2021 Macs — Here come the redesigns!

2019 Mac Pro
2019 Mac Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

No more Touch Bar, the return of MagSafe, and the end of dongle life? New iMacs with an all-new, bezel thin and no chin design, and new Mac Pros with both M1… and M1 inside? That's right, according to supply chain extractor extraordinaire, Kuo Ming-Chi and Bloomberg's own Mark Gurman, Apple might just be getting ready to fix everything about the current era of MacBooks Pro that made so many pros just so beyond salty for just so long, and then take their desktop Macs to the next level... and beyond.

Two new MacBook Pro models equipped with 14-inch and 16-inch displays

This just makes the kind of sense that does to me, given the 15-inch already went 16-inch at the end of 2019, and the 13-inch is just crying out, screaming in its heart, for a similar bezel-busting makeover.

Kuo doesn't seem to say anything about either of those displays going mini LED, though, which is something he's previously rumored… a lot. Like a lot a lot. Mark says they have better contrast and brightness, which is what mini-LED delivers, but he doesn't mention the technology outright. So, is this an iterative rumor report or alt-erative? Let me know what you think.

New MacBook Pro models cancel the curvy design on top and bottom and adopt a flat-edge similar to the iPhone 12

Iphone 12 Pro Review

Iphone 12 Pro Review (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

So… The current models already have the side parts, the flat-edged, round-rect parts of that design, which makes it sound mostly like they're just going to flatted the currently curvy bottom. Pancake it.

But does that mean Apple will literally slice it off, like with a Beskar spear or Lightsaber or something, or will they keep some or all of the thickness and make it uniform? I'm guessing it depends on how much space and efficiency savings they get from no longer having Intel inside. Because Apple is just always going to go thinner and lighter if they can.

The ‌MagSafe‌ charging connector design coming back to the MacBook Pro


Chargers (Image credit: iMore)

Bloomberg's headline editors used "magnetic charging," but MagSafe only attaches magnetically; it charges inductively. Either way, does this mean the previous MagSafe? Which was MagSafe 2? Or does it mean some variant of the brand new MagSafe that Apple just reimagined for the iPhone 12?

It seems unlikely Apple would move the MacBook Pro to magnetic inductive charging with a big old set of coils and a puck that needs slapping on a surface. No matter how ASMR it feels. Unless it's bidirectional, and you could also charge your iPhone on it?

But that still feels like patent fanfic at this point. So, if not something old, then maybe something new… new? Another version of MagSafe reimagined for the modern Mac that's even better than the old one?

Because right now, USB-C charging may not be MagSafe, but it does work from any port on any side, and that comes in super handy, extra convenient, and losing that would be as big a pain as losing MagSafe was, to begin with.

Still, I don't see Apple doing MagSafe on both sides, do you?

The OLED Touch Bar is going away, and the physical function buttons are back


BetterTouchTool (Image credit: iMore)

Kuo seems to think Apple is about to kill the Touch Bar just to watch it die. Mark sounds more like it's still up for debate. Now, I know some people really like the Touch Bar, and I'm occasionally one of them. So we can argue about whether or not deleting it is the right best thing to do. But what's inarguable is that after introducing it in 2016 with the last big MacBook Pro redesign, Apple has promptly, speedily improved and expanded it… not at all. Like a number no greater than zero times. They shifted it up to reduce accidental touch events. A bit. But no Taptics. Not texture simulation. No desktop Mac support. No nothing.

So, if Apple isn't going to prioritize it enough to get a single significant update out in 5 years, maybe that means the Touch Bar had its chance, and it's off to join the retirement Home button club now?

Same heat pipe-based thermal system as the current 16-inch MacBook Pro, but no Intel CPU option

That'll be great for all those M1X-pected cores. But also, duh. There's probably room for only one Intel update left, if any, in Apple's roadmap. And it ain't these. (Spoiler: It's coming out later in this column!)

Next MacBook Pros are equipped with more types of I/O, and most users may not need to purchase additional dongles

So this one legit confuses me because Apple seems to still be in the habit of killing ports, not resurrecting them.

Would they bring USB-A back? For a Pro market? When they don't even ship iPhones with USB-A cables anymore?

SD Card? That makes the kind of sense that sorta does. Some of my cameras use CFExpress cards now, but all of them still take SD cards as well. So that could at least have a lot of appeal to photo and video pros.

HDMI? Does that really rank high enough on Apple's MacBook Dongle sales chart to really qualify? Traditionally, it's appealed to people who give presentations or love them some home theater, but if the M1 Mac mini is any indication, maybe Apple just wants to toss in support for an extra display?

