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MacBook Pro: What Could be Coming Next?

The Apple MacBook Pro hasn’t changed in any material way since late 2013, and that’s why MPG is still using that model—there is no meaningful difference vs the current model (hint: a used late 2013 MBP with AppleCare is still a terrific laptop).

MPG’s current recommendation for power users for a new laptop is the 15-inch 2.8 GHz model with 1TB SSD. Along with (for home/office use), the OWC Thunderbolt Dock plus keyboard and mouse (both wired) and separate 4K display.

Current trends in the Macbook / MacBook Pro line are iPad-wannabe laptops (a very rough analogy, but the new MacBook is of this genre), but not to more powerful high end units. All well and good, but it would be nice to see product line expansion in both slimness direction and power user direction. And possibly a hybrid model that is an iPadBook, so to speak—convergence.

Being optimistic that Apple might not abandon power users in all areas as seems to be the trend, what might arrive in the high-end revised model later this year?

  • Faster internal flash drive (SSD) offering up to 1600MB/sec or so. Sounds great and yes it is, but except for extreme computing needs, this won’t make any difference whatsoever for 99% of users 99% of the time.
  • Higher capacity internal flash drive (SSD), perhaps up to 2TB. Now that offers real value for some, instead of lugging along extra storage.
  • More memory? 16GB has been a hard ceiling forever in laptop land. MPG does not expect this to change, which is a pity, since it’s the main thing holding back the MacBook Pro from being a full desktop replacement for power users.
  • Faster CPU? Nothing happening here that has meaningful gains. Better battery life and marginal speed gains are the trend.
  • Fewer ports with a move to USB-C that (ugh) require adapters or different cables for all your proven stuff. No fun at all if you have perfectly good existing peripherals (SSDs, card readers, etc). No pain no gain. Except the gain won’t be there right away (product selection and pricing and compatibility), at least not until the new and cool laptop is well worn.
  • Possible removal of Thunderbolt or dumbing-down to just one port, just to make it thinner (unlikely but Apple likes thin and sleek).
  • Larger screen? That’s a moon shot; the Apple trend is to thinner, smaller, lighter, not larger. But we could see a 4K display in the same size, which would be slick.
  • Force-touch trackpad? This might excite some, and that’s fine for laptops used on the road and so on. But on the desktop, the ergonomics are awful, creating serious risks of bodily injury (overuse stress injuries—hey laugh it up until you actually have a neck or wrist injury)—MPG thus uses a mouse and keyboard and display when not on the road, pretending the MBP is a desktop, so a trackpad becomes irrelevant.

Apple’s strategy seems to be to move down into the thin/light/portable areas. So it will be a nice surprise if some attention is given to the power user who want a laptop over a desktop.

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