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MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 release date, price, specs and latest news

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 everything we know
(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook 16-inch 2021 is poised to offer some of the biggest changes to the MacBook line in years, and we may now know the date of the Apple event where it is expected to launch.

Recent rumors paint a pretty fantastic picture. Not only is Apple expected to include a mini-LED display and powerful M1X chip, we're also anticipating the return of much-needed ports along with MagSafe charging. The MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 is shaping up to be an incredible machine.

As great as the 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 has proven to be, nothing quite beats the joy of working on a larger screen. And since Apple's first 16-inch MacBook Pro was very well received, we have exceptionally high hopes for the follow-up.

So far, we've heard a few tantalizing details about the new MacBook Pro, including the loss of the Touch Bar. Based on all the rumors and leaks we've seen, here's everything we know about the next MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021.

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 news (updated October 17)

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 release date and price rumors

We expect the Apple event just announced for October 18 (titled 'Unleashed') is where Apple could reveal the next 16-inch MacBook Pro. 

This matches what we'd heard recently. In one of his latest Power-On newsletters, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said that next-gen MacBook Pros could make their debut in the "coming weeks" sometime this month. This corresponds to his previous claims, which had pointed towards a fall reveal date

Apple's past track record also indicates that similar Mac-focused announcements were usually held in October. So if Gurman proves to be correct, the timing wouldn't come as a surprise. "Apple typically does its major new Mac introductions in October. So stay tuned," Gurman noted.

And given the iPhone 13 has already been unveiled during Apple's September event (which also introduced the new Apple Watch Series 7, iPad mini 6 and the iPad 9), an October launch date, with a release date following a couple of weeks later seems quite likely. Worst case, the latest we'd expect to see the laptops would be November. 

A separate report in Digitimes corresponded to Gurman's claims, stating that that the new MacBook Pros will not launch in September and that we should expect them in the fourth quarter. According to the source, Apple may have planned to launch in September at some point, but the global chip shortage could have pushed things back. 

The rumors so far haven't divulged how much we can expect to pay for the new machine, though the current 16-inch MacBook model starts at $2,399 (£2,399). Considering the refreshed M1 machines cost the same as their predecessors, barring any major hardware changes, we can reasonably assume that Apple will be prepping the 2021 16-inch MacBook pro to have a similar price tag this time around.

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 design

The biggest change set to come to the 2021 MacBook Pro is the loss of the Touch Bar. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the ever-changing touchscreen band is being replaced by a set of physical keys — presumably like the ones found on other laptops and pre-2016 MacBooks.

Another analyst group, Display Supply Chain Consultants, has issued its own report predicted the demise of the Touch Bar. The report claimed, “We expect Touch Bars to be exceeded by tablets when Apple starts the adoption of the 10.9” AMOLED iPad. Further, our sources suggest that Apple may cancel the Touch Bar in the future.”

According to Kuo, the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 model will include a larger range of ports. This decision has been partly made to reduce the need for dongles, and it will also be the first time since late 2015 that a new MacBook has had anything other than USB-C. 

The MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 could see MagSafe return to the MacBook for the first time in several years. We already saw a version of MagSafe launch with the iPhone 12 but that was a specialized wireless charging pad and not the break-away cable MacBook Pro users had been accustomed to.

HDMI and SD card readers are also rumored to return. Another rumor seemingly confirms this, and says that the 16-inch MacBook Pro (as well as the 14-inch model) will have a 1080p webcam, SD card reader, three Thunderbolt USB C ports, an updated MagSafe port, and an HDMI port.

However, Gurman claims that the revived MagSafe will use a "pill-shaped" design. He also confirmed that there will be some smaller design changes, including a brighter screen.

Going back to the SD card reader, a new report has claimed that it will feature speedy UHS-II SD compatibility, which should make it ideal for photographers and video editors working in the field who need a fast way to get filed off their cameras and into editing software.  

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 everything we know: MacBook Pro patent

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

And for more outlandish design changes, one newly-discovered patent suggests Apple is considering adding an AirPower charger to a future MacBook Pro. The patent shows off wireless charging coils around the MacBook's outer surface. That includes three in front of the keyboard (including one under the trackpad) and another nine behind the screen.

Patents are purely hypothetical, and there's no guarantee we'll ever see the MacBook turned into an AirPower-style wireless charging pad. Of course, it's not the most farfetched idea, and it's not like Apple doesn't have the means to make it happen.

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021: Mini-LED display?

A whole suite of rumors and tips have the 16-inch MacBook Pro slated to get a mini-LED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. That would present a would be a dramatic departure from the 60Hz LCD panel the Retinal displays found on the current MacBook Pros. 

We've already seen a mini-LED display get used in the iPad Pro 2021, so it would not be a huge leap to see the panel tech used in next-gen MacBook Pros either. Especially as mini-LED displays can offer deeper colors and blacks, better contrast, higher brightness, all of which would be a boon for creative professionals, like photo editors. 

In a deep dive into the latest macOS Monterey beta, two new display resolutions were found. As these have never been seen before, we can posit that they are for the MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch and the rumored MacBook Pro 2021 14-inch . The listed resolutions were ("3456 x 2234 Retina" and "3024 x 1964 Retina," and though we don't know which resolution corresponds to which rumored next-gen MacBook Pro, both translate to approximately a 250 pixel per inch density, making the screens sharper than those on previous MacBook Pros.

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 specs

There's not a lot that we know about the specs of the MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021, but Ming-Chi Kuo has already predicted that it won't have an Intel CPU. Instead, it'll be Apple Silicon all the way, which is no surprise given how much better the M1 chip performed when compared to 2020's Intel-based MacBooks.

The most recent report we've seen says that Apple will power the MacBook Pro 2021 with its new M1X chip. According to leaker Dylan, known as @Dylandkt on Twitter, the M1X will have a 10-core CPU with 8 big and 2 efficient cores. The current M1 has a 4 + 4 configuration). The GPU core count (8 on the current chip) could be doubled or even quadruped. 

Another leak claims that Apple has booked production of a new M2 chip, set for use its next-gen MacBooks. Apparently, it'll use a 4-nanometer process node, which in turn promises a bigger boost in performance but not at the cost of power efficiency. But it's possible this chip will be held for the next MacBook Air. 

That's not to say power consumption is a big worry. The old 16-inch MacBook Pro offered 11 hours of battery with a 100 watt-hour battery, and the M1 MacBook Pro could reach 20 hours on battery nearly half that size. In other words, even if it does have higher power requirements, the MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 should still have a stellar battery life.

As for battery size, FAA regulations mean 100-watt hours is the largest battery you're allowed to take on a plane. So don't expect Apple to go bigger than that. If the M1X is more efficient than the old Intel models, we could Apple offer a smaller battery while still offering a significant boost to battery life.

Recent rumors also claim that the incoming machine will come with a 'High Power Mode'. Designed as the polar opposite to the 'Low Power Mode', this feature will reportedly boost performance when the MacBook isn't connected to a power supply. Though naturally this will cause it to drain the battery a lot faster. Unfortunately the specifics of how the feature might work aren't clear.

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 outlook

While there's still a lot we don't know about the MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021, what we've heard so far suggests we're going to be getting one heck of a machine. Even if it doesn't end up with ultra-premium features like the mini-LED display.

The biggest deal is the rumored M1X chip. The original M1 absolutely wowed us with its performance, and the prospect of a newer chip that can do even more is very exciting. M1 was a great introduction to what Apple Silicon could do, but an overachieving second generation would firmly cement Cupertino as one of the top laptop chip makers.

And of course, the fact MagSafe is expected to return is another big win. Switching MacBooks to USB-C ports had a lot of advantages, especially since the rest of the industry followed Apple's example. But people still mourn MagSafe's untimely death to this day. Because, let's face it, the iPhone 12's MagSafe just isn't the same.

Even if the next MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 only has some of these features, we're likely to see one fantastic piece of kit.