New MacBook Pros coming Q3 2021

Is this calendar Q3, which runs from July to September, or Apple's fiscal Q3, which runs from April to June, because that part is kinda important for my MacBook Pro purchasing plans, you know?

My guess is, if it's a new design, Apple will want to do a new, season 2 episode of their Event Show to highlight them. They could certainly do an April event since they did a November event last year. Otherwise, WWDC in June seems likely. If later, it could be any time this fall, maybe even alongside the iPhone 12s/iPhone 13.

And… my first instinct is to say that sucks, totally sucks. But if we're getting an actual honest-to-Ive redesign this year and don't have to wait for a second update next year, I'll take it. I'll absolutely take it. Even if it only comes in the fall.

New iMac with slim bezels, less chin, and a Pro Display XDR design

Pro Display XDR

Pro Display XDR (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Which is pretty much what I've been using in my mockups since 0.3 seconds after Apple announced the Pro Display. Because, recent lack of updates aside, Apple kept their iMacs and LED and Thunderbolt designs pretty much in lockstep while they lasted.

And the iMac is really the only big battleground left in the rapidly ending war on bezels. Plus, getting rid of the bulge on the back and finally going full flat will just fit right into Apple's current design language. The one that kicked off with the iPad Pro almost three years ago.

Since part of the iMac's allure has always been how good it looks in the living room, on the desk, and in front-of-house setups. Or at least it will be gain when the world stops ending. And when it goes all modern and boxy, it'll look the part again.

Both the current 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs will be replaced

Mark doesn't specify if the displays will remain the same size, with Apple shrinking down the bezels as they did with the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, or if they're going to increase the size of the display instead like they did with the 11-inch iPad Pro.

There have also been several reports of a third option — all-new display sizes: 24-inches and 32-inches. Which…. Yeah, it could be too big for some desks and some users. But for others, it could finally be big enough.

Count me in that camp. From IPS to 5K to P3 to nano-texture, the iMac has always been about that display. So, while we may still be a year or few out from Mini LED at that scale, I think Apple's going to go all out on everything else.

New iMacs will use next-generation versions of Apple Silicon

Ok, so, if next-generation really means next-generation, as in next-generation silicon IP, then we'd be looking at something in the M2 lineup. In other words, based on the same architecture as the A15 chipset expected to come with the 2021 iPhone. And with something like the usual single-core performance increase and multicore multiplier, that'd come with it.

If not, if next-generation means actually means next version, then we'd be looking at something like the M1 but with just a plethora of additional performance and graphics cores. 12, 16, 32, 64, more? It'd be similar if not the same single-core perf as the M1, depending on how hot and fast they let it run, but the multicore would be ridiculous.

New Mac Pro using the same design as the current version, and maybe continuing to use Intel inside

Which, I think… I mean, I don't know. My guess is Apple has given themselves two years to transition the entire Mac lineup to their own silicon and the Mac Pro, like last time, just has to be last on that list.

But, giving the current Intel version one final update before then, to give people who want or need to remain on the Intel platform as long as possible because of software compatibility and M-series maturity, the best version possible to remain on, just makes the kind of sense that does, and is exactly what Apple did with the iMac last year.

New, half-sized Mac Pro with a design that could invoke nostalgia for the Power Mac G4 Cube

Apple G4 Cube

Apple G4 Cube (Image credit: Apple)

So, just pulling out all that massive, hot, power-hungry Intel Xeon and AMD Navi silicon could let Apple scale the casing down quite a bit.

Hopefully, this isn't just the space gray version of the Mac mini with an M1X chip, though. Mac mini is a sealed appliance. Mac Pro is a modular tower.

That means if Apple really wants to make the fevered dreams of every Mac nerd finally come true, then finally making the hitherto mythical xMac, or mini-tower, a reality, especially by folding in some more retro future chic design, would be one hell of a way to do it.

New, lower-priced Apple Display also on the way

And, yeah, talk about making dreams come true. When Apple canceled their displays a few years ago and went in with LG to produce the same panels as the iMac but with nothing approaching Apple's fit, finish, or design flair… it was super depressing for everyone who wanted an all-Mac setup.

Then the Pro Display came out, basically $6K for 6K, and it was just beyond the needs and budget of anyone outside indie studio or wicked YouTube flex work.

A proper iMac-level panel in a properly priced Apple Display, though, and that just sells itself.

So, what are you most looking forward to? What's going to be your next-generation Mac?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.