The 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 continues to be one of the most hotly anticipated Apple laptops in recent memory. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch with Apple M1 CPUs just served to intensify that interest.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro 2021 will no doubt still be the true workhorse of the lineup, the 14-inch laptop seems to be the sweet spot for many. The 14-inch MacBook Pro rumored redesign and upgraded specs sound like a dream come true for longtime MacBook Pro fans that haven't been thrilled with the line lately.
Here's a look at what we know so far about the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021, including details on expected pricing and availability along with the internal and external design changes that might make this laptop well worth the long wait.
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14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 price and availability
The widely held belief is that the 14-inch MacBook Pro will arrive alongside its 16-inch counterpart sometime in the second half of 2021. This is based on the claims of two of the most reliable sources in the Apple realm: the TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Mark Gurman of Bloomberg.
Ming-Chi Kuo has placed the release date as sometime in the third quarter of 2021. For Apple, this would be July, August or September. Given past history, the earlier side of that seems more likely, but with Covid-19 still affecting supply chain timetables, it’s hard to put too much stock in the timing of previous releases.
While Gurman opted for a less defined timeframe, his projection of a “middle of the year” release offers some overlap with Kuo’s claim and adds further credence to a beginning of Q3 time frame. Additional support came from a Nikkei Asia report that indicated the processors for these laptops had already entered mass production in April with a possible shipping date as early as July.
After originally projecting a move to a 2022 release for the new MacBook Pros a recent Digitimes report added support for the September release with peak shipments hitting in October.
Rumors have steered clear of pricing speculation for the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 so far. Given that this is an entirely new model, it is a bit difficult to project. The closest current model we have is the Intel-based MacBook Pro 13-inch with four USB-Type C ports, if this replaces that it would presumably take over its $1,799 price point.
14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 design and features
Other than the obvious resizing needed for the 14-inch display, the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 is allegedly going to receive a serious redesign, which would be the first significant departure to the basic Apple laptop design since 2010.
Once again, we are turning to Ming-Chi Kuo, who stated that the new MacBook Pro design is going to adopt some of the flat-edged design of the iPhone 12, iPad Pro and iPad Air (2020). There have been no actual hardware leaks to show us what that will look like, but it certainly makes sense for Apple to continue to consolidate around a single design language across its product lineups.
The visual overhaul is just part of the changes though; Apple is also rumored to be walking back a number of features introduced in the last five years. The Touch Bar is apparently on the chopping block as well, and while it has its defenders, few would argue that it has the utility Apple promised or hoped. So Apple will bring back physical function buttons.
MagSafe has also been tapped for a return to the MacBook Pro, which is not shocking with the release of MagSafe for iPhone 12, however, it's a feature many had given up on. The recent schematics leak indicates that it will look quite similar to the old MagSafe on pre-2016 MacBook Pros.
In keeping with the throwback theme, Apple is also said to be bringing back some of the additional ports that have been gone since at least the 2015 MacBook Pro. That same schematic leak offered the full rundown with an HDMI port, USB Type-C/Thunderbolt and an SD card reader on the right side. On the left, are two more USB Type-C/Thunderbolt ports and the MagSafe charging slot. It may not cover everything, but if you turned to a USB Type-C hub for just an HDMI port or an SD card reader, you can return to a dongle-free life with the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021.
All of these claims have received additional support in a Bloomberg report from Mark Gurman citing "people familiar with the matter."
14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 display
The display won’t be left out of the redesign fun either with Apple finally set to reduce the bezels on the MacBook Pro as it moves to brand new mini-LED backlit displays. The technology allows for significant improvements when it comes to brightness, contrast, black levels and power efficiency.
The announcement of the iPad Pro 2021 with the mini LED panel in the 12.9-inch model gave us a first look at what we should potentially expect. The tablet received the same "XDR" branding as Apple's Pro Display XDR, suggesting that we could see the same on these new MacBook Pros. The one-million-to-one contrast ratio and a high peak brightness (1,600 nits for the iPad Pro 12.9) appear to be two of the key factors.
While mini-LED displays aren’t quite as impressive as OLED or microLED, they are certainly a welcome upgrade from Apple’s existing lineup. Interestingly, a recent rumor from DigiTimes suggests that Apple will move to OLED displays in the MacBook Pro in 2022, making this potentially a single-year solution, but it’s possible that move is further down the road than DigiTimes projects.
14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 specs
This should mark the next step in Apple’s transition to its own Apple Silicon, with rumors indicating the ARM-based CPU in the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 will be known as either the Apple M1X or the M2.
Benchmark leaks have shown that the Apple M1X features 12 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, a significant bump up from the already impressive Apple M1’s 8 core/8 thread configurations. The more recent Bloomberg report differed slightly starting that there would be two variants called Jade C-Chip and Jade C-Die with a 10 CPU core design and 16 GPU cores in the former and 32 GPU cores in the latter.
The original Apple M1 in the 13-inch MacBook Pro could already hold its own against the MacBook Pro 16-inch in some regards and the Bloomberg report indicates this new chip "greatly outpaces the performance and capabilities" of the Apple M1 chip.
14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 outlook
The 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021 has quite a lot to live up to given the reception of last year’s Apple M1-based laptops but, based on all of the rumors, it certainly looks equal to the task.
If the leaks we have seen to date prove to be true, the 14-inch model will be virtually everything longtime MacBook Pro fans have been asking for since the 2016 redesign. That’s going to make for an amazing presentation as Apple explains its decision to reverse course on a number of choices it made five years ago. It also could make for some serious wait times once they are available as pent-up demand hits the supply problems that continue to plague much of the industry.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to keep you updated here on all of the latest regarding the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021.