Apple discounts current MacBook Pro; OLED, USB Type-C upgrade rumors swirl
Whenever Apple cuts price on its existing hardware, it’s usually a good bet that new models are on the way. Recent slashes to the company’s Thunderbolt displays drove speculation that the company would soon debut a new model, possibly with its own integrated GPU. Now, there’s talk of a substantially upgraded MacBook Pro, fueled by purported photos of the body and some substantial price drops on 2015 models.
Let’s start with what we know. Late last week, authorized Apple reseller BH began offering $200 discounts on its 13-inch, and most 15-inch MacBook Pros. The most expensive 15-inch MacBook Pros received $300 or $400 discounts, while the 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs also got $200 knocked off the purchase price. In most cases, this works out to a 10-12% discount.
These price cuts are expected to clear inventory ahead of the 2016 MacBook Pro refresh cycle. Presumably these systems will be based on Intel’s Skylake CPUs and rely on Intel integrated graphics for the vast majority of SKUs — right now, only the most expensive MacBook Pro, at $2,499 base price, includes a discrete GPU (the AMD R9 M370X). That’s a low-end, four-year-old, GCN 1.0 processor with just 640 stream processors — essentially an AMD Radeon HD 7770. Hopefully Apple will time its product updates so it can utilize AMD’s 14nm Polaris architecture and offer MacBook Pro users a graphics card that wouldn’t be learning to tie its shoes and attending kindergarten. (We’re assuming that Apple will choose to stick with AMD rather than Nvidia, though the company has been known to switch between the two vendors before).
Meanwhile, leaked photos of the purported 2016 MacBook Pro chassis suggest it will integrate an OLED screen at the top of the keyboard for function key support. Cult of Mac also claims that the company will offer more USB ports but, in a twist, will dump backwards compatibility and ship the laptop only with four USB Type-C ports. If the company doesn’t also ship adapters, end users will have to buy them separately, and the idea of having four different adapters (or a hub) dangling off the laptop isn’t a particularly sleek or desirable presentation.
Other features floated for the new hardware include a switch to the butterfly keys that Apple uses with the MacBook, top-mounted speakers, and a thinner overall design. Apple is still keeping a headphone jack on the MacBook Pro, though it’s rumored to be considering ditching that port on the iPhone 7, which is expected to launch later this year.
Other miscellaneous rumors include a name change for OS X to “MacOS,” Siri launching for MacOS, and upgrades to the Photos and Apple Music applications. 9to5 Mac also reports that Apple may allow Apple Pay to function over iMessage.
Multiple sites are reporting that Apple won’t launch new hardware at WWDC, which makes sense if the company wants to capitalize on AMD’s Polaris or Intel’s Kaby Lake refresh. We’ll have to wait and see what develops on that front.