature to let everyone know lunch is ready. The price is $99 and these speakers go on sale in November. 

AirPods 3 at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

We're up to new AirPods. Apple is playing up the benefits of Spatial Audio, which delivers a 3D-like audio experience. The AirPods 3 are being announced, and they look very much like the AirPods Pro.

There's a force sensor for control of your music and phone calls. And there's a low distortion driver for delivering powerful bass along with crystal clear highs. The new AirPods are sweat and water resistant, too. 

The contoured design is optimized for offering better sound, and there's Adaptive EQ as well. The battery life is rated for 6 hours, and the charging case gives you 30 hours of juice.

The AirPods 3 price is $179. Orders start today and deliveries start next week. 

Next up: the Mac. Tim Cook is talking about the benefits of the M1 chip, and Apple is not bringing Apple Silicon to more systems. John Termus is here to talk about the new MacBook Pros. 

Apple M1 Pro chip at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple Via YouTube)

Apple is introducing the M1 Pro chip to power a new generation of MacBook Pro laptops. The M1 Pro chip is being called a breakthrough from the Mac because it offers more power. You get 200GB/sec of memory bandwidth and there's up to 32GB of unified memory.

33.7 billion transistors are on board, which is double the M1. You get 8 high-performance cores and 2 efficiency cores, which adds up to 70 percent faster performance. There's also a 16-core GPU, 8 more than M1, which should mean 2x graphics performance. 

M1 Max at Apple Event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

The second big chip for today is M1 Max. You get up to 400 GB/sec bandwitdth and up to 64GB of unified memory. The M! Max gets a 32-core GPU, which means up to 4X the graphics performance of the M1. You can also expect up to 2X faster video encoding. 

At its peak, the M1 Pro is designed to deliver more performance while using up to 70% less power than Windows laptops powered by Intel. The M1 Max uses up to 40% less power. Even when you compare the M1 Max with the most powerful laptop Apple could find, the M1 Max uses 100 watts less power. 

M1 Max at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

So what's the real-world benefits of the M1 Max? Apple says you should be able to code faster as well as edit videos faster. And with Core ML optimizations, machine learning is 3x to 20x faster than before.

Apple is also launching some updates to its Pro-level apps. In Final Cut Pro, for example, video analysis is up to 5x faster. And other Universal Apps will be getting a performance boost as well, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Cinema 4D and Davinci Resolve. 

Scene edit detection is now up to 5x faster in Adobe Premiere Pro. 

MacBook Pro 2021 at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Introducing the new MacBook Pro. And there's a notch! There's a 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro for 2021. 

The thermal design can deliver better cooling in a design that's 16.8 mm thin and 4.7 pounds in the 16-inch model and 15mm thin and 3.5 pounds on the 14-inch model. 

The new keyboard delivers physical keys replace the Touch Bar, which will be welcome to many. There's an HDMI port, Thunderbolt 4 and SD Card slot, and there's a headphone jack, two more Thunderbolt ports on the other side.

MagSafe charging has come back as well, which should make it easier to recharge. 

MacBook Pro 2021 at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

The new MacBook Pro XDR display comes in 16.2 inches with slimmer bezels with 7.7 million pixels, and the 14.2 inch model has 5.9 million pixels. That's more pixels than the  last 16-inch MacBook Pro. 

120Hz adapts to motion of your content. which makes scrolling fluid. And you can choose the refresh rate. The Liquid Retina XDR display using micro-LED technology for better colors, brightness and contrast. There's 1,000 nits of sustained brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness, plus a 1 million to 1 contrast ratio. 

MacBook Pro 2021 at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

The new MacBook Pros offer 1080p resolution for sharper images with a 4-element lens. So you should expect better images in low light.

The studio-quality mics are designed to be more sensitive and there's a 6-speaker sound system with an increased range of motion. You're getting 80 percent more bass and half an octave deeper. This is on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well as Spatial Audio support.

MacBook Pro 2021 at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

The new MacBook Pro M1 Pro 16-inch graphics is up to 2.5 faster with M1 Pro and M1X Max is up to 4x faster. Machine learning is up to 5x faster. 

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is up to 3.7x faster in CPU performance and the graphics performance delta is even greater with the 13-inch MacBook Pro. 

Even the SSDs are getting faster with 7.4GB/second read speeds. 

MacBook Pro 2021 at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Even with all the added power of the MacBook Pro and M1 Pro chip, Apple claims that the battery life is still top-notch. The 14-inch MacBook Pro delivers 17 hours of video playback and the 16-inch is rated for a whopping 21 hours of video playback, which is the longest ever for the MacBook. 

Another plus. Apple is offering fast charge for first time. 50% in 30 minutes. 

MacBook Pro 2021 at Apple event

(Image credit: Apple event via YouTube)

We have some bad news. As impressive as the new 14-inch MacBook Pro is, it will have a high starting price of $1,999. The 16-inch model costs $2,499. Both laptops will go on sale next week. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 vs MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 side by side

(Image credit: Apple)

It's the day after the Apple event, but if you're still hungry for new Apple device info then you're in the right place.

For starters, we can point you in the direction of our MacBook Pro 14-inch vs MacBook Pro 16-inch face-off — because choosing between the new laptops is going to be a tricky business.

M1 Pro vs M1 Max

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Not sure what the difference is between the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips? We can help: check out our Apple M1 Pro vs M1 Max face-off for the full lowdown on Apple's new silicon.

MacBook Pro 2021 bezel with notch

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

We suspect some people might not like the fact that the new MacBook Pro 2021 models have a notch on the top-center of the screen. But Tom's Guide's own Henry T. Casey isn't concerned. 

Here's why he's OK with the MacBook Pro 2021 having a notch.

MacBook Air vs Pro - Apple Silicon

(Image credit: Apple)

Another buying decision that just got harder is whether to go for one of the new MacBook Pro 2021 models, or last year's excellent MacBook Air with M1. The Air is much cheaper of course — but the Pro models have extra power (and ports). Here's our full MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro guide to help you choose. 

AirPods 3 vs AirPods 2

(Image credit: Apple)

The AirPod line-up got a bit more complicated with yesterday's launch of the AirPods 3, which sit between the AirPods Pro and AirPods 2 in terms of price and features.

See how the new model shapes up against Apple's other wireless earbuds in our AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro and AirPods 3 vs AirPods 2 face-offs